Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Islam A Rock Religion. Fragility of Civilizations. Mass Media Got Where They Are All By Themselves. Can't Blame Trump.


When it comes to this peaceful religion its adherents and proponents simply take the rocks out of their head and use them to stone the betrayers and infidels:

Eventually Sharia Law will become acceptable  throughout the world because Islam is so peaceful and liberal/progressive  women and their organizations will remain silent.
This op ed from one of the most brilliant and articulate minds on the current scene is a must read.

This is why I remind my memo readers most civilizations last 250 plus years.  This is why I remind my memo readers about the threat from progressives who are anti religious and mock those of faith. This is why I remind my memo readers what Ben Franklin allegedly said to the scullery maid; "We have a republic if we can keep it." This is why I remind my memo readers what Reagan said regarding the fragility of our Democracy.  It is always one generation away from ending.

Finally, this is why I always remind my memo readers why the debt we have left future generations is both amoral and destructive.

China holds a great amount of our debt. Yet, are delighted when we continue to create bigger deficits because they know it eventually saps our strength and ability to do for ourselves and to maintain what we have.

Yesterday, I posted an op ed suggesting the issues that divide us have become greater than those that unite us. Is what we have and are doing to ourselves forming the basis of our nation's demise? I am pessimistic enough to believe it is possible. (See 1 and 1a  below.)
I did not catch Trump's speech last night.  I was busy reading about Bush 41, after we returned from dinner with friends. Lynn did watch and I have heard from others it was unbridled Trump shooting himself in the feet again.  The man obviously lacks a sense of proportionality.  His speech on Afghanistan was excellent and to the point.  Apparently, last night undid any benefit he derived from when he actually does well.

One of my dear friends and fellow memo readers lamented the fact that I do not protect  and defend the press.  I believe the press have sunk  because of their bias. I have no desire to make their case.  I have consistently maintained the Fourth Estate is invaluable to a free society but it also must be responsible, it also must report in an unvarnished manner.  I believe when front page reporters were given by lines everything went down hill.

I knew Jack Germond. He was a class act and the epitome of an old fashioned reporter. He had  a "uge" stomach to prove it because he did his share of drinking and digging for news at bars etc,

My father once cross examined a member of the Evans and Novak team and afterwards dubbed them Evans and No Facts.

I also believe when public corporations began owning newspapers and broadcast companies they became more entertainment than reporting of history entities and that is why we are where we are.

The public has voted and the reliability of the mass media is lower than that of Congress.  They got there by themselves and I have no desire of defending them nor can I blame Trump. He might attack them and whip them and overdo it but they were in descent with the public long before he came on board..

Why civilizations fail (Ekev 5777)

Jonathan Sacks
Jonathan Sacks Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a global religious leader, philosopher, the author of more than 25 books, and moral voice … [More]

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God… Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery… You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”… If you ever forget the Lord your God… I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. (Deut. 8:11-19)
What Moses was saying to the new generation was this: You thought that the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness were the real challenge, and that once you conquer and settle the land, your problems will be over. The truth is that it is then that the real challenge will begin. It will be precisely when all your physical needs are met — when you have land and sovereignty and rich harvests and safe homes ­– that your spiritual trial will commence.

The real challenge is not poverty but affluence, not insecurity but security, not slavery but freedom. Moses, for the first time in history, was hinting at a law of history. Many centuries later it was articulated by the great 14th century Islamic thinker, Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), by the Italian political philosopher Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), and most recently by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. Moses was giving an account of the decline and fall of civilizations.

Ibn Khaldun argued similarly, that when a civilization becomes great, its elites get used to luxury and comfort, and the people as a whole lose what he called their asabiyah, their social solidarity. The people then become prey to a conquering enemy, less civilized than they are but more cohesive and driven.

Vico described a similar cycle:
People first sense what is necessary, then consider what is useful, next attend to comfort, later delight in pleasures, soon grow dissolute in luxury, and finally go mad squandering their estates.”
Bertrand Russell put it powerfully in the introduction to his History of Western Philosophy. Russell thought that the two great peaks of civilization were reached in ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy. But he was honest enough to see that the very features that made them great contained the seeds of their own demise:
What had happened in the great age of Greece happened again in Renaissance Italy: traditional moral restraints disappeared, because they were seen to be associated with superstition; the liberation from fetters made individuals energetic and creative, producing a rare fluorescence of genius; but the anarchy and treachery which inevitably resulted from the decay of morals made Italians collectively impotent, and they fell, like the Greeks, under the domination of nations less civilized than themselves but not so destitute of social cohesion.

Niall Ferguson, in his book Civilisationthe West and the Rest (2011) argued that the West rose to dominance because of what he calls its six “killer applications”: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the Protestant work ethic. Today however it is losing belief in itself and is in danger of being overtaken by others.

All of this was said for the first time by Moses, and it forms a central argument of the book of Devarim. If you assume — he tells the next generation — that you yourselves won the land and the freedom you enjoy, you will grow complacent and self-satisfied. That is the beginning of the end of any civilization. In an earlier chapter Moses uses the graphic word venoshantem, “you will grow old” (Deut. 4:25), meaning that you will no longer have the moral and mental energy to make the sacrifices necessary for the defense of freedom.

Inequalities will grow. The rich will become self-indulgent. The poor will feel excluded. There will be social divisions, resentments and injustices. Society will no longer cohere. People will not feel bound to one another by a bond of collective responsibility. Individualism will prevail. Trust will decline. Social capital will wane.
This has happened, sooner or later, to all civilizations, however great. To the Israelites — a small people surrounded by large empires — it would be disastrous. As Moses makes clear, towards the end of the book, in the long account of the curses that would overcome the people if they lost their spiritual bearings, Israel would find itself defeated and devastated.

Only against this background can we understand the momentous project the book of Devarim is proposing: the creation of a society capable of defeating the normal laws of the growth-and-decline of civilizations. This is an astonishing idea.

How is it to be done? By each person bearing and sharing responsibility for the society as a whole. By each knowing the history of his or her people. By each individual studying and understanding the laws that govern all. By teaching their children so that they too become literate and articulate in their identity.

Rule 1: Never forget where you came from.

Next, you sustain freedom by establishing courts, the rule of law and the implementation of justice. By caring for the poor. By ensuring that everyone has the basic requirements of dignity. By including the lonely in the people’s celebrations. By remembering the covenant daily, weekly, annually in ritual, and renewing it at a national assembly every seven years. By making sure there are always prophets to remind the people of their destiny and expose the corruptions of power.

Rule 2: Never drift from your foundational principles and ideals.

Above all, it is achieved by recognizing a power greater than ourselves. This is Moses’ most insistent point. Societies start growing old when they lose faith in the transcendent. They then lose faith in an objective moral order and end by losing faith in themselves
Rule 3: A society is as strong as its faith.

Only faith in God can lead us to honor the needs of others as well as ourselves. Only faith in God can motivate us to act for the benefit of a future we will not live to see. Only faith in God can stop us from wrongdoing when we believe that no other human will ever find out. Only faith in God can give us the humility that alone has the power to defeat the arrogance of success and the self-belief that leads, as Paul Kennedy argued in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987), to military overstretch and national defeat.

Towards the end of his book, Civilisation, Niall Ferguson quotes a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, part of a team tasked with the challenge of discovering why it was that Europe, having lagged behind China until the 17th century, overtook it, rising to prominence and dominance.

At first, he said, we thought it was your guns. You had better weapons than we did. Then we delved deeper and thought it was your political system. Then we searched deeper still, and concluded that it was your economic system. But for the past 20 years we have realized that it was in fact your religion. It was the (Judeo-Christian) foundation of social and cultural life in Europe that made possible the emergence first of capitalism, then of democratic politics.

Only faith can save a society from decline and fall. That was one of Moses’ greatest insights, and it has never ceased to be true.

Shabbat shalom.
Covenant and Conversation 5777 is kindly supported by the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation in memory of Maurice and Vivienne Wohl z”l.

1a)Replacing patriotism with tribalism
The politics of grievance and revenge divides us all

Just after last week’s terrorist attack in Barcelona, a pro-Islamic State website posted video from the scene along with a message in Arabic saying, “Terror is filling the hearts of the Crusader in the Land of Andalusia.”

Let’s unpack that. “Crusader” is a term jihadists use, pejoratively, for Christians. More specifically, of course, it refers to the Christian soldiers who fought a series of wars, beginning in 1095, to recover Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land from the Muslim armies that had burst out of Arabia four centuries earlier.

Andalusia indicates the territories of the Iberian Peninsula that were conquered by Muslim armies from North Africa beginning in 711. The Reconquista, a war waged by Christians to recover those territories, ended in 1492.

Here’s the larger point: To those discomfited by theological or even ideological explanations for most modern terrorism, one alternative explanation is this: The killers are revanchists. Their motivation is to reverse territorial losses.

They have suffered such losses, they believe, in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The want to fill “the hearts” of the “others” now living in such lands with terror in order to drive them out or at least relegate them to inferior status. In other words, these revanchists also are supremacists.

Longer-term, their goal is grander. Finland, which also suffered a terrorist attack last week, was never part of a caliphate or Islamic empire. And the Islamic State publishes an online magazine called Rumiyah – Arabic for Rome which, they believe, must be conquered by Muslims as was the Christian capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul). But priority goes to formerly Muslim lands.

In an odd way, this brings us to Charlottesville. The neo-Nazis and Klansmen who rioted and committed murder there also are revanchists in the sense that they seek revenge (the root of the word) and the restoration of power they believe has been taken from them here, in this land, America.

They are supremacists, too, of course, although they fight for supremacy based on race rather than religion. They are enemies of Americanism, rejecting the Founders’ conviction that “all men are created equal” in the eyes of God and should be equal under the law. They deserve unequivocal condemnation and firm opposition.

The Antifa movement, a collection of anarchists and radical leftists, opposes such white supremacism.  (About Islamic supremacism it has less to say.) But Antifa also is supremacist. It seeks to abolish – not least through violence -- individual rights in favor of group rights. Members of groups Antifa favors – those they deem victims or oppressed -- are to enjoy enhanced rights. “Others,” those they regard as “privileged,” are to have their rights curtailed or eliminated.

So Antifa should be condemned and opposed, too – not least by those who call themselves liberals or progressives. Too often Antifa and its ilk are enabled instead. For example, last week, The New York Times gave space to K-Sue Park, a “Critical Race Studies Fellow at the U.C.L.A. School of Law,” who argues against “a narrow reading of the First Amendment.”

Despite objections from conservatives, she notes, the U.S. government has come to reject “a colorblind notion of the right to equal protection.” On the contrary, the government encourages “consideration of race in university admissions.” Why not apply the same principle to freedom of speech? In other words, she suggests, the First Amendment should fully apply to a person of color. A person of pallor – not so much.

I can anticipate the emails I will receive. They will say such “reverse” discrimination is a necessary corrective. They will remind me of “the legacy of slavery.” To which, I’ll reply: Name an institution more ubiquitous than slavery. Name a civilization that began to view slavery as immoral and then went on to abolish it earlier than the West – which did so based on the Judeo-Christian belief that man is created in God’s image.

That was nothing less than a revolution in the history of morality. Resistance to this revolution was a root cause of America’s Civil War. That led to the emancipation. As for equality, that remains a work in progress. But which non-Western nations are doing better?

I think President Trump blew an opportunity in his impromptu press conference the Tuesday after the riot in Charlottesville. But he was not being hyperbolic when he worried about where identify politics and the sudden furor over old statues is leading.

This week it’s Robert E. Lee,” he said. “I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself: ‘Where does it stop?’”

It took not a week but only hours before his predictions came true. Among the examples: In Chicago, a monument to Abraham Lincolnwas vandalized and James E. Dukes, bishop of Chicago’s Liberation Christian Center, called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to rename Washington Park and to remove a statue of America’s founding father.

What should we call Washington, D.C.? Since we’re on the Potomac, perhaps River City? Because we certainly got trouble with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for the politics of grievance and division; for patriotism replaced by tribalism.

Meanwhile, revanchists, supremacists and jihadists overseas are building nuclear weapons in order, as they put it, to bring “Death to America.” They’re targeting us all – without regard to race, creed, color or party affiliation. At this fraught moment, it would be helpful if we had leaders with both the will and the skill to emphasize Americanism, the principles and the values – many of them incompletely realized -- that should unite us.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.

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