That 7-year Old Afghan Boy Mattered

At 7 years old, most boys in the U.S., and much of the world, are still playing with toy cars and watching cartoons.  We expect them to learn some basic reading and math, and we might take away TV time if they pick on their younger siblings or require some simple chores around the house.  The Taliban, however, has a different outlook on things.  They found a 7 year old boy in Afghanistan, who “may have informed the police or soldiers about planted explosives,” to be a spy, and executed him by hanging.  (via Ann Althouse)

The only reports say that the boy may have been the grandson of a tribal elder; we don’t know his name or face.  We don’t know his mother and father, although we can imagine their grief and shock. 

In September, 2001, I was a college student enrolled in an introductory Anthropology class.  I had class that Tuesday, but it consisted mostly of us staring at a television set that someone had wheeled into the classroom in shock and disbelief, waiting in horror as the first, then the second, tower collapsed and attempting to sort through the early, confused reports of what had happened at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. 

The next class was Thursday, two days later.  Almost every television station was still playing non-stop news coverage; every conversation was still tinged with the week’s grief and fear.  The countries vast fleet of airplanes remained grounded.  The anthropology professor greeted us with a word, underlined, written on the blackboard: Ethnocentrism. Defined by Encarta as: “conviction of own cultural superiority: a belief in or assumption of the superiority of the social or cultural group that a person belongs to.”    Encarta adds another word to the definition as well, a “description of use” that my professor made all too clear: “(disapproving)”.  Despite what had happened, we were not, not to believe that our culture was superior to that of the men who had hijacked those planes.  We were no better, we must know. 

No.  Our culture, most cultures, are better than the culture of the Taliban.  If it is not, then that little boy, the one without a name, doesn’t matter.  If it is not, than his loss is no different than any injustice born of our country’s culture, without regard to time and place.  If it is not, and the culture of the Taliban is equal to our own, there is no point in improvement, and no point in making the changes that our brave men and women are making in Afghanistan. 

But we are better.  The culture in Afghanistan can be better, too, and it will be.  The Taliban, however, the ones who tied a rope around the neck of a child, cannot be better.  They need to be gone.

Looking for Hate in All the Wrong Places

I’m somewhat sorry to admit that I’ve never actually been to a Tea Party protest.  In fact, I’ve never been to any protest at all; they’re just not my style.  Oh, I admit that in my younger days, I was somewhat intoxicated by the allure of hippie-dom, but it was all superficial.  My first year of college coincided with then-President Clinton wagging the dog in the mid-east, and the ensuing rumors of potential war led to many fantasies of growing my hair long and sitting around burning (my male friends’) draft cards while singing songs from Hair.  But then 9/11 came along, and I started answering the few pitiful attempts at anti-war protests with snide comments about whether we should wear our burkas on the way or just change when we got there. 

So, especially now, when I wear suits every day and have a professional haircut and a distinguished-sounding pair of letters following my name, I just can’t see myself standing in a crowd waving a clever sign at a protest, even for a cause in which I deeply believe.  I’m just plain more of the strongly worded blog post or pointless arguments with my friends sort of gal.  But, I do want to join the numbers who are showing their support for this cause, and I do want to be able to say that I took part in something that may prove vital to my children’s and grandchildren’s futures.  More importantly, I need to know what it’s like.  Friendly reports have made it out to be as many wishes and sunshine as the Obama Presidency was supposed to be.  The pure pathetic-ness of reports that aim to contradict tends to back this up.  But there are contradictory reports as well (although unsubstantiated or just plain wrong), and I can’t say for sure unless I”ve been, with my eyes open. 

So, this Thursday, I’ll be tea partying with the best of them.  I won’t carry a sign.  I never was any good at coming up with clever slogans, anyway (witness the name of this blog), and my handwriting is atrocious.  Most importantly, though, I want to ensure that my hands are free for working my camera and smart phone.  I want to document every part of this event.  I will be particularly on the lookout for anything that so much as hints at the bad behavior of so many accusations, and promise to document it to the teeth.  I’m not the most outgoing person, but, if I see anything that so much as hints at racism or calls to violence, I will make an attempt to speak to the person and find out his or her thoughts.  There have been allegations that the not so loyal opposition will be attempting to libel and discredit; this, too I will attempt to suss out.  

I live in the south, in a truly red district.  We are exactly the unenlightened rubes in flyover country that liberals love to loath and scorn.  If there’s anything to see, I can’t imagine that I won’t see it.  If.   I don’t expect to see anything like this, or this, or this, but if I do, you have my word that it will get documented here.  Check back for results.

Update: Published this as a story at NewsBlaze.
Here’s a link to the event that I’ll be attending.

“We don’t have a religion of free speech”

Americans don’t usually draw that much of a distinction between the U.S. and Canada.  After all, we both speak English, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the same countries, and we even share a lot of entertainers.  The differences seem minute: a few cold weather sports, a penchant for saying “eh”, the metric system.  But the Canadians have one difference from the United States that is a long way from tiny.  They don’t believe in freedom of speech. 

Last week, famed conservative columnist and firebrand Ann Coulter was set to visit the University of Ottawa.  However, before she even set forth on Canadian soil, she was met with a warning.  Not a request to be nice or to avoid offense, but a warning based on the power of the law.  

Respect and civility are not bad things, but should they be enforced by threat of criminal charges?  The Canadians clearly believe so.  Notice the provost’s quotes around “free speech,” as if it is a quant concept that they don’t much buy into. 

The limits on freedom of speech did not end there for Ms. Coulter and the people who wished to hear her speak.  The federation of students barred a volunteer from putting up posters advertising her appearance.  Her appearance was ultimately shut down by the police, who, instead of protecting her and her rights, chose to allow the protesters and rioters to control who is allowed to speak. 

Ann Coulter is not the first to find herself on the wrong side of Canada’s restrictive speech laws.  In 2006, Mark Steyn wrote an article in MacCleans magazine titled “The Future Belongs to Islam.”  In American law, defamation, which is not protected by the First Amendment, only occurs if the speech in question is false.  This is not the case in Canada, where Mr. Steyn was brought up on defamation charges before the Orwellian named Human Rights Commission.  The charge: publishing anything that “discriminates against a person or group, or exposes them to hatred or contempt.”  Although the charges were ultimately dropped, Mr. Steyn was forced to devote many months to defending himself against real criminal charges for doing nothing more than expressing his opinion.  In Canada, the right not to be offended trumps the basic human right to free expression. 

Now, I happen to enjoy Ms. Coulter’s wit, although I understand that many of her comments sound ugly to those with little sense of humor.  I think Mark Styne’s writing is often nothing short of brilliant.  But, even for those who don’t, the good, freedom-loving American can start off with “I don’t agree with what that person says. . .” but finish with a strong defense of that person’s right to speak. 

In Canada, they value civility over our most basic freedom.  Susan Cole, from newspaper Toronto Now, explained in an interview with Fox News:

“We don’t have that same political culture here in (Canada)….We don’t have a 1st Amendment, we don’t have a religion of free speech”….

 “Students sign off on all kinds of agreements as to how they’ll behave on campus, in order to respect diversity, equity, all of the values that Canadians really care about. Those are the things that drive our political culture. Not freedoms, not rugged individualism, not free speech. It’s different, and for us, it works.”

Given the choice between freedom and civility, I’ll take freedom every time.

Instapundit Looks into the Future

From my alma mater, Glenn Reynolds discusses 2010 in politics and policies.

They’re college students; they’re not supposed to be concerned with the effects of their actions

Anthony Dick, at NRO, discusses the University of California tuition hike protests, which is being led by students which he refers to as “Whiney Brats.” 

First and foremost, the protests are about privileged kids demanding subsidies from working people. The UC system will continue to be heavily subsidized by taxpayers, and the students who attend are among the most naturally gifted, with the highest future earning potential, in the country. This is especially true at the system’s flagship schools of Berkeley and UCLA, where the protests have been most intense. Narcissism and self-absorption are the norm on college campuses, but it really is pushing the limits to throw such a tantrum at the idea that you will be getting a smaller amount of free money taken out of the paychecks of strapped taxpayers, most of whom could never dream of the advantages and opportunities you enjoy.

Second, these protesters claim the mantle of the free-speech movement, but it is a betrayal and a subversion of the principles of free speech to forcibly occupy a school building and block out its rightful owners and occupants (including other tuition-paying students). The very idea of free speech is to facilitate the peaceful exchange of ideas, without allowing the use or threat of force to distort the process. The whole enterprise suffers when thugs begin breaking out the chains and barricades and committing property crimes in order to get their way.  

As I recall, virtually everything about college was about not accepting the reality of the effects of actions.  Government money was supposed to be spent without limits; it’s origin was not to be questioned.  Policies should never benefit the rich in any way; never mind that rich people create jobs.  Christianity bad, Muslim good; just disregard the towers that fell so dramatically during my junior year.  And so on, and so on.

Why does Mr. Dick expect these students to think any differently?

Let’s talk about how this Columbia University Professor was a victim of white privilege

when he sucker punched a female colleague over a political disagreement. 

The professor, who is black, had been engaged in a fiery discussion about “white privilege” with Davis, who is white, and another male regular, who is also white, Friday night at 10:30 when fists started flying, patrons said.

Davis was spotted wearing sunglasses yesterday to conceal the black eye. Reached at her Columbia office, she declined to comment on the alleged attack.

McIntyre, who is known as “Mac” at the bar, shoved Davis, and when the other patron and a bar employee tried to break it up, the prof slugged Davis in the face, witnesses said.

“The punch was so loud, the kitchen workers in the back heard it over all the noise,” bar back Richie Velez, 28, told The Post. “I was on my way over when he punched Camille and she fell on top of me.”

The other patron involved in the dispute said McIntyre then took a swing at him after he yelled, “You don’t hit a woman!”

“He knocked the glasses right off my face,” said the man, who would only give his first name as “Shannon.” “The punch came out of nowhere. Mac was talking to us about white privilege and what I was doing about it — apparently I wasn’t doing enough.”

McIntyre had squabbled with Davis several weeks earlier over issues involving race, witnesses said. As soon as the professor threw the punch Friday, server Rob Dalton and another employee tossed him out.

“It was a real sucker punch,” Dalton said. “Camille’s a great lady, always nice to everybody, and doesn’t deserve anything like this.”

So, what is Columbia planning to do about this?  How can anyone possibly work with him knowing this?  How can any student dare to ask a question that might challenge him?

More evidence that four years of college education has been rendered useless

Ann Althouse discusses a debate on her college campus over “hip-hop studies.”  Her reaction to a student who stated that not having hip-hop studies would offer an incomplete education because it has “permeated American culture.”:

The answer, Ms. Herron (Merron?) is precisely that pop culture permeates the world of young Americans. Why pursue even more of it in college? Learn new things. Get what you can’t get just living in the world soaking up the things you naturally love and enjoy. What is the point of going to college?

What’s the point, indeed?