Via Israellycool this Arab written article is rather amazing:

With Israel entering its fourth week of an incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few months ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits, letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV networks. The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in their realism. The best way I can think of to convey them is in the form of a letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends:

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren:

The war with Israel is over.

You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children.

The next phrase sounds just like Sherman:

…you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness.

At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small part of the West Bank of the Jordan. It isn’t going to get better.

Here is Sherman in Jan 1964

Three years ago by a little reflection and patience they could have had a hundred years of peace and prosperity, but they preferred war; very well. Last year they could have saved their slaves, but now it is too late.

All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences.

I attribute Arab movement in this direction to three things: The War in Iraq, The Gaza withdrawal, and Iran’s move for the bomb. It remains to be seen if Israel can win the propaganda war. If it can the whole dynamic of the area can change.

We can be sure that unless totally destroyed Hamas will hold out till at least the 20th to see if there is any change with the new president. It will be interesting. Arthur or Carter. Believe it or not I’m betting Arthur.

In this post I made a rather provocative assertion when explaining why 65,000 civilian deaths dead in the fight against the Tamil-Tigers provoked no protest on the left as opposed to Israel and Gaza:

How could this be? Simple answer. If you can’t blame Jews or Americans, then its not evil or important. Why? Because their final goal is dead Jews. Period.

In is column today, Jay Nordlinger may have a better explanation:

During the Cold War, we used to speak of anti-anti-Communists. These were people (on the left) who were not exactly pro-Communist. But they so hated the anti-Communists, they were . . . well, anti-anti-Communists — the best, the fairest name for them.

Today, there are anti-anti-Islamofascists. They are not on the Islamofascist side in the War on Terror. But they hate those who are fighting, or attempting to fight, the Islamofascists more than they could ever hate the Islamofascists. They are anti-anti-Islamofascists.

The similarities between yesterday’s anti-anti-Communists and today’s anti-anti-Islamofascists would make a very good essay — perhaps by David Pryce-Jones or Norman Podhoretz. Of course, many of today’s anti-anti-Islamofascists were yesterday’s anti-anti-Communists — I mean, the same people, in the flesh.

And it’s all embodied in a publication such as The New York Review of Books.

That is a much more charitable explanation, I’ll have to think on it.

He also touches on another quote I made during the first week of this blog.

You can take this to the bank: Any successful attack on American soil during an Obama administration is going to be wholly owned by not only that administration but the Democratic party.

Here is Nordlinger:

A wise Republican head said to me the other day, “I actually think Obama is going to have a hard time of it.” Here was his reasoning: “Two things Bush has done right are Iraq (after the surge) and preventing a second attack. Those are big achievements to live up to — especially if you don’t believe there is any connection between the president’s means and these ends.

This goes to the heart of the Arthur vs Carter question. Anyway its another reason why Nordlinger should be regular reading for you.

As for yesterday’s anti-anti Communists as today’s anti-anti-Islamofascists; I guess they are fooled twice. Shame on them.

I’ve had my share of atheists who have been hitting the blog lately due to my following of the raving atheist’s conversion. (Thanks for coming and reading btw) If you are one of them this e-mail I received should interest you.

The Royal Mint is coming out with a commemorative £2 of Charles Darwin for his 200th birthday. The link for the coin is here. The price is £7.78 or old style £7.15.3. (About $12 at today’s exchange rate).

From the Royal mint site:

This commemorative £2 coin for 2009 celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin as well as the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. The reverse of the coin, designed by Suzie Zamit, features a profile portrait of Charles Darwin and a chimpanzee together with the denomination TWO POUNDS, the year dates 1809 and 2009 and DARWIN. The presentation folder tells the story of Charles Darwin’s life and achievements and includes a reproduction of original drawings he made during his travels.

With a max run of 25,000 on the folder I’d order now. The Royal Mint makes pretty neat stuff and this coin certainly qualifies.

It would seem to me to be the perfect gift for Atheists in particular but you don’t have to be an unbeliever to appreciate Darwin. His contributions to science are considerable and he certainly rates the coin. It’s a nice coin i’d recommend it to anyone. It would make a particularly good gift for a science or biology teacher too.

I would suggest ordering early however in my experience the royal mint ends up backordered pretty fast. I’d rather have the coins in hand and sit on them for 12 months then order them in November and get them in Feb.

Either Sherman was a much better analogy than I thought or there are a million Civil War buffs out there just dying to use him in a post. The latest is the American Thinker:

While the Union Army respected the sanctity of private homes, all public buildings and infrastructure including railroads were subject to complete destruction. Needless to say, resistance was not tolerated. Millions of slaves were freed in the wake of his march.

Recognizing that it was not in their economic interest to continue the fight, civilian political support for the Confederacy began a precipitous collapse and the war soon ended. Despite rebellious pledges that the “South Would Rise Again”, peace and prosperity has lasted 144 years.

It’s a good argument except for the religious component, if the Palestinian Arabs are convinced that there is a religious component they may fight anyways. Secondly unionists were not summarily executed in the south, just try to express support for Israel in Gaza, hell try to express support for Fatah in Gaza and see what happens. Thirdly you didn’t have schoolrooms teaching their kids everyday that the North was a bunch or murderous barbarians. Although AFTER the war the north didn’t do so well in southern classrooms.

I would have found a source other than Wikipedia myself, after all it’s history and not Doctor Who we are talking about.

At the Huffington Post Martin Lewis hits the bulls eye:

The English have claimed that they are merely retaliating against the V-1 flying bombs being launched indiscriminately by Nazis at their civilian population in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry and other cities. The English point out that their enemy is sworn to its utter destruction and has used the missiles and flying bombs against its civilians without any regard to English loss of life. Moreover it makes the case that their own bombing missions are specifically directed to military targets that the German army has intentionally planted in the heart of civilian populations to try and deter English counter-attacks.

These points may of course be true – but they are utterly besides the point.

Of course England has a right to exist. Of course England has a right to defend itself. But it should ensure that its responses are PROPORTIONATE.

Since many more Germans are dying than English – the English should either tone down the success and accuracy of their bombing – or allow the Germans to catch up on the death count.

Read it all and the comments. via Israellycool guest poster Brian.

Since this is still the 11th day of Christmas this post I found at DarwinCatholic seems an excellent companion to my long one on a Christmas Carol.

I’m far from being alone in my affection for A Christmas Carol, and so there are any number of movie adaptations available as well. This particular year, it happens that I saw two versions, the George C. Scott adaptation which is an absolutely superb film, and also The Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine.

A number of comparisons might spring to mind when watching two such different treatments a few days apart, but in this case what struck me immediately was the way in which each movie attempted to convey the heartlessness of Scrooge’s business methods.

It’s an interesting look at 19th century economics through the eyes of Dickens greatest character.

Well I mentioned one of my pet peeves in my Happy New Year post, its caused a bit of a debate between me and commentator Galapagos Pete. Since it is getting long I figured I’d copy my latest answer as a new post. To follow the debate thus far go here:

I will first post reply to me and answer in a fisking format for easier reading:

“First are you just as angered concerning non-christian religions? If not then why should Christianity get one dander up when other religions do not?”…the former Soviet Union, China and North Korea are or were officially atheist and that didn’t stop them from slaughtering millions upon millions.””

Here’s a sentiment you may have come across in your life:

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Matthew 7:3

Let me explain what that means: Your bad behavior is in no slightest degree excused by the bad behavior of others, even if theirs is worse. If you lose your temper and punch someone in the mouth, no one is going to let you off the hook because someone else who lost their temper killed 9 people. And you shouldn’t let yourself off the hook, either.

But you would only agree with this if you subscribed to a moral code, particularly if it was one you believed was handed down by the supreme being of the universe. (Though, as an atheist who believes that the bible was simply written by men but has some very good thoughts mixed in with mythology, it happens to be a position with which I agree.)

Still didn’t get an answer to the first question concerning all religions vs Christianity. I ask this because this will be (once today’s party is done, tomorrow’s cleanup and a day to recover from both) will lead to a series of re-occurring posts on religion.

Nice dodge using scripture to duck the question however.

And although your explanation of the meaning of the passage is correct your application is wrong. Sin is by definition committed by men (in the traditional sense of the word) not by an organization. I of course use sin in the Catholic Christian definition.

The atrocities committed by the leaders of those countries were not committed in the name of atheism, they were done, in general, to suppress dissent. Religious atrocities are committed by people specifically to please their gods. The bible is full of examples, often done at god’s specific command.

The problem with your argument concerning communism is that the in it the state becomes the moral code and the practice of religion becomes anathema because it produces a moral code based on something other that the state.

This is why atheism can’t produce an effective moral code since it can only be by the standards of those producing it. Since those standards can change quite rapidly the code can then mean whatever people want it to mean at any time. Its great for building straw men but is not way to live a life.

A great example of this is an old column of Richard Cohen that I blogged on a bit ago. He was very free to call people bigots but had no history on the same standard.

I will concede without reservation that there have been things done in the name of religion or in the perversion religion that are contrary to their own moral code. There are also corrupt police who have bent the rules because they either wanted to take a dangerous person off the streets or to frame other for their own ends. Should we then decide that the police are a bad thing and the world would be better without them?

I will also state that religious people have used religion for their own ends, Oral Roberts “send me money or god takes me home bit comes instantly to mind. In current news a certain Governer in Illinois apparently has used elected office for his own ends, should we then eliminate elected office and democratic government?

Bottom line anything can be perverted and used wrongly, that is human nature. Why religion in general or as I would argue Christianity in particular get the majority of your animosity?

You say based on a culture rather than a religion but go on to say “Christian culture” and “Jewish culture.” Which comes first: is the culture founded on the religion or the religion on the culture?

If the former, the religion is very much responsible for the laws of the society. Indeed, this is the very point religionists keep trying to make, that all morality comes from their god in the first place. So religion must be blamed for much unnecessary human suffering.

Your question on which came first is a fascinating one and is the best part of your reply, that is a question for anthropology and would be a great subject for study. Your blame of religion for much human suffering because of its origin also must imply that religion should also get a lot of credit for human good since those same laws would have been in place as mankind advanced.

It is a fun argument because human suffering can be defined under this argument as “something I like that religion says is bad.” If only religion didn’t say stealing is bad, I could take what I wanted I can’t so I suffer. If only religion didn’t say that I could sleep around on my wife, because it says I can’t I suffer, et-al. This frankly is a lot of what the argument comes down to. Religion forbids something I like so it cramps my style. Thus I suffer. That is much of the modern objection to it.

If the latter, then religion is simply something made up by people to justify their petty but dangerous hatreds of those who differ from them, and to use as a club to enforce their will.

The justify my piety statement is fun because without religion you can’t have piety, but you can substitute the word habits since semantics are not the topic. I would again ask my primary question; do you refer to all religion or just Christianity?

As a Christian I believe or rather state that there is only one religious path that is correct, it led through Judaism to Christianity. Since I would state that other religions are “false” they would by definition be made up to some degree, either out of the whole cloth, or by a misinterpretation of events or by deception, but it would seem wrong to impute people’s motives without evidence. There are many Christians who would likely disagree with me on this due to the difference between how the Catholic faith sees other religions as opposed to most protestant denominations. The club bit I would refer to my police reference above.

Anyways that’s all I have time for I have to squeeze in one other post before the wife kills me for sitting on my butt with last minute cleaning to be done and guests due in 6 hours, so any replies to this post and approval to comments will be slow.

Jim Wooten’s round-up in the AJC contains this interesting paragraph:

The city of Ringgold is betting that erecting a statue of Confederate Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne next October will bring tourists with fat wallets eager to spend. It’s on my list —- just after the Golf Hall of Fame, the Music Hall of Fame, the Sports Hall of Fame and the various others that were to be the salvation of some place or other. But give the people of Ringgold credit. The statue was not financed by taxpayers.

Cleburne was one of the most effective commanders of the war, particularly on defense. His men were were renowned for holding back the enemy, it was his men that at Lookout mountain that held Sherman on the right flank while the center gave and who covered their retreat.

What he was not so renowned for has his proposal to emancipate the slaves in 1863 by the south and enlist them.

We can do this more effectually than the North can now do, for we can give the Negro not only his own freedom, but that of his wife and child, and can secure it to him in his old home.

He believed that it would also remove the “all selfish taint from our cause” he figured that slavery was doomed anyway so why not, particularly since tens of thousands of black soldiers were already in the Northern ranks.

It was considered so incendiary that it was suppressed for over 30 years after his death at the battle of Franklin. Foote states that the result of his paper Cleburne was never promoted from that point.

A luckier break the Union never had.