Saturday, April 02, 2016

Did the Serial Comma Take a Hit?

In a series of three items or more, I like to think of the items as those of a list (a list of equals) preceded by bullet points. Hence, the need for the serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma or (perhaps best of all) the listing comma (thanks to Maggie's Farm, to Bird Dog, and to the internet for the link).

For example, writing "For breakfast, we had eggs, bacon, OJ and pancakes" is akin to writing
For breakfast, we had:
• eggs
• bacon
• OJ
and pancakes
Doesn't the list look wrong, raw, mistaken, or unfinished? It looks even worse if one bullet point is missing from earlier in the list:
For breakfast, we had:
• eggs
• OJ
• and pancakes
Even though there is a case for the final "and" substituting for the final bullet point, try adding a bullet point to the last item as well:
For breakfast, we had:
• eggs
• bacon
• OJ
• and pancakes
And ergo, each item in a list needs a (listing) comma between it and the previous item:
For breakfast, we had eggs, bacon, OJ, and pancakes.
The clincher is this: whether there is a final comma or not does not bother people who don't care about the issue one way or the other; while its absence does grate on those who do care about the issue (and about the visuals). Thus, making sure it is present turns out to be a win-win for everyone.

Now the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto brings in a teaser: Is a man named Miller being engaged to one woman (his girlfriend named Jody) or to two women (to one unnamed woman, i.e., his unidentified girlfriend, in addition to another, i.e., a woman who is not his girlfriend and whose first name we are notified about)?
Miller: "my girlfriend, Jody, and I were about to get engaged."
I used to think that it was practically impossible to make a case against the listing comma (not just display a lack of interest in the li'l bugger at the end, not caring one way or the other, but make an actual case against it), but over the years I have seen one or two instances thereof, and one Wall Street Journal pundit, James Taranto, manages to do so:
We bring this up to make a grammatical point. The Washington Post does not use what is known as the "Oxford comma" or "serial comma." Thus you would write "bacon, lettuce and tomato" rather than "bacon, lettuce, and tomato."

In the case of the BLT that's a distinction without a difference. But look carefully at Miller's statement "my girlfriend, Jody, and I were about to get engaged." Without the Oxford comma, the meaning is clear: Jody is an appositive; he is identifying her as his girlfriend, then naming her. With the Oxford comma, however, the meaning would be ambiguous--an ambiguity on a slippery slope to polygamy.
To be clear, I am not 100% convinced that the above amounts to an indictment of the listing comma, which I continue to champion, but it's an interesting perspective in any case.

I found a similar instance myself regarding a newspaper report on the Catholic liturgy many, many years ago, and if ever I find it again (provided I kept a copy), I will add it to this post.
Related:  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!
Lynne Truss is the author of several other books, with Bonnie Timmons, from The Girl's Like Spaghetti (Why, You Can't Manage without Apostrophes!) to Twenty-Odd Ducks (Why, every punctuation mark counts!)…
Should the Semicolon follow the diastole, the trigon, the interpunct, and the diple?
The Case Against the Misuse and Overuse of [Square] Brackets (and Parentheses)

 Update (cheers to Anne-Elisabeth Moutet):

Friday, April 01, 2016

I Think My Dog Is a Democrat

Thank God Instapundit is back.

It has been seven days (it felt like seven weeks!) without any of the PJ Media websites
here in Europe (not just Glenn Reynolds's Instapundit), and now they all finally appeared again.

(Sometimes they feel like the only things that keep me sane) :)

I just finished going through old posts, and made it to the last posts I remember reading, five full "Earlier Posts" pages back.

FYI, it turns out that for me, at least, the blackout due to a fairly massive DDOS attack lasted from March 22 to March 29, or exactly a week.

One of the first posts I chanced upon after seven days concerned Bryan Lewis's I Think My Dog's A Democrat

Thursday, March 31, 2016

One Small Problem with Cartoons and Pundits Mocking Conservatives

Again, we are treated to cartoons mocking conservatives (drawn by cartoonists foreign as well as domestic"), based upon nothing that the conservatives say, upon nothing that the conservatives do, and upon nothing that the conservatives even go so far as to think.

As Ann Coulter writes in Mugged, there's a reason the left has to always find code words for racism behind everything conservatives say: because there is nothing remotely racist in what they are actually saying (or actually thinking, for that matter).

Xavier Gorce's Le Monde reminder from 2008:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

This country was not founded on respect to authority but, to the contrary, on disrespect and distrust of any authority that has not proven itself worthy of respect

Be sure to make regular visits to the weblog of Bojidar Marinov, an author whose writings have been linked several times on No Pasarán — notably his The French healthcare system, even if taken at its best, is like an expensive jewel on a beggar’s neck.

The author of articles like Political Opportunism Doesn’t Fight Tyranny, It Perpetuates It, Marinov pens such gems as It’s Time to Start Teaching Our Kids Disrespect To “Authority” (warning: strong religious language). You may not agree with everything he says, but he sure makes a powerful case for everything he writes about. You may not like the religious tenor of his words, but he sure makes a case for Christians, and for their pastors, being (or, rather, having been in the past) the strongest revolutionaries the world has even seen.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

• Political Opportunism Doesn’t Fight Tyranny, It Perpetuates It:
The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate … would be completely useless outside the US, where local “magistrates” are simply employees of the central government. In the UK, for example, the resistance of local officials to tyranny would be nothing less than rebellion no different than the rebellion of private individuals; a lesser magistrate is simply not a magistrate anymore if he fails to obey the will of his sovereign, the centralized state. Thus, in its pure form, the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate works as a deterrent to tyranny only where tyranny has already been pushed back and thus room for independent action has been legally secured; and in our modern world, this means only a few polities in the world, limited to the US, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and may be South Africa – and these polities trace their liberties back not to bloodless reforms but to violent revolutions which forced the central government to agree to limit its powers.
 … The words of Mather Byles – a nephew of Cotton Mather – should always be before our eyes before we rush to support a local official who is allegedly putting up resistance to higher authorities:

Which is better – to be ruled by one tyrant three thousands miles away, or by three thousand tyrants one mile away?

Therefore, before we decide that a local magistrate’s resistance is an application of the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate, we need to ask ourselves two questions: […Read the whole thing™]

• Comparing Ferguson, November 2014, with… Boston, December 1773 (!)
Hypocrisy Is the Worst Possible Policy:
By 1773, about half of the colonists had adopted a rebellious attitude towards the British government, and even against their local governments which happened to be loyal to the Crown. This rebellious attitude didn’t come from reading John Locke or the French Enlightenment; both Locke and the French philosophes did not exercise much influence among the common folk in the colonies; and even among the educated elite, their influence was not felt until the late 1760s.

It was the Reformed preachers in the colonies who denounced the British tyrannical government and built the ideological foundation for armed rebellion.

According to the commonly accepted theology at the time, borrowed from Calvin and the English Puritans of the previous century, tyrannical government was not a lawfully established government and therefore all acts of resistance against such government were Biblically justified.  Sermons like the following, from Jonathan Mayhew, a Congregational minister at West Church in Boston in the 1760s, were commonplace:
It is blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors, God’s ministers. They are more properly the messengers of Satan to buffet us. No rulers are properly God’s ministers, but such as are just, ruling in the fear of God. When once magistrates act contrary to their office, and the end of their institution; when they rob and ruin the public, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare; they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God; and no more deserve that glorious character than common pirates and highwaymen. So that whenever that argument for submission, fails, which is grounded upon the usefulness of magistracy to civil society, (as it always does when magistrates do hurt to society instead of good) the other argument, which is taken from their being the ordinance of God, must necessarily fail also; to person of a civil character being God’s minister, in the sense of the apostle, any farther than he performs God’s will, by exercising a just and reasonable authority; and ruling for the good of the subject.…. When magistrates rob and ruin the people, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare, they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God, and no more deserve that glorious character than common pirates and highwaymen.
 … We have become heartless Romans in our thinking, and we think about justice as children of Caesar: in terms of legal technicalities, not in terms of real justice and righteousness. We have become statists, turning the legal statutes of godless governments into moral imperatives. We have taught our children to do so as well. It is only a matter of time before they start being herded to concentration camps because “you don’t resist a cop.”
In order to return to the Biblical view of justice, we need to start thinking ethically, not legalistically. We need to lay the ax at the root of every law the governments in the US impose on us, and compare it to the Bible.
We need to start every discussion about laws or crimes or policies with the question: “What does the Bible say about it?” And we need to ask this question first and foremost of what the government does and what its officers do. The righteousness of a nation depends on the spiritual maturity of its individual citizens, but let’s not forget that the spiritual maturity of a person is measured by his ability to judge and discern good and evil based on God’s Law (1 Cor. 2:15; Heb. 5:14), not by his willingness to submit to godless governments.
 … We need to restore our Black-Robed Regiment and they need to thunder from our pulpits condemnation on our tyrannical government and its brutal henchmen. We need them to lead us in re-asserting the rights given to us by our Creator, which we have allowed to be re-defined by the State. We need to demand that the special rights for government employees be canceled and cops be just as subject to scrutiny and resistance when they are outside the boundary of the law as any private citizen out there …

 … The more we refuse to do these things, the farther away we are from the spirit of the Founders of this great nation, and the closer we are to even worse tyranny than what they fought against. And the more we refuse to do these things while celebrating those Founders, the more we reveal ourselves as hypocritical, and the less able we are to influence our culture.

How Far Back Are America’s Pastors Willing to Roll the Ball?:
For the last 100 years not only have the pastors refused to challenge unjust laws, they have refused to even bring the Bible to whatever laws the different levels of civil government have passed and enforced, to check whether they were unjust or not. In fact, worse than that, for the last 100 years the pastors in this country have openly declared that the Bible doesn’t have anything to do with the political realm, that the Gospel is limited to the individual soul and the institutional church, and therefore has nothing to say about the powers of the land. “It’s not the pastors’ job to talk politics,” has been the refrain. And since politics is where the issues of justice and injustice have been discussed and resolved, this has effectively barred the church from any authoritative voice in discussing justice or injustice.

Note well: it was not the civil government that barred the church from speaking justice. It was the pastors themselves.

 … If the pastors in this nation were faithful to the historical example of the Black-Robed Regiment of the Revolutionary Era, the pulpits in this country would have been thundering with denunciations of all these government violations of the Ten Commandments, from the public school system, taxation, and regulations, to police, immigration restrictions, and foreign wars. Civil disobedience and rebellion against unjust laws would have started much earlier, a century ago, or, at the very least, 40 years ago.
• It’s Time to Start Teaching Our Kids Disrespect To “Authority”:
I can almost hear God’s sarcasm. “Ya like that conservative idol of yours, ‘respect to authority,’ don’tcha? Let Me see how you like living under its legislative and executive power.”

And this is not the first time. We all remember Nancy Pelosi and her arrogant claim that “Obamacare is now the law, you will obey it.” Or, “Roe v. Wade is the law, we must all obey it.” Etc., etc.
The more conservatives bow before that idol, the more their enemies in the political arena use that same idol to impose more tyranny, and the more God laughs at their idolatry.

You want more “respect to authority”? Here, have government-protected and sponsored abortions. Have government-enforced and sponsored sodomy. Have Islam in government schools. Have gun regulations and control. Have higher taxes. Have inflation. Have business regulations. Have IRS and control over pulpits. Have FEMA camps. Have the NSA and the TSA and invasion of privacy.

And . . . don’t forget to “respect authority” every time you protest against those. You have the right to not like all these, but as long as you obey and “respect authority” – which means your local cop who will arrest you if you don’t obey – everything will be good, and you are safe, and you won’t suffer the consequences.

And teach your kids to obey and “respect authority.” This way, they will always be safe. Especially when some day they are told to board the cattle cars.

God has a way to mock those who trust in idols. He has the time to wait until Americans – and especially American Christians and conservatives – feel the full burden of the “respect to authority” idol on their backs. They are beginning to feel it, but they are still unwilling to smash the idol to pieces. It’s so attractive, after all, and it promises all this security and prosperity – and it sounds so, er, “conservative.” So God has more of it for them.

Until one Fourth of July they wake up and remember that this country was not founded on respect to authority but to the contrary, on disrespect and distrust of any authority that has not proven itself worthy of respect. It was founded on enthusiastic popular resistance against authority. It was founded on the sermons of men who used the pulpits to declare null and void any authority that violated the rights of the free citizens.

From those religious dissenters, the Pilgrims and the Puritans, to the Battle of Athens TN (1946), this country was driven by a spirit of defiance to men in power who violated the rights of private individuals. For 45 years, during the Cold War, it was this tradition of defiance that inspired the dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. The same tradition was at the foundation of Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall!” speech. The same tradition inspired hundreds of American movies from before Hollywood went socialist and statist; and these movies taught people around the world that there was a country in the world where the individual citizen can stand up to government bureaucrats and even shoot them, if they acted illegally.

And when they wake up and remember this, they will clearly see that the advance of tyranny in the last 20 years was based on one single factor:
The Christian and conservative worship of the idol of “respect to authority,” an idol their forefathers detested, despised, spit upon, and actively opposed, and thus built the freest nation in the world.
• When They Come for the Smaller Groups…:
[The tactics of Germany's Nazis] was clear:

The government never has the resources and the manpower to terrorize the whole society. State terrorism, therefore, is done by separating and marginalizing social groups: first smaller groups, then larger groups, until each group is subdued.

This is the old Roman principle of divide et impera: divide your enemies so that neither of them associate with the others. Thus, none of them will come to each other’s aid. Then your hand is free to conquer them one by one.

 … The Soviet Communists did the same. They also started with a broad appeal to all the “classes,” marginalizing and demonizing only small groups. The “capitalists.” Then the priests. Then the “intellectuals.” Then the rival leftist parties, like the Mensheviks. Then certain ethnic groups were demonized: Ukrainians, Georgians, Chechens, the German Anabaptist rural communities along the Volga River. Then the kulaks (the wealthy Cossack peasants of Ukraine and South Russia) were singled out and exterminated. Then the category of “kulak” was expanded to include the not-so-wealthy peasants – until whole regions in Ukraine were starved to death (the Holodomor), while the rest of the country watched passively. Then came the military elite.

World War II put a temporary stop to it. But it also created a new class of men who were trained to fight and suppress their fear – the veterans. So the NKVD started targeting veterans even before the war ended. (Solzhenitsyn was taken from his artillery unit in February 1945, three months before the end of the war.) Thousands of veterans went to the GULags straight from the front lines, not even having the chance to see their families again. It was Solzhenitsyn who later realized that if the people didn’t remain passive but united to shoot at government agents when they came to do arrests, millions of lives would have been spared.
The Chinese Communists did the same with their minorities. In the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge, people with glasses were singled out as enemies and shot or worked to death.

I still remember the way the Bulgarian Communist government treated the ethnic Turkish minority in Bulgaria in the 1980s. (I was born and grew up in a predominantly Turkish part of my town, so I knew the truth about the Turkish minority, and I knew the propaganda was lies.)

Everywhere, totalitarian governments do the same: one group after another, singled out, marginalized, demonized, and then safely destroyed or brutalized. And the rest of the population remains silent. Why? Because “I am not a Jew, or a Ukrainian, or a Menshevik, or a kulak, or a person with glasses.”

The massacre in Waco [of May 2015] bears all the marks of this tactics. A group is picked so small and marginal that most people won’t associate with them. The group is then marginalized and demonized, and all kinds of false accusations are said about them – violence, illegal drugs, illegal weapons, etc. Then, when the group is so marginalized that the majority of the population won’t trust them, and won’t take their word for anything, the government ambushes them and guns them down. The group is scared and subdued. The police are trained and conditioned to not question orders – they will need that conditioning for later, when the “enemy” is moms, or old people, or kids.

And the public? The public is conditioned to disengage. “I didn’t say anything because I was not a biker.”
 … The pattern is clear: Since the American public is too large an elephant to eat, it must be subdued in small bites: black inner city kids, bikers, off-the-gridders, Christian activists, gun-owners, etc. Every time, the group must be small enough and marginalized enough so that the general population find it easy and safe to disengage.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

British cops ignored a child sex ring for 11 years but not for one moment will they tolerate a white guy using the word “towelhead”

Benny Huang is kind enough to provide us with a list of Stuff That Will Get You Arrested in the UK (While Child Rapists Go Free):
Matthew Doyle of London ruined his life when he confronted a Muslim woman in his neighborhood and asked her to “explain Brussels”—a reference to the recent Muslim-perpetrated terrorist attack in the capital of the EU. “Nothing to do with me,” the woman replied, a response that failed to satisfy Doyle. The two parted ways, which should have been the end of it.

But then Doyle made the fatal mistake of recounting the incident on Twitter. His story was not well received in cyberspace where several people tweeted their disapproval, some of whom called upon his employer, a well-known London talent agency, to fire him. Finally, Doyle did the unthinkable and—gasp!—tweeted a slur. “Who cares if I insulted some towelhead?? Really.” Shortly thereafter the bobbies were leading him away in handcuffs.

 … You’d think that the cops would have bigger fish to fry. This is Britain after all, which happens to have the highest violent crime rate in Europe. Shouldn’t the police concern themselves with street gangs or something? It might free up some of the cops’ time and resources if they’d quit policing internet thought crimes for a while. Just a suggestion.

It bears remembering that this is the same country where multiple child sex rings were exposed starting in 2013, the largest and best known of which was centered on the city of Rotherham. The Rotherham scandal involved mostly Pakistani men trafficking school aged white British girls. Authorities were alerted to the existence of the sex ring in 2002 but chose to do nothing for fear of inciting hatred against religious and ethnic minorities. A whistleblower was pressured to keep quiet and ordered to take an “ethnicity and diversity course.”

So there you have it—British law enforcement ignored a child sex ring for eleven years but not for one moment will they tolerate a white guy using the word “towelhead.”
Indeed, the New York Times has identified the true crime of Rotherham: Westerners' "Easy, Powerful Stereotypes" Against "Asian" Perpetrators Which "Overshadow the Bigger Picture".

And the Rotherham sex ring isn’t even the first example that Benny Huang has read of authorities brushing pedophilia under the rug because the perps belonged to a well-organized, militant minority.
 … Perhaps the most candid article I have ever read from the British press came from Scottish journalist Hugo Rifkind, who wrote in 2009 “We Brits Don’t Do Free Speech, Thank Goodness.” I found Rifkind’s defense of state-sponsored censorship abhorrent but at least he was honest enough to admit that it exists. Plenty of people rationalize that speech is still free in the UK because only really bad people are being arrested for saying really bad things. Rifkind’s column called on his countrymen to stop lying to themselves and just admit that speech has been criminalized and most of his readers like it that way. “Yes you are against free speech,” he wrote. “Almost all Brits are. It’s in our nature.”

Speech can be a crime in Britain—and it doesn’t even have to contain a threat of violence. For those who might be travelling to that island nation in the near future I offer a small sampling of mere words that can get you arrested in the UK.
Read Benny Huang's sampling of transgressions, which include a Nelson Mandela joke, displaying the Bible in its entirety, and quoting… Quoting who? Adolf Hitler? Stalin? No. Quoting Winston Churchill!
In the UK you can be arrested for preaching against homosexuality on a street corner or for saying, from the pulpit no less, that Islam is satanic. You can also be jailed for saying that Mohammed married a nine year old girl. That last one isn’t entirely accurate—Mohammed married a six-year old girl named Ayesha but waited until she was nine to consummate the marriage. Or at least that’s what the Hadith says. Just to be safe, steer clear of saying anything that might anger Muslims or homosexuals, Britain’s most favored groups, who are always and everywhere protected from offense. If they feel butt hurt about something you will be arrested. And let’s face it, those two groups are always butt hurt about something, the little darlings.

Just how did Britain descend to this level of madness?
Benny Huang quotes two factors that lead to the criminalization of mere words…

In the meantime, Benny adds, this insane fear we have of offending Muslims is getting people killed—and raped.

Lessons From Our Father, The Man of Infinite Wisdom, the All-Knowing Barack Obama

Let's see if I understand what transpired in the wake of the 2014 elections, followed by Barack Obama's decision to unilaterally use executive orders to pursue immigration "reform"; if I understand the left's arguments correctly, and if we take them to their logical conclusion, this is what we must conclude:

• A leftist is an unusually sterling creature, an infinitely wise being who is more intelligent than the rest of us, who is more thoughtful than the rest of us, who is more generous that the rest of us, who is more humanitarian than the rest of us, and who therefore understands all problems correctly and who instinctively knows the solution to every problem that faces us.

• Thank God there is one man, a man of infinite intelligence, a man of infinite compassion, a man of infinite wisdom, who understands this more than any other, more even than any other leftist. (If he says that and that the public debt ought to balloon to $7 trillion — more than ever before, then who are we, and who especially are those treacherous Republicans — it's all their fault anyway! —  to question his infinite wisdom?) This nigh-divine being is, the Lord be praised, in the White House.

• Indeed, Barack Obama is so in tune with the American citizen, he is such an embodiment of the American people that when 2/3 of the voters do not come out to vote in the 2014 mid-terms — a vote that led to a shellacking of Obama's Democratic Party — he knows what these Americans think, he knows what causes they are supporting, he knows his people as his own sons and daughters.

(By some strange coincidence, all Americans who refrained from voting in 2014 — 100% of 'em — sympathize with, and they all of them support, not the positions of the Republican Party, but those of Obama himself.  It is not, say (off the top of my head), 40% support (more or less) the Democrats, 35% support the Republicans, and the rest are undecided or don't care; no, 100% support the deeply wise, wise views that only Barack Obama has. This also explains how good it was for the "father of the nation" to cheat in the 2012 election, by having the IRS cripple Romney's conservatives.)

• Therefore it is nothing but a blessing for the father of the nation to politicize every decision he takes (have Obamacare wait until after the 2012 election for the full price thereof to become known; (secretly) tell the Russian president to wait until after the 2012 election to go ahead with cooperation; wait until after the 2014 mid-term to announce his executive action on immigration…)

• It ensues that Republican leaders are (all) wrong, that Republican voters are (all) wrong, and that — for the good of the people — the Republican party probably ought to be banned. Alright, perhaps not banned, but purged of the evil leaders who do not understand all the good that this man is doing for us, all the blessings that he is bestowing on the American people. ("Yes we can" fundamentally transform America; "Yes we can" raise taxes, magnify government expenses, and triple the debt; "yes we can" create an army of bureaucrats; "yes we can" have the government and its bureaucrats intervening in as many lives as possible to "help" these wretched souls.)

• So, all these bitter citizens who cling to their bibles and guns need to have their thoughts changed to understand all the good that this "father of the nation" is doing for us, his children, and how stupid, and how egotistical, and how treacherous, and how backwards and reactionary it is to even dare oppose all those deeds. Re-education camps might come in handy here…

• The people must work with this genius in the White House, the wise, wise man who understands all problems and who knows the solution to all problems. (Just see the re-set with Russia, which has led to a non-antagonistic Kremlin, a Moscow that hasn't bothered America, or the West, or anybody else, since 2009 when the clueless cowboy Dubya left the White House.) They should not vote against him, and his decisions, and his henchman, they should just shut up and feel guilty and ashamed of their lack of knowledge and of openness to his infinite wisdom.

• Indeed, Obama is such a genius, such a humanitarian, that he probably ought (we should only be so lucky) made president for life. A Caesar, lionized to the heavens, like Che Guevara, Allende, Mao, Lenin, Musso— wait, scratch that last one.

• If you don't believe all of the above, and if you dare question, or get satirical about, this black man's policies, you are something akin to a traitor and a racist, if not both.

See also: How to Prevent America from Becoming a Totalitarian State

Monday, March 28, 2016

The women marked for death by Islamic fatwa face threats with fear, courage

On the top of the Fox News home page, Pamela Geller appears among The women marked for death by Islamic fatwa [while facing] threats with fear, courage

“There is a refusal to think about this era on its own terms” says the boogeyman for proselytizers of painless multiculturalism, a rumpled intellectual the French left loves to hate for challenging the its May 1968 orthodoxies

HE is the intellectual much of the French left loves to hate
writes Adam Nossiter in his New York Times profile of Alain Finkielkraut,
the writer whose rumpled look has racked up multiple magazine covers, the bookish essayist turned omnipresent media star and boogeyman for proselytizers of painless multiculturalism. Alain Finkielkraut’s mere presence in a television studio raises temperatures and sends accusations of racism flying.

 … After several dozen books, an influential weekly radio show, frequent interview requests and his induction in January into one of French civilization’s holiest — albeit most conservative — shrines, the Académie Française, Mr. Finkielkraut has no intention of shutting up.

 … The national audience for Mr. Finkielkraut’s themes, returned to obsessively and buttressed by a seamless web of references, is now larger than ever in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 2015.

Before and after the attacks, those themes have not varied: Much of Islam is radically incompatible with French culture and society; Muslim immigrants represent a threat; French schools are crumbling under a mistaken multicultural outreach; the inherited corpus of French culture is in danger; and anti-Semitism is on the rise again, this time by way of Islam.

Many of the 2015 attackers were French. “Hatred of France is present in France,” Mr. Finkielkraut said in a recent interview. “What the attacks proved is that we have a redoubtable and determined enemy.”

 … “Today, when some, like me, speak of the problem of Islam, we are denounced as the successors of Maurras and Barrès,” said Mr. Finkielkraut, naming two influential far-right thinkers of pre-World War II France. “There is a refusal to think about this era on its own terms.”

MR. FINKIELKRAUT’S political roots are on the left, though.

 … His wife, the lawyer Sylvie Topaloff, has been quoted as lamenting the friends they have lost over her husband’s political views. Yet his ideas carry just enough of an old tradition of left-leaning nationalism in France — exemplified by one of his favorite authors, Charles Péguy — for him to be acceptable to the law-and-order faction in the ruling Socialist Party.

 … In Mr. Finkielkraut’s view, [Felicien Marceau, who did broadcasts for German-controlled Belgian radio during World War II, before fleeing — accused of collaborating with the Nazis] was blinded to the dangers of Hitler by the horrors of World War I; and the French left, obsessed because of fascism with the National Front, has been blind to the dangers of radical Islam.

 … The historian Mr. Nora, in the [Académie Française] induction speech, spoke of Mr. Finkielkraut’s “omnipresence” and noted that he was at the very top of a “blacklist” of those challenging the French left’s May 1968 orthodoxies.

“You are the one who breaks the public omerta, who says — and very well indeed — what the politicians can’t say, and what the journalists don’t want to,” Mr. Nora said.

Mr. Finkielkraut, for all of his warnings about the difficulty — if not impossibility — of assimilating France’s approximately four million Muslims, is not advocating their expulsion. Yet he has no practical agenda for how to integrate them into French society.

He has little to say about the evident discrimination against Muslims in France today, or about the anti-Muslim violence since the attacks. The Muslim teacher who clashed with him on television, Wiam Berhouma, raised these points to no response — before telling Mr. Finkielkraut to shut up.

For Mr. Finkielkraut, the problem is with Muslims, not with France. “We’ve got to fix very clear rules,” he said in the interview. “Secularism has got to prevail. And we can’t compromise on the status of women.”

He is adamant about that last point. “Everything plays out there,” he says. “People are telling us that problem comes from all sorts of oppression by the West. No. The problem comes from the oppression by Islam of women. We’ve got to help the Muslims resolve this question.”

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter traditions around the world, in pictures

The Daily Telegraph treats its readers to Easter traditions around the world, such as Sweden's Easter hare (not Easter bunny) and Australia's Easter bilby.