Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why Middle Eastern Muslims deny the Holocaust

Los Angeles Times op-ed by the illustrious former Dutch Member of Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

I wish I could say that what Ms. Ali says in her op-ed essay is a surprise, but I find that it isn't. I didn't specifically know that knowledge of the Holocaust is suppressed in the Islamic world, but now that I have the knowledge, I find that I fail to be shocked.

So Islamic theocracies don't teach their citizens about the Holocaust, call it a lie, which causes both the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf to be bestsellers in many Arab countries, and teach the former as fact in their schools. I knew about the popularity of Kampf and the Protocols already, which is a large part of why this revelation wasn't particularly surprising.

And that's scary. It's frightening that so many in the Arab and Muslim worlds are avid readers of Hitler and of anti-Semitic fabrications (that have been known to be such since the 1920s), but knowing that they could read these, particularly Mein Kampf, which details Hitler's plans, and then not accept that Hitler would, in fact, kill millions of Jews, shows a frightening form of doublethink. Arab culture and failing Arab governments wishing to distract their citizens from their failures blame the Jews for their ills, saying that a group of people that Muslims worldwide outnumber by 75 times is wholly bent on the destruction of Islam and is on the brink of bringing it about, without setbacks. This is creating such an awesome hatred of Jews and Judaism that the citizens of those Arab states simply will not believe the historical fact of the Holocaust, even when it is presented to them in all it's unholy horror.

And that, dear readers, is what's most frightening of all. An entire culture is convinced that it must destroy an entire other culture in order to survive. That is a recipe for war eternal.

Germany to jail gamers

Like I said in my introductory posts on this blog, I am, among many other things, a gamer; that is to say, I play tabletop and video games as a hobby. I consider this a normal, non-harmful thing and an enjoyable social activity.

Which is why stuff like this really pisses me off.

Evidently, we did too good a job of pacifying Germany after the Second World War. The Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle, their ratings board, is evidently so emasculated that they won't rate games that feature violence of any kind, even violence against zombies. While not giving a rating doesn't officially ban a game, it does mean it cannot be sold in most stores in the country.

But evidently, that's not enough. Noooooooo, now the states of Lower Saxony and Bavaria want to toss people who commit "cruel violence on humans or human-looking characters," along with the developers who make the games that let them do so, directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

This is a disgrace. Such restrictions on the freedoms of expression and association should not be perpetrated by any government, and a Western democratic government has no excuse.

In response to this treatment of their industry, the German game developer Crytek is threatening to relocate to a different nation. Good luck with that, Crytek. Far Cry isn't exactly my favorite game, but you guys deserve better.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hugo Chavez to try to remove term limits on his office

Seattle Times, Bloomberg

Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, recently won reelection with 63% of the vote, giving him his second, and under Venezuela's current constitution final, six year term in office.

But that's not good enough for him. He's following through with his pre-election threat: He is now moving to remove term limits from Venezuela's constitution so that he can be reelected continuously.

I don't care whether you're left, right, up, down, or center; screwing with your country's constitution to suit your needs once in power is an idiot, power-grabbing thing to do, especially when done as a step towards implementing a failed economic and political system. His efforts are failing already, if a move to devalue the bolivar again is any indication. When you have to actually make a law banning your citizens from buying foreign currency to prevent outflow of capital, then maybe it's time to rethink your economic situation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

North Korea pisses me off

Okay. On most days when I decide to post to this weblog, I try to post my opinion and analysis of important current events, and to do so with a level head. On those days, I try to stay objective and offer rational discourse. Today is not one of those days. Today, I'm posting a rant. General warning: This post contains profanity.

Pyongyang Chronicle.

How dare the North Koreans? How fucking dare they? Kim Jong-Il's government is literally starving the North Korean people, even instructing them to breed fucking rabbits for food, and now they go and not only tell their citizens that they have power and heat when they clearly do not, they tell them that we the people of the United States are not only without power ourselves, but are stealing oil from South Korea and causing thousands to freeze to death? The gall of the North Korean propagandists is just fucking appalling. Seeing this and yet being unable to do anything about it is possibly one of the most frustrating things I have ever faced, and this does nothing but rub it in.

And what's worse? The people buy this. It's drilled into their heads from birth that North Korea is the most prosperous country in the world, and that all others are far worse off. And what's even better? There are people over here, in the United States, who like North Korea. I've heard it said. If you're one of them, click here. Fucking Communists...

In conclusion, the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il can take his propaganda about how bad I have it and shove it up his ass, along with his entire government, economic policy, and ideology. That is all.

Man, I needed that.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Muslim lawmaker to take oath of office on the Qur'an

Ireland Online, USA Today

To summarize: Keith Ellison, newly elected to Congress and soon to be the first Muslim to take high federal office in the United States, wishes to take his oath of office on his own holy book, the Qur'an, rather than the Christian Bible. For this, he has come under fire from Dennis Prager, a conservative columnist and talk radio host.

For this, I have to say that Mr. Prager is, with all due respect, manufacturing a controversy where none should exist. His Townhall column, which may be found here, appears to be simple pandering to his normal audience. At least, that's what I should hope it is; I would hate to think that someone in his position should be so profoundly ignorant of his own country's actual laws.

Because yes, not only would requiring a lawmaker to swear in on the Bible be unconstitutional; it is factually incorrect to say that it is so in the first place. Several points:

First and foremost, the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution guarantees religious liberty without interference from the government for all citizens, even Congressmen.

Secondly, the oath taken is to uphold the Constitution, not the Bible. What the oath-taker's hand is on doesn't change the nature of the oath. If it did, officials would be sworn in on a copy of the Constitution, which I think would be a better idea anyway.

Thirdly, forcing someone to take an oath on a book he does not care about would, if anything, cause the oath to have less effect; traditionally, to swear upon something is binding upon the oathtaker to give that thing up should he break the oath; hence swearing on one's honor. Symbolically, forcing Representative Ellison to swear on the Bible would mean he was saying that he would give up the Christian faith if the oath were broken. Since he has already done this (he converted to Islam from Catholicism), such an oath would mean nothing to him, and have no hold on him whatsoever. This is the last thing that someone who wishes to see an oath fulfilled should want.

Lastly, and most damaging to Prager's assertions, Congressmen are not sworn in on any book whatsoever, Bible or otherwise. Newly elected and reelected Senators and Congressmen simply raise their right hands in unison and swear to uphold the Constitution in a summary mass swearing-in. They can bring in any book to swear on that they wish, or none if they don't wish to swear on a book. The occasional photographs that one sees of a Congressman being "sworn in" on a large Bible by another official are simply photo-ops; they pose for the picture and are done, the official swearing-in having already been accomplished in the House chamber.

Therefore, this is all much ado about nothing. Representative Ellison can bring his Qur'an to the ceremony if he pleases, and there isn't anything anyone can do about it, not that anyone should. He is free to exercise his religion as he sees fit while serving in Congress as long as it does not interfere with his duties as a Congressman, and those duties do not include swearing in on the Holy Bible.

Incidentally, it shouldn't: The Bible itself forbids the taking of oaths.