Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reality Check

How could it be that we're actually having this conversation in the United States of America.

What happened to our soul?

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Moment of Stupidity

The Illinois state legislature has passed a law mandating a "moment of silence" in public schools.

According to Democrat Monique Davis, who supported the measure, the moment of silence will allow children "to listen to the rustling of leaves, to listen to the chirping of a bird, to listen to the tip-tap of a child walking." That doesn't sound too "silent" to me, and what's that kid doing tip-tapping? Shouldn't he be observing the damn moment of silence?

And do they really need to enshrine this in law? If they want a moment of silence in the public schools,they can just call for a volunteer to come up and point out the United States on a map. But I digress.

As anyone with a brain can figure out, this legislation is really all about school prayer. And like calls for posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms and courthouses, it has nothing to do with protecting the sensibilities of the religiously inclined.

Those children who want to pray are going to anyway, and they don't need any legislated moment of silence to do it. As with any statutory intrusion into the "sacred", the target is the kids who don't pray. By ritualizing the act into a moment of silence, they are either trying to force these kids to pray or, more to the point, to feel bad and abnormal for not wanting to. It's pretty safe to say that no one's going to find their way to Jesus while being forced to listen to rustling, chirping and tip-tapping by the state.

In addition to being blatantly unconstitutional, school prayer is bad for religion (the real kind; not the pseudo-faith strong-arm kind). It takes what is supposed to be a sacred and transcendent moment and turns it into farce—just another quotidian ritual no different from recess or gym class. My wife recalls during her public school days back East that they would combine their moment of silence with the mandatory "Swish & Spit" program, which brought the wonders of fluoride to the unwashed masses.

There's no better illustration of how paltry and demeaning all of this really is.

Quote of the Day

One of the ways that you help instill, if you will, family values is by having a White House be a place that demonstrates family values. And, you know, I think during the last Clinton presidency, the White House did not demonstrate that in a way that was helpful to our nation's character.
That's Mitt Romney, striking out at Hillary Clinton by essentially suggesting that she was responsible for her husband's philandering.

In other news, the current White House, occupied by a member of Mitt's own party, exhibits family values by denying healthcare to poor children and threatening to have a man's family tortured to elicit a bogus terrorism confession.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tragedy in Osh

Terrible news from the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan yesterday. Journalist and newspaper publisher Alisher Saipov—an ethnic Uzbek who worked tirelessly to expose the brutality of the regime of Islam Karimov in neighboring Uzbekistan—was shot to death near his office.

Details are sketchy, but many suspect that Uzbek security forces, who have been known to operate in and around Osh, were behind the murder. Saipov, publisher of the Uzbek-language newspaper Siyosat (Politics), was only 26.

This excerpt from the report is a real heartbreaker:
It is hard to believe in such cruelty and injustice. Alisher fathered a daughter two months ago and was extremely happy about her. He had to live…
Saipov, like many in the Uzbek community, was galvanized by the massacre of nearly 1,000 civilians in the Ferghana Valley city of Andijon in 2005. Ken Silverstein wrote an important article in Harpers about how Karimov's regime has some powerful neocon apologists like S. Frederick Starr of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute and people like Zeyno Baran of the Hudson Institute.

For some compelling background on the Andijon massacre, state propaganda in Uzbekistan and an expose of Karimov's lapdogs at home and in the West, see my wife Sarah Kendzior's article "Inventing Akromiya".

Update: There is a sad and touching tribute to Alisher on that's well worth reading.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Light Blogging

I've been meaning to post for a while but I just can't find the time. I have a good excuse, though:

That's right, I've gotten a lot younger! But seriously, folks...don't forget to tip your waitress.

Fatherhood has put a crimp in my writing schedule, but I do plan to post a little more regularly going forward.

I know. Baited breath.
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