Friday, 2/27/15

  1. Defining Islam at World’s End
  2. The sun marks the day …
  3. “Restatement” or “wishful thinking”?
  4. How can he be dumb if his work’s so bright?
  5. A pinch of incense to the God Pander
  6. Trash A&F by any means necessary
  7. The ne plus ultra of enlightenment values
  8. Rejecting enlightenment values


Offered by me as an anecdote to consider, rather than as gospel or the last word:

I honestly don’t know who in the Islamic community to believe. My experience in Dallas is that representatives of CAIR, and occasionally others, would come to meet with us on the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News, to complain about anti-Muslim bias (chiefly because they published my stuff). It was really astonishing to me to listen to these guys — and they were all guys, Muslim Brotherhood sorts — saying things that I knew were factually untrue, and could prove. But they were counting on the force of their indignant attitude, the goodwill of the editorial board, and the ignorance of Americans who didn’t read the top local imams sermons on his website (as I did), and who didn’t trouble themselves to dig into the kinds of things being promoted in the Dallas Islamic community, and the power of telling their audience what it wanted to hear, to dissuade us from concern.

I wrote over a decade ago about how Dr. Sayyid Syeed, at the time the president of the Brotherhood-backed Islamic Society of North America, came to meet with us and garlanded us with lovely generalities about peace and tolerance. I had done my homework on the guy, and when it came time to pose questions, I took his own belligerent past statements, and radical statements by Muslims within the ISNA leadership, and asked how he squared those views with the irenic message he prepared for our ears. I was calm in the interview, and so was he — at first. But when I pressed him on his evasiveness, he lost his cool, shook his fist at me, called me a Nazi, and said that I would “repent” of this outrage.

I learned that this was par for the course in dealing with the local CAIR people and their associates. Do they represent all Muslims? Of course not. But they were the only ones speaking at all — and they deliberately and repeatedly tried to take advantage of our ignorance (no editorial board can possibly be expert in all things) and desire to believe the best about Muslims. A friend who was involved high up in the counterterrorism community at the time said that this whole world is a hall of mirrors. She said that she worked with devout Muslims who hated what CAIR and its ilk were doing, but were too intimidated to speak out. They helped quietly. My friend told me don’t make the mistake of believing that the extremists speak for all Muslims, but also not to make the mistake of thinking that when a Muslim leader makes a statement about what Islam believes, that they are being honest. The agitprop of CAIR taught me to be reluctant to take statements from Islamic leaders for granted.

Clarity of thought, and clarity of speaking, is urgently needed now — but it seems that even 14 years after 9/11, we are no closer to thinking and speaking clearly about Islam than we ever were.

ISIS offers redemption from the suffering of humiliation (almost the worst kind of suffering from a shame-honor point of view), and the vision of bringing down the Islamic messianic age. How can the imams and scholars of Establishment Islam compete with that?

I could be wrong, but this sounds to me like the archbishop and the theological faculty of the local Catholic university issuing a pronouncement saying the Pentecostals aren’t real Christians, and expecting that to dissuade others from going to their revival meetings. It’ll work with some, but if the kind of Catholicism being preached is formalistic and devoid of charismatic power, it won’t work with many others.

(Rod Dreher, Defining Islam at World’s End)


God created the light three days before He created any of the heavenly bodies.

(Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon) I was aware of this 36+ years ago, as I recall arguing from that awareness against Young Earth Creationism and with a friendly Pastor where I then lived. But all I could make of it was that something mysterious and not entirely literal (in the modern sense of “literal”) was being expressed by the text, and that “day” couldn’t well mean 24 hours until there was a sun.

Fr. Patrick thinks that by fretting over the length of creation days, I was missing the point (as was the Pastor who insisted that the days were 24 hours):

We modern folk think of the sunlight as that which makes the day, and the absence of sunlight as that which makes the night. However, Holy Scripture and its ancient commentators would have thought these very shallow notions. In the Bible, the sun “marks” the day; it does not create it. The day is still there, so to speak, with or without the sun.

Set aside whose cosmology is better. For present purposes, all I can absorb is that I’d better not project my cosmology onto scripture too readily.


In Tuesday’s original jurisdiction opinion, Kansas v. Nebraska, Justice Scalia wrote a separate opinion almost all of which consisted of the following discussion about Restatements of the law promulgated by the American Law Institute:

I write separately to note that modern Restatements — such as the Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment (2010), which both opinions address in their discussions of the disgorgement remedy — are of questionable value, and must be used with caution. The object of the original Restatements was “to present an orderly statement of the general common law.” Restatement of Conflict of Laws, Introduction, p. viii (1934). Over time, the Restatements’ authors have abandoned the mission of describing the law, and have chosen instead to set forth their aspirations for what the law ought to be. Keyes, The Restatement (Second): Its Misleading Quality and a Proposal for Its Amelioration, 13 Pepp. L. Rev. 23, 24–25 (1985). Section 39 of the Third Restatement of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment is illustrative; as JUSTICE THOMAS notes, post, at 8 (opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part), it constitutes a “‘novel extension’” of the law that finds little if any support in case law. Restatement sections such as that should be given no weight whatever as to the current state of the law, and no more weight regarding what the law ought to be than the recommendations of any respected lawyer or scholar. And it cannot safely be assumed, without further inquiry, that a Restatement provision describes rather than revises current law.

I don’t know anything at all about the Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment, but I thought Scalia’s opinion was noteworthy.

(Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy blog) I started bolding for emphasis and then decided that Kerr had really captured the gist too well to require bolding.

In a parallel note,

In 1963, writing in National Review on “School Prayer and Religious Warfare,” [Walter] Berns chided the Supreme Court for delving into religious controversy when it did not have to do so. The court had the year before invalidated a nonsectarian prayer in New York City public schools. Berns suggested that the court need not have decided the case, as sometimes it is more judicially appropriate not to act than it is to act, especially where questions that may cause social unrest are concerned. Here, he argued, the court could have taken refuge in the legal doctrine of “standing” to deny those bringing the case the ability to press their claim.

(Gerald J. Russello)

So both law professors purporting the restate the common law and a Supreme Court purporting to interpret the constitution can overstep their bounds. My profession is pretty full of itself sometimes.


[I]ntellectual types who aren’t oriented towards athletics — people like me — tend to disdain spectator sports for a variety of stated reasons, some better than others. One reason many of us conceal from ourselves is that athletics make us feel inadequate, because people who are not as smart as we are happen to be a lot better at something we can’t do. Many people who aren’t intellectual try to rationalize their disdain for things like art and poetry, but we look at their crude excuses for what they are: expressions of insecurity. But intellectuals are a lot better at coming up with sophisticated rationalizations to mask our insecurities. I think that explains much (but not all) of the contempt many intellectuals have for sports and sports fandom.

(Rod Dreher, emphasis added) Yeah, Rod, but sports are dumb!

I recalled with shame for several decades a 7th grade Tipsy, in Shop Class (or Industrial Arts, or whatever they called it) clumsily trying to make a walnut music stand. It was poorly designed and poorly executed. Meanwhile, some slow-talking kid named Homer (I kid you not) created something beautiful and well-executed.

For some reason, 7th grade Tipsy around that very time (!) decided that he had to mock and deride Homer (I do not recall what sorts of lame-ass stuff Tipsy said) until Homer was duty bound to fight Tipsy, and they whaled away at each other for a couple of minutes on a balmy Spring day until they were both sweaty and breathless and walked away, thereafter leaving each other alone.

Until, that is, Tipsy returned to his hometown from a few decades away, recognized Homer around town (Homer now is a respected craftsman with his own business) and worked up the courage one day to approach him in the grocery aisle, introduce himself and apologize for the decades-old offense, which Tipsy doesn’t think Homer recalled. Tipsy’s shame has diminished, though.

I also remember a dumb jock who pocketed $18 million when his company went public.

I don’t know why those came to mind. I think my topic was that sports are dumb, wasn’t it?

Yeah, sports are dumb! That’s the ticket!


Rod Dreher (if I slow down the blogging pace, he’s likely to appear several times as I gather links over several days) tells the disturbing story of Eric Moutsos, who wouldn’t offer a pinch of incense to the new God, Pander.

By the time I get to Dreher’s columns, there’s usually too many comments to read already, although he has a lot of good commenters and almost no trolls. So it was this time: 71 comments before I got there, and I’m booked pretty tight. I don’t know if anyone else made a point akin to my reaction.

My two cents’ worth: if an Irish-American parade in Boston (Hurley) was expressive activity and parade organizers couldn’t be forced to let gay Irish take them off message, so the Pride Parade in Salt Lake City is expressive activity, and Moutsos can’t be required to express himself falsely by performing choreographed motorcycle maneuvers in celebration of something he does not truly celebrate.

Once again, I think free speech – i.e., the right not to express oneself – rather than free exercise of religion seems the better theory, though a claim of failure to make reasonable religious accommodation might work here unless governmental employers are immune from that theory.


The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a religious discrimination/accommodation case again clothing store porno magazine Abercrombie & Fitch.

I’m not very familiar with the facts. I’m not really familiar with the law or the precedents. I just want Abercrombie & Fitch to lose by any means necessary. We’ll worry about any bad precedent later.

(I am channeling my viscera, by the way. I’m still intellectualoid enough to know that there might just be some problems with this approach.)


Robert R. Reilly has a very sensitive crap detector, it seems.

He wonders how the U.S. ended up with a “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons” when the Bill to create that position has never been passed. And then it appears that the motivation of this position, according to Secretary of State Kerry, is that “Too often, in too many countries, LGBT persons are threatened, jailed, and prosecuted because of who they are or who they love” – a description that Reilly, mirabile dictu, finds disingenuously euphemistic (as well as ungrammatical). But then, in modern America, the story is always lies.

As for me, I just cannot take seriously that the right to engage in sodomy, gay or straight, should be a high human rights priority. I supported decriminalization of sodomy in the U.S. 40-50 years ago, but because I thought that enforcement was arbitrary and that putting police out cruising for solicitations of gay sex was creepy and a misallocation of resources.

Consider, too, back on foreign policy, that we make ourselves contemptible to tens or hundreds of millions when we present fudge packing as the ne plus ultra of human rights according to our Western enlightenment values.


In rejecting modern society and its rules, many of these newly baked jihadists have embraced Islamic State’s genocidal cult simply because it is the most obvious counterpoint to the West.

(Yaroslav Trofimov in the Wall Street Journal)

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.