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Making Preparations

What price self-defense? Is Jed on right track? Also: Intelligent designs. Plus more.

8.9.05

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BABBIN '08
Re: Jed Babbin's What Are We Prepared to Do?:

Way to go, Jedster! Well said.
-- Martin Kelly
Glasgow, Scotland

Being an outspoken admirer and supporter of the United States, President George W. Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and the Armed Forces of the United States (living in an environment not always America-friendly), I find reading Mr. Babbin always gives me the reassurance that I'm on the right track with my views. I just wish and hope that his voice is also heard in high U.S. government places. A lady from Texas recently wrote in a letter to the editor of TAS: "Jed Babbin is the gift that keeps on giving. No one says it better." I totally agree.

Jed Babbin for President, seriously!
-- Dieter Steinmann
Switzerland

Jed Babbin aptly quotes Charles Krauthammer that a nation's decadence is measured by how willing it is to defend itself. It called to mind the controversy over the whole "Cool Britannia" efforts of a few years back when PM Blair and his government were promoting the UK as a vacation destination. One of the divisive issues then was the replacement of the Union Jack on the vertical stabilizers of British Airways aircraft by multicolored artworks representing of the countries that the airline serviced. This created enough of an outrage in Britain that the company partially reversed itself, returning to a stylized flag (basically a swath of red, white and blue) with a color scheme that evoked the Union Jack. But the flag itself is still gone from BA jets (although it has been picked up by BA competitor Virgin Airways).

In 1965 Canada forsook the long-used Union Jack/Canada Shield flag for the current maple leaf flag, in an officially announced policy to promote "national unity." While this is certainly a laudable goal, changing the flag didn't seem particularly effective, given that Quebec's secession efforts reached their zenith several years after the flag was introduced. Also around this time the Canadian Ministry of Defense abandoned traditional names for the military branches like the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy and adopted the rather sterile term "Canadian Armed Forces." That can only have weakened Canada's connection with the valorous military service of His Majesty's Canadian subjects during two world wars.

In both these cases I see an abandonment of important elements of national heritage for very dubious reasons. This in turn weakens the process of assimilating immigrants, or more precisely, Anglicizing them in the U.K., making Canadian immigrants Canadian, and Americanizing them in this country. As we now realize, such assimilation is indispensable in fighting home-grown terrorism and creating love of country. As for Great Britain, I agree with Mr. Babbin that the Brits have gotten a wake-up call. It's worrisome that despite the terror attacks we've endured in the United States many of us are still asleep.
-- Paul DeSisto
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

I hope you don't mind if I drop in this one time to respond to some questions asked in your referenced article. You did call for debate. I apologize up front for this getting a little long.

But first, I wanted to say what a delight it was to hear you on Hugh Hewitt's show last week. I thought you were hitting it out of the ballpark whenever I happened to be listening in.

I have been thinking much about the anti-terrorism measures that Tony Blair announced on Friday. I was listening to Blair announce these live, and my reaction was probably closer to the leftists than to yours. I was especially concerned about the threat to close down mosques if they harbored speakers of pro-terroristic speech and the requirement for new citizens to speak English. However, I am also concerned about well-intentioned restraints on speech leaching out in unintended ways. While the suddenly right-of-center Mr. Johnson and I were debating this point on Saturday, I used the exact example that I later read in your article -- that of a student being suspended from school for making a gun form with his thumb and finger.

Jed, I want to win this war. With every cell of my being, I believe that we are in a just war, that military action was needed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that it will be required elsewhere before this is all over. When my son is recalled, I will proudly say "Godspeed and good bye for now." If my other son didn't have asthma, he would have been in the Coast Guard. I had five uncles who served in WWII, one was captured by the Germans. Two of my three brothers were in the military. A man who worked down the hall from me was on flight 103 over Lockerbie when it was blown out of the sky. A friend of my niece's was killed in the Khobar towers attack. Every other Friday night, I strap on my ballistics vest and Taser gun to go out and help our city's police. In other words, I am no panty-waisted peacenik. The "war on terror" didn't start on September 11, 2001 for me.

However, the thought of some government board regulating what is legal to say sends shivers up my spine. Who shall we trust to define what is acceptable and what is not? Wouldn't it be vastly better if those of us who really long for peace and justice learn to speak in a way that is more attractive than the rhetoric being spewed by the likes of Mohammed Nassem? Winning the war against Islamofascism by criminalizing radical speech seems to me to be as likely effective as winning the war against drug abuse by criminalizing drug use. The latter is clearly not working.

We must eliminate the leaders of this Islamofascist menace by whatever means available. Innocent people will be sacrificed in the cross-fire. This is war. But I am concerned, very concerned, about a handful of people telling others -- then me -- what can and cannot be said. What we will end up with is more ten year old children being suspended from school for perceived "terror threats" within the natural banter that goes on every day in every school yard in the world. I think there has to be a better way.

Blessings on you, Jed. And, again, it was delight to listen you last week.
-- Sharon Johnson

You asked "under Stewart, it should not [be protected]. It should be classified as 'instructional speech' that 'creates a public danger.'" I totally agree.

I remember watching a reporter at Paul Johnson's house, after his head was sawed off. He picked up a note that a neighbor had left at his home and it said "YESTERDAY I WASN'T A BIGOT... TODAY I AM." That pretty well sums up how I feel.
-- Yvonne Sargent
Crystal Lake, Illinois

Jed Babbin asks, with regard to Islamic hate speech:

"Where do we draw the line with sufficient clarity to pass constitutional muster? Where does freedom of speech and religion end, and where does advocacy of terrorist acts begin?"

Perhaps the administration should label this "commercial speech," since much of it involves raising money. To avoid the red tape of the criminal justice system, enforcement should go to the IRS.

Or perhaps Bush can classify this as "political speech," since much of it is directed to recruiting people to adopt a point of view, and to join their struggle for a desired political outcome.

Our courts have long been circumscribing "commercial" speech, and more recently, with Congress, "political" speech. Or what our Founding Fathers knew as, simply, speech.

Whatever you do, please never refer to terror-inciting speech as "obscene," or "pornographic."
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

FOR THE CHIRRUN
Re: The Prowler's Sinking to a New Low:

Ahhh, the Prowler is always a good read. How odd that the usual group of lefties that chant "Do it for the kids..." are this time around doing it to the kids. Specifically, Mr. Roberts's kids. Have they no shame?

The New York Times has the audacity to dig for sleaze on the Roberts family, but has refused to cover the Gloria Wise/Air America scandal in their own backyard. If by now anyone has doubts as to the bias inherent at the NYT this should certainly clear up the issue.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

BIBLICAL EVOLUTION
Re: Dan Peterson's The Little Engine That Could... Undo Darwinism:

I've always believed that Darwin descended from apes. My family tree, however, shows a descent from Adam.

Darwin's theory of evolution follows the Bible's very closely, from atmosphere to creature. However, morphing from one species to another, well, there's the missing link! Ask any Jewish religious scholar: He'll tell you about Noah. Jews believe that Noah entered the ark on all fours. When he left the ark he walked upright and, not only lost his tail but also his body's protective armor as well. That's right, he wasn't hairy but was protected by the same nail covering as remains on man's fingers and toes. And that is why religious Jews, to this day, bury their nail parings, as a remembrance of ancient times.
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Excellent, well-balanced article. However, experience teaches me that wherever there's such a violent head-butting contest going on, that there's a high likelihood that both sides are wrong in some major way. After all is said and done, we're very ignorant of the origin of life. We assume very much from very little. A shaky platform to stand on at best.

If life was created, then there must necessarily be a creator who was then, of necessity, created, and therefore must have had a creator, who must have had a creator, who... The problem here should be obvious. I'm willing to admit my ignorance, and I wish the rest of you could be big enough to do the same.

It's a pity that in a world so beset with poverty, starvation, pestilence, hatred and war, all this effort can't be put to some more immediately useful purpose.
-- Roy W. Hogue
Newbury Park, California

Two questions:

1. If the amoeba's flagellum is evidence of "intelligent design" because it is so complex and works so well, then is the human appendix, which has no known function except to become infected and kill the owner, evidence of "unintelligent design?" Was it "intelligent design" that made human birth painful and often fatal, when other mammals accomplish it with relative ease? Or on a broader scale, was it "unintelligent design" that allowed dinosaurs and dodo birds to breed themselves into relative helplessness against environmental change?

2. More to the point, would TAS or anybody else give two pins about the correctness of Darwin's theories, if damning his eyes wasn't still a guaranteed vote-getter with the hard core Genesis crowd (a guaranteed bulwark of the right, whatever anyone thinks of their culture)?
-- Martin Owens
Sacramento, California

I want to thank you for printing such an eloquent article. My words are inadequate, I know, but it has long struck me that there is simply an article of faith on both sides, and the vehemence can be striking.

I appreciate Mr. Peterson's ability to articulate in depth exactly how, based on (gasp) science, there may be more to the 'Intelligent Design' side of the debate than the Petri-dish thumpers care to acknowledge.
-- Betti Daniels
Pacheco, California

Let us imagine, like that French atheist scientist whose name escapes me did years ago, a simple two-thousand molecule cell consisting only of two kinds of molecules, one black and the other white (remembering, of course, that the simplest independent living cell, say an amoeba, has millions of thousands different molecules). The next simplifying thing to do is to assume that a special ordering of those 2,000 molecules is required to breathe life into that cell -- say an ordering of one white following one black and so on for all those 2,000 molecules. For that ordering to happen by chance only once you would need some 16 billion years (the age of the universe) and more black and white molecules (10 to the power of 80) than there are in the known universe. By mathematical definition this is the utter impossibility.

Also, the main proof of Darwin's theory of evolution lies in the logical circular reasoning, destroyed by Aristotle some 2,400 years ago. It states that a) an organism survived because it was the fittest, and b) an organism was the fittest because it survived -- a prime example of the stupidest circular reasoning, fit for a basic Philosophy 101 illustration of what Aristotle meant in his theory of logic.
-- Marc Jeric, Ph.D., Engineering, UCLA, 1968
Las Vegas, Nevada

PANHANDLING FOR THE SENATE
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Overblown and Overpaid:

The thing I have found most rankling over the years of the "midnight pay raises" is the number of legislators who preen and pride themselves on the years and years they have GIVEN to public service -- as though they were doing some kind of noble charity work. The final obscenity is their retirement pay -- never mind that they rarely earned a cent of what they received for their "public service."

If I ruled this part of the world, we would have some kind of REQUIRED pauperish public housing for our public servants. No Georgetown mansions for the millionaire dilettantes who have taken up politics as a hobby in preference to big game hunting. Teddy Kennedy and his wife would be living in a two bedroom, one bath apartment. And furthermore, he could not visit Hyannisport or any other pied a terre he might own on the side. Except on his two week vacation.

I would teach him and all the rest, the true meaning of public service. They would all file out of their government provided housing at 7 a.m. to ride to work in an overcrowded bus -- no limo with a phone. And they would stay at work until the work was done. Then they would come home to a home cooked dinner prepared by wifey dear. Public servants don't have servants! Their evenings would not be spent at Georgetown cocktail parties, but rather at home, preparing for the next day's work.

They could not wear makeup rivaling that of a Broadway star on the Senate floor. If I decided to make Durbin, Dorgan, and a few others I could name, remove the hair enhancements they fancy, we would have enough to carpet the Senate floor.

In my administration, what you see would be truly what you get. It would not be a pretty sight, but then again, you wouldn't be paying much for it, either. I would not allow their posturing on C-Span. If you wanted to see the Greatest Show on Earth, it would be on Pay TV -- that would help pay their salaries.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

PARK IT
Re: John Tabin's Moving on the Mullahs:

Iranian nukes + terrorists + Saudi & Iraqi oil fields = increased sales of bicycles
-- David Govett
Davis, California

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