Monthly Archives: February 2006

New kid on the block will be famous one day

There’s a new kid on the block. He might look kind of dorky, but I think one day he’ll be famous. I refer to the new Institute of Marriage and the Family.

I gave a speech to their grand opening last Thursday, in case anyone thinks it creates a conflict of interest. In it I said this organization (www.imfcanada.org) is not just desirable but long overdue. We live in an era of social science, and give at least as much deference on ethical as well as technical questions to “experts” as our ancestors did to priests. So isn’t it high time experts scrutinized the family in Canada? As Derek Rogusky and Mark Penninga note in the inaugural IMFC Review: “In the early 1960s over 90 per cent of children [in Canada] were born to parents who were married for the first time and who had not cohabited — with anyone — prior to marriage.” Now it’s under 40 per cent. “What has happened in the span of one generation?” they ask.

One odd thing is that inhabitants of Western countries, except the U.S., are suddenly having well under the 2.1 children per woman necessary to prevent depopulation. And having your populace vanish might matter. Germany’s new chancellor just urged her compatriots to have more kids, even though she has none because “it just did not fit in with my career path.” And Japan’s prime minister urged his people to “do as dogs do” because “Dogs produce lots of puppies and when they do, the pains of labour are easy.” There are worse things than carefully packaged political speeches. But at least problems related to changing family structure, to use the antiseptic social- science term, are on people’s minds in other countries. Continue reading

Extremists’ threats justify publishing the cartoons

“If a man starts to run, there’s nothing to do but keep running.” – Louis L’Amour

It is not pleasant to be forced to choose between seeming rude and seeming cowardly. I resent being put in this position. But in sorrow and in anger I have changed my mind about those Danish cartoons. Thanks to Muslim radicals, republishing them is now the only way to show we will not be intimidated.

I wish it were not. I write, obviously, for the Ottawa Citizen, which has not reprinted them because, as editor-in-chief Scott Anderson explained on Tuesday, “This really has very little to do with freedom of the press. Newspapers can publish any number of things that would upset any number of groups, but that isn’t reason enough to do it. There has to be some greater public good, and I really don’t see how publishing these cartoons at this time achieves any greater good.” Though I had no role in that decision, it is precisely the advice I would have given last September about publication, and as recently as last week about republication. But I also write for Western Standard magazine, which just reprinted them. And though I had no role in that decision either, it would be cowardly not to say I now think they were right and explain why.

Quite simply, another week of global riots and threats means it has ceased to be an issue of the legal right to free speech and become one of raw intimidation. We are being clearly told if we print these things we will be lynched. Continue reading

“Emerson shuffle” is distasteful, but so is banning it

David Emerson’s spectacular defection right into the Conservative cabinet hurts. Especially because the obvious solution won’t work. But at the risk of switching suddenly to the optimists, I do offer some hope.

To their credit, their own partisan coup stings for a lot of Tories. They were genuinely outraged after Scott Brison, then Belinda Stronach, left their party for Liberal cabinet jobs (first a parliamentary secretaryship for Mr. Brison), in part because, like Reformers since 1993, they prided themselves on being less partisan than their opponents. But the essence of partisanship is the conviction that our policies and ethics are better because we’re us and they’re them, basing principles on identity instead of the other way around. It hurts to discover how easy it is to slide into this kind of thinking, even for us.

The Liberals also feel hurt. As soon as Mr. Emerson executed his somersault with half twist, people asked how a man could call the Tories “heartless,” “angry” and “uncomfortable with ethnic minorities,” stand next to the prime minister of Canada and say Stephen Harper favoured a country where “the strong survive and the weak die” – and then go join up. The question is not unreasonable. Perhaps Mr. Emerson never meant these as criticisms. But I would be more sympathetic if Liberals had been less visibly smug over Mr. Brison and Ms. Stronach. Continue reading

Some questions for Muslims

Apparently the Hamas Charter says: “The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: ‘The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.’ ” Is this true?

I don’t mean does the Hamas Charter say it. Translations differ in a few details but they all agree that the relevant part of Article 7 reads in essentially the same horrifying way; the version above from the Cornell University Library (www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/midea st/hamas.htm) declares itself “A verbatim reproduction of the Palestinian Hamas Movement’s own English version of its covenant.” Clearly Hamas believes, and says, that the Prophet said it.

What I am asking is whether other Muslims think Hamas is right on this point. I know enough to know this passage is not in the Koran, and that in Islam nothing else approaches the Koran in terms of authority. What Hamas is citing is alleged to be a hadith, one of the many sayings (plural ahadith, I believe) traditionally attributed to the Prophet. But beyond that I need some help. Continue reading