Reza Aslan’s Deflection

Posted in War on Terror,World by Ryan on the October 3rd, 2014

I’ve seen a few people on Facebook post Media Matter’s edited clip from CNN where Reza Aslan berates the anchors for conducting a “stupid” conversation that could be defined as “bigotry.” Simply because they use the same term Mahrer uses (we don’t know, Media Matters doesn’t show Mahrer’s comments), or introduced it themselves, to identify issues prevalent in many or all Muslim countries as issues prevalent in many or all Muslim countries.

My initial comment was as follows:

Accusing people of bigotry is pretty serious. Aslan drops it without caution, apparently because of a difference in semantics in how to identify numerous Muslim nations through which several common issues are prevalent, but not exclusive across all Muslim nations.

He brings up the point about Somalia. Aslan’s rebuttal is that outside of this no Muslim majority countries have female genital mutilation issues, yet simply googling shows the practice is heavily prevalent in Mali and other Muslim majority countries. In Mahrer’s comments themselves he says that 91% of Egyptian women have been subjected to genital mutilation. All over into Asian Muslim countries it is still practiced. Imams on the Maldives have even recently called for it to continue. The nation he first references as a “Christian nation” that has a FGM problem in Africa is Eritrea. 50% Christian. 48% Muslim.

Religion doesn’t promote violence or peace? It’s what people bring to it? Well, in the last few years, an awful lot of horribly violent people have been bringing violence to Islam.

1 year ago, I wrote a blog post about some of the awful things going on around the globe just that week. Just that single week. Mass murder in a mall in Kenya. Hostages in gun battles in the Phillipines. Villagers massacred in Nigeria. Scores killed in a church bombing in Pakistan. A common thread connected all these events.

I don’t paint with a broad brush, but the brush I paint with thinks critically, is logical, is educated and realistic.

I grew up here in the DC area. I went to school with Muslims. I cut the grass for the Iraqi family in my neighborhood as a teenager, an Iranian family lives down the street. My last job had a recent grad that started working there who was Muslim. We had some fun chats about Islam and Mormons and Ramadan and so forth over the summer. I took the “Islam and the Gospel” class at BYU. Served a mission where the Ottoman Empire had been and a residual minority of Muslims remain. I have clear eyes on weeding out bad apples from good apples and assessing the big picture. I think everyone is best served by truth and honesty in observing facts as they stand with regard to the profound issues at play in so many Muslim countries, and what the common variable is again, and again, and again, and again.

Rather than address the elephant in the room and agree that people should embrace liberal values that ensure freedom for people to act and think as they will, [Aslan] hammers the semantics of using the term, “Muslim countries.” This does little to persuade me that he actually cares about these issues and really cares about seeing them solved in the countries they plague. He reluctantly admits to them, but seems more keen to emphasize that the hosts are skirting bigotry and conducting a “stupid” conversation because they identify huge swaths of Muslim countries as “Muslim countries.”

What exactly does Aslan thinks connects the countries with these issues? Race? Language? Economics? Or religion?

Chasing the Cause Célèbre

Posted in Media Bias,War on Terror,World by Ryan on the May 7th, 2014
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Some stories get a lot of coverage, others don’t. The reasons why should give us all pause to consider how we understand the world and how we react to things in it.

There have been stories about Boko Haram killing hundreds in Nigeria for months now. However, I don’t recall them being front page news like the current stories about the abduction of large numbers of girls. The gender specific nature of the victims seems to have elevated the evil of Boko Haram to new levels, even attracting the attention of US Senators and prompting a letter signed by all 20 female United States Senators.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine is even calling for US Special Forces to be used to help recover the girls.

The debate of using US troops aside, it is striking how hundreds of people being massacred, and students being mercilessly killed doesn’t elicit a great deal of attention until something more emotionally tangible happens that aligns well with more contemporary themes.

I’m wondering why these 20 senators did not sign a letter when 29 students were killed by the same group as mentioned in one of the articles linked above.

Suspected Islamic militants killed 29 students in a pre-dawn attack Tuesday on a northeast Nigerian school, survivors said, setting ablaze a locked dormitory and shooting and slitting the throats of those who escaped through windows. Some were burned alive.

Boko Haram is bad, and we should react uniformly to its actions, just as we should react uniformly to any perpetration of evil, bigotry or violence. Leaders, journalists and concerned citizens need to stop chasing the day’s cause célèbre and actually be informed to react in a principled manner to events in our world.

Islamic Terror

Posted in Media Bias,War on Terror,World by Ryan on the September 23rd, 2013

I’ve been struck the past couple of days just how many large scale events have recently taken place around the world involving Muslim extremists. Particularly noteworthy has been the underwhelming reporting. Were these Christian extremists or some other “unsavory variety” of terror to a progressive mindset, I think the media would be fixated on the wave of violence sweeping the world. I suppose this is the new normal, to either shrug off murder from extreme Islamic adherents as a regularity to be tolerated, or to treat it as non-representative of the whole of Islam and bury the headlines down the page. I wonder if the mall in Kenya got a lot of attention because it most closely resembles a western venue?

Mass murder in a mall in Kenya.

Hostages in gun battles in the Phillipines.

Villagers massacred in Nigeria.

Scores killed in a church bombing in Pakistan.

It is sad these things are happening and I hope apologists for Islam more conspicuously recognize the cancer of extremism from within.

Running Games in a Major Metropolitan Area

Posted in Election 2012,World by Ryan on the July 29th, 2012

After the “disconcerting” kerfuffle, I can’t help but grin as the London Olympics gets a couple black eyes that I think anyone would be disconcerted by.  And to think that this is “one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world” and not the “middle of nowhere.”



President Obama Still Fantasizing

Posted in National Security,President Obama,World by Ryan on the March 26th, 2012

I just saw that our President is still advocating a position that extends beyond reality.

The president said he believes the United States has a “moral obligation” to act and lead the world in reducing nuclear stockpiles.  He continued, “I say this as president of the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons.  I say it as a Commander-in-Chief who knows that our nuclear codes are never far from my side.  Most of all, I say it as a father, who wants my two young daughters to grow up in a world where everything they know and love can’t be instantly wiped out.”

His comments build upon stuff he talked about in his Prague Speech a couple of years ago, and I mention it here.

I’m not sure what the end goal really is behind this kind of rhetoric.  It is hard to believe that the man occupying the Presidency actually believes that we can eliminate nuclear weapons.

As Bill Kristol says,

Yet to justify a world without nuclear weapons, what Obama would really have to envision is a world without war, or without threats of war.

I would take it further.  To eliminate any kind of weapon that gives you any advantage, you have to remove human nature from humans.  Evil exists in the hearts of men across the world, and to deny that is to deny reality.  Past, present and future.  I know Obama said that the rise of the oceans began to slow during the primary last cycle, but can he really perfect us all?  Has the messianic vision of himself extended beyond his followers of 2008 and permanently affixed itself upon his mind?

More concisely explaining the general theme of that point of perfection, Jonah Goldberg was recently on Uncommon Knowledge and explained how progressives will never be satisfied because they believe in perfection.  Conservatives recognize that humans are flawed and that perfection is not attainable.  At least for the time being.  It is these diverging world views that drive much of the political debate.  (An unconstrained vision versus a constrained vision.)  Progressives believe that a utopia exists somewhere out there, and will enact policies in an attempt to achieve their vision of it.  Conservatives recognize the failings of humans and are more interested in establishing conditions through which imperfect beings can best thrive and prosper, despite their imperfection.  The US Constitution, traditional morality and ethics, etc…

This ambition to reduce nuclear armaments, with the goal of reaching zero, embodies this difference in vision of what is real, and what is not.

An Actor in Congress

Posted in World by Ryan on the March 9th, 2011

Affleck before congress to discuss issues in Congo.

I was surprised at his delivery of prepared remarks.  This is a seasoned actor we’re watching, right?

Certainly nothing compared to his fine parody on Olbermann.


Posted in Climate Change,World by Ryan on the December 30th, 2010

George Will explains why coal is a big deal.  He also touches on the elephant in the room that I have yet to hear a cognitive response to from advocates of reducing global emissions.

Fallows reports that 15 years from now China expects that 350 million people will be living in cities that do not exist yet. This will require adding to China’s electrical system a capacity almost as large as America’s current capacity. The United States, China, Russia and India have 40 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of its coal.

A climate scientist told Fallows that stabilizing the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere would require the world to reduce its emissions to Kenya’s level – for America, a 96 percent reduction. Nations with hundreds of millions of people in poverty would, Fallows says, have to “forgo the energy-intensive path toward wealth that the United States has traveled for so many years.”

Sarkozy for President

Posted in Immigration,President Obama,U.S.,World by Ryan on the September 4th, 2010

Sarkozy’s Anti-Crime initiatives sound common sensical, and yet are met with criticism and protest.

If only Obama was truly interested in American exceptionalism and integration, instead of political pandering and non-enforcement.

We Con the World

Posted in Media Bias,War on Terror,World by Ryan on the June 4th, 2010

A humorous look at a serious situation.  I don’t know how I would even hold a conversation with someone that thought Israel at fault in the “Flotilla Incident.”

US Military in Context

Posted in Foreign Policy,National Security,U.S.,World by Ryan on the April 30th, 2010

Just came across a fascinating website called Information is Beautiful.

One of the articles that caught my eye was one about military spending & size when taking wealth and population into account.

It doesn’t seem fair to not factor in the wealth of a country when assessing its military budget.

So, if you take military budgets as a proportion of each country’s GDP, a very different picture emerges.


The US is knocked down into 8th place by such nations as Jordan, Burundi and Georgia. The UK plunges to 29th.

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