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Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian

Sunday, March 15th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

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Dear Ana Marie Cox,

Like countless others, I read your essay “Why I’m Coming Out as a Christian” with mixed emotions. At times you encouraged me, baffled me, infuriated me, but at the end, I walked away satisfied, knowing that, even though you and I may not agree on everything (or much at all, maybe?), you and I are on the same side of the ultimate decision of all: the decision to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

You impressed me most with some of your elegant descriptions of faith:

In my personal life, my faith is not something I struggle with or something I take particular pride in. It is just part of who I am. [...] I try, every day, to give my will and my life over to God. I try to be like Christ. I get down on my knees and pray. [...] Here is why I believe I am a Christian: I believe I have a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. I believe in the grace offered by the Resurrection. I believe that whatever spiritual rewards I may reap come directly from trying to live the example set by Christ. Whether or not I succeed in living up to that example is primarily between Him and me. My understanding of Christianity is that it doesn’t require me to prove my faith to anyone on this plane of existence. It is about a direct relationship with the divine and freely offered salvation.

A perfect world would greet your essay with the same fanfare it greets people who make all sorts of declarations about their personal life, but as believers in Jesus you and I both know that the world we live in is far from perfect.

Like my colleague, Jon Bishop, I thought that sharing my experiences might add to the conversation. I grew up in the church – there has never been a time in my life when my family wasn’t actively involved in church. The church we attended from the time I was a child until my 11th grade year was a Christian Church. Though they claim not to be a denomination, and there is no hierarchy like a denomination, there’s a doctrinal hegemony within much of the Christian Church, and the congregations share common educational institutions and mission organizations.

In the church where I grew up, I often heard the saying, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love.” Yet this congregation didn’t practice much unity – in fact, every three years or so a big blow-up would take place which would set the church back in many ways.

(It may be worth nothing here that such schisms dot the timeline of the Restoration Movement, which began during the Second Great Awakening in the 19th century and produced the Christian Church, as well as the more liberal Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Church of Christ (both the congregations who use musical instruments and those who don’t), and the Evangelical Christian Church in Canada. Disputes over organization. worship style, and theological liberalism have led to splits within the movement over many years.)

During one of those blow-ups at my home church when I was 16, my family along with about half a dozen other families set out to start a new congregation, one that was truly independent. We saw a need that was lacking in our community and sought to meet it by providing a casual, contemporary worship experience in a theologically conservative setting.

We maintained the loosest of ties with the Christian Church, largely because our pastors and earliest members came from that tradition, but also for the sake of camps for children and students, as well as missionaries. We’ve also kept a few of the Christian Church’s traditions – taking the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and an emphasis on baptism by immersion (though, while the Christian Church considers baptism essential to salvation, we don’t believe that baptism saves an individual – we do consider it a requirement for church membership and an important sacrament for a new believer to undertake).

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After 25 years, give or take a few months, Eastridge Community Church has refined its mission – the mission God gave us – to make disciples who love God, love people, and reach the world. We have served our community in countless ways and sent members on mission trips to Mexico, China, India, Honduras, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. We’ve become a multi-site church with a second campus in the southern area of our home county, and we sponsor churches in India.

One of the most remarkable features of our history is that, other than one change in leadership, we’ve remained largely unified with no splits (save an exodus of some members surrounding that leadership change). It’s the kind of unity that can only come from a congregation that is committed to following God above any other agenda.

How has Eastridge shaped me? It’s where I learned how to serve selflessly, where I developed many of my creative talents and leadership skills. The church has taken me to Mexico to build houses – twice. I’ve been discipled and I’ve discipled others. I love Eastridge so much that I spend six years on staff and recently came back on staff!

Without the involvement in and support from an independent, non-denominational church for a little over 25 years, I wouldn’t be the man of God that I am. I truly believe that, and I’m grateful that He’s allowed me and the rest of my family to experience these years at Eastridge.

Sincerely,

Chris Queen

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Please join the discussion with us on Twitter. The essay above is the twenty-first in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

The essay is the third in a series of inter-faith dialogues on Sundays, see the first from Jon Bishop on March 8, “Why I Am Catholic,” and the second by Susan L.M. Goldberg published earlier today, “Why I Am Jewish.”

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
  12. Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
  13. Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
  14. Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
  15. Becky Graebner on March 11: 5 Things I Learned In My First 6 Months As a Small Business Owner
  16. Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
  17. Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
  18. Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
  19. David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
  20. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

January 2015 – Volume I

February 2015

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Why I Am Jewish

Sunday, March 15th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The essay is the second in a series of inter-faith dialogues, see the first from Jon Bishop on March 8, “Why I Am Catholic.”

Despite the multiple accusations I have received from my own brothers and sisters any time I’ve dared to make a critical observation about our people, I very proudly declare myself to be a Jew. This is not because I feel an obligation to my ancestors, my community, or my tradition although I respect them and their roles in the formation of my identity.

Rather, I choose to be a Jew just as Abraham did, because I choose to be free.

I missed out on the social conformity gene. Never have I managed to fit into any particular social group. At times I was hated for it, but contrary to popular opinion of what being a Jew means, it was thanks to being Jewish that I learned to love being a stand-out in the crowd. At 15 I told my teachers I was legally changing my name to Shoshana, and because of that brash declaration I became one of the coolest kids in school. Why Shoshana? Because that’s what Susans in Israel are called and Israel is the culmination and fulfillment of being a Jew. We don’t just get our own houses of worship, we get an entire nation to call our own. Land is freedom.

And when you are so different and so unique, that spatial freedom is essential to your survival. Whether prophets, cowboys, American patriots, or Zionists, the experiences that speak to me echo the Word of God:

Trust the Lord with all your heart, do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will level your path.

It felt good to stand apart from the crowd precisely because human thinking never made very much sense to me. God makes sense. And what I still do not understand remains the most intriguing mystery in all the universe to comprehend. “I want to know God’s thoughts,” Einstein said, “the rest are just details.” Ben Carson told me to “think big.” You can’t get any bigger than God. “I have broken the bars of your yoke so that you can walk upright,” God reveals to the wandering Jews. God is freedom.

God’s freedom is eternal.

Torah is a guidebook, a covenant that when undertaken agrees that we “choose life so that we may live.” Ezekiel’s dry bones rose from their graves and breathed new life in 1948. While the rest of the world amuses itself with the walking dead, we trust in the words of Isaiah:

Your dead will live, my corpses will rise: awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew like the morning dew, and the earth will bring the ghosts to life.

I do not need to wage war or rage in desperation, wear black spikes or combat gear, raise my fist in defiance, align myself with a cause, or fence myself into the opinions of others in order to be free. I simply need to live as God intended in covenant with Him. God spoke creation into being and the word of the Lord breathed life into the dead. Tanakh is freedom.

“How did you find it in you to survive?” I asked my cantor who lived through the Warsaw Ghetto and the Auschwitz death march.

He replied, “I saw the skull and crossbones on the Nazi soldier’s belt along with the words ‘soldier of God’. They were lying. ‘This is not God,’ I thought. And that gave me the will to survive.”

I am a Jew, and I choose to be a Jew, because despite what the world may lead you to believe, being a Jew means dwelling in eternal freedom.

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Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

See Frank J. Fleming opening the discussion: “ And Mark Ellis: “The Future of Civilized Society: One World

Most people use the word “civilization” as a sign of progress, something to which we should aspire. We’ve slowly worked our way out of the muck, pulling ourselves towards enlightenment. Someday, we will all be shiny and happy. History will end.

That’s bunk.

The dirty little secret that people don’t want to admit is that hard men and women built our society. The soft could not conquer the New World or rise in the industrial revolution. The great conflicts of the twentieth century – two hot wars and a half-century of cold war – required men and women with steel in their bones and ice in their blood to fight.

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We’ve tried to polish off those sharp edges and call it improvement.

And in doing so, we allow bullies to flourish.

Cruel prey upon the weak.

We act civilized. We pass rules, tell kids to talk to adults. I got bullied as a kid. And let me tell you something. Adults are useless. Rules are crap. The most well-meaning adults trying to enforce rules can’t be everywhere.

And when you fight back, zero-tolerance policies punish prey the same as predator. And it goes on. More rules get passed. “Civilization” isn’t the answer.

Violently making sure everyone on the playground knows you will not be a victim is the answer. Celebrating your son or daughter when they come home with a bloody nose and split lip is the answer.

Think back a couple centuries ago. People used to duel over slights to their honor.

Has “civilization” and departing from this tradition changed anything? Are our kids any safer with “zero-tolerance” rules that treat the predator and prey the same?

Can we honestly call that civilization?

We know it’s wrong. Our television shows, the windows into our cultural subconscious, prove that we hate how rules bind the good and empower the vicious.

My parents grew up in a “less civilized age,” when society possessed less formal rules but ran on unwritten consensus and understanding. They understood the system and watched Dragnet and The FBI, stories about hardworking men in gray suits working within the system to enforce the law.

Today, with all of our rules and regulations, we cheer for the anti-heroes.

I just watched Bosch this weekend. Aside from being a great adaptation of Michael Connelly’s series, LAPD detective Harry Bosch gives us a great example of a good man trying to find justice in a civilized world.

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Inside the Millennial Mind: How Wikipedia Users View the World

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Image illustration via Shutterstock /

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Check Out This Amazing Live Bald Eagle Nest Cam

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

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If you’ve ever wondered what a bald eagle nest looks like from the inside, or how a bald eagle cares for her eggs, then check out this live bald eagle cam. Set up in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the cam can give you a rare glimpse into the lives of two majestic bald eagles during their breeding season.

According to the PA Gaming Commission, “The bald eagle’s history in Pennsylvania is a precarious one. Only 30 years ago, we had a mere three nests left in our entire state. With the help of the Canadian government, several agencies including the Pennsylvania Game Commission brought bald eagle chicks back to their states to reintroduce bald eagles to the Northeast. Today, Pennsylvania boasts more than 250 nests.”

If you’re looking for a great way to distract yourself for a few minutes, or just want to share a view of a beautiful bird with your children, follow the link and see what the bald eagles are up to now. You might even be lucky enough to be tuned in when a little eaglet hatches.

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Are Parents to Blame for Their Narcissistic Children?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

New research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at the “Origins of narcissism in children” and finds that “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.”

But wait, what if my child really is the smartest at math in his class, or the best soccer player on her team, or the fastest fourth grader in the school? Is this study of narcissism in children suggesting that I hold back from praising my child’s skills, or areas in which he or she is genuinely exceptional? Well, based on the study, it seems that part of the answer is in the difference between narcissism and self-esteem. According to The Ohio State University communication and psychology professor Brad Bushman, who co-authored the study, “People with high self-esteem think they’re as good as others, whereas narcissists think they’re better than others.”  In other words, yes, by all means, we should praise and love our children, but we should be cautious when it comes to “overvaluing” our children and telling them things that make them believe they are “more special than other children” or that they “deserve something extra in life.”

This study was based on surveys of 565 Dutch children (aged 7-11 when the study began) and their parents. As one might expect, the study found that when parents overvalued their children, they would often claim that their child knew more than a child possibly could — even about fabricated information.  I wonder if that’s because these parents felt that if they claimed their children knew more than other children, that would mean that they are also superior examples of parents.  What better way to sustain one’s own impulse toward overvaluation than by elevating the intellectual stature of our progeny — it’s like narcissism by proxy.

But let’s get back to that key distinction between narcissism and healthy self-esteem. It turns out that even in children with a natural predilection toward narcissism (it isn’t all nurture, after all), if parents show them more warmth and affection rather than overvaluation, it can help curtail that tendency toward narcissism.  Perhaps if this study gains enough attention, and more children get warmth and affection along with positive encouragement,  we’ll see fewer teenagers (and adults) walking in beautiful places taking selfies instead of appreciating what’s in front of them.

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VIDEO: Is Social Media Turning Girls into Drag Queens?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Wayne Goss is a 37-year old makeup artist with 15 years of experience and nearly a million YouTube followers. Lately he’s been receiving a lot of requests from female clients to make them up drag queen style, in large part due to the popularity of the drag queen look on television and social media. As Goss illustrates, drag queens use makeup to create the feminine look already inherent in female faces. Essentially, he’s been asked to mask natural femininity with a false face, leading him to question how we interpret the female look and concepts of natural female beauty.

What have shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race done to redefine the feminine mystique? How has gender feminism contributed to a world where being feminine ironically means wearing a man-made mask?

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Anatomy of a Murder: How Feminism Defends Sex-Selective Abortion

Monday, March 9th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Last year the UK police refused to respond to video footage of doctors agreeing to perform sex-selective abortions that target female babies, claiming that prosecution would “not be in the public interest.” In response to law enforcement’s blind eye, MK Fiona Bruce presented an amendment before Parliament that would ban gendercide in the UK. Originally received with an overwhelmingly positive response, the amendment failed to become law this past week ironically thanks to the seemingly pro-feminist protests of the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress. The language and nature of their protests against this amendment act as yet another illustration of how contemporary feminist ethos, in this case motivated by demented multiculturalism, is actively working against the cause of women’s equality across the globe.

Breitbart London reports that the protest against the amendment was spearheaded by Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, who referenced the language of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a letter to Labour party representatives. In the letter she claims that banning sex-selective abortions would lead to “troubling consequences” such as a limitation on abortions for “gender specific abnormalities.” She also opposed the amendment’s use of the term “unborn child” as “children” are granted more legal protection in the UK than “foetuses.”

Her pro-choice defense was so stereotypical it garnered criticisms dubbing it “at best ludicrous misinformation, and at worse pernicious scare mongering.” As to the “gender specific abnormalities” claim, the law contained a caveat permitting abortions for medical reasons, regardless of gender. For advocates of the amendment, Cooper’s preferential treatment of the word “foetus” over “unborn child” turned her argument into a pro-choice one, plain and simple. If only it were that easy.

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The real perniciousness came in documents circulated by the TUC regarding the gendercide amendment that stated:

“The amendment does not attempt to address the root causes of deeply entrenched gender discrimination but rather has divided communities.” It also said that banning sex selective abortions might leave women vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Sex-selective abortion is rooted in specific cultural beliefs. That’s right: Stop everything and sound the multiculturalist alarm bells, lest we step on anyone’s toes, child, foetus or otherwise. In a 2012 report titled “Why do feminists ignore gendercide,” the Heritage Foundation details:

“Son preference is a symptom of deeply rooted social biases and stereotypes about gender,” a representative of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum said in congressional testimony. “Gender inequity cannot be solved by banning abortion.”

Jonathan V. Last, who writes about cultural and political issues, begs to differ. The choice is clear, he argued last summer in the Wall Street Journal. “Restrict abortion,” Last wrote, “or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.”

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Does Being Jewish Mean Going to Temple, or Going to Israel?

Sunday, March 8th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Last week I expounded upon why my husband and I have chosen not to join a synagogue. The backlash I received, oddly enough primarily from Christian readers, essentially boiled down to accusations of selfishness on my part and an unwillingness to contribute to a community. My question in response is simple: What exactly defines “community” in terms of being Jewish? A reader by the name of Larry in Tel Aviv wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with every one of your points and you could add a few more! Such as one wouldn’t know the first thing about anti-Semitism in the world today, the nature of the threats Israel faces and related, from the rabbis and synagogue politicos. In fact you wouldn’t know anything important about anything that matters, not from synagogue, not much from Hebrew School neither (even Hebrew is largely poorly taught, with exceptions).

Which prompted me to ask myself: Do Jews in America know how to be Jewish without institutional backing?

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Based on some of the comments I received from Christian readers, it would seem that religion in America requires some kind of institutional affiliation in order to be legitimized. Whether it’s a church, temple, or yoga studio religious folks of all stripes need a facility through which to connect to one another in order to establish and reinforce their religious identity. Historically speaking, Mordecai Kaplan emulated this concept when he reconstructed the idea of synagogue as community, the physical center of Jewish life in Diaspora America. Why don’t Jews necessarily need this institutional bond today? The answer is simple: We have Israel.

As I mentioned in my last article, one of the reasons why my husband and I have elected not to join a synagogue is that we’d rather spend the money going to Israel. Some of those reasons include the reality expounded on by Larry in Tel Aviv. If you want a solid geographical, cultural, historical connection to being Jewish, you find it in Israel. If you want to understand that being Jewish is both secular and religious at the same time, you learn that in Israel. If you want to know how to establish a lasting Jewish identity, you figure it out in Israel. We were not a group of popes and monks called upon to cordon ourselves off behind incensed walls in medieval monasteries. We were and are a nation and a national identity requires more than just a religious makeup in order to thrive.

Everything is more honest in Israel. The rabbinate openly functions as a political entity and the population treats it as such. As many Jewish Israelis that don’t attend synagogue do profess faith in God. When they talk about religious freedom it has nothing to do with the Almighty and everything to do with the almighty rabbinical overlords who abusively claim heavenly authority to determine who is and isn’t Jewish, who can and can’t marry and divorce, and who should and shouldn’t serve in the military.

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Clint Eastwood’s 10 Greatest Acting Performances

Friday, March 6th, 2015 - by Kyle Smith

Clint Eastwood’s unexpected career renaissance this winter with American Sniper has reaffirmed his position as one of the most respected and formidable filmmakers. But what were his best performances as an actor?

10. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Like Gary Cooper turned ruthless, Eastwood made under-acting his byword as he and Italian director Sergio Leone created the mysterious, almost wordless “Blondie,” aka the Man with No Name, who finds himself partnered with a clownish criminal (Eli Wallach) in a race with the bloodthirsty Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) to find a stash of gold. Eastwood perfected the terrifying squint but in his performance (and Leone’s direction) there’s a hint of witty self-mockery also.

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9. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Clint plays a bank robber whose habit of breaking into safes with a cannon earned him the nickname “Thunderbolt.” His buddy-movie chatter with a manic young driver (Jeff Bridges) showed off Eastwood’s gruff-but-dry sense of humor as the two hook up for a major heist. Eastwood even gets to play a minister and a cop along the way.

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8. In the Line of Fire (1993)

Eastwood isn’t the first guy you’d think of to play tortured, but he did fine work as a Secret Service agent forever haunted by his failure to stop the Kennedy assassination in Dallas. Beaten-up but still a pro, he gets another chance to redeem himself when a lunatic former CIA operative (John Malkovich) plots another presidential assassin. Eastwood used his age to great effect, making his character unusually damaged and vulnerable.

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7. Gran Torino (2008)

A victim of changing economic and cultural times, Clint’s Walt Kowalski clings to his notion of an Archie Bunker-era America the same way he keeps his 1972 Ford in primo condition, as a monument to manufacturing greatness when he used to work at the Detroit plant. It’s a measure of Eastwood’s deep appeal that he could make an embittered racist so strangely sympathetic, and Eastwood slyly modulates the character’s attitudes without dropping the snarls.

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Curt Schilling Shows Us How to Take Down Nasty Twitter Trolls Who Harass Women

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

In case you missed it, Curt Schilling was not impressed with someone harassing his daughter via Twitter and so he decided to do something about it. Here’s how he introduced the situation on his blog:

I thank God every day that Facebook and Twitter, instagram, vine, Youtube, all of it, did not exist when I went to High School. I can’t imagine the dumb stuff I’d have been caught saying and doing.

If you are a dad this is something you well know already, if you are a dad with a daughter this is likely to get your blood going. If you are a boy, or young man, or husband, and you haven’t experienced children yet, or haven’t had a daughter, it’s next to impossible for you to understand.

My daughter, my one and only daughter, has worked her ass off playing sports the past 9-10 years. She’s loved it, and I’ve loved being able to both watch, and coach along the way.

Last week we were told she’d been accepted to college and will begin playing softball there next year.

Understandably, the former MLB pitcher was proud of his daughter’s achievement, and probably never imagined that sharing that pride publicly with his daughter via Twitter would invite the ugly comments of two textbook Internet trolls. We won’t repeat the offensive Tweets here, but suffice it to say that Schilling was well within his rights to be outraged and offended that anyone would say the things that were said to his daughter via Twitter.

Here’s what Schilling first posted about the incident on his own Twitter feed:

While it might have been one of the first things he said publicly about the incident, it also happens to summarize the directed, serious nature of his response to it all. Rather than just getting angry and responding to the culprits directly in a form of a flame war, Schilling opted instead to ask for help from his Twitter followers:

He even received a response from a Twitter employee:

As it turns out, though, Schilling was being modest. He says on his blog that he’s been using computers since 1981 and that he’s not unfamiliar with the pitfalls of social media sites like Twitter. It’s not all that surprising, then, that he not only took in the names of the two miscreants who were harassing his daughter, he shared their information on his website:

“The Sports Guru”? Ya he’s a DJ named Adam Nagel (DJ is a bit strong since he’s on the air for 1 hour a week) on Brookdale Student Radio at Brookdale Community College. How do you think that place feels about this stud representing their school? You don’t think this isn’t going to be a nice compilation that will show up every single time this idiot is googled the rest of his life? What happens when a potential woman he’s after googles and reads this?

The other clown? He’s VP of the Theta Xi fraternity at Montclair State University. I gotta believe if Theta Xi is cool with a VP of one of their chapters acting like this I’d prefer to have no one I know in it. Also, does anyone attending Montclair State University have a student handbook? If so can you pass it along because I am pretty sure there are about 90 violations in this idiots tweets.

I stopped because the rest was more of the same. And while these, to me as a dad, are just stupid and vile in ways you can’t fathom, they aren’t alone.

There have been personal tweets, texts and emails to more than one party in all this.

In other words, he was making sure that there would be real-world repercussions to their online actions.  And there have been consequences. The Sports Guru has been suspended by his school and is now being investigated by the police and the clown from Montclair State University, Sean MacDonald, has been fired from his job with the Yankees. You can follow Schilling’s updates on further repercussions either by following him on Twitter or visiting his blog.

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Is This the Most Bizarre Bar Mitzvah Video of the Year?

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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There’s a subset of Jewish culture that has so much money to blow on their kids that celebrations like Bar Mitzvahs turn into outrageous, television-worthy affairs. If you want the full story in the form of a cute, thoughtful comedy, check out Keeping Up with the Steins. If you want to skip straight to the awkward horror of the real-life version, watch the video above, posted by the UK Jewish News with the one line comment:

Usually, we’d write something here, but we are a little speechless.

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7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Don’t let the appearance of Rainn Wilson fool you. Everett Backstrom is no Dwight Schrute, nor is Backstrom yet another take on the Sherlock trend. This smart, funny detective series walks into dark territory to examine the human desire to look toward the light. It goes against formula and against the grain manipulating authority and questioning politically correct cultural norms in pursuit of truth, justice and, even more intriguingly, redemption from evil. Here are 7 reasons why Backstrom is trendsetting, essential counter-culture conservative television that demands a place on the air.

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The Case Against Synagogue: 4 Reasons My Jewish Family Doesn’t Go

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A few years ago my husband learned that the cantor who had supervised his Bar Mitzvah was forced into retirement. More than one member was floored that the now elderly man who survived the comings and goings of countless rabbis would be sent out to pasture because he didn’t fit the board’s “youthful” marketing strategy. Over five years later that same “out with the old” synagogue is struggling for membership. Every once in a while we’ll see signs in yards throughout our area offering an inclusive experience for Jews (“especially intermarrieds!”, often code for desperation) who want to find a “synagogue home.”

For us, the irony of the cantor’s story is one of the many elements that arise during the yearly “should we join a synagogue” discussion. Inevitably, we reach a series of conclusions common among Gen-X/millennial crossovers like ourselves. However, contrary to the popular opinion that money is the bottom line, our reality is that we don’t need to affiliate with a synagogue in order to live Jewish lives. And apparently we aren’t alone.

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Contemporary Feminism’s War Against Women in the Name of Radical Islam

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Owen Jones opines in the UK Guardian that women are “taken less seriously than men” and, as a result, the “pandemic of violence against women will continue.” Coming on the heels of the famed Arquette faux pas at the Oscars, his essay easily reads as more of the same old “War on Women” schtick, and to a great extent it is. However, his opening argument is worth noting for what it does say and for what Jones does not. Somehow, like most contemporary feminists with a platform, he manages to acknowledge the grotesque abuses of women living in Islamic cultures while completely refusing to point out that radicalized Islam is the number one serious threat to women across the globe.

Jones begins by recounting the story of Özgecan Aslan a 20-year-old Turkish college student who was tortured, raped and murdered, her body then burned as evidence, by a bus driver.

Across Twitter, Turkish women have responded by sharing their experiences of harassment, objectification and abuse. But something else happened: men took to the streets wearing miniskirts, protesting at male violence against women and at those who excuse it or play it down. Before assessing how men can best speak out in support of women, it’s worth looking at the scale of gender oppression. The statistics reveal what looks like a campaign of terror. According to the World Health Organisation, over a third of women globally have suffered violence from a partner or sexual violence from another man. The UN estimates that about 133 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation, and believes that nearly all of the 4.5 million people “forced into sexual exploitation” are girls and women.

He stops there, short of pointing out that the WHO statistics cited clearly show that the greatest threat of violence against women exists in primarily Islamic countries. While he mentions female genital mutilation, he again neglects to tie in the fact that FGM is most commonly practiced in Muslim countries and among extremist Islamic cultures.

Jones bases his argument in a story of a Muslim girl tortured and murdered by a man in a Muslim country that is growing more religious by the day, only to devolve into the same demeaning politically correct tropes of contemporary gender feminism. He finds it ironic that men dare to call themselves feminists and decides “…men will only stop killing, raping, injuring and oppressing women if they change.” Change what? Their gender? For Jones, as it is for so many other feminist activists, it is easier to just throw a blanket of blame onto men than to confront the source of evil that exacts a real “campaign of terror” against women: radical Islam.

What’s worse, Jones doesn’t hesitate to make his case for women all about gay men. In yet another ironic twist, after accusing men of co-opting the feminist movement for their own egotistical needs, he uses gender feminist theory to defend a tangent on gay rights:

And while men are not oppressed by men’s oppression of women, some are certainly damaged by it. Gay men are a striking example: we are deemed to be too much like women. But some straight men suffer because of an aggressive form of masculinity too. The boundaries of how a man is supposed to behave are aggressively policed by both sexism and its cousin, homophobia. Men who do not conform to this stereotype – by talking about their feelings, failing to objectify women, not punching other men enough – risk being abused as unmanly. “Stop being such a woman,” or “Stop being such a poof.” Not only does that leave many men struggling with mental distress, unable to talk about their feelings; it also is one major reason that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

If gender stereotypes are a cause of male suicide, they only have gender feminists to blame. Wait – wasn’t this supposed to be an argument in favor of feminism and the female voice?

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Lord Reptile’s Top 5 Apocalypse Movies

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 - by Jeremy Swindle

You’re reading the concluding post for Preparedness Week, a weeklong series of blogs about disaster and emergency preparation inspired by the launch of Freedom Academy’s newest e-book, Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terrorby James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. You can download the e-book exclusively at the PJ Store here.

5. Mortal Kombat

If the apocalypse means having my skull smashed open on the rocks by Goro while Napalm Death plays then count me in. After all, Reptile is just Shang Tsung’s humble bodyguard for swatting down mortal weaklings in this film. The Reptile can take a few body slams with no problem.

Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with the Mortal Kombat video games’ plot it shouldn’t matter. The movie involves a brutal tournament between the mortals of Earthrealm and Shang Tsung’s flunkies of Outworld. If Earth’s warriors lose the 10th tournament, the emperor Shao Khan becomes the ruler of Earthrealm.

I’m not going to spoil the ending but it should be fairly obvious that a certain Shaolin monk by the name of Louis Kang lays the smack down on the evil sorcerer and reappears for the sequel, Annihilation. This is the only proper MK film. Don’t bother with any others.

Mortal Kombat is a fine apocalyptic movie for parties or any situation.

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If You Could Sit Down For a Heart-to-Heart with Barack Obama, What Would You Say?

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 - by Robert Spencer
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Here is the dialogue we had:*

OBAMA: Most recently, with the brutal murders in Chapel Hill of three young Muslim Americans, many Muslim Americans are worried and afraid.

SPENCER: You’ve apparently decided that the murder of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Tuesday was a hate crime. What is the evidence that it was an anti-Muslim hate crime? Well, the victims were Muslims, and the murderer was non-Muslim. And the father of two of the victims says he expressed opinions that he never told to his wife or put on his Facebook page, and that his wife says he did not hold — but which you and the Islamic supremacist establishment would have us believe he held so strongly that he ultimately killed for them. And his Facebook page does reflect that he was an atheist who hated all religions, especially Christianity. That’s it. That’s enough nowadays, plus the fact that you want this to be considered a hate crime, so as to further your case that Muslims are being victimized, which preoccupies you far more than non-Muslims who are being victimized by Muslims. I notice that you’ve said nothing about non-Muslims being worried and afraid over jihad terror attacks.

OBAMA: First, we have to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies that these terrorist groups use to incite people to violence.

SPENCER: Confronting squarely and honestly the ideology of the Islamic State and al Qaeda is exactly what you seem determined not to do.

OBAMA: Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.

SPENCER: What you’re saying here reflects the argument that has been common and prevailing in Washington for years, that we must not call the Islamic jihadists “Islamic jihadists,” because that will give them the legitimacy they’re seeking among Muslims. The fallacy here is that you and others who hold to this view are assuming that Muslims care what non-Muslim leaders say about who is Islamic and who isn’t. But given the fact that the Qur’an calls believers “the best of people” (3:110) and the unbelievers “the most vile of created beings” (98:6), that is unlikely in the extreme.

You say, “Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek,” but in reality this legitimacy is not within the power of any non-Muslim to grant — or to withhold. The Muslims who join al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are not listening to Western non-Muslim leaders; they’re listening to their imams and reading the Qur’an. In all these years of non-Muslim leaders insisting that we must withhold “legitimacy” from these jihad groups, there has not been even one single report of a Muslim who was going to join a terror group until he heard Bush or David Cameron or Tony Blair or you say that those groups were not Islamic. And the insidious aspect of it is that this claim that calling the jihadists what they are gives them a spurious legitimacy is used to foreclose upon honest examination of their motives and goals.

And in saying, “we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” you’re effectively saying,: We are not going to confront the jihadis’ ideology. We are not going to examine the jihadis’ motives and goals, and we’re not going to call on Muslim communities to reject them. Instead, we’re going to partner with other Muslims who share those motives and goals but aren’t blowing anything up.

OBAMA: Of course, the terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology. They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism.

SPENCER: I notice that you don’t give the names of any “madman who kills innocents in the name of God” who are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu. With 25,000 jihad terror attacks committed in the name of Islam since 9/11, the naming of a single person or incident here or there would only point up the glaring disparity. And as for your claim that “no religion is responsible for terrorism,” this is just begging the question: Does the Islamic religion encourage violence and supremacism? Is it even possible for any religion to do this? Why not? Why do you forbid examination of this question?

OBAMA: And to their credit, there are respected Muslim clerics and scholars not just here in the United States but around the world who push back on this twisted interpretation of their faith. They want to make very clear what Islam stands for. And we’re joined by some of these leaders today. These religious leaders and scholars preach that Islam calls for peace and for justice, and tolerance toward others; that terrorism is prohibited; that the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind. Those are the voices that represent over a billion people around the world.

SPENCER: The attendees included Wajahat Ali, an Al Jazeera host with Muslim Brotherhood ties who was co-author of one of the “Islamophobia” smear pieces designed to discredit foes of jihad terror, and Nicole Mossalam, who “has been dishonest about her controversial mosque blocking congregants from giving police information during their investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing.” You claim that there are “Muslim clerics and scholars not just here in the United States but around the world who push back on this twisted interpretation of their faith,” yet there is not a single mosque or Islamic school anywhere in the United States or anywhere else that has a program to teach Muslims to reject the understanding of Islam presented by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

OBAMA: But if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people, if we’re going to lift up the voices of tolerance and pluralism within the Muslim community, then we’ve got to acknowledge that their job is made harder by a broader narrative that does exist in many Muslim communities around the world that suggests the West is at odds with Islam in some fashion.

SPENCER: Any resistance to jihad terror brings this charge. The only way you will be able to eradicate it will be to surrender completely.

OBAMA: The reality — which, again, many Muslim leaders have spoken to — is that there’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances — sometimes that’s accurate — does buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a history of colonialism or conspiracy; does buy into the idea that Islam is incompatible with modernity or tolerance, or that it’s been polluted by Western values.

SPENCER: So you’re saying that some Muslims have legitimate grievances against the West. This is a signal that more concessions, probably in the form of more taxpayer billions, will soon be in the offing. When jihad terror rages more virulently than ever after those billions have been squandered, will you think of another excuse?

OBAMA: So just as leaders like myself reject the notion that terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam, that there’s an inherent clash in civilizations. Everybody has to speak up very clearly that no matter what the grievance, violence against innocents doesn’t defend Islam or Muslims, it damages Islam and Muslims.

SPENCER: Islamic jihadists don’t generally consider non-Muslims capable of being “innocent” — they are guilty by virtue of having rejected Islam.

OBAMA: As we go forward, we need to find new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion — and we especially need to do it online. We also need to lift up the voices of those who know the hypocrisy of groups like ISIL firsthand, including former extremists. Their words speak to us today. And I know in some of the discussions these voices have been raised: “I witnessed horrible crimes committed by ISIS.” “It’s not a revolution or jihad…it’s a slaughter…I was shocked by what I did.” “This isn’t what we came for, to kill other Muslims.”…

SPENCER: Your preoccupation with Muslims killing other Muslims as a talking point that you think discredits the Islamic State is once again based on your ignorance of Islam or refusal to speak honestly about it. The Qur’an (4:92) does prohibit Muslims from killing other Muslims, but Islamic law doesn’t consider this to include those considered apostates and heretics; both apostasy and heresy carry a death sentence. And it certainly doesn’t include non-Muslims, whom Muslims are commanded to kill in several Qur’anic verses (2:191; 4:89; 9:5; 9:29; 47:4). Several times over the years I’ve posted stories at my website www.jihadwatch.org about Muslims being indignant about this or that group killing other Muslims when there is never the same indignation when they kill Muslims: the non-Muslim lives are cheap, and are indeed explicitly devalued in Islamic law. So when you talks about the Islamic State killing Muslims, you’re feeding the Islamic supremacist notion that only Muslim lives matter.

OBAMA: So that’s the first challenge — we’ve got to discredit these ideologies. We have to tackle them head on. And we can’t shy away from these discussions. And too often, folks are, understandably, sensitive about addressing some of these root issues, but we have to talk about them, honestly and clearly. (Applause.) And the reason I believe we have to do so is because I’m so confident that when the truth is out we’ll be successful. Now, a second challenge is we do have to address the grievances that terrorists exploit, including economic grievances. Poverty alone does not cause a person to become a terrorist, any more than poverty alone causes somebody to become a criminal. There are millions of people — billions of people — in the world who live in abject poverty and are focused on what they can do to build up their own lives, and never embrace violent ideologies.

SPENCER: Bitterly ironic: you’re saying we have to “discredit these ideologies” and “tackle them head on,” but you yourself refuse to do so. You never give a hint from this speech or any other that there are any Islamic doctrines that actually call for the behavior we see from jihadis. Your refusal to acknowledge that makes this whole enterprise doomed to failure.

OBAMA: Conversely, there are terrorists who’ve come from extraordinarily wealthy backgrounds, like Osama bin Laden. What’s true, though, is that when millions of people — especially youth — are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliations on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester. The risk of instability and extremism grow. Where young people have no education, they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas, because it’s not tested against anything else, they’ve got nothing to weigh. And we’ve seen this across the Middle East and North Africa.

SPENCER: CNS News noted in September 2013 that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’” But the dogma that poverty and lack of education cause terrorism persists. And so…grab your checkbook.

OBAMA: And by the way, that’s boys and girls, and men and women, because countries will not be truly successful if half their populations — if their girls and their women are denied opportunity.

SPENCER: Are you going to call upon Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and other states that implement Sharia in whole or part to grant women equal rights?

OBAMA: Just as we address economic grievances, we need to face a third challenge — and that’s addressing the political grievances that are exploited by terrorists. When governments oppress their people, deny human rights, stifle dissent, or marginalize ethnic and religious groups, or favor certain religious groups over others, it sows the seeds of extremism and violence. It makes those communities more vulnerable to recruitment. Terrorist groups claim that change can only come through violence. And if peaceful change is impossible, that plays into extremist propaganda.

SPENCER: This will just lead to more Sharia, which is what the jihadists want anyway. You’re saying, We have to give them peacefully what they want to take by force. Your support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is the quintessential example of this. The unpleasant fact is that if there is a free election, many Muslim populations will vote for Sharia. Most Washington analysts would say, “Then let them have it.” Sure. But if you want to stop people who “deny human rights, stifle dissent, or marginalize ethnic and religious groups, or favor certain religious groups over others,” if you’re going to be honest about it you will have to move against Sharia states.

OBAMA: So the essential ingredient to real and lasting stability and progress is not less democracy; it’s more democracy. It’s institutions that uphold the rule of law and apply justice equally. It’s security forces and police that respect human rights and treat people with dignity. It’s free speech and strong civil societies where people can organize and assemble and advocate for peaceful change. It’s freedom of religion where all people can practice their faith without fear and intimidation. All of this is part of countering violent extremism.

SPENCER: Here again, you say you want democracy. Very well. You got it in Egypt and it led to Sharia. That led to denial of free speech and the freedom of religion. Will you ever address this paradox?

OBAMA: We have to be honest with ourselves. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL deliberately target their propaganda in the hopes of reaching and brainwashing young Muslims, especially those who may be disillusioned or wrestling with their identity. That’s the truth. The high-quality videos, the online magazines, the use of social media, terrorist Twitter accounts — it’s all designed to target today’s young people online, in cyberspace.

SPENCER: How slick would a video or an online magazine have to be in order to move you to travel to Syria or Iraq and commit mass murder, rape, etc.?

OBAMA: So these terrorists are a threat, first and foremost, to the communities that they target, which means communities have to take the lead in protecting themselves.

SPENCER: What about when those communities decide to protect themselves from the FBI instead?

OBAMA: So, in our work, we have to make sure that abuses stop, are not repeated, that we do not stigmatize entire communities. Nobody should be profiled or put under a cloud of suspicion simply because of their faith. Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance. We can’t “securitize” our relationship with Muslim Americans — dealing with them solely through the prism of law enforcement. Because when we do, that only reinforces suspicions, makes it harder for us to build the trust that we need to work together.

SPENCER: Very well. So we’ll pretend as if Amish communities are just as likely to give rise to violent behavior as Muslim communities. Islamic supremacist leaders will be thrilled, but the misallocation of resources could be deadly.

OBAMA: As part of this summit, we’re announcing that we’re going to increase our outreach to communities, including Muslim Americans. We’re going to step up our efforts to engage with partners and raise awareness so more communities understand how to protect their loved ones from becoming radicalized. We’ve got to devote more resources to these efforts.

SPENCER: Nothing new. Remember: the only contact that the FBI had with the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) before the Boston Marathon jihad massacre was for “outreach.” There was never any investigation of why so many jihad terrorists were connected with the ISB.

OBAMA: Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.

SPENCER: That is simply fantasy. There were no Muslim Founding Fathers. There were no Muslim soldiers in the Revolution, or the War of 1812, or the Mexican War, or the Civil War, etc.

OBAMA: And of course that’s the story extremists and terrorists don’t want the world to know — Muslims succeeding and thriving in America. Because when that truth is known, it exposes their propaganda as the lie that it is. It’s also a story that every American must never forget, because it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country. It’s not just counterproductive; it doesn’t just aid terrorists; it’s wrong. It’s contrary to who we are.

SPENCER: Indeed so — but in a climate in which every honest examination of how Islamic doctrine incites some Muslims to violence and terror is condemned as “bigotry” and “prejudice,” these are ominous words that probably herald new efforts to restrict the freedom of speech and impose Sharia blasphemy laws on the U.S.

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OBAMA: I’m thinking of a little girl named Sabrina who last month sent me a Valentine’s Day card in the shape of a heart. It was the first Valentine I got. I got it from Sabrina before Malia and Sasha and Michelle gave me one. So she’s 11 years old. She’s in the 5th grade. She’s a young Muslim American. And she said in her Valentine, “I enjoy being an American.” And when she grows up, she wants to be an engineer — or a basketball player. Which are good choices. But she wrote, “I am worried about people hating Muslims….If some Muslims do bad things, that doesn’t mean all of them do.” And she asked, “Please tell everyone that we are good people and we’re just like everyone else.” Now, those are the words — and the wisdom — of a little girl growing up here in America, just like my daughters are growing up here in America. “We’re just like everybody else.” And everybody needs to remember that during the course of this debate.

SPENCER: “If some Muslims do bad things, that doesn’t mean all of them do.” This is a very familiar deception that we hear all the time from Islamic supremacist groups: that to examine how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism is to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few. This is hogwash. Of course Muslims are just like everybody else. The question is whether the texts and teachings of Islam incite them to commit acts of violence and think that they’re serving their god when they do. But that question is not allowed to be asked.

At this moment I was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on my return to my room, found, to my no small surprise and mortification, that though I still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of my meeting with Obama, yet, with the exception of the lines above, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas, without the after-restoration of the latter!

* Just in case it isn’t obvious to everyone, this is an imaginary dialogue. Obama’s remarks, however, are real: they’re taken from his closing speech at his Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, as reproduced at White House.gov on February 18.

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What would your dialogue with the President sound like? Submit your version of a Heart-To-Heart you’d like to have with the Commander-In-Chief to Daveswindlepjm AT gmail.com.

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image illustrations via shutterstock / 

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The Best Disaster Movie You’ve Never Seen

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Pierre Comtois

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You’re reading a post for Preparedness Week, a weeklong series of blogs about disaster and emergency preparation inspired by the launch of Freedom Academy’s newest e-book, Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. You can download the e-book exclusively at the PJ Store here.

Who hasn’t fantasized about being the last man on Earth? The notion of having the whole world as your personal playground with unlimited resources and all the time you need to do whatever you want is a pretty enticing one.

At first glance anyway.

But then, as your imagination continued to explore the scenario, loneliness would enter the picture and then wild animals and pets gone feral, and physical injury that you might not be qualified to handle.

So your imaginings become broadened to include finding the last woman on Earth (beautiful naturally) and training yourself to handle weapons against both the beasts and other humans who’ve allowed their base instincts to overcome their civilized veneer.

From there, it’s a short step to fending off packs of other people eager to kill you and steal your supplies (not to mention that last beautiful woman).

Books such as M. P. Shiel’s classic Purple Cloud, movies like The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, and television episodes like the Twilight Zone‘s “Time Enough at Last” have all explored the theme of last survivors following some disaster that wipes out the human race, but few have dealt with a realistic approach to the theme: what would it be like to really live and survive in a post-disaster world?

That question is raised by terrorism expert and former Army Lt. Colonel James Jay Carafano in his new e-book Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror.

In his book, Carafano provides a to-do list of items that any ordinary person can accomplish in preparation for not-too-unlikely end-times-type scenarios from cyber warfare and EMP events to terrorist-caused bio-warfare and natural disaster.

In his introduction, Carafano gets to the heart of the matter, making an argument that a logical approach based on traditional American self-reliance could go a long way in ensuring a person’s survival in a post-holocaust world, and that the shattered society can avoid the bloodletting that’s often depicted in Hollywood-style end of days epics:

The most useful steps for protecting everyday Americans against the very worst life has to has offer are about cultivating the kinds of commonsense skills, knowledge, and attributes that make for more productive, resilient and self-confident citizens…. They strengthen our faith in God, caring in our community, and love of family. They reduce stress, build confidence and inspire creativity. Every right-thinking American ought to be doing them anyway.

The author goes on to note how decades of Hollywood disaster films haven’t helped, conditioning people to think there will be no hope for the average person and that the only ones that will have a chance of surviving are the Rambo types who dispense with accepted moral conventions:

Hollywood’s message is there is no middle ground–no place for sensible, rational precautions or actions.

In general, the author’s estimation of how popular entertainment addresses post-disaster scenarios is pretty accurate —  just take a look at any episode of TV’s The Walking Dead for instance. But there’s at least one exception I’d suggest: Panic in Year Zero!, a low-budget film released in 1962 that follows an average American family as they try to stay alive in the wake of a nuclear bomb falling on Los Angeles.

If Carafano’s advice on how to prepare for such a disaster is on the money, then Panic in Year Zero!, if not a perfect film, comes the closest to a realistic depiction of how an ordinary family can survive by “cultivating commonsense skills, knowledge, and attributes” that in turn allow its members to become “productive, resilient and self-confident.”

The movie, scripted by John Morton and Jay Simms, was directed by Ray Milland, who also doubled as the head of the family. In the cast, too, were Jean Hagen as his wife, and Frankie Avalon and Mary Mitchel as his teenage children.

Throughout the course of the film, as the family makes its way to a vacation cabin in the hills, the Milland character retains a cool head and his actions in protecting his family are always relentlessly logical, from his decision to head for the hills to gathering just the right kinds of supplies at stores along their route — which they reach just ahead of the fleeing multitudes — to instructing his son how and when to use a gun when encountering strangers.

And though the film’s focus is on the little things that the family does in order to survive (such as having each family member hide their food in different places without the others knowing where in order to prevent it all being taken should any one of them be forced to tell), there are dramatic exceptions such as when the family encounters a group of hoodlums intent on taking advantage of the breakdown of order. In an initial encounter, Milland and Avalon scare them off with guns but later, they discover them squatting in a farmhouse where they’ve killed the owner and are holding the daughter for their own pleasure.

At first, Milland restrains his son’s impulse to rush in and deal with the thugs. Keeping his family safe and hidden is his overriding concern. But when his own daughter is raped by one the hoodlums, he changes his tune and seeks retribution.

The sequence is necessary in order to keep the Milland character from becoming too unemotional and to suggest that there can be real danger in a post-apocalyptic world.

As the movie progresses, Milland’s stern but clear-eyed precautions and Hagan’s brave and caring example keep the family together. Praying before their first meal in the cave where they’ve decided to hole up, they struggle to preserve a sense of order in their lives while expressing the belief that civilization will soon reassert itself and allow them to come out of hiding.

The movie ends with their faith justified as the family comes into contact with military outliers of a resurgent civilization.

An American International release made with a budget of only $225,000, Panic in Year Zero! surprises in its realistic take on one family’s struggle in a post-apocalyptic environment, an exception to the Hollywood rule that one suspects might earn a thumbs up from Carafano!

Learn more about the inspiration for Disaster Week by downloading Surviving the End on the PJ Store today, and make sure your family is prepared.

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Are Boys the Target of a Feminist Gendercide Campaign?

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Last week social media jumped on the story of a woman who supposedly decided to have a late-term abortion specifically because she found out she was having a boy. Based on a near-anonymous comment posted on an Internet forum, the story is highly questionable at best. Nevertheless, both pro- and anti-abortion advocates pounced on the missive. The dialogue generated took on a life of its own, inspiring the following comment from feminist site Jezebel:

“The virality of this story is sort of a nice reminder about confirmation bias: when something fits our preferred narrative just a little too snugly, it’s probably time for skepticism,” wrote Jezebel’s Anna Merlan.

How, exactly, does gendercide “fit our narrative” in the West, especially in relation to boys?

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Understanding This Bloody Truth About the Bible Will Save Your Life

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 - by David P. Goldman

Editor’s Note: This article is cross-posted from David P. Goldman’s Spengler blog where it was first published on February 16, 2015 with the title “Jihad and Self-Sacrifice in Islam.” I’ve decided to reprint it here because it serves as a powerful introduction to one of the foundational concepts in Goldman’s body of work: applying Franz Rosenzweig’s analysis of paganism to today’s foreign, domestic, and cultural problems. Read Goldman’s books How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), and It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations for elaboration on this theme and many more paradigm-shifting concepts. For an understanding of the applicability of Goldman’s foreign policy approach in the upcoming presidential primary see my “No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism” from August 9, 2013. -DS

Comparative religion is not a statistical exercise: it is meaningless to tally up the victims of Crusaders and compare them to the victims of Islam and quibble about which religion is more violent. Religious war of conquest, that is, jihad, has the same role in Islam that the Lord’s Supper has in Christianity. Christianity (and Judaism) have exercised violence in the past but never sacralized violence. That is unique to Islam among the self-styled Mosaic religions.

The great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig argued that Islam was not a monotheistic religion, but a “parody” of one, a monistic paganism in which the old pagan gods were rolled up into a single deity. I have summarized Rosenzweig’s views in a number of locations, and taken the argument further in two essays published a decade ago (“Jihad, the Lord’s Supper, and Eternal Life” and “The Blood is the Life, Mr. Rumsfeld). Below I offer some extracts from those essays, first published in Asia Times.

It is important to get the theology right — not so much to understand the depredations of radical Islam, which hardly are obscure, but to understand what makes the West different. Violence is incidental to Judaism and Christianity and fundamental to Islam. It does us little good to denounce radical Islam if we forget who we are, and how we came to be here.

All religion is about blood, because all religion is about life. Shi’ite Islam, though, displays an affinity for real blood that disturbs the West. On their holiest day, the Feast of Ashura, Shi’ites cut themselves until they bathe in their own blood. Jafariyanews.com, a Shi’ite information service, reported from the holy city of Karbala in Iraq on February 20:

Thousands of mourners slit open their heads with swords, big knives and razor blades streaming their blood to signify their grief over the martyrdom of [the Prophet Mohammed's grandson] al-Imam al-Hussein [in 680 AD] – the tragedy which caused the sky to rain blood and the earth to bleed. [2]

Spurting blood is the preferred symbol of Iran’s Islamic revolution. Fountains shooting red dye at Tehran’s Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery recalled the blood of the young Iranians interred there, who fell in the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s suicide battalions during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.

This turns Western stomachs, despite the universal presence of blood symbols in Western religion, as we observe in the Eucharist as well as the blood sacrifices of the Hebrew Bible. Catholics drink Christ’s blood literally (and Protestants symbolically) to attain eternal life, while lambs’ blood kept the Angel of Death from the doors of the ancient Hebrews on the eve of their exodus.

One dies a vicarious death in order to secure eternal life. Unlike Christians or Jews, whose religions are based on vicarious sacrifice, Islam demands the self-sacrifice of its adherents, in keeping with its essentially militant character. Revealed religion puts blood at a distance; Abraham sacrifices a ram and spares his son Isaac, and God sacrifices his own son in order to spare mankind. That is why blood in Judaism became taboo, to be handled only by the priest or his surrogate, the ritual butcher. Usually a Catholic priest administers the Eucharist. (An acolyte or lay person can give communion when not enough clergy are available, though only a priest or bishop can consecrate the host.) Unlike Christianity or Judaism, Islam has no ritual of sacrifice, nor does it need one, for the sacrifice that Islam demands is that of the Muslim himself.

To understand the promise of Islam, and the aspirations of Shi’ite Islam in particular, we first must understand what religion offers to begin with. All religion is about life, that is, about life eternal. Humankind cannot bear mortality without the hope of immortality, and for this men will sacrifice their physical existence without hesitation. That is true of paganism as much as it is true of revealed religion. The young men of the tribe march to war to protect the existence of the tribe, confident that the perpetuation of their blood and their memory will compensate them for their death in battle. But the expansion of the great empires of Macedonia and Rome made the tribes themselves sentient of their mortality; that is the dawn of history, namely of the knowledge that every nation has a history, and that this history must have an end. As Franz Rosenzweig (who lived from 1886 to 1929 and is one of the most influential modern Jewish religious thinkers) wrote:

Just as every individual must reckon with his eventual death, the peoples of the world foresee their eventual extinction, be it however distant in time. Indeed, the love of the peoples for their own nationhood is sweet and pregnant with the presentiment of death. Love is only surpassing sweet when it is directed towards a mortal object, and the secret of this ultimate sweetness only is defined by the bitterness of death. Thus the peoples of the world foresee a time when their land with its rivers and mountains still lies under heaven as it does today, but other people dwell there; when their language is entombed in books, and their laws and customs have lost their living power.

The pagans of the prehistoric world found immortality in the gods and totems of their tribe; when history intruded upon their lives on horseback, the power of the old gods vanished like smoke, and the immortality of the individual faded before the prospect of a great extinction of peoples. Among all the tribes of the world from the Indus to the Pillars of Hercules, only one claimed the eternity of its bloodline under a covenant with a universal God, namely the Jews.

The blood of the pagan was his life; to achieve a life outside of the blood of his tribe, the pagan had to acquire a new blood. It is meaningless to promise men life in the Kingdom of Heaven without a corresponding life in this world; Christianity represents a new people of God, with an existence in this life. That is why Christianity requires that the individual undergo a new birth. To become a Christian, every child who comes into the world must undergo a second birth, to become by blood a new member of the Tribe of Abraham. Protestants who practice baptism through total immersion in water simply reproduce the ancient Jewish ritual of conversion, which requires that the convert pass through water, just as he did in leaving his mother’s womb, to undergo a new birth that makes him a physical descendant of Abraham. Through baptism, Christians believe that they become Abraham’s progeny.

Before the Bible was written, the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh learned that his quest for immortality was futile. The demigods of Greece, mortals favored by Olympians, suffered a tedious sort of immortal life as stars, trees or rivers. The gods of the heathens are not in any case eternal, only immortal. They were born and they will die, like the Norse gods at the Ragnarok, and their vulnerability projects the people’s presentiment of its own death. To whom, precisely, have the gods offered eternal life prior to the appearance of revealed religion? Eternal life and a deathless mortality are quite different things.

But what is it that God demands of us in response to our demand for eternal life? We know the answer ourselves. To partake of life in another world we first must detach ourselves from this world in order to desire the next. In plain language, we must sacrifice ourselves. There is no concept of immortality without some concept of sacrifice, not in any culture or in any religion. That is a demand shared by the Catholic bishops and the Kalahari Bushmen.

God’s covenant with Abraham is unique and singular in world history. A single universal and eternal god makes an eternal pact with a mortal that can be fulfilled only if Abraham’s tribe becomes an eternal people. But the price of this pact is self-sacrifice. That is an existential mortal act beyond all ethics, as Soren Kierkegaard tells us in Fear and Trembling. The sacraments of revealed religion are sublimated human sacrifice, for the revealed god in his love for humankind spares the victim, just as God provided a ram in place of the bound Isaac on Mount Moriah. Among Jews the covenant must be renewed in each male child through a substitute form of human sacrifice, namely circumcision. Christians believe that a single human sacrifice spared the rest of mankind.

Jihad also is a form of human sacrifice. He who serves Allah so faithfully as to die in the violent propagation of Islam goes straight to paradise, there to enjoy virgins or raisins, depending on the translation. But Allah is not the revealed god of loving kindness, or agape, but — pace Benedict XVI — a god of reason, that is, of cold calculation. Islam admits no expiatory sacrifice. Everyone must carry his own spear.

We are too comfortable, too clean, too squeamish, too modern to descend into the terrible space where birth, death and immortality are decided. We forget that we cannot have eternal life unless we are ready to give up this one — and this the Muslim knows only through what we should call the sacrament of jihad. Through jihad, the Muslim does almost precisely what the Christian does at the Lord’s Supper. It is the sacrifice of Jesus that grants immortal life to all Christians, that is, those who become one with Jesus by eating his flesh and drinking his blood so that the sacrifice also is theirs, at least in Catholic terms. Protestants substitute empathy identification with the crucified Christ for the trans-substantiated blood and flesh of Jesus.

Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross to give all men eternal life, on condition that they take part in his sacrifice, either through the physical communion of the Catholic Church or the empathetic Communion of Protestantism. From a Muslim vantage point, the extreme of divine humility embodied in Jesus’ sacrifice is beyond reason. Allah, by contrast, deals with those who submit to him after the calculation of an earthly despot. He demands that all Muslims sacrifice themselves by becoming warriors and, if necessary, laying their lives down in the perpetual war against the enemies of Islam.

These are parallel acts, in which different peoples do different things, in the service of different deities, but for the same reason: for eternal life.

Why is self-sacrifice always and everywhere the cost of eternal life? It is not because a vengeful and sanguineous God demands his due before issuing us a visa to heaven. Quite the contrary: we must sacrifice our earthly self, our attachment to the pleasures and petty victories of our short mortal life if we really are to gain the eternal life that we desire. The animal led to the altar, indeed Jesus on the cross, is ourselves: we die along with the sacrifice and yet live, by the grace of God. YHWH did not want Isaac to die, but without taking Abraham to Mount Moriah, Abraham himself could not have been transformed into the man desirous and deserving of immortal life. Jesus died and took upon him the sins of the world, in Christian terms, precisely so that a vicarious sacrifice would redeem those who come to him.

What distinguishes Allah from YHWH and (in Christian belief) his son Jesus is love. God gives Jews and Christians a path that their foot can tread, one that is not too hard for mortals, to secure the unobtainable, namely immortal life, as if by miracle. Out of love God gives the Torah to the Jews, not because God is a stickler for the execution of 613 commandments, but because it is a path upon which the Jew may sacrifice and yet live, and receive his portion of the World to Come. The most important sacrifice in Judaism is the Sabbath — “our offering of rest,” says the congregation in the Sabbath prayers — a day of inactivity that acknowledges that the Earth is the Lord’s. It is a sacrifice, as it were, of ego. In this framework, incidentally, it is pointless to distinguish Judaism as a “religion of works” as opposed to Christianity as a “religion of faith.”

To Christians, God offers the vicarious participation in his sacrifice of himself through his only son.

That is Christian Grace: a free gift by God to men such that they may obtain eternal life. By a miracle, the human soul responds to the offer of Grace with a leap, a leap away from the attachments that hold us to this world, and a foretaste of the World to Come.

There is no Grace in Islam, no miracle, no expiatory sacrifice, no expression of love for mankind such that each Muslim need not be a sacrifice. On the contrary, the concept of jihad, in which the congregation of Islam is also the army, states that every single Muslim must sacrifice himself personally. Jihad is the precise equivalent of the Lord’s Supper in Christianity and the Jewish Sabbath, the defining expression of sacrifice that opens the prospect of eternity to the mortal believer. To ask Islam to become moderate, to reform, to become a peaceful religion of personal conscience is the precise equivalent of asking Catholics to abolish Mass.

Unlike the tribes who encountered Christianity in the fullness of its power, in 4th-century Rome or 9th-century Europe, the Arab tribes of the 7th century occupied the borders of a Roman Empire, then in a demographic death-spiral. The New Israel of the Christians was at its historic nadir. First the Alexandrine Empire and then the Romans crushed the traditional life of the nations, imposing their own gods and customs; faced with overwhelming force, the traditional society of the prehistoric world lost confidence in its own hearth-gods and submitted to baptism. Not so the Arabs. Whether the Arab tribesmen conquered Byzantine armies, or merely took over borderlands that the Byzantines abandoned, as a minority of scholars believe, the great movement of Arab tribes against the old empires found no solace in the floundering “New Israel.” In the fullness of their new self-confidence, the Arabs declared themselves to be the true descendants of Abraham, risen up against the falsifiers and usurpers. Islam gave traditional society the weapons to beat back the threat of extinction.

Muslims require no ritual of rebirth, for in their doctrine they already are the descendants of Abraham, through the supposed true line of Ishmael, the favored son of the patriarch whose heritage was usurped by the crafty descendants of Isaac — the Jews and their emulators the Christians. Allah sent prophets to all the nations of the world, but the Jews falsified the message of the prophets to favor their ancestors at the expense of the true successor of Abraham. In the revolt against the usurpers, all the tribes of the world enjoy the equality of the horde.

Revolt against usurpation, the revenge of the pure life of traditional society against the corrupt mores of the metropole, is the heart of Islam. The Muslim rejects the supposed chosen people of God as usurpers, and defends traditional society against the crucible of peoples that is the Christians’ New Israel. But Islam also forms a new people, the Umma, the collective of Muslims to which the individual must submit. In the pagan world the young men of each tribe march out to fight their enemies, and delay the inevitable moment when their tribe will be overwhelmed and its memory extinguished from the earth. Islam summons the tribes to unite against the oppressive empires to its West, to march out together and fight until their enemies, the Dar-al-Harb, exist no more.

Islam has no ethnicity; it is not an Arab movement; it is a new people, but a people defined first of all by militancy. The individual Muslim does not submit to traditional society as such, no matter how many elements of traditional society might be incorporated into Muslim doctrine; he submits to the movement of the tribes. That is why jihad is the most authentic form of Muslim religious activity, and why the blood rituals of Ashura the most authentic form of Muslim worship.

As I observed in an essay titled “Does Islam have a prayer? (May 18, 2004):

If the individual Muslim does not submit to traditional society as it surrounds him in its present circumstances, he submits to the expansionist movement. In that sense the standard communal prayer of Islam may be considered an expression of jihad. Again Rosenzweig: “Walking in the way of Allah means, in the strictest sense, the spread of Islam by means of the holy war. The piety of the Muslim finds its way into the world by obediently walking this way, by assuming its inherent dangers, by adhering to the laws prescribed for it.”

But the rising of the tribes against the usurpers must give rise to a new form of usurpation. Victors in war do not wish to campaign forever; at an opportune moment they will become the new tyrants of the territories they conquer. In the Shi’ite version (as Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis writes):

…the reigning caliphs appeared more and more as tyrants and usurpers, while for many, the claims of the kin of the Prophet, embodied first in Ali and then in his descendants, came to express their hopes and aspirations for the overthrow of the corrupt existing order and a return to pure, authentic, and original Islam.

The “Twelvers,” the Shi’ite mainstream, expect the return of Muhammad al-Mahdi, the 12th of the Imams (the canonical descendants of Ali) at the end of time. Facile identification of this doctrine with the Christian belief in the return of Christ or the Jesus expectation of a Messiah leads some in the West to think of Shi’ism as closer in spirit to Western religion. But the hope for the Mahdi expresses not a quasi-Christian sort of quietism, but rather an encysted revolutionary impulse, and that is what we observe in the Shi’ite fascination for blood.

The blood is the life, and men pass to eternal life only through blood — but whose blood? Self-sacrifice in war is the fundamental religious act of paganism, for it is only by the sacrifice of the young men of the tribe that the tribe has surety of survival among a forest of enemies. Human sacrifice, especially among warrior-cults, is a common religious expression among pagans. But with the notion of a universal God comes also the prospect of universal peace: if all men one day might worship one God by the same name, then the perpetual warring among tribes fighting for survival also might cease.

In proud defiance of revealed religion, the destroyer of the tribes, Islam holds to the primal demand of self-sacrifice. The jihadi’s self-immolation in war, symbolized by the drawing of blood and the bleeding of nature itself, is the fundamental act of worship. The immortality of the individual, put at risk by the encroachment of the metropole upon the life of the tribe, is regained through the revolt of the endangered tribes against the usurpation of the empire that forms its motivation. Shi’ism therefore represents the original impulse of Islam in its purest form, and the shedding one’s own blood an authentic response. The victors of the revolt against the usurpers become usurpers in turn, and so on in never-ending cycle. Again, Lewis:

Most Sunni jurists, even while recognizing the evils of the existing order, continued to preach conformism and submission, generally quoting yet another principle, that “tyranny is better than anarchy.” The Shi’ites, on the other hand, even while submitting, maintained their principled rejection of the Sunni order, and from time to time, more frequently in the early centuries than in the later, rose in revolt in an attempt to overthrow the existing order.

More than in the 7th century, indeed more than at any time in recorded history, the encroaching metropole jeopardizes the life of the tribes. More than ever, the Shi’ites will bathe in their own blood rather than submit to it.

*******

This essay is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion:

 

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David Byrne: Creepy Liberal Hypocrite

Monday, February 16th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Hey, remember the early days of rock & roll?

Even if you don’t remember them, surely you’ve heard the story:

How white people stole rock & roll from black musicians, paying them a pittance (if that) for their music, then getting rich and famous?

How decades later, a bunch of almost forgotten, destitute black artists sued and won millions in royalties?

Not everybody knows the other side of the story, though, because naturally that would ruin the liberal narrative.

The “other side” being that sometimes, black artists were ripped off by… other black artists.

That’s right: Rock & roll was a black-on-black crime.

For instance, Little Richard is revered today, and quite rightly, as a musical pioneer.

But whenever I see him referred to as “an original,” I smirk.

Many insist that Little Richard lifted his whole “thing” from a guy named Esquerita and — contrary to that prevailing narrative — made quite a bit of money in the process.

(Esquerita, on the other hand, died of AIDS, broke, at age 48.)

And by the way, Little Richard wasn’t even that busted up about Wonder-Bread-white Pat Boone doing insipid covers of his incendiary tunes:

After all, he said, the kids bought both records, so he got paid twice.

And I’ll ask again:

If America is so evil, how the hell did TWO out-there black guys — one of whom was obviously bisexual — who wore makeup and hairspray, banged on pianos and screamed about loving either teenaged girls or Jesus not get either locked up or lynched?

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Jews, Whiteness & the Idiocy of Racial Identity

Sunday, February 15th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Finally, they’re Jew-ing up Downton Abbey. Rose, the troublesome teen who nearly ran away with a black American jazz singer last season, is now falling for Ephraim Atticus Aldridge whose family escaped Russian pogroms. What makes this love affair more acceptable to the Granthams, whose own matriarch comes from Jewish blood? Well, the money and the title help, but the reality is that Atticus is white. Tom the socialist chauffeur worked his way into the heart of the family sans money and title, but could a darker-skinned outcast have done the same? Not in an England where appearances were everything and eugenic theory was at an all-time high. Russian royalty ex-pats won’t accept Atticus as anything but a “Jew” and the jury is still out when it comes to the Crawley clan. Perhaps because, even in today’s England, just because Ashkenazim (European Jews) know how to play the game doesn’t mean they always win.

When I joined the Hillel as a grad student in Texas I was excited to finally not hear the one comment that had plagued me throughout many of my Jewish encounters growing up: “You don’t look Jewish.” Each time I heard the seemingly benign statement from some gorgeous, dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned individual with obvious Ashkenazi roots and a tinge of a New York accent I thought, “Weren’t you in history class when we talked about the Holocaust and the dangers of so-called racial identity?” Our problem with race extends beyond America’s borders. While Israel is the proof that being Jewish has absolutely nothing to do with how you look, Israelis still struggle with “whiteness” and race. The idol of race is a dangerous fence that has to be hacked down if we’re ever to survive as a people.

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Why Dad Will Not Give Up Another Child with Down Syndrome

Thursday, February 12th, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

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The only thing more complicated than a relationship is parenthood. Samuel Forrest may know that better than most of us. What he didn’t know was that his newly adopted country of Armenia has commitment issues, and suffers from a Messiah complex.

Samuel and his new bride Ruzan entered the hospital together with the usual high expectations that accompany the birth of a new baby. They exited separately, heading for a divorce court to end their 18 month marriage, their personal agony going viral and the dark secret of Armenia held up to world-wide scrutiny.

One can only imagine that for Samuel this baby with a new wife held the promise of restoring everything he left behind in New Zealand: his home, the four children — one with Down Syndrome — and the church he grew up in. Excommunication by the Exclusive Brethren church for divorcing his first wife also carried the punishment of being shunned by his extended family. With nothing left for him in New Zealand he moved to Armenia.

Fast-forward to the moment all expectant parents live for, labor day. Apparently, their son’s birth required the couple’s separation and Ruzan was not fully conscious for the birth of Leo. She describes her first moments as awaking to “alarmed” faces around her: 

My first question was about the whereabouts of my child. I remember the sad faces of my relatives and the doctors and the diagnosis that sounded like a verdict: “Your child was born with a Down Syndrome.” One can never imagine my feelings at that moment.

Hardly had I recovered from the first shock, when the doctor approached me and told me to voice my decision whether I was going to keep Leo or not. I had to make the most ruthless decision in my life within several hours. (DailyMail.com)

The evasive looks from doctors, the tear-stained faces of family, the calls of condolences — all weighed heavy on the new mother. Not only did she make the “ruthless” decision within several hours to not keep her baby and to send him to an orphanage, she also decided it without her husband.

Samuel didn’t play by the rules; instead, he cradled his son in his arms and fell in love. Then his wife informed him that she would divorce him if he kept the baby. Ruzan made good on her promise.

Alone, and needing to get his newborn son out of Armenia, Samuel started the GoFundMe campaign to “Bring Leo Home.” It has made ripples across oceans and cyberspace, garnering $497,645 in only 15 days.

On the surface, it looks like there are just two sides to this story.

But there is more at play here…

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Fifty Shades of America’s New Dark Ages

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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This year you could spend your Valentine’s Day in a theater full of middle-aged women oozing over a hot-bodied twenty-something whipping his blindfolded secretary to the point of striking blood in the name of “love.” Daytime television loves to play up to the Soccer Mom demographic (a title first dubbed to describe Clinton fans, ironically) seeking fantasy fulfillment in the form of sexual fiction. It was corny enough when shirtless Fabios graced the covers. Now that the most popular sex trilogy focuses on a woman who willingly allows herself to be sexually abused, is pop culture humoring those bored housewives too much?

While the majority of Fifty Shades fans are typical middle-aged marrieds dissatisfied with their partners (or even themselves), anywhere from 5-25% of Americans “show affinity” for BDSM (Bondage/Domination-Discipline/Sadism/Masochism) in the bedroom. On an issue that poses a particular sexual threat to women, feminists are split 50-50 between being against sexual abuse and for a narcissistic “if it feels good, do it” sexual ethos. Hence, a pervert who trolls Fanfiction.net (the original home of Hobbit-inspired Elvish/Dwarf porn) can turn her twisted sexual fantasies into an overnight sensation. After all, it’s all about love in the end. Or is it?

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