I have previously praised the Intelligence Squared debates
Intelligence Squared allows the audience to vote on the
proposition both before and after the debate. My initial vote was against the
proposition, despite having seen for myself some of the disturbing
radicalization around newly-minted Saudi-funded mosques in Africa, in large
part because of trends Amir Taheri pointed out in a Wall Street Journal piece a
couple months back, entitled "Islam at the Ballot Box": "So far, no Islamist
party has managed to win a majority of the popular vote in any of the Muslim
countries where reasonably clean elections are held. If anything, the Islamist
share of the vote has been declining across the board." (And, yes, he addesses the Hamas victory in Gaza.)
By the end of the evening, however, I had been reluctantly sold on a "Yes" vote, mainly as a reaction to the statistics presented by the "for" team regarding the spread of apostasy and blaspheme laws in nations with Islam as the state religion—the death penalty for converting away from Islam, women counting as half a witness in disagreements with a man, legalized honor killings, etc—as well as the fact that the strain of faith now primarily being propagated around the world by the Saudis and Iran is undeniably totalitarian and anti-human. Nomani's tales of how fundamentalism seeping into the West had affected her ability to practice her own faith as an equal was riveting as well.
In the final analysis, I really was more sympathetic to the "against" panelists, who argued, correctly in my estimation, that many of the
negative things attributed to Islam are cultural and political issues
(mis)expressed through the prism of religion. (Of course, I'm one of those
people who believe the world would be much better off if adherents of all the
major religions treated faith as more as a book-of-the-month club with the same
book every month than as supernatural carte blanche to lecture and meddle in
others' lives.) My personal hope, somewhat backed by Taheri's piece, is that the
problems Islamic extremism promises to address are problems it can't possibly
solve, and it's appeal for actual people will eventually wane. They kill Bhutto and the people vote for
relative secularists, not Islamists. And that's in Pakistan.
The debate, however, wound up turning on how one defines "domination." To call Islam dominated by radicals is not the same as calling anything approaching a majority of Muslims radical. The Islamic power structure—those with the cash and the initiative—as it stands on balance now, however, is dominated by radicals. At the end of the lively, at times contentious, debate, the crowd apparently agreed. Our initial voted was 46 percent "for," 32 percent "against," and 22 percent "undecided." Post debate those numbers swung to 73 percent "for," 23 "against," and 4 "undecided."
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online