Archives for November 2015

Fact-Checking PolitiFact

PolitiFact.com, a project of the Tampa Bay Times, is a self-proclaimed fact checking operation. I know this won’t surprise anyone, given that it’s affiliated with the “mainstream” media, but it has a decidedly leftward bias. A quick look at past columns shows that it has a preference for “fact checking” statements made by people who lean right. Not surprisingly, it tends to deem their statements as untrue, and when it “fact checks” statements of those who lean left, it tends to deem their statements as true. This is highly subjective stuff, laden with cherry-picking.

Also not surprisingly, PolitiFact leaves out crucial facts in its reporting (mistakenly, or dare I ask, deliberately?), prompting it to give erroneous assessments. A case in point: when it attempted to evaluate whether something that commentator Reza Aslan said was true. Azlan responded to an insinuation made by comedian and commentator Bill Maher that female genital mutilation is an Islamic problem. Azlan said that it’s actually “a central African problem.”

Who was right – Maher, or Azlan?

PolitiFact deputy editor Katie Sanders claimed that “Azlan’s larger point – that this is not a problem in only Muslim countries – is valid. Countries with majority-Christian populations also carry out this practice, while Islamic-majority countries like Iraq and Yemen have rates on the lower side. We rate Aslan’s claim Mostly True.”

In her research, did Ms. Sanders not come across the report, “FGM in Ethiopia”? It’s one of the first things that comes up when one does a Google search using the keywords “female genital mutilation Muslim Christian Ethiopia.”

The report states:

“FGM is practiced by both of the main religions in Ethiopia – Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Muslim groups are more likely to practice FGM than Christian groups, with the prevalence among Muslim communities being 65.1% and that among Orthodox Christians being 45%. The prevalence of FGM among Muslims is not only higher but is also changing more slowly.”

That’s a crucial point, indicating that while FGM exists among both Muslim and Christian populations in Africa, it’s more common among Muslim populations. This means that within countries where FGM is practiced, there could be something about the Muslim religion that either encourages the practice, or that prompts people to tolerate it to a greater extent. (Or, there could be something about the Muslim religion that causes economic development to occur more slowly compared with areas where other religions predominate, resulting in more widespread practice of primitive and repulsive customs such as FGM.)

Maher only implied that FGM is an Islamic problem, and didn’t directly characterize it as exclusively an Islamic problem. As FGM is more common among Muslim populations, Maher’s claim was mostly true. Hence Aslan’s claim was mostly untrue. So PolitiFact was mostly wrong.

 

And No Religion Too

It’s symbolic – and ironic – that in Europe following terrorist attacks, the unofficial anthem of choice is that ode to atheism, John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

After the November 13 attacks in Paris, a pianist attracted the attention of millions via the mainstream press and social media when he played Imagine outside one of the places of carnage, The Bataclan. Last February in the aftermath of killings in Copenhagen by a radical Muslim, tens of thousands of Danes sang Imagine at memorials across the country.

“Imagine there’s no heaven …. No hell below us … And no religion too,” go the lyrics.

It’s symbolic because religionless is what Europe has become – particularly Northern Europe. Churches in France are closing for lack of worshipers. Only about 5-10 percent of the French go to church regularly. That percentage is even less in Denmark.

So the ethnic French (as opposed to ethnic Arabs in France) largely have attained one of the sentiments longed for in the song: no religion. They have abandoned the Christian faith.

Are they better off without Christianity? The tragic event of last weekend suggests they are not.

French society still retains some Christian values. They include a love of peace, justice, and civility, and helping the poor and downtrodden. The latter manifests itself in the form of generous foreign aid programs, and taking in refugees afflicted by war and poverty.

It is one thing for a country to open one’s doors to a certain number of the poor and downtrodden. It is quite another thing to open one’s doors to whole nations of poor and downtrodden – from radically different cultures. That is what France and other developed countries including the United States have been doing. (And it’s not just motivated by compassion, but also by a desire to import future liberal-left voters.)

Taking in what amounts to whole nations of peoples fundamentally transforms the identity and culture of the host nation. After decades of migration from the Middle East and North Africa, many aspects of French society are being upended, such as a rise in economic inequality. But worst is the importation of the culture of violence. It should not surprise anyone that terrorist attacks that always have been so common in the Middle East are now taking place in Europe.

Had the French remained devout Christians, it is doubtful they ever would have taken in such huge numbers of Muslims. They would have recognized the threat it would have posed to their Christian identity, to their freedom of worship, and to their security.

Europeans have taken to heart another piece of bad advice contained in John Lennon’s song: “Imagine there’s (sic) no countries…” The open-borders policy reflects that. And it’s devouring them.

Imagine also makes a nod to communism with the “Imagine no possessions” line. At least the French haven’t gone that far – yet.

But getting back to imagining no religion, the abandonment of Christianity in France invites another great danger: less protection from God.

All you atheists, agnostics, and Christians who don’t take your religion too seriously may laugh off what you just read. I would have, back when I was in your camp. But a couple of years and a lot of investigation later, I’ve become convinced that all those things that we associate with religion are actually true: God, the spiritual world, the divinity of Christ, the authenticity of the gospels, heaven and hell, angels, and fallen angels. Evidence of that will be presented in future articles. But for now, suffice it to say that fallen angels do exist. (The Drudge Report posts stories on that topic practically every few days – and many of them are credible.) The earth truly is the devil’s playground. His greatest triumph is convincing the world that he doesn’t exist.

According to theologians, God protects us from the evil one all the time. Without such protection, the whole of the earth would degenerate into one big slaughterhouse. When nations turn further away from God, His protective hand eases up.

That’s what’s happening in France. Last weekend we saw one of the consequences. As America turns further away from God, we too tread on more dangerous territory.

It behooves those in France, America, and other Western nations to return to their Christian roots. Otherwise, expect more tragedies such as what happened in Paris.

(Originally published in Newsmax.com)

Routine Events Don’t Make the News

Within days of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, a string of terrorist attacks took place in Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, killing more than 80 people. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius laments the fact that the Middle East terrorist attacks got far less press attention than the Paris attacks. “Do Western nations think that Muslim lives matter less?”, he asks.

The reason terrorist attacks in the Middle East get less press attention is because they’re such a common occurrence there. It’s akin to how morning traffic jams on the George Washington Parkway near D.C. never get mentioned in radio station traffic reports – because traffic jams there are expected and routine. It doesn’t mean that the radio stations think that G.W. Parkway commuters matter less.

And that prompts the question: Given that terrorist attacks are so common in Middle Eastern culture, is it wise to transplant that culture into Western countries? We saw the consequences of that in Paris November 13.

It’s kind and compassionate to take in limited numbers of poor and downtrodden from the Middle East. It’s foolish to take in what amounts to whole nations of peoples from the Middle East, to the extent that our own culture and identity get transformed.