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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: March 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Illegal Immigration Debate Hits Home

All I wanted last Friday was an order of steak nachos and ice tea from Carl’s Jr. but this time, my desired lunch would allude me. Normally I bring my lunch to work so I can save money with the added benefit of writing posts for this blog or reading my favorite blogs from others. For once I decided to take a break from the office, the internet, and politics and let my mind take a rest. Moments later I discovered that this break from news and politics would have to wait for another day…

I exited the parking lot south bound onto 22nd St. The traffic seemed a little heavier than usual but I figured it would clear up once I drove a couple of blocks. As the minutes passed, I noticed more and more frustrated motorists turning around to go in the opposite direction; I soon followed suit and started thinking about an alternative spot to have lunch. As it turned out, the other direction was no better. As I sat there I noticed one Hispanic man walking by with a Mexican flag and a couple of moments later, another. Across the street was a couple of Hispanics selling Mexican food at a little table.

About then it dawned on me: I was heading in the direction of Arizona Senator Jon Kyl’s office; maybe there was some sort of protest regarding illegal immigration? I didn’t recall hearing anything in particular about a protest on the news. Rush Limbaugh was on my radio without preemption and the topic of illegal immigration did not come up. I looked up ahead to see if my suspicions were right and noticed that the intersection to Camelback was closed. Off in the distance I saw a gathering around Kyl’s office, some carrying signs (though I could not make out any of the words from this distance). Disgusted, I once again turned around.

I made my way back to Highland and saw that traffic was only slightly better. By the time I got moving, it was already halfway through my lunch break. About that time the news/talk station’s news break lead off with the story of between 10,000 and 15,000 people protesting an anti-illegal immigration bill sponsored by Senator Kyl. Only 3,000 or so were expected to show up. The reporters said that the protest had traffic tied up for several blocks.

From a purely tactical standpoint I wondered if tying up traffic for thousands of commuters during lunch break in the Camelback Corridor (one of Phoenix’s major business districts) was an effective way to get the pro illegal immigrant message out. I certainly got the message: Illegal immigrants have no consideration for our sovereignty, our culture (if you want all the benefits of being an American, at least wave OUR flag rather than the flag of the nation you fled to escape poverty or oppression. What a slap in the face!), or our economy (think of all the businesses that lost customers during this hour; Friday is probably the busiest time of the week for the restaurant industry). I saw this as something of a microcosm of the entire border debate.

On a larger scale, the same holds true. Illegal immigrants disrespect America’s sovereignty every day by crossing the border. Many would like to take part of our electoral process. I fear the next demand from illegal immigrants will be the right to vote (*UPDATE* such demands are already being made). Some school districts already allow illegals to vote in school board elections. After all, their children attend our schools therefore their voices need to be heard too.

Many of today’s immigrants, both legal and illegal, seem to have little regard for our culture. In generations past, immigrants would make every effort to become an American by learning English, adopting American customs, and by embracing the American dream. While I don’t think immigrants need to completely rid themselves of the customs of their homeland; I do believe they should philosophically consider themselves Americans first as my ancestors did. When I see people waving the flag of their nation of origin while trying to inject themselves into our political process, I see their flag as making a statement: conquered territory. Invaders historically raise the banner of their homeland when they conquer a foreign land.

Lastly, on the economic front, far too many illegal immigrants avail themselves of America’s welfare state with no regard for the burden it places on our economy. The federal and state governments spend way too much on social programs before illegal immigrants are figured into the equation. The healthcare system is over run with illegals who do not pay for their medical expenses. Would the Mexican government pay for MY medical expenses if I got sick or injured while in Rocky Point or Tijuana? Would I even be seen by a doctor without the means to pay for his or her services? I sincerely doubt it.

So will this border crisis be solved? I wish I knew for sure but I have a few ideas. First of all, if these protesters put as much energy into organizing and protesting the corruption of the Mexican government; maybe there wouldn’t be as much of a need to immigrate here. Secondly, the border needs to be strictly enforced; once they get here, they are very difficult to deport. Finally and most importantly, we Americans need to take another look at our own dependency on government to solve all our problems. A new generation needs to stand up for Capitalism, self reliance, and limited government. Until this happens, America will continue to be a doormat for all who wish to tread.

Related posts by others:
Racism gets a whitewash by Michelle Malkin
Excuse Me Chuy, You Must Have Forgotten Your History (If You Knew It In The First Place) by Mr. Minority
Immigration: Let’s Go Slow by DL of TMH's Bacon Bits
Mucho Caliente by Cox & Forkum
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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Can Mysticism Co-Exist with Reason and Liberty?

Lately I have noticed a trend in the news regarding the believers of mysticism (religion) and their intolerance for others who freely express views contrary to their beliefs. Obviously this is nothing new; history is replete with examples of religious intolerance including: The Crusades (on the part of both Christians and Muslims), The Spanish Inquisition, The Salem Witch Trials, and virtually every government influenced by Islam from its inception to the present day. Beyond this undisputed history, both the Bible and the Koran have many tales of genocide and God’s wrath against the ‘infidels’ who dared to live according to their own consciences. God’s wrath is not restricted to the ‘sinner’ in either book; innocent people including infant children were wiped out for simply having the misfortune of being born into a ‘wicked’ society. Today we call this terrorism.

Although things were much worse in the Dark Ages, with all the advances in the scientific fields of medicine and technology with unprecedented and almost unlimited access to information, far too many people continue to rely on ‘faith’ as opposed to ‘reason’ to live by. Until the faithful threaten my life, liberty, or property, I have no problem with someone believing that The Great Pumpkin will someday return with gifts on Halloween, that the earth is flat, or that a higher being is guiding every aspect of the entire universe. Unfortunately, far too many of the faithful would love nothing more than to do just that to anyone who simply does not believe in their imaginary friend(s) or perceptions of reality.

As I write this, a man by the name of Abdul Rahman is facing execution for converting from Islam to Christianity in Afghanistan; a supposedly ‘tolerant’ democratically elected Muslim government since the U.S. removed the Taliban from power. Does this suggest that Islam is incompatible with liberty? We recently witnessed the overreaction by thousands of Muslims to half-dozen or so cartoons that dared to portray Islam in an unfavorable light. Those who published these cartoons are undoubtedly in fear of their lives. Do you still think Islam is compatible with liberty? In 2004, Theo Van Gogh, the great nephew of Vincent Van Gogh, was murdered by Muslims who objected to his anti-Islam film titled: Submission (a very appropriate title I might add). Islam, is it compatible with liberty?

Rahman ,Van Gogh and the Danish cartoonists are hardly the first targets of Muslim fanatics; in the late 1980’s Salmon Rushdie published a book titled The Satanic Verses which provoked the Ayatollah Khomeni to issue a fatwa (death order) against him and his publisher. Leonard Peikoff of The Ayn Rand Institute wrote an excellent article back in 1989 in response to the fatwa and the circumstances surrounding the lack of courage from the West. Peikoff wrote:

Whether Rushdie's book in particular is good or evil, noble or depraved, is now irrelevant. Once death is threatened, there is only one issue to discuss and defend: an individual's right to speak, whether anyone or everyone likes what he says or not…


If blasphemy is the issue, we submit that a religious dictator inciting murder is blasphemy against the sanctity of human life. It is said that Rushdie's book impugns the faith of believers. So does science. It is said that the book is offensive to the values of the Ayatollah's followers. So is the United States of America.
Peikoff went even further to criticize American politicians on both the Right and the Left because both sides had “betrayed the philosophic ideas necessary to act.”

Peikoff continues:

Conservatives have become dominated by religionists, who openly base their views on mystical dogma and want the government to impose their dogmas by force which is just what the Ayatollah is doing. Homegrown fundamentalists are in no position to lead a crusade for free thought. Can these groups maintain that it is wrong to ban Rushdie, but right to ban Darwin?

All of us owe a debt of gratitude to liberal groups like PEN and the Author's Guild for their courageous condemnation of the Ayatollah's threats. But these groups do not offer principled opposition, either--because of their philosophic commitment to collectivism and cultural relativism. Liberals characteristically hold that individual rights must be sacrificed to the "public good," and that Western civilization is no better than the "culture" of tribal savages. Those who counsel appeasement as a principle of foreign policy will not and cannot demand action against the Ayatollah.
I know that it may seem like a giant leap from the likes of Ayatollah Khomeni to fundamentalist believers of other religions in America but Peikoff has a very valid point. The danger of religion and mysticism begins whenever believers try to enforce ‘anti-blasphemy’ codes against those who do not respect their beliefs or simply offer another alternative to their beliefs. When someone says that his or her religion is above criticism and should be protected from ‘hate speech’ we find ourselves on a road that leads to censorship, bigotry and tyranny.

Not only has the MSM not stood up for free speech because of cultural sensitivities, the Vatican has also even gone as far to say that free speech does not include ‘offending’ someone’s beliefs. As if that wasn’t offensive enough, Isaac Hayes the voice of ‘Chef’ on the pollitically incorrect and hilarious cartoon South Park has decided that his religion of Scientology is above criticizm. Where has this guy been? Isn’t this the show that routinley makes fun of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Atheists, televangelists, politicians, celebrities, and everything else in-between? Did Hayes happen to miss the episode when ‘The Super Best Friends’ (a parody of The Super Friends which is made up of Jesus, Mohamad, Moses, Joseph Smith, and of course, Sea Man) saved the day from a gigantic Abraham Lincoln who was terrorising Washington D.C. by making an equally gigantic John Wilkes Booth? (if you haven’t watched South Park you are really missing a funny show). So Trey Parker and Matt Stone make a joke of Scientology as the do everything else and what does Hayes do? He morphs into Cartman and says: “Screw you guys, I’m go’n home!”

We all need to lighten up a little bit. Some people ridicule my beliefs. So what! Are my beliefs challenged with both reasonable and unreasonable arguments? Of course they are. I can handle it. Actually I encourage it. This is the primary difference between many people of faith and those who beilive in such things as science over Sunday school, reason over religion, and facts over faith. Go ahead and call me an infidel, I will readily embrace this lable. I’m a heritic and I offend your religion? Maybe your religion offends me. But don’t worry, I’ll fight for your right to believe in any crazy thing you want. Can you offer me the same in return? If so, your beliefs can co-exist with reason and liberty.

Related Posts by Others:
Sultan of Enlightenment by Cox & Forkum (Be sure to visit the link for the transcript of the Al-Jazeera a interviw with Wafa Sultan below the cartoon.)
I don't have an imaginary friend, and I don't date people who do by Jaqueline Mackie Paisley Passey
"God's Land" by Michael J. Hurd
Just Say No To Muhammad's Hit Men: What we've learned from the intoonfada by Tim Cavanaugh
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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hollywood Hypocrisy

Another Academy Awards has come and gone, another celebrity event I couldn’t care less about (though I am thrilled that Crash won Best Picture; it was the only movie nominated that I actually watched and was worth watching). Why? I am sick of being preached to by a bunch of phonies. These celebrities tell us all how we need to be concerned about global warming and not drive SUVs, meanwhile they fly around in private jets burning more fuel in one trip than the average American burns driving a SUV for an entire year!

They tell us that public figures are afraid to speak out against the Bush Administration because he is some sort of ‘dictator.’ Spare me. Criticizing President Bush is the safest career move one can make in the entertainment industry. A riskier move would be for an entertainer to actually admit support for the president. Don’t get me wrong, President Bush does deserve his share of criticism. Personally I have been very disappointed with his inability to articulate his strategy in Iraq, his lack of will to veto a single bill that grows government (yet he has made a lame attempt to bring back the ‘line item veto’), and his general capitulation to statists in both parties. These are complaints I would have regardless of who was president with these same short comings. Can the same be said about the Hollywood elites? Are they really that concerned about our country going to war or America’s foreign policy regardless of who occupies the Oval Office?

Julia Gorin made this observation in her LA Daily News Article, Hollywood blind to truth:

Hollywood likes to see itself as boldly questioning authority, and picking up where the other media leave off, but in truth, only some authorities are questioned, while others are blindly followed. Clooney's "Syriana" earns plaudits for whacking away at the Bush administration's foreign policy, but where was Hollywood when the previous administration invaded a sovereign European nation over charges of genocide and ethnic cleansing that proved false in Yugoslavia?
Does that mean that ‘Clinton lied and people died’ and Hollywood didn’t have one thing to say about it? Funny, I don’t remember anyone from the Right saying that either. Gorin continues:

Why didn't we hear from Hollywood when the media made little of President Bill Clinton's sharing classified nuclear technology with China for campaign money?”
Why that sounds like corruption to me! Oh well. We can live with a president taking money from a communist country (or any foreign country for that matter); at least the money didn’t come from BIG Oil.

Where was Hollywood when the media didn't question why the country wasn't responding to the succession of terrorist attacks against the U.S. on Bill Clinton's watch? And where was Hollywood when the media didn't question why that administration was acting as though the much-ballyhooed nonproliferation treaty with North Korea was still in effect even after we discovered that North Korea was going ahead with its nuclear program? Interesting how in the eight years before the election of George W. Bush, poor reporting effectively made truth disappear. Because the film folks were on the same page as the reporters. And that's where they remain.
Well, we can’t expect Americans to remember that far back can we? That’s just asking way too much. That all fell into the memory hole right around the time of the Florida recount. Besides, Bill Clinton threw wonderful parties at the White House for his Hollywood friends. Anyone who is in touch with Hollywood is obviously more intelligent and more concerned with the world’s problems. So what if he made a few mistakes. At least his heart was in the right place. On the other hand, George Bush has nothing but ill intentions and is just pure evil. Impeach him now!

Damn Kool-Aid drinking hypocrites.

Hat Tip: Larry Elder
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month (February 2006)

Before I get into this month’s selections I would like to take a moment to note the passing of a champion of the Libertarian movement, Harry Browne. Browne ran as the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000 kept a blog (which is still up and running, and wrote several books. Among his most famous works were Why Government Doesn’t Work and The Great Libertarian Offer. I would describe Browne as a Libertarian purist (he advocated eliminating the IRS, abolishing nearly every government program, ending the war on drugs, and changing the U.S. military posture to one of purely defensive with no troops abroad). Browne was a little too extreme for my tastes (as is the National Libertarian Party for that matter) but he certainly was an ally of all who believe that life, liberty, and property are fundamental rights that every human being deserves who would not deny his fellow man the same. Harry Browne died March 1, 2006 at the age of 72. The three posts I’ve selected seem to be fitting because each of the posts deals with liberty in one way or the other.

Third Place goes to Michael Hampton of Homeland Stupidity with his post Liberty 101: An Introduction to Liberty. Hampton says that this is the first of a series of posts he plans to write explaining what the meaning of liberty is in his view.

Hampton writes:

What is liberty? Put simply, it is the opportunity to do as you please without interference from the government, so long as you did not interfere with anyone else’s right to do as they please…

In this series I will cover a wide range of issues facing us today, showing how government has completely boiled us all like frogs, and how it has introduced an “absolute despotism” beyond anything the founders ever imagined…
Second Place goes to Eric Cowperthwaite of The Liberty Papers with his post: Over the Top. Eric’s post deals with the way that far too many Muslims responded to a handful of cartoons published in a Danish newspaper and the disgraceful response of the MSM.

Eric writes:

First, a piece of advice to Muslims. Stop worrying so much about what someone who doesn’t believe in your religion does. After all, if your religion is true, those cartoonists have committed blasphemy and will pay the price for their sin. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt you at all. They have not caused you to violate your religion, nor even urged you to…


Freedom of speech means that I can say whatever I please, publicly, no matter whether it is offensive, racist, inflammatory, or anything else that people don’t like. To suggest that there should be limits on what I say or write in order to avoid offense to another is to suggest that I should not be free to speak. The choice, and the responsibility, must be mine, else the freedom does not exist…

I would just like to say, for everyone out there who says that Islam is a religion of peace I have to ask the question: “what’s your evidence?” If all that needs to happen for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing and most Muslims are good peace-loving people who recognize the rights of the individual then there is a hell of a lot of good Muslims doing nothing and desecrating their religion.

And the Winner is…
The Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month for February 2006 goes to Lecentre of Centrerion with a post called On Democracy and Liberalism. When Lecentre uses the term ‘liberalism’ he uses it in the original or classical sense not to be confused with how we commonly think of the term which represents the polar opposite statist philosophy of the American Democratic Party (a liberal is someone who wants more personal liberty). One of the common talking points for most proponents of the war on terror is that the more democratic societies become, the freer the people are who lives in those societies. This all makes perfect sense right? Lecentre has reached a far different conclusion:

Firstly, and most importantly, Muslims in the Middle East do not have liberal values; their values are primarily religious. Whereas liberalism advocates the separation of Church and State (Mosque and State as it were),
Muslims in the Middle East are looking at drafting laws and constitutions based on Sharia. Like Paul Martin said, you vote for people based on your values. As we in the West are so steeped in the liberal tradition, we inherently associate liberalism with democracy…


If we want to encourage liberalism in the Muslim world, promoting literacy (as Dr. Syed suggests), freedom of speech, and exposure to various philosophies is probably the best way to do it. Democracy is not synonymous with liberalism.
Lecentre's post reminds me of something Walter E. Williams wrote in a recent article for Capitalism Magizine: “I can't think of a worse place to have a democracy -- majority rule. Iraq needs a republic like that envisioned by our founders -- decentralized and limited government power.”

I wish we would eliminate the word democracy from our lexicon altogether. The commonly held idea that America, for example, is a democracy rather than a constitutional republic is one of the gravest threats to our liberty. If we want to win the war on terrorism and despotism we must do so by promoting the virtues of life, liberty, and property rather than this notion of majority (read mob) rule.

Excellent writing Michael Hampton, Eric Cowperthwaite, and Lecentre!
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Are Teacher’s Unions a Greater Threat to Liberty than Terrorism?

Brad Warbainy has an excellent post with some great follow-up discussion going at The Liberty Papers in response to a comment talk show host Neal Boortz made on his program. The Talk Master made this bold statement: “the teachers unions are a greater long-term threat to freedom and prosperity than Islamic terrorists”. Brad’s agreement with Boortz is reflected in his post following up with perhaps even bolder commentary backed with some good old fashioned logic. As luck would have it, Boortz found Brad’s post on the internet and has linked it first on his Nealz Nuze “Reading Assignments.”

As to the statement itself…yes, the long term effect of the teacher’s unions controlling the education of the vast majority of future voters/leaders is a greater threat to liberty than Islamic terrorism. As Boortz often points out, The Communist Manifesto states that the “most advanced countries” have “Free education for all children in public schools” along with abolition of private property, “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax” (that sounds familiar), “Abolition of all rights of inheritance” (the death tax anyone?), and “Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.” Why would Marx consider public education as such an important aspect of creating a communist state? It only makes sense for government to want to acquire more power; the easiest way to accomplish this is by indoctrinating the next generation of citizens. But that couldn’t happen here…right?

Unions by their very nature value the collective interests over the interests of the individual. Unions demand pay raises and benefits based on groups of workers; the individual’s interests with individual efforts matter very little. Bad teachers, in many parts of the country, are very hard to get rid of while good teachers receive the same benefits and pay as the bad teachers. According to John Stossel’s special report on 20/20 titled Stupid in America, a New York City school teacher who sent multiple emails with sexual content to a sixteen year-old student was fired after six years of litigation. Six years and $300,000 later the school district was finally able to fire him! In New York at least, rather than firing bad teachers the district is expected to pay up to $20 million this year to these teachers to do nothing but basically sit on their fat incompetent asses (at least they are kept away from the children to keep them from doing any further harm). Why is this the case? You guessed it: teacher’s unions!

This collectivist dogma of the teacher’s union seeps into the curricula of schools nationwide from grades K-12. Children are not adequately taught how to reason, to value themselves as individuals, or how to properly pursue their own selfish interests. Instead children are taught what to think rather than how to think, to not question but conform to society’s traditions and norms, and to rely on others (by force of government) to fulfill their needs/wants to get along in life.

Government schools contribute a great deal to the political correctness agenda being pushed which is very anti-individualistic and anti-capitalistic. The history books are dedicated in large part to the greatness of government while the individual efforts which lead to history’s greatest achievements receive very little attention. Capitalism is attacked both directly and indirectly in the classroom. Students learn that America owns a ‘disproportionate’ percentage of the world’s wealth; what America contributes to the world’s wealth (not to mention individual efforts required to attain the wealth) is often overlooked.

Ever heard the saying: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world?” Imagine the threat to liberty when generations of school children are taught a collectivist world view for thirteen or so years! Look no further than our current generation of leadership of both parties (many of whom were taught in government schools). Look at how many of the ten planks of communism have been fulfilled in America. Look at how these planks are implemented with little or no resistance. While terrorists try to acquire weapons of mass destruction, government educators long ago acquired “weapons of mass stupidity” in the form of government education centers (a.k.a. public schools). Do you still think Islamic terrorism is a bigger threat to our liberty than government education backed by teacher’s unions?
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