Tolerance. Progressives. These words are something of a battle cry for the far left. They love to beat people over the head with them, claiming to exemplify both. The unfortunate fact is there is nothing tolerant or progressive about the Loonies in the Far Left. They like to think they possesses both traits, but in reality they only pay lip service to it. To make matters worse, when someone like Obama stands up and actually practices what he preaches, they go completely insane.

Obama recently spoke at a Gospel concert as part of a support rally, along side popular (albeit controversial) Gospel leader and singer Donnie McClurken. The Loonie Left are going absolutely crazy, and trying their darnedest to throw him under the bus for it. The issue is that McClurken believes that homosexuality is a choice, and a curse, which can be cured by God. In fact McClurken claims to have been cured of homosexuality himself.

I could see people having a problem with this if Obama was softening his position on gay rights, and simply vote whoring, but in fact, he isn’t. Neither he nor McClurken are trying to sugar coat their views, nor are they backing down from them. Both stated their beliefs unequivocally, but said that even though they disagree on homosexual politics, they agree on a lot more and are willing to focus on their shared goals and work around their disagreements.

In other words they are tolerating their differences and working for a more progressive understanding of each other.

I guess it shouldn’t amaze me that the Loonie Left are, in fact, Loons, but it does. One of the biggest issues Obama has been pushing for is cooperation on common goals, and trying to build bridges in spite of differences. Why are folks surprised and angry when he practices what he preaches? Personally I think this incident builds credence for both Obama and McClurken. It proves that both are willing to tolerate beliefs they vehemently disagree with, so that they can focus on bigger, deeper issues which they do agree on.

This is tolerance people. Tolerance is the willingness to allow others to express beliefs, even when you don’t agree with them. How the Left got so mixed up as to believe that tolerance means “agreeing with the far left” is beyond me, but they really need to invest in a dictionary. Tolerance isn’t when everyone smiles and claims to have the same opinion. Its when two people with radically different views can link arms and support each other’s rights, despite their differences.

Its also a very progressive view. Progressive views are not defined as “views held by the uber-leftists”. They are defined as those views which move us forward as a culture. Deepening divisions and blindly insisting that everyone must agree with you is anything but progressive. The willingness to work with people you disagree with, however, is true progress.

Hopefully the Loons will come to their senses, but I doubt it. I guess those of us who are sane will at least know who to blame when Hilary Clinton is elected, ushering in 1,000 years of darkness and despair. Those of you who decided you couldn’t be bothered to learn the actual definition of tolerance, and threw the only Democratic candidate who actually practiced tolerance under the bus.

-Angry Midwesterner

The greatest ideological struggle in the post-communist era is, so the media tells us, the struggle against radical Islam. Unfortunately, the media oracle feeds us conflicting messages on what the real issue is and how it can be solved. Like any issue that involves political zombies, America has two irreconcilable visions of the problem, and two radically different solutions. But, as is true with many issues in American politics: both sides are wrong. This is part two of a two-part series dealing with the problems Americans have with understanding and responding to radical Islam. You can find part one here.

I meant to post this earlier, but I was hitting the mojitos pretty hard at lunch today, and well, that has consequences.

Now for the left, which is as one might imagine, not right. Their basic response to radical Islam is that we need to recreate Islam in our own image — creating a warm, fuzzy pro-abortion, pro-gay, non-violent form of Islam that looks more or less like American Episcopalianism with the addition of The Prophet. They argue that we need to encourage Muslims to follow touchy-feely liberal types, instead of the hard-line ascetic Salafists. Ultimately, Islam cannot be saved unless it is sufficiently “Westernized” and any sort of meaningful moral authority is eviscerated.

What’s the problem with that? Well, not much, if I’m a spineless moral relativist, who believes that the role of religion is to confirm the prejudices of the current age. But if I were a devout (but not radical) Muslim, I’d be furious at the elitist snobs, who can’t be bothered to worship their own God, but condescend to tell me how to worship mine. Imagine how the secular elite would react if King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia were to say, “We need to encourage moderate atheists to abandon their old-fashioned ideologies of abortion and homosexuality and embrace ideas more compatible with Islam?” I’d wager good money they’d be furious and fill the blogosphere and new media with their ranting… and I’d have no sympathy whatsoever (what goes around comes around).

To expect that Islam will be reinvented because Uncle Sam (aka The Great Satan) says so is either unbelievable arrogant or monumentally naive. Personally, I have a fundamental problem with any government (including my own) trying to get all Caeseropapist. I don’t care whether it’s my religion or someone else’s, but I don’t want any state telling someone what the “right” version of their religion should be. To expect that the Muslim world will welcome the American vision for Islam and not brand those who share it infidel dogs who are traitors to the true faith is sheer delusion… which appears to be where the left is living these days.

Ah, Moral and Ethical Relativism, the modern hippy’s companion to political correctness. It seems so warm and fuzzy on the outside, everyone can be right because no one is! It appears to lack the judgemental nature of tradition ethical frameworks and means everyone can just get along, right? Wrong. For all of its soft and cuddly exterior, the heart of Moral Relativism is an intellectually bankrupt black hole better known as nihilism with a nice little cherry of logical fallacy on top. Its also one of the most judgemental and bigoted ideas to have gained popularity.

The problems with relativism begins with the premise. “Everything is relative”, they claim, “No one system is absolutely right, it all varies.” As can be easily seen, the premise itself is false. Heck, it isn’t just false, it is self-refuting. While a relativist will claim that every possible moral is relative, they fail to realize that in doing so they have declared an absolute. Under a system of moral relativism, any absolute ethical framework is declared wrong. Instead of allowing the freedom to choose any moral code, it removes all ability to choose any moral code. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism are thrown out with the bath water. In declaring absolutes, they must all declared wrong by moral relativism, and in declaring them wrong, relativists themselves become followers of an absolute morality and thus must logically pitch their own framework of “ethics” out as well. Moral relativism is the moral and ethical equivalent of saying “This statement is false,” a recreation of the Epimenides paradox. In other words, the statement is fun to think about while musing about Godel, but utterly intellectually bankrupt when used to determine a system of morals.

It turns out, however, that moral relativism is even worse than a paradox, it equates to nihilism. Moral and ethical frameworks, by their very definition, are philosophically normative, that is they talk about how things ought to be. Moral relativism is quite the opposite of normative, it states nothing about how things ought to be, it just says it doesn’t matter what things ought to be, they can be anyway they like. Furthermore, moral and ethical frameworks must be devoid of law, custom, and personal preference. A moral and ethical framework doesn’t define things in terms of the law, or your own personal likes and dislikes. Moral relativism is all about defining morality based on culture and law. Much like nilihism, Moral and Ethical Relativism eschews the notion that morality exists. As a consequence it leads to what many other moral and ethical frameworks would call “immoral acts”, as such acts cannot, by definition, be immoral in a relative framework.

The combination of the paradoxical nature of moral relativism and its relationship with nihilism creates a very dangerous product. While on the outside moral relativism may look very open, accepting, and forgiving, the fatal flaw in this facade is the consequence of their beliefs. If all morals are relative, the only sin becomes hypocrisy. Thus those who come under fire are those who declare a certain morality, but fail to adhere to it. While this may initially seem like simply rooting out the worst sorts of people, in truth we are all hypocrites. Only those who follow no moral code can truly live up to the standards that they set. Most moral and ethical frameworks, however, have within them the capacity and requirement for forgiveness. They understand that people are flawed and will often fail to achieve the goals they set, and they allow for forgiveness if one honestly regrets the moral failures one commits. Moral Relativism, on the other hand, deals harshly with possible hypocrisy but gently with callous disregard for the lives and property of others, leading to a situation where individuals are better off professing no morals and leading lives full of moral and ethical transgression.

Hopefully, in a few years, we will see Moral Relativism go the way of other dangerous and vile ideas, like Utilitarianism and Objectivism, as people realize how intellectually bankrupt moral relativity really is. One can only hope this belief is shed before it causes permanent harm to our society, or poisons the philosophical well too deeply.

-Angry Midwesterner

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Now he knew the truth that is known to all fighters, and hunters, and climbers of cliffs. He knew that even his animal life could only be saved by a considerable readiness to lose it.

G.K. Chesterton – The Ball and the Cross

As we reflect upon the tragedy at Virginia Tech last week, and mourn with the Hokies in response to a senseless act of violence which shattered so many lives, we are naturally treated to the garish spectacle of media hand-wringing and blame-finding. Unlike President Bush, whose speech to a mournful Hokie audience struck just the right note, we must listen to the bleating of media talking heads and pundits. And as these pundits talk about every possible aspect of the horrible events, we should pause to reflect upon the one clear lesson of this and every similar tragedy:

Cowardice Kills.

I am not primarily speaking here of the real heroes of the day, men and women who stood in doorways or classrooms to bar the gunman’s way or offer their lives for their fellows. Their virtue is heroic and courageous, and their sacrifices saved many. They could indeed show well the power of courage and how many lives can be saved by just one person willing to lay their own life down. Truly, they are worthy of better words than mine.

But such heroic courage would not be so needed if our society taught and learned basic everyday courage more effectively. Consider how this last outrage progressed:

A single gunman, armed with two pistols (one 9mm and one .22 cal) and a great quantity of ammunition, moved slowly and methodically through a building, entering classrooms and shooting people one at a time, sometimes taking aim to ensure head shots or otherwise make sure of his “kills”. Over the course of more than 10 but less than 30 minutes, he left a trail of 32 dead and almost that number wounded.

Who were these unfortunate victims? Some, as mentioned above were the very brave who confronted the gunman or stood in his way, delaying him and giving others time to escape. Some were simply unlucky, shot before anyone knew what was happening, or as they fled, or as they reached windows or other exits. But many, many of them were shot as they sought shelter under desks or meekly lying on the floor.

Let us be very clear: their deaths are not their fault nor their responsibility. That lies with the gunman alone. And there, but for the grace of God, go we. Unless we have been under fire, we cannot say with any certainty that we would not have done the same. But we can say, and must say, because lives depend upon it, that what they did was exactly the wrong thing to do. It is what our society, almost unconsciously, teaches us to do. It is what the average civilized person naturally thinks he should do. And it is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Against a rational attacker, such as a soldier of a Western power, or a policeman, or even a common thief, such abject surrender can often work. But against anyone bent on terror or destruction, it is a death warrant. And it is what signed the death warrants of so many that day.

A pistol is not an easy weapon to kill people with. It has poor range, is difficult to aim, and usually produces non-fatal wounds (killing by blood loss rather than immediate injury). All of this is made clear in the FBI’s classic study of the effects of handguns. Against a lone gunman armed with pistols, simply running quickly away is a pretty good strategy. Holding doors shut against the man is also quite effective, since pistols don’t penetrate very well. And, indeed, whenever a door was succesfully held shut against the VT gunman, his shots through the door were relatively ineffective.

Most importantly, whatever time the guman spends hunting down fleeing victims or trying vainly to get through a door is time he isn’t methodically killing more people. If the first few classrooms had consistently barred his way, and if everyone else had fled rather than meekly waiting, the death toll might well have been less.

And if those in a position to do so had fought back, the toll would have been less still. Here I’m not speaking of some super-commando, or even of a dedicated rush by a dozen men (though that would probably have worked well if it could somehow have been agreed to). But, as the guman moved through the building, he doubtless came to doors, corners, stairs, etc. Simply throwing heavy objects at him before running might well have delayed him substantially. Two or three people charging behind a thick table or attacking from multiple directions might have managed to reach him. One brave ROTC student did attempt to reach him, but—alone and unaided—he was killed before he could subdue the gunman.

Are all of these acts riskier than simply running away? Almost certainly. Are they riskier than cowering beneath desks and tables? Not at all.

Why then is courageous behavior not natural? While they may not win awards for design, human beings are definitely predators. So why no killer instinct? Because human beings aren’t governed by simple instinct. We learn behaviors. While it doesn’t always seem that way, kids and teens really do take the lessons they learn to heart. When we, as a society, socialize kids from early years to be passive or to respond to aggression in passive ways, that’s what we’ll get 9 times out of 10.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that in our Brave New World of the 21st Century, such a response is badly out of place. In a world where individuals have nearly unprecedented power to alter the world through technology, each individual must accept responsibility for defending his society. We can’t afford a culture of passivism or a society of sheep. We don’t have to embrace violence, but we do have to embrace courage.

At Virginia Tech, those who showed heroic courage were a shining few. They often paid the ultimate price. More, but not nearly all, showed natural courage, and usually gained their lives. But many, too many, reacted as they had been taught, passively. And, many times, they too paid the ulitmate price.

If we want to survive and flourish as a free society in the years to come, courage and action must be impressed into every citizen. Heroism will always remain rare, but we must produce the most fertile ground possible for it. And we must all do our part with courage, so that our heroes don’t have to take up our slack. Relying upon others to be courageous won’t work, not when you can’t afford the minutes or hours it will take them to respond.

Because the lone madmen aren’t going away, and as time goes on, their weapons will only get worse.

The shooting deaths of 32 faculty and students at Virginia Tech is an [insert your adjective here] case of societal chickens coming home to roost. This week, it is imposible to view any news not related to his incident. Poor Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson — their luscious feeding trough of a la Imus does in fact have a bottom. Al Qaeda and Hamas are grinding their teeth in impotency that their viewer share (or more importantly media share) is gone. (I’m sorry — what was the Iraq body count Monday?)

I am angry. I watched Fox News (and CNN for that matter) and hear about the 2 1/2 hour gap. This is as infuriating as the question proposed in Fahrenheit 911 by Michael Moore as to why Bush did nothing for 12 WHOLE MINUTES after hearing about the first plane into the trade towers. Why oh why (excessive handwringing) did the administration wait 2 1/2 hours and not shut down the campus?

Each network lines up its chartered experts: psychological profilers, ex-FBI experts, presidents of security consulting firms, a student from Columbine (actually he was pretty cool with his comment about inane media drivel and shallow continuing analysis, quickly cut to commercial). The ex-FBI agent commented on the statistical probability of the event and the difficulty in securing an open campus — not to the liking of the anchor who was flogging his agenda of the 2 1/2 hour gap and how or why could and did this happen (more verbal excessive handwringing).


At the University of Illinois, in a similar situation, the only thing limiting the body count would be the amount of ammunition the gunman could carry. It wouldn’t be lack of targets. With a little machining, a silencer on any weapon would quadruple the body count. The university has multiple emergency response plans — this isn’t in any of them. Each of the plans has a line of comunication established which includes various police and emergency response agencies, but they have to be activated. That takes a decision. Decisions at the University of Illinois tend to be consensus affairs, and I doubt that Virginia Tech is any different. But let’s be generous and assume that some authoritative hierachical type calls down the troops. CNN anchors suggested that it was criminal not to inform all the students. Further, let’s overlook the difficulty of contacting all these thousands of students and suppose that the University has a magical means of doing so instantly and flawlessly. Virginia Tech has 26,000 students. The University of Illinois has about 10,000 more.

Now that we have a magical means of communications, tell them what? — to go back to their dorms? Where the original two were shot? How about a collection point — like the Assembly Hall. Hmmm more targets in a restricted space. Tell them to stay in the classroom — Hmm that didn’t work out too well. And assuming that you got them all together what about toilet facilities, congested cellular channels (yes parents would be calling), food. It would make the SuperDome in New Orleans after Katerina look positively inviting. So you can’t “shut down the college” because there is no place for the students to go. And lockdown to classrooms isn’t much better. The reasonable action, which Virginia Tech took, was to try and ascertain the facts of the first shooting and locate and detain the perp. Investigations don’t resolve themselves in 50 minutes as in CSI (even with commercials). So the bottom line is “we’re screwed”; much the same as when the tornado tears the house apart around you. There is nothing to do to get unscrewed — no quick little Planned Parenthood abortions, no mulligans, no do-overs, no ‘saved by the bell’ last minute reprieves. No dodges around real pain and problems that the Hollywood types love to write into scripts.

How about preventative measures – courtesy Fox News. Prevent this from happening. Metal detectors probably won’t work. They don’t work at airports (except for assuring Granny that “no – guns can’t pass through”) where you have an hour before (two for international) instead of 10 minutes between classes, and there aren’t 5,000 students entering one building carrying laptops and iPods and cameras. (Those that don’t have enough piercings to set off a magnetometer in the next state). Gun control — oh wait, Virginia Tech was a “Gun-Free Zone”. And racial profiling is out (what race is goth wearing ankle length dusters with an affility for guns and the on-line Columbine role playing game (RPG) where you get to shoot your friends?) Anyway racial profiling would affect about half the campus.

No, to keep this from happening you have to address the root causes:

1. The media rehashing what little fact there is with sensationalism, attributing superlatives to the event: “the worst shooting EVER; the largest body count”. Basicially inviting any disturbed person to try and top this to get his 15 minutes of glory (infamy);

2. The treatment of students as non-persons not worthy of respect, to be recognized only for their tuition contributions to the welfare of the ruling faculty. The view of the person as consumer and of no intrinsic value save as an instrument of purchase of goods and services. The belief that everyone should be manipulated by advertising and media in such as way as to make them susceptible to all manipulation.

3. The fact that most students don’t really belong in or are cut out to be in an academic environment. Let’s face it — you can’t get a decent job without a sheepskin. It’s a checkbox on an employment application. There is no love of learning, no questioning of how or why things work, no wonder of the mechanism, except in a few students — those who belong in the system. To the others, the system is a provider of stress, and the more the mismatch, the higher the levels of stress.

4. The loss of civility in discourse. Look to our leaders as shining examples of this. A political discussion of divergent philosophies is impossible without character assassination, inuendos and rabid attacks on the person, not the ideals. Why argue logically and resolve a conflict when you can assassinate?

5. Lack of respect for the person. The same phenomemon which led Imus to make his comment about the Rutgers team. The constant barrage of Rap music and Gangsta reducing all women to “nappy headed hos”. If it’s in the national lexicon, its usage is pre-ordained.

To fix this requires all of us to step back from the abyss of our society and ask what are our essential values? What is the foundation of this society and what must we do to preserve it? Ethical relativism is the rooster, and a mean-spirited, narcissistic, alienating member of a consumer henhouse it is; and it’s laying some nasty nappy headed little eggs.