Looking at the world today, it would seem that Samuel Huntington's thesis of a coming clash of civilizations has been entirely vindicated by the facts. The conflicts that dominate the headlines these days are mostly of an ethnic or cultural nature: the continuing problem of Islamic terrorism and “stealth jihad”, the riots in the United States following the Ferguson incident, and demonstrations in the Netherlands against the custom of “Zwarte Piet”. And in case the reader remarks on the omission of the “new cold war” with Russia, it can also be explained as a revival, not of the ideological confrontation with communism, but of the age-old clash between Western and Orthodox Christianity.
1. Revealing: A reputable Swiss weekly presented Koran verses that incite to violence against unbelievers –which means you, the world and me. The intent: show that violence in the name of God is not an error of confused followers.
The response of Islam experts: to read the Book, you need to be an expert. That confers power because you must believe what they say and not what you see.
The expert excuse for the inexcusable: The Prophet advocated and practiced what has been normal in his time in backward places. Also, Mohammed was under the pressure of enemies, which influenced his pronouncements. Does this mean that not God –who was hardly pressured- but a man, is the Book’s source? Considering the factors of limited time and plenty of enemies, one wonders how violent Christ’s should have been by that standard.
Owen Barfield (1898 - 1997), the English philologist and literary critic, is not an author whom one casually connects with the natively French but long-naturalized American anthropological thinker René Girard (born 1923), but one of Barfield’s coinages – the concept of “internalization,” which he develops in his History in English Words (1926) – makes a good introduction to Girard’s concept of “ontological sickness,” the proposed topic of the present discussion. Barfield uses his term “internalization” to designate an essential characteristic of modernity that can be traced back to the late Seventeenth Century only to reach a degree of alarming acuity three hundred and fifty years later. In both the Pagan order and the medieval Christian order, people grasped nature as vital and as having a reciprocal relation with the individual human being. This perception is rooted partly in the agricultural pattern of the classical and medieval societies, but also powerfully intuitive irrespective of its context. Human beings under this intuition share the cosmos with other beings of various hierarchical orders, some of whom exert influence on people, as the planets and stars supposedly do according to the precepts of astrology. One need not take the propositions of the astrologer literally in acknowledging that, even by modern, skeptical criteria, his nowadays much-disparaged cosmic science grasps an essential truth: That every creature has an environment, with whose fluctuations the creature’s life remains intimately entangled.
Defamation is complete when its pretensions can be used as its proof.
Some countries, parties, and leaders are anathema to our opinion makers. Not everybody nominated as “Berserk Monster” is innocent; some of the pilloried are. America should know about “war by blame” as the “Tea Party country” is credited with global evil. The category of impostors is shared with Israel, Switzerland, and Hungary. Capitalism, the Britons (Farage) are also Hall of Shame inductees.
The case of Hungary and Premier Orbán is sufficiently remote to lend a perspective for an evaluation that might contradict standardized opinions. To correct the main-line media, the “accused” will be allowed to present his case here.
1. All those that mistakenly entertain the notion that they have not been raped by Bill Cosby, please step forward.
2. Obama’s ukase to grant amnesty to illegals has its pros and cons. Going beyond these, a question arises: What will happen when the next ten million shows up and become assertive?
Some news presented with a straight face are hilarious, or would be that, if only they would not be serious. Here a collection of recent absurdities.
1. Turkey’s strong man flirts with a chauvinism coupled to Islamism. Authoritarian regimes will, in the context of backwardness, like to pretend that the sons of the Great Nation have invented everything. Erdogan claims that Moslems have discovered America. (They just did not let anyone find out about it.) Subscribing to a fantasy would not be noteworthy. What makes Erdogan’s (“the minarets are our missiles”) excursion in the past notable is that the doubters are accused of being anti-Turkish. The critics claim that they are only pro-sanity.
“God is on the side of the larger battalions” is credited to Napoleon. Well, he knew about winning and losing wars. His only problem: the final sequence of these occurrences. His stature makes it risky to argue with him. Nevertheless, reservations emerge. Not because his demise was due to the size of his shrinking divisions. Attribute that to sea power and his politics of war and peace that conspired to secure him a one-way ticket on the British Belorophon to a safe island.
Victory and defeat are not singularly determined by physical means. Having been in 1956 on the losing side of the only war the Soviet Union has fought against another “Socialist State”, the author is well aware of the factor of size and equipment. However, even regarding that unequal conflict, the political factor, has been decisive. An excursion into “history” helps to put some aspects of the present into focus.
The record of the last century has been assembled with mosaic pieces of horror. This explains inquiries directed at those that, as conscious contemporaries, have witnessed these wrongs. The past’s adults are faced with a question: “What were you doing? How could you allow such misdeeds to happen?” The answer tends to be “we knew nothing and cold do nothing”.
Whatever the merits of the defense might be, in our day the question, -and the original answer- is again emerging. The compromising case of being an inactive observer posing as an accidental bystander reoccurs. Our welfare, pseudo-safety and the convenient claims of exceptionalism reappear. Soothingly, the excusing pretensions we love, suggest that there is no problem and that all analogies are irrelevant, while the discerned parallels are not applicable. Well, it is not necessarily so. Also, the denial prompted by the wish to self-sedate releases unexpected forces. These will ultimately haunt those that “failed to notice” what did not fit their preconceptions and went contrary to the desire of the uncommitted to be left alone.
Warren Farrell first became suspicious about any links between income disparities between men and women, and discrimination, when it occurred to him that if you could pay women twenty percent less for doing the same job as men, then any company would be irrational to hire men. In a free market, having twenty percent lower labor costs would provide a significant competitive advantage. Since Warren Farrell can’t be the only person to have thought of this, he reasoned that there must be something misleading about pay disparity claims.
What he found was that the statistics frequently cited are not comparing men and women doing the same jobs with the same work experience and length of time at the job. Also, categories like ‘doctor’ include a range of specialties such as psychiatrists and surgeons. Men gravitate towards the higher earning specialties within occupations.
What happens is that men and women tend to make different career choices due to selective pressure from women. Most American women’s preference is to marry a man who earns more than them. This is for the straightforward reason that most American women who plan to marry and have children would prefer to work part-time or not at all in order to devote more time to their children when the children are young. Thus, if a man wishes to be loved by a woman and to be thought of as a desirable mate, he must concentrate on earning as much as possible in order to be seen as an attractive breadwinner. This means that women effectively pressure men to maximize their earning potential. In what seems to be pandering, both Republican and Democrat politicians comment on the wage gap, presumably to garner votes from women who make up the majority of voters.
The fictitious diary of a well-meaning chap.
Humor bridges the gap between reality and tragedy. In doing so, it demonstrates our ability to be amused, no matter what. This pseudo-journal is translated from Hungarian. Some inferences had to be sacrificed because of the uniqueness of the national component of humor. The piece is presented because; good irony has a point to be communicated. Alas, the original source of the text cannot be traced.
2008 04 10: Today I had an interesting experience. A Muslim couple has settled in our town. The refugee family has eighteen members. They are kind and modest and they walk the streets in a file that reminds of ducks waddling on the way to the pond.
2012 01 01: Happy New Year! These Arabs are amusing folks. There are now six families in town. They always smile. Only once, has there been trouble. They had “Wienerschnitzels”, using breaded veal, at the restaurant. Afterwards it came out, that again; the cheating cook used not veal but pork to prepare it. I have seldom seen so much barfing!
2015 03 15: The house next door has been sold. The head of the family is called Ahmed. A strange guy! He has pulled a sack over his three wives. They may toddle that way on our streets. I do wonder what might be hidden under those sacks. Another sack? Who can tell? However, they are full of money even if they do not work. There must be a remote supporter. They also use their fortune to champion new immigrants. I respect that solidarity.