Monday, April 23, 2012

Freedom of Speech and the Illiberal Left

Most progressives support freedom of expression, but in almost every contemporary instance win which someone advocates for limiting freedom of speech, we find a member of the illiberal left. Policy wise, this is seen in the Speech Codes that have been implemented in numerous universities and informally in the aggressive protests that seek to block conservatives from speaking on campus. Rather than let their ideological opponents present their positions and then counter them with intelligent debate, they seek to drown out them out with jeers  and other disruptive behaviors. Here are but a few examples:

At the University of California at Irvine, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech was constantly interrupted by members of the Muslim Student Union who previously stated that there goal was to "send the speaker a message - our goal should be that he knows that he just can't just go on campus and say whatever he wants."

While I disagree with almost everything that Don Feder's positions, I was troubled to learn that protesters were so unruly, the University of Massachusetts had to cancel his speech

At the University of Connecticut, due to disruptive heckling, Ann Coulter was unable to continue her speech.

At a debate on the problems of affirmative action, mild mannered speaker, Roger Clegg was faced disruptive boos and hissing every time he expressed an opinion contrary to the student protesters. 

Although I do NOT support Jim Gilchrist and the Minutemen Movement, I was appalled to learn that students at Columbia University rushed the stage with the goal on not letting him speak. And at Long Beach State University, after presenting a 10 minute opening monologue, his debating opponent, Enrique Morones walked out of the auditorium with 300 students, which showed a complete unwillingness to engage in an intelligent exchange of ideas.

.Rather than debate and discredit his ideas in the marketplace of ideas, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other "civil rights organizations," campaigned to have Lou Dobbs removed from CNN

The ideological foundation for the suppression of speech among illiberal factions of the left are seen in 

"Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the right and toleration of movements of the left."

"However, this tolerance cannot be indiscriminate and equal with respect to the contents of expression, neither in word nor in deed; it cannot protect false words and wrong deeds which demonstrate that they contradict and counteract the' possibilities of liberation."

"They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, the discrimination on the grounds of face and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc." 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Characteristics of Wealth Producing Societies

In his outstanding book The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations, Harvard Professor David Landes analyzed the concrete facts (geographic, ecological and technological) that allowed some nations to develop the industry and commerce that increased their wealth and welfare. He also presents a detailed explanation of the values and cultural factors that were indispensable in economic development. Conversely, societies that have failed to advance them, have faced far greater difficulties in economic development. Foreseeing the left wing critique of his vision, Landes stated "No society on earth has ever matched this ideal...The most efficient, development-oriented societies of today, say those of East Asian and the industrious nations of the West, are marred by all manner of corruptiopn, failures of government, priovate rent-seeking. This paradigm nevertheless highlights the direction fo history.  These are th virtues that have promoted economic and material progress. They represnet a marked deviation from earlier social and political arrangements; and it is not a coincidence that the first industrial nations came closest earliest to this new kind of social order."

"These values and institutions are so familiar to us (that's why we call them modern) that we take them for granted. They represent however, a big departure from older norms and have been accepted and adopted, over time and in different places, only in the faces of tenacious resistance. Even now, the older order has by no means vanished."

"Let us begin by delineating the ideal case, the society theoretically best suited to pursue material progress and general enrichment. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily a "better" or "superior" society (words to be avoided), simply one fitter to produce goods and services. This ideal growth-and-development society would be one that:"

"1) Knew how to operate, manage, and build the instruments of productions and to create, adapt, and master new techniques on the technological frontier.

2) Was able to impart this knowledge and know-how to the young, whether by formal education or apprenticeship training.

3) Chose people for jobs by competence and relative merit promoted; promoted and demoted on the basi of performance.

4) Afforded opportunities to individual or collective enterprise; encouraged initiative, competition, and emulation.

5) Allowed people to enjoy and employ the fruits of their labor and enterprise.

These standards imply corollaries: gender equality (thereby doubling the pool of talent); no discrimination on the basis of irrelevant criteria (race, sex, religion, etc.); also a preference for scientific (means-end) rationality over magic and superstition (irrationality).

Such a society would also possess the kind of political and social institutions that favor the achievement of these larger goals, that would for example"

1) Secure rights of private property, the better to encourage saving and investment.

2) Secure rights of personal liberty - secure them against both the abuses of tyranny and private disorder (crime and corruption).

3) Enforce rights of contract, explicit and implicit.

4) Provide stable government, not necesarily democratic, but itself governed by publically know rules (a government of laws rather than men). If democratic, that is, based on periodic elections, the majorit wins but does not vuiolate the rights of the  losers; while the losers accept their loss and look forward to anotherr tyurn at the polls.

5) Provide responsive government, one that will hear complaint and make redress.
6) Provide honest government, such that economic actors are not moved to seek advantage and privilge inside or outside the marketplace. In economic jargon, there should be no rents to favor and position.

7) Provide moderate, efficient, ungreedy government,. The effect should be to hold taxces down, reduce the government's claim on the social surplus, and avoid pribviege.

The ideal society would also be honest. Such honesty would be enfofced by law, but ideally, the law would not be needed. People would believe that honesty is right (also that i pays) and would live and act accordingly.

More corollaries: this society would be makred by geographic and social mobility. People would move about as they sought opportunity, and would rise and falls as they made something or nothing of themselves. This society would value new as against old, youth as against experience, change ans risk as against safety. It would not be a society of equal shares, because talents are not equal; but it would tend to a more even distrubution of income than is found with privilege and favor. IT would have a relatively large middle class. This greater equality would show in more homogernous dress and easier manners across class lines.

Brief Reflections on The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Throughout his outstanding work, The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations, Harvard Professor David Landes explores the role of culture in the promotion or suppression of trade, industry and wealth formation. What study of the intersection of capitalism and culture is complete without mentioning Max Weber's groundbreaking book: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. A key element in this book was not that the Protestant Ethic promoted the pursuit of wealth, but rather in encouraged values and everyday behaviors (such as a strong work ethic, thrift, saving, self control, eschewing Catholic other-worldliness) that was conducive towards the successful pursuit of enterprise and industry. Although this theory has fallen out of favor with most sociologists, Professor Landes beliefs that historical data supports it.

The debate of culture's role in creating and maintaining an economically dynamic society actually holds relevance in the United States. For well over a 100 years the United States has welcomed in millions of non-Protestant immigrants (including my own family), but a strong consensus existed among political, economic and educational elites for the need to assimilate these newcomers into the dominant Anglo-Protestant culture of the land. Without a doubt these diverse immigrants and their descendants contributed immensely to the United States, but only in the context of Anglo-American traditions of rule of law, limited government, economic freedom and the Protestant Work Ethic. It is self evident to all but a progressive that if the founding culture of the land were (let's say) Iberian Catholic, we would be (for good and for bad) economically and politically more like Mexico. But, ironically a half century of cultural revolution has led
to such a decay of traditionally Protestant Virtues (hard work, thrift, savings, investment, etc.) among Protestants Populations (both in the United States and in Europe) that it may take an influx of sober and industrious Asian Immigrants to uphold the traditional American Ethos.

"I do not agree. No on the empirical level, where records show that Protestant merchants and manufacturers played a leading role in trade, banking, and industry. In manufacturing centers (Fabriques) in France and Western Germany, Protestants were typically the employers, Catholics were the employed. In Switzerland, the Protestant cantons were the centers of export manufacturing industry (watches, machinery, textiles); the Catholic ones were primarily agricultural."

"Nor on the theoretical. The heart of the matter lay indeed in the making of a new kind of man - rational, ordered, diligent, productive. These virtues, while not new, were hardly commonplace. Protestantism generalized them among its adherents, who judged one another by conforming to these standards."

"Two special characteristics of the Protestants reflect and confirm this link. The first was stress on instruction and literacy, for girls as well as boys. This was a by-product of Bible reading. Good Protestants were expected to reach the holy scriptures  for themselves. (By way of contrast, Catholics were catechized but did not have to read, and they were explicitly discouraged from reading the Bible.) The results: greater literacy (in 1900 illiteracy was 3% for England, whereas it wa 56% in Spain and 78% in Portugal) and a larger pool of candidates for advanced schooling; also greater assurance of continuity of literacy from generation to generation. Literate mothers matter."

"The second was the importance accorded to time. Here we have what the sociologist would call unobtrusive evidence: the making and buying of clicks and watches. Even in catholic areas such as France and Bavaria, most clock makers were Protestant; and the use of the instruments of time measurement and their diffusion to rural areas was far more advanced in Britain and Holland than in Catholic countries."

"This is not to say that Weber's "ideal type" of capitalist could be found only among Calvinists and their later sectarian avatars. People of all faiths and not faith can grow up to be rational, diligent, orderly, productive, clean, and humorless."

"The Protestant Reformation. however, changed the rules. It gave a big boost to literacy, spawned diss
sents and heresies, and promoted the skepticism and refusal of authority that is at the heart of the scientific endeavor. The Catholic countries, instead if meeting the challenge, responded by closure and censure."

In contrast, in Catholic Spain, the "gates of knowledge and exploration" swung shut:

"In 1558, the death penalty was introduced for importing foreign books without permission and for unlicensed printing. Universities (were) reduced to centers of indoctrination; unorthodox and dangerous books were placed on an Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1557 in Rome, 1559 in Spain),  and safe books appeared with an official impimatur ("Let it be printed"). Among the books on the Spanish list: scientific works banned becauase their authors were Protestant...Nor were the Spanirds allowed to study abroad, lest they ingest subversive doctrine. The same year (1559), the crown forbade attendance at foreign universities except for such safe centers as Rome, Bologna, and Naples."

"So Iberia and indeed Mediterranean Europe as a whole missed the train of the so-called scientific revolution...The British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper has argued that this reactionary, anti-Protestant backlash, more than Protestantism itself, sealed the fate of southern Europe for the next three hundreds years."

Parallels Between the Spanish and American Decline

In his pivotal work The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations, Harvard Professor David Landes explores the reason why Spain quickly declined after its position as the great power of the 16th Century. As I read these verses, I could not help but draw parallels between (some of) the causes Spain's economic decline and our own. First, the shift from production and investment towards consumption and borrowing, both on an individual and on a national level. Tied in with this is the rapid transition from the status of a nation of production-and-exportation to one focused on importation-and-consumption of goods. Second, wealth was squandered through constant warfare. Third, an erosion of values of hard work and industriousness among segments of the population, coupled with the belief that many forms of labor were beneath the Spaniards, i.e. "work that only immigrants should do."

Underlying all of the said phenomena is the hazards of loose monetary policy. In the case of Spain, "the large volumes of precious metals from America led to inflation, which had a negative effect on the poorer part of the population, as goods became more expensive. This (strong currency) also hampered exports, as expensive goods could not compete in international markets." In the case of the United States, the loose monetary policy of the Federal Reserve has played a significant role in market distortions that discouraged production and savings, while encouraging consumption and speculative enterprises, i.e. the housing bubble.

"The Industrial Revolution made some countries richer and others (relatively) poorer; or more accurately; some countries made an industrial revolution and became richer and others did not and stayed poor. The process of selection actually began much earlier, during the age of discovery. For some, Spain for example, the Opening of the World was an invitation to wealth, pomp, and pretension-an older way od doing things, but on a bigger scale. For others, Holland and England, it was a chance to do new things in new ways, to catch the wave of technological progress. And for others, such as the Amerindians or Tasmanians, it was apocalypse, a terrible fate imposed from without."

"The primary economic significance of the influx of wealth from overseas, however lay in its uneven effects.
Some people got rich only to spend; others to save and invest.The same with countries. Some were little richer in the end than at the beginning, while others used their new fortunes to grow more money."

"Ironically, the nations that had started it all, Spain and Portugal, ended up losers. Here lies one of the great themes of economic history and theory. All models of growth, after all, stress the necessity and power of capital - capital as substitute for labor, easer of credit, balm of hurt projects, redeemer of mistakes, great enterprises's second chance, chief nourisher of economic development. Given capital, the rest should follow. And thanks to empire, Spain and Portugal had the capital."

"Spain particularly. Its new wealth came in raw, as money to invest or spend. Spain chose to spend-on luxury and war. War is the most wasteful of uses: it destroys rather than builds; it knows no reason or constraints; and the inevitable unevenness and shortage of resources lead to ruthless irrationality, which simply increases costs. Spain spent all the more freely because its wealth was unexpected and unearned. It is always easier to throw away windfall wealth." 

"In the meantime, the wealth of the Indies went less and less to Spanish industry because the Spanish did not have to make things any more; they could buy them...Nor did the American treasure go to Spanish agriculture; Spain could buy food. As one happy Spaniard put it in 1675, the whole world is working for us:

"Let London manufacture those fabrics of hers to her heart's content, Holland her chambrays; Florence her cloth; the Indies their beaver and vicuna; Milan her brocades; Italy and Flanders their linens, so long as our capital can enjoy them. The only thing it proves is that all nations train journeyman for Madrid and Madrid is the queen of Parliaments, for all the world serves her and she serves nobody." "Such foolishness is still heard today, in the guise of comparative advantage and neoclassical trade theory. I have heard serious scholars say that the United States need not worry about its huge trade deficit with Japan.
After all, the Japanese are giving us useful things in exchange for paper printed with the portrait of George Washington. That sounds good, but its bad. Wealth is not so good as work, nor riches so good as earnings. A Moroccan ambassador to Madrid in 1690-1691 saw the problem clearly:

"...the Spanish nation today possesses the greatest wealth and the largest income of all the Christians. But the love of luxury and the comforts of civilization agve overcome them, and you will rarely find on of this nation who engages in trade or teravels abroad for commerce as do the other Christian nations such as the Dutch, the English, the French, the Genoese and their like.

Similarly, the handricrafts practiced by the lower classes and common people are despised by this nation, which regards itself as superior to the other Christian nations. Most of these who practice these crafts in Spain are Frenchmen (who) flock to Spain to look for work...(and in a short time make great fortunes."

"Spain, in other words, became (or stayed) poor because it had too much money. The nations that did the work learned and kept good habits, while seeking new ways to do the job faster and better.The Spanish, on the other hand, indulged their penchant for status, leisure, and enjoyment, what Cipolla calls "the prevent hidalgo mentality." 

"By the time the great bullion inflow had ended in the mid seventeeth century, the Spanish crown was deep in debt, with bankruptcies in 1557, 1575, and 1597. The country entered a long decline. Reading this story, one might draw a moral: Easy money is bad for you. It represents short-run gain taht will be paid for in immediate distortion and later regrets."

Very Brief Reflections On Western Imperialism

A great deal has been written about the evils of western imperialism. A progressive friend of mine has spoke on behalf of the theory that this imperialism is the the primary cause why Middle Eastern, African, Asian and (to a lesser extent) Latin Americans nations experienced stunted economic, political and social developments.

I disagree. History shows that:

1) When one nation or group is (economically, militarily and culturally) strong enough, it will dominate another.

2) Who dominates who is rarely a question of of morality, but rather one of relative strength and weakness. For example, at their zenith, the Arab-Islamic "victims" of 19th and 20th Century European Colonialism, seized Christian Syria, Egypt, Anatolia and went on to occupy Spain, Sicily and even Southern France. The Ottoman Turks then went on to seize European territory comprising: Greece, Bulgarian, Serbia, Bosnia, Albania, Romania, Hungary and even parts of Austria and the Ukraine.

3) Power is not fixed; it ebbs and flows. Only when, through their own efforts, European Civilization raised its level of technological, economic, political, social and military organization was it able to cast off the yoke of Arab-Islamic and then Ottoman-Islamic Domination.

3) This domination exists across a spectrum, at one end we see see Tamerlane's massacre of virtually the entire population of Baghdad, at the other hand we see the Roman and British Empires, in which initial pillaging was followed by the expansion of infrastructure (roads, ports, aqueducts and schools), rule of law and trade.

4) We could spend weeks pointing out all of the economic fallacies of the Dependency Theory, best described in the book Open Veins Of Latin America. This theory holds that the relative backwardness of Latin America and other regions, is first and foremost the fault of industrial imperial powers that have reduced them to impoverished producers of raw materials. A) The idea that Guatemala exports bananas, rather than automobiles and microchips because of "imperialism" is without basis. B) Rather the relative level of human capital, education, organization, corruption, economy of scale, etc. has ensured that if Guatemala were to produce an automobile or microchip, there is no way it could compete with other nations. C) Nations, such as Venezuela, that sought to foment domestic industry through limits to foreign trade, nationalizations and lavish domestic subsidies, have lowered the living standard of the majority of their people. D) When nations (such as South Korea) improve their competitiveness, by raising human capital, improving organization and cutting costs, they superseded their "colonial masters" and become wealthy exporters of industrial goods. E) Costs of commodities are determined largely by global, market forces. F) Given sufficient demand for a commodity (such as petroleum), "peripheral nations" that supply raw materials can prosper, i.e. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

5) No one ever increased their power or raised the living standards of their people by blaming others for their misfortune. I hope that this lessen is not lost of American Politicians who have begun to turn to victimization narratives, blaming China and other resurgent nations for our industrial decline.

The Mystery of the Chinese Failure

In The Wealth And Poverty of Nations, there is a fascinating chapters that discusses how China, the great fountain of invention and industry, from the compass, paper, gun powder, etc. stagnated in the 15th Century and feel far behind the Western World. While reading through these reasons, I was left with the strong impression that many of the worst defects of the Chinese Communist System, such as extreme bureaucratic control of economic and social life, hostility to commerce, innovation and free expression, etc. were not departures from the archaic Chinese Imperial System, but its extreme realization. Only by a piecemeal departure from these constraints in the last 25 years has China experienced economic growth. And unless the state continues to roll back its stifling control of finance, media and intellectual inquiry, the expansion of prosperity will be ephemeral. The irony is that the United States and segments of the western world have moved in the other direction, seeking to control and curtail economic freedom.

"The absence of (progress towards) a free market and institutionalized property rights. The Chines state was always interfering  with private enterprise - taking over lucrative activities, prohibiting others, manipulating prices, exacting bribes, curtailing private enrichment. The favorite target was maritime trade, which the Heavenly Kingdom saw as a diversion from imperial concerns, as a divisive force and source of income inequality, worse yet, as an invitation to exit. Matters reached a climax under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when the state attempted to prohibit all trade overseas. Such interdictions led to evasion and smuggling, and smuggling brought corruption (protection money), confiscation, violence, and punishment. Bad government strangled initiative, increased the cost of transactions, diverted talent from commerce and industry."

"The larger values of society. A leading sociological historian (historical sociologist) sees gender relations as a major obstacle: the quasi-confinement of women to the home made it impossible, for example, to exploit textile machinery profitably in a factory setting. Here China differed sharply from Europe or Japan, where women had free access to public space and were often expected to work outside the home to accumulate a dowry or contribute resources to the family." 

"The great Hungarian-German-French sinologist, Etienne Balazs, would stress the larger context. He sees China's abortive technology as part of a larger pattern of totalitarian control: "...if one understand by totalitarianism the complete hold of the State and its executive organs and functionaries over all the activities of social life, without exception, Chinese society was highly totalitarian...No private initiative, no expression of public life that can escape official control.  There is to begin with a whole array of state monopolies, which compromise the great consumption staples: salt, iron, ea, alcohol, foreign trade. There is a monopoly of education, jealously guarded. There is practically a monopoly of letters (I was about to say, of the press): anything written unofficially, that escapes the censorship, has little hope of reaching the public. But, the reach of the Moloch State, the bureaucracy goes much farther. There are clothing regulations, a regulation of public and private construction (dimensions of houses); the colors one wears, the music one hears, the festivals - all are regulated. There are rules for birth and rules for death; the providential state watches minutely over every step of its subjects, from cradle to grave. It is a regimen of paper work and harassment, endless paper work and endless harassment."

"The ingenuity and inventiveness of the Chinese, which have given so much to mankind - silk, tea, porcelain, paper, printing, and more-would no doubt have enriched China further and probably brought it to the threshold of modern industry, had it not bee for this stiffing state control. It is the State that kills technological progress in China. No only in the sense that it nips in the bud anything that goes against or seems to go against its interests, but also by customs implanted inexorably by the raison d'Etat. The atmosphere of routine, of traditionalism, and of immobility, which makes an innovation suspect, any initiative that is not commanded and sanctioned in advance, is unfavorable to the spirit of free inquiry." 

The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is a brilliant, broad work of history, economics, sociology and ecology, written by Harvard Professor  David Landes. I cannot imagine anyone walking away from this book without having their understanding of economic and social life changed. In this work, he asks and answers pivotal questions like: "how did the Western World come to economically, technologically and socially surpass other more advanced civilizations?" Buy it today!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Psychological Foundation of Progressive Indifference Towards The Persecution of Christians

I am always shocked by the relative indifference of progressive
to the wide spread persecution of Christians and other minorities
in the Islamic World. Very few of the individuals and groups who
crusade on behalf of the Palestinians and against any incident of
discrimination against minorities in the United States and the
western world are largely silent when it comes to far more
wide spread and severe abuse of  Christians.

Since this defies reason, I am tempted to turn to apply the
same form of condescending social and political psychoanalysis
to the left that they applied towards those who do not confirm to
their ideological vision. Through incessant indoctrination,
from the classroom to the newsroom, most progressives
have embraced a dualistic narrative in which Non-Western,
Non-Christian individuals are cast as victims and white,
Western, Christians are (at least potential) persecutors.

They are drawn to and energized by occurrences that conform
to this narrative and filter out incidents that run contrary to
the vision. For example, the "human rights community" was
up in arms over Israel's expulsion of 415 Radical Islamists,
but I do not recall a single protest when Kuwait expelled
450,000 Palestinian civilians! And during a Senate Hearing,
Attorney General Eric Holder stated that hate crime laws
would NOT apply to a US Soldier or Christian Minister
attacked for their identity and beliefs, because they are
not part of historically oppressed / protected classes. For
this reason, the tragic Trayvon Martin cases energized
the "civil rights community," whereas the far more brutal
Knoxville Massacre barely generated attention.

On a deeper, psychological level, a key element of this
irrational phenomena is the lack of faith and (at times even)
antipathy that progressives hold towards Western,
Judeo-Christian Culture. The embattled Coptic Christians of Egypt,
the Assyrians of Iraq and Christians of Pakistan elicit little
sympathy from progressives, precisely because they are  suffering for the
defense of Christian  and Western Culture, which segments of
the left have been undermining for over half a century.  And
those who so passionately hate Israel, may not realize why,
but on a deeper level they detest Israel not in spite of,
but because of the fact  that Israel is a successful,
unapologetic outpost of Western, Capitalist, Judeo-Christian
Civilization. The expulsion of the remnants of the indigenous
peoples of the Middle East, the violent end of the 4,000
year presence of Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians should
spark massive marches and protests in every University Campus.
But, there is a deafening silence that will remain until more of the
left come to terms with their gnawing doubt and self hatred. For few of the great social critics of the past are willing to sit on the other side the psychoanalyst's couch.

Muslim Persecution of Christians: January 2012

The beginning of the New Year saw only an
increase in the oppression of Christians under
Islam, from Nigeria,  where an
in an effort to eradicate the Muslim
north of all Christians, to Europe, 
where Muslim converts to Christianity are
still hounded  and attacked as apostates. 
According to the Chairmanof the U.S. Commission 
on International Religious Freedom, "The flight
of Christians out of the region is unprecedented
and it's increasing year by year"; in our life time
alone,  predicts  "Christians might disappear
altogether  from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt."

An international report found that Muslim nations
make up nine out of the top ten countries where
Christians face the  "most severe" persecution.
In response to these findings,a Vatican spokesman
said that "Among the most serious concerns,
the increase in Islamic extremism merits
special attention. Persons and
organizations dedicated to extremist
Islamic ideology perpetrate terrible acts
of violence in many  places throughout
the world: the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria
is but one example.Then there is the climate
of insecurity that unfortunately in some countries
accompanies the so-called "Arab spring"
--a climate that drives many Christians
to flee and even to emigrate."

Categorized by theme, January's batch of Muslim
persecution of Christians around the world includes
(but is not limited to) the following accounts,
listed in alphabetical order by country,
not severity of anecdote.


Iran: A Christian convert who was arrested 
in her home has been sentenced to two years in 
Previously she endured ive monthsof uncertainty
detained in the notorious Evin prison,where the
government hoped she would come to her senses
and renounce Christianity. She was convicted of
"broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by
formation of what is called a house church,
 insulting sacred figures and action against
national security." Likewise, Iranian
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani continues to suffer
in prison. Most recently, he rejected an offer
to be released if he publicly acknowledged
Islam's prophet Muhammad as "a messenger
sent by God,"   which would amount to 
rejecting Christianity,  
as Muhammad/Koran reject it.

Kenya: Muslim apostates seeking refuge 
in Kenya are being tracked and attacked by
Muslims from their  countries of origin: 
An Ethiopian who, upon converting 
to Christianity, was shot by his father
kidnapped and almost killed,is now receiving 
threatening text messages. Likewise, 
a Ugandan convert to Christianity is in hiding,
his movements severely restricted since
I need protection and help."

Kuwait: A royal prince who openly declared 
that he has converted to Christianity, confirmed
the reality that he now might be
targeted for killing as an apostate.

Norway: While out for a walk, two Iranian
converts to Christianity were
"infidels!"One of the men stabbed had converted in
Iran, was threatened there,and immigrated to Norway,
thinking he could escape persecution there.

Somalia: A female convert to Christianity was
paraded before a cheering crowd and publicly flogged
as punishment for embracing a "foreign religion."
 Imprisoned since November,
"the public whipping was meant to mark
her release." She received 40 lashes as
hundreds of Muslim spectators jeered.
 An eyewitnesssaid: "I saw her faint.
I thought she had died, but soon she
regained consciousness and her family took
her away." Likewise,"Somali Islamist
arrested a Muslim father after  two of his
children converted to Christianity" and fled. 
He is accused of "failing to raise his sons
as good Muslims,” because 
"good Muslims cannot convert
to Christianity."

Zanzibar: After being robbed, a Muslim convert
to Christianity called police to his house;they
discovered a Bible during their inspection. 
The course of inquiry immediately changed from
searching for the thieves to asking why he 
"was practicing a forbidden faith.
" He was imprisoned for eight months without trial,
and,since being released,  has been rejected by
his family and is now homeless and diseased.


Azerbaijan: A pastor has been threatened with
criminal proceedings following a raid on his
church during Sunday service. Earlier, he was told
 that "a criminal case  had been launched over
religious literature arousing incitement over other
faiths,"and was pressured by authorities to leave
the area,  which he did, traveling great 
distances each week to lead church services.

Egypt: Before a bishop was going to inaugurate
the incomplete Abu Makka church and  celebrate
the Epiphany mass, a large number of
entered the building, asserting that the church
had no licensea nd so no one should pray in it.
One Muslim remarked that the building would be
suitable for a mosque and a hospital.

Indonesia: A sticker on the back of the car
of a member of the beleaguered Yasmin church
 saying "We need a friendly Islam,not an angry Islam,"
 distributed by the family of the late
Muslim president, prompted
another Islamic attack on the church:
scores of Muslims "terrorized the
congregation and attacked several 
church members." Since 2008, the
congregation has been forced
to hold Sunday  services on the sidewalk
outside the church and then later in the home
of parishioners. Not satisfied,  hundreds
of Muslims later searchedand found the
private home where members were congregating
and holding service and prevented them from
worshiping there as well:"It crosses the line now.
The protesters now come to the residential area, 
which is not a public place." A new
report notes that tanti-Christian attacks
have nearly doubled in the last year.

Nigeria: Soon after jihadis issued an
ultimatum giving Christians three days to
evacuate the region or die, armed Muslims
stormed  a church and "opened fire on
killing six, including the pastor's wife.
Then, as friends and relatives gathered
to mourn the deaths of those slain,
"Allahu Akbar" screaming Muslims
appeared and opened fire again,
churches were bombed, and seven more killed.

singing carols ata nearby church, Muslims
praying in a mosque decided to silence them 
--including with an axe: "The children were 
preparing for mass to be celebrated the next
day which was a Sunday.
The loud cheers became terrified
whimpers when suddenly four men, one of them
with an axe, barged into the church. The men
slapped the children,  wrecked the furniture, 
smashed  the microphone on to the floor and
kicked the altar. "You are disturbing our prayers.
We can't pray properly. How dare you use
the mike and speakers?"Islam forbids
Christians from celebrating loudly in
 church,banning bells, microphones, etc.)
Also, a center owned by the Catholic church
for 125 years, and used for "charitable purposes"
--it housed a home for the elderly, a girls' school,
a convent and chapel for prayer--was demolished
after it was discovered that its land is worth much
money; in the process,  demolition workers
destroyed Bibles, crosses, and a statue of Our Lady.

 torched,  while the other demolished
--all to yells of "Allahu Akbar."


[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression
of non-Muslim
"Second-Class Citizens"]

Denmark: In Muslim majority Odense, an
Iranian Christian family had two cars consecutively
 vandalized--windows smashed,
seats cut up, and set ablaze
the family has since relocated to an undisclosed
location. Likewise, "Church Ministry" will change
its name to "Ministry of Philosophy of Life "

Egypt: In the latest round of collective punishment,
in a village because of a rumor that a Coptic man had
 intimate photos of a Muslim woman on his phone
(denied by the man). Coptic homes and shops were
looted before being set ablaze. Three were injured,
while "terrorized" women and children who lost their
homes stood in the streets with no place to go.
As usual, it took the army an hour to drive 
2 kilometers to the village and none of the
 perpetrators were arrested.

Nigeria: Boko Haram Muslims set ablaze a
Christianmissionary homeOccupants of the home, 
mostly orphansand the less-privileged, 
were rendered homeless as a result. 
Meanwhile,  a top officer allowed the
mastermind behind the Christmas Day church
bombings to escape, evincing how well entrenched
Islamists are in government.

Pakistan: A judge has denied bail to the latest
under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, despite the
lack of evidence against him:according to Sharia,
the word of a Christian is half that of his Muslim
accuser (his landlord).

Saudi Arabia: Officials strip-searched 29 Christian
them for holding a prayer meeting at a private home.
Imprisoned last month without trial, they have
not been told when or if they will be released.
Authorities conducted the strip searches of 
the women, who insisted they had committed no crime,
in unsanitary conditions. As a result, some of the women
have been injured and are suffering illnesses, 
but authorities have provided no medical treatment.

Sudan: Authorities threatened to arrest church
leadersif they engage in "evangelistic activities"
and fail to comply with an order for churches to provide
names and identifications:"The order was  aimed at
oppressing Christians amid growing hostilities toward
Christianity…Sudanese law prohibits missionaries from
evangelizing, and converting from Islam to another
religion is punishable by  imprisonment or death in
Sudan, though previously such laws were not strictly
enforced."Accordingly, days and weeks later,
two evangelists were arrested on

Turkey: A Christian asylum seeker who fled from Iran
because of his faith "was brutally assaulted by his
Turkish employer with hot water and his body was
severely burned,"due to "the extreme religious views"
of his Muslim employer,who "told him he had no rights 
and that he would not pay him any money," 
after the Christian asked for his agreed wages.
He "is just one example of hundreds of Iranian
Christian asylum seekers who are living 
in such situations in Turkey."


disappeared over a month ago, has become a "tug of war
between the Christian family and Muslim lawyers."
 The court sided with the Islamists, ordering the girl
to be held in a state-owned care home till she reaches
18--the legal age of conversion--instead of returning her
to her family.Coptic activists argue that the decision 
"encourages Islamists to continue
unabated the abduction of Christian
minors for conversion to Islam."

when she was 15 and forced to marry a Muslim,
returned to her Catholic family after 10 years. 
Her case is not an isolated case: "there are at
least 700 cases a year of Christian girls kidnapped
 and forced to marry Muslims.” Likewise, 
"within the past three months, nine women have been

Sudan: After a large truck smashed through the
gates of a  Catholic Church compound, Muslims 
affiliated with Sudan's Islamic government
"severely beat" them and looted their living quarters,
stealing two vehicles, two laptops and a safe.Later,
the kidnappers forced the priests to call their bishop
with a ransom demand of 500,000
Sudanese pounds (US $185,530).

Switzerland: A Muslim man
for dating a Christian:were they dating in a
Muslim-dominated country,the Christian, 
as so often happens, would have
likely received similar  treatment.

Syria: The Christian community in Syria has been
100 Christians were killed since the 
anti-government unrest began;
"children were being especially targeted
by the kidnappers,” who,if they do not receive
 the ransom demanded, kill the victim,
including some who are "cut into pieces and
thrown in a river." These latest reports are
reminiscent of the anti-Christian attacks
that have become commonplace in Iraq for a decade.

Tajikistan: A young man dressed as Father Frost
--the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas--was
stabbed to death while visiting relatives and
bringing gifts. The Muslim mob beating and stabbing
him screamed "you infidel!" leading police
to cite "religious hatred" as motivation.

About this Series

Because the persecution of Christians in the
Islamic world is on its wayto reaching epidemic
proportions, "Muslim Persecution of Christians"
was developed to collate some--by no means
all--of the instances of Muslim persecution
of Christians that surface each month.
It serves two purposes:

1. Intrinsically, to document that which the
mainstream media does not:the habitual,
if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.

2. Instrumentally, to show that such persecution
is not "random," but systematic and interrelated
--that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution,
it typically fits under a specific theme, including
 hatred for churches and other 
Christian symbols; sexual abuse of
Christian women; forced conversions to Islam;
apostasy and blasphemy laws; 
theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (tribute); 
overall expectations for Christians to behave
like cowed "dhimmis" (second-class citizens);
and simple violence and murder.
Oftentimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span
different ethnicities,languages, and locales
 --from Morocco in the west, to India in the east,
and throughout the West, wherever there are
Muslims--it should be clear that one thing alone
binds them: Islam--whether the strict
application of Islamic Sharia law, 
or the supremacist culture born of it.

By Raymond Ibrahim

Stonegate Institute

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thank You Mayor DeStafano!

Thank you Mayor DeStafano of New Haven Connecticut for providing such rich material for my blog! If I had to invent a progressive straw man for my arguments, I could not have come up with a figure as absurd as you! While I affirm that all residents, regardless of their immigration status, should be treated humanely and have the right to due process, your proposal to allow non-citizens to vote is wrong on so many levels:

1) A nation state ceases to exist when we eliminate the political distinction between citizens and non-citizens and negates the sovereign rights of the former.

2) This is a prime example of the expansion of rights coupled with the erosion of responsibility. Specifically, the right to vote is coupled with being a citizen and complying with the laws of the land.

3) Determining that a city should not utilize its limited resources to apprehend non-violent undocumented immigrants is a reasonable proposal, but Mayor DeStafano's policy to reward those who technically should not be in the United States with voting rights is indefensible.

4) Utilizing non-citizens as a means to shore up one's diminishing electoral support among the citizens of New Haven is ethically questionable to say the least. It is an example of a politician seeking to "elect a new people."

Mayor DeStafano, I suggest that you read up on the laws that govern sane nations, like Mexico, who would quickly deport any non-citizen who interfered in their internal politics, let alone attempted to vote in their elections!

Mayor: Let All New Haven Immigrants Vote

BY Melissa Bailey | DEC 13, 2011 3:37 PM
(96) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: ImmigrantsState

Melissa Bailey Photo

As the federal government moves to deport more immigrants, Mayor John DeStefano disclosed a plan on an 

opposite track: To lobby the state legislature to allow all New Haven’s immigrants, including non-citizens, to 

vote in local elections. DeStefano (pictured) made the disclosure Tuesday morning after a press conference outside the Columbus Family Academy at 255 Blatchley Ave., where he and other politicians gathered to announce their opposition to the federal “Secure Communities initiative” to deport more immigrants who are here illegally. DeStefano said he plans to lobby the state for a “resident voting rights” bill that would allow any resident of New Haven—regardless of immigration status—to vote in municipal elections in New Haven. He said he’ll launch the effort during this upcoming legislative session, which runs from February to May.
The bill is about “how you define community, and how you define responsibility in community,” he said.
Several Maryland municipalities already allow non-citizen voting, including Takoma Park, which granted illegal immigrants the right to vote in 1992. Chicago allows non-citizens to vote in school board elections. The proposal has failed in some other communities, such as San Francisco and Portland, Maine.
DeStefano proposed allowing all New Haven residents the right to vote, as long as they provide identification and proof of residency. That’s the same basis by which he offered the immigrant-friendly municipal ID card in 2007. (Currently, only U.S. citizens can vote in elections.)
DeStefano estimated that New Haven has 10,000 non-citizen immigrants, maybe half of them above the age of 18.
The mayor’s quest to make New Haven more inclusive of its immigrant community launched him into the national spotlight in 2007. He also had the police department issue a general order preventing officers from inquiring into people’s immigration status. His latest voting effort is likely to do the same.
DeStefano said the idea found favor this week in Westville, where he ran into an English couple living here on green cards without the right to vote in the States.
“You are the ones who argued about taxation without representation,” the couple said to him, he recalled. It’s only fair that all taxpayers have the right to vote, they argued. DeStefano said his bill would help not just undocumented immigrants, but those who might be here legally but don’t have the right to vote.
DeStefano will need the support of legislators in order to make any headway at the Capitol. He was asked if New Haven’s state delegation is supporting his effort.
“We’ve got some education to do on this,” he replied.
DeStefano will need a committee to introduce the bill, the practice in “short session” years at the legislature.
He found some first-blush support with state Rep. Juan Candelaria of New Haven.
“I agree with him that anyone who resides in the city of New Haven should have the ability to vote,” Candelaria said. “I don’t know about the legalities, but if you work in the state, your kids attend local schools and you’ve been a resident for a fair amount of time, that would make sense.”
Candelaria predicted that “it’s not going to be easy” to pass a non-citizen voting bill. The legislature “had a hard time” passing even the DREAM act, which granted in-state tuition rates to children of undocumented immigrants.
New Haven State Rep. Roland Lemar declined comment on the proposal, saying he had just learned about it.
Nationally, a movement to grant non-citizen immigrants local voting rights has sprung up in “close to two dozen states,” according to Michele Wucker, president of the World Policy Institute and author ofLockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right.
“The idea is that when you live in a city, you are essentially a citizen of that city, which is separate form federal or national citizenship,” Wucker said Tuesday. “The logic is that everybody is better off when everyone on their block and in their town has a stake in staying on top of issues and working together and to get safe and clean streets, good schools, reliable transportation, and good health care.
“The other part of the argument is that from the beginning of U.S. history until the 1920s, non-citizen voting was very common, at one point in 44 states and territories, at various levels. The movement now is for local elections. In most cases, with the exceptions of school boards, it’s for people who have their papers, who are legal. This is not illegal immigrants voting for president.”
Campaigns for local voting rights usually include all immigrants here legally when it comes to municipal elections (like for mayor), and include undocumented immigrants when it comes to school board elections, Wucker said.