Saturday, March 27, 2010
... Berman's portrait of the behavior of today's intellectuals when confronting the plight of Ayaan Hirsi Ali (for example) is devastating. I was going to say his portrait of certain intellectuals, because he singles out the well-respected writers Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash for their aggressive sniping and snarking at Hirsi Ali when she was (and still is) under threat of death. But in fact the relative silence of the rest of the intelligentsia, when confronted with the threats against her, is almost more scandalous. (An exception is my colleague here at SlateChristopher Hitchens.)
Hirsi Ali's critics argue that she represents a simpleminded allegiance to the tolerant and libertarian values of the Enlightenment, that she's an "Enlightenment fundamentalist," pretty much the moral equivalent of an Islamic fundamentalist who supports suicide bombing. Presumably because she doesn't believe in tolerating an intolerance that kills, maims, and shackles women. It was Ian Buruma who coined the oxymoronic phrase "Enlightenment fundamentalism," which was then picked up by Timothy Garton Ash.* To his credit, Garton Ash eventually publically apologized for applying the phrase to Hirsi Ali at a London debate, although he didn't seem to withdraw from a belief that the phrase might have some residual legitimacy.
Apology or not, Berman believes that the phrase reflects a deeper misconception among a certain set of Western intellectuals. That although "the enlightenment is one of the great achievements of Western civilization," these intellectuals "have come to look at the enlightenment as merely a set of anthropological prejudices"—to view a belief in free expression, for example, as merely a parochial Western view.
Which leads him to the most damning moment in his attack: "Buruma and Garton Ash had lost the ability to make the most elementary of distinctions … they could no longer tell a fanatical murderer from a rational debater" like Hirsi Ali..MORE>>
Friday, March 26, 2010
All Americans should be ashamed of this willful insult to the leader of a nation against which the entire Islamic world has arrayed itself, and whose enemies will take Obama's treatment of Netanyahu as a signal that Israel no longer has reliable U.S. support. This from the president who reverts to diplomatic niceties when "negotiating" with Iranian mullahs and the thuggish psychopath who does their bidding. Our president has fallen all over himself trying to ingratiate himself to some of the most notorious tyrants of our time, apologizing as he goes for America's sundry sins.To my mind, it is a day to feel deep remorse. At the same time, it is, I fear, a harbinger of things yet to come.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
President Obama has crossed the Rubicon with the healthcare vote. The bill was not really about medicine; after all, a moderately priced, relatively small federal program could offer the poorer not now insured, presently not on Medicare or state programs like Medicaid or Medical, a basic medical plan.
We have no interest in stopping trial lawyers from milking the system for billions. And we don’t want to address in any meaningful way the individual’s responsibility in some cases (drink, drugs, violence, dangerous sex, bad diet, sloth, etc.) for costly and chronic health procedures.
No, instead, the bill was about assuming a massive portion of the private sector, hiring tens of thousands of loyal, compliant new employees, staffing new departments with new technocrats, and feeling wonderful that we “are leveling the playing field” and have achieved another Civil Rights landmark law. (NB: do the math: add higher state income taxes in most states; the new Clinton-era federal income tax rates to come; the proposed lifting of limits on income exposed to FICA taxes; and now new healthcare charges — and I think you can reach in some cases a bite of 65%to 70% of one’s income.)
So we are in revolutionary times...