Monday, November 07, 2011
Florida town blocks Muslim sacrifice of goats and lambs
Which would almost certainly be protected by the 1st Amendment. Such sacrifices are actually commanded in the Old Testament but Jews today are no longer the Israelites of old
Disturbed by the prospect of lambs and goats being slaughtered in her city, Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu single-handedly blocked a Muslim religious ceremony set to take place on Sunday.
"Yes, I was trying to stop it," Alu said on Wednesday. "It's shut down. I'm trying to protect innocent animals. This is not an appropriate setting for the slaughtering of animals in an open field in a city that's as populated as Sunrise. Usually these religious ceremonies take place in a rural area."
The news did not sit well with Nezar Hamze, executive director of the South Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations based in Pembroke Pines.
"Wow," Hamze said. "That is very upsetting. We'll find another venue. But that's very disturbing. I'm very disappointed in that. We asked for permission and went through the proper channels and now it's off because a commissioner has a problem with it."
Muslims from local mosques had planned to gather at a 45-acre farm on Hiatus Road in Sunrise to celebrate the Eid ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, Hamze said. The holiday honors Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, before God provided a sacrificial lamb instead. The day also marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are urged to make at least once in their lifetime.
"The meat is sacrificed according to state and Islamic law," Hamze said. "There is no bloodbath. It's very humane. It's a slit on the throat real quick. And they bleed out in a couple seconds. The animals do not suffer."
The Florida Humane Slaughter Act governs the handling and killing of livestock, and a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision stemming from a case in Miami-Dade County upheld the right for animal sacrifices for religious purposes. That decision grew out of a lawsuit filed by the Lukumi Babalu Aye church charging the city of Hialeah with illegally enacting ordinances designed to persecute Santeria practitioners.
That means animal sacrifices for religious purposes enjoy protection from government interference, said Derek Newton, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
"If [Alu] was acting on her own, it becomes a question of politics rather than a legal argument," Newton said. "If she called from her office and said she was commissioner so and so, that might be a problem."
Alu said she called as a resident, not a commissioner. "I have no ill will toward the Muslim faith," she said. "I'm just an animal lover."
After learning that there were no legal grounds for blocking the ceremony, Alu said she contacted a man who works for the owners to verify that they were allowing the ceremony. She said he told her they were not aware the event was taking place on their property and that the caretaker had improperly given permission for the ceremony.
Wednesday evening, Hamze said the caretaker called to cancel. The ceremony, however, will take place at a new, undisclosed location. "We found another venue," Hamze said, "but it will be kept private."
He also said he had spoken with Alu. "I truly believe she's just a big animal lover," he said, "and I don't believe she meant any malice toward the Muslim community."
The British Empire -- Vindicated
As many Americans no longer believe in American exceptionalism and others believe America's greatness is guaranteed to extend perpetually, we could all benefit by reviewing the history of the British Empire, the realm from which we sprung and acquired so much.
By the time most baby boomers were born, the British Empire had declined. The Nazis and Japanese had been defeated in World War II, and two major military powers -- the United States and the Soviet Union -- were faced off at the beginning of a nearly half-century-long struggle we call the Cold War.
The great British Empire, which dominated the world mere decades before, was rarely in our current events radar, and it got little better treatment in our history courses, except as the villain we had to defeat in two wars to attain our independence and as the waning world power whose chestnuts we had saved from Adolf Hitler's fire. Oh, how much we missed, not just of British history but of our own, because we can't fully appreciate our greatness without understanding much more about our immediate ancestor.
But there's an easy way to make up for all that lost time, a way to fill in the gaps and much more. My friend Harry Crocker's "Politically Incorrect Guide to the British Empire" has just been released, and it's a one-stop shop for telling us all we should have learned about that empire and precisely how much we owe it.
We remain in awe of the enormity and dominance of the Roman Empire -- and rightly so -- but did you realize that at its height, the British Empire was the largest empire ever, covering a quarter of the world -- even half, if you consider its control of the oceans -- and governing a quarter of the people on the planet?
Though it is de rigueur today to condemn British colonialism, Harry not only defends the Brits' colonial achievements but also unashamedly champions them. "The empire," he writes, "was incontestably a good thing. The fact that it is controversial to say so is why this book had to be written. In the groves of academe, colonialism and imperialism are dirty words, the fons et origo of Western expansion with all its alleged sins of racism, capitalism, and ignorant, judgmental, hypocritical Christian moralism."
In keeping with the book's title, Harry rejects this politically correct view. To him, "to hate the British Empire is to hate ourselves, for the United States would not exist if not for the British Empire." Harry means that the British not only established our chartered colonies but also largely populated those settlements and gave us our language, culture, government and, most importantly, our ideas of liberty and the rule of law, including our critically important common law heritage.
The empire has far from a perfect record, and Harry doesn't hide the blemishes, but he also gives us the other side -- finally -- and that other side is impressive.
Long before continental Europe went through its turbulent revolutionary period, which ultimately led to republican government, the British had firmly established the roots of free institutions, limited government and impartial justice. And if not for the British command of the high seas and its fierce resistance to French imperialism -- a wholly different kind of imperialism from the British variety -- Napoleon Bonaparte might have completed his world conquest and we could be speaking French today -- a circumstance that many of our liberal elites would undoubtedly welcome.
Moreover, despite America's essential intervention in World War II, there was a point in that war in which Britain, led by the extraordinary statesman Winston Churchill, stood alone against Hitler's Third Reich, which was backed by the Soviet Union, Benito Mussolini's Italy and Imperial Japan. Had Britain lacked just a little bit of resolve, the war might have been over before we entered. I shudder to think what might have happened, how different our own history would have been.
There is also no question that Britain did more to abolish the slave trade (1807) and slavery itself (1833) than any other nation or empire. It also led the pack in the Industrial Revolution, which did more to accelerate the advance to modernity than the advent of democracy in continental Europe.
We read a lot about the evils of British colonialism, but it's time to look at the other side of the coin. There's no doubt that in their colonial expansion, the British were partially (and justifiably) guided by their self-interest -- pride, profit and patriotism -- but the ultimate justification for retaining the empire was the benefits it brought to the governed.
My high school sophomore son was grumbling as he read his world history textbook. He pointed me to this paragraph about the encounter between European and Mesoamerican civilizations.
"The American Indian societies had many religious ideas and practices that shocked Christian observers, and aspects of their social and familial arrangements clashed with European sensibilities . . ."
The text, "World Civilizations: The Global Experience" by Peter N. Stearns et al, was a little oblique about the nature of those ideas and practices. It mentioned human sacrifice but then rushed to add that "Many of those who most condemned human sacrifice, polygamy or the despotism of Indian rulers were also those who tried to justify European conquest and control, mass violence, and theft on a continental scale."
The authors clearly wish to avoid the unpleasant details of Indian practices in their rush to condemn European depredations. A curious student would have to discover on his own that the Aztecs themselves claimed to have ritually sacrificed 80,400 people over the course of four days at the rededication of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487.
While this was probably bragging, historian Victor Davis Hansen estimates that at least 20,000 victims were sacrificed yearly. Most were slaves, criminals, debtors, children and prisoners of war (the Aztecs fought to capture, not kill, so as to provide a steady stream of sacrifices). The affair was a bloody and brutal mess, and it consisted of slicing open the chest and pulling the still beating heart from the person's body.
When the topic of human sacrifice was broached in the classroom, my son reported that not one of his classmates was comfortable condemning the practice as immoral. "It was their culture," his classmates said. And it's wrong to impose your values on someone else's culture.
This is not a fluke. In "Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood," Christian Smith and his co-authors recount the results of their decade-long study of a representative sample of Americans aged 18-23. Through in-depth interviews, they examined their subjects' lives and concluded that an alarming percentage of young people are highly materialistic, commitment averse, disengaged from political and civic life, sexually irresponsible, often heavily intoxicated and morally confused. In fact, the authors contend, they lack even the vocabulary to think in moral terms.
The products of a culture that dares not condemn even human sacrifice for fear of transgressing multicultural taboos, these young people are morally adrift.
Six out of 10 told the authors that morality is a "personal choice," like preferring long or short hair. "Moral rights and wrongs are essentially matters of individual opinion." One young woman, a student at an Ivy League college, explained that while she doesn't cheat, she is loath to judge others who do. "I guess that's a decision that everyone is entitled to make for themselves. I'm sort of a proponent of not telling other people what to do." A young man offered that " . . . a lot of the time it's personal. It changes from person to person. What you may think is right may not necessarily be right for me, understand? So it's all individual." Forty-seven percent of the cohort agreed that "morals are relative, there are not definite rights and wrongs for everybody."
It goes beyond cheating or failing to give to charity. One young man who stressed "everyone's right to choose," was pressed about whether murder would be such a choice? He wasn't sure. "I mean, in today's society, sure, like to murder someone is just ridiculous. I don't know. In some societies, back in time, maybe it's a good thing."
The irony is that this supposed reluctance to make moral judgments is itself a moral posture. The young people in the study, like the authors of my son's textbook, and much of the American establishment, believe that it is (set ital) morally wrong (end ital) to judge people harshly. (Except, perhaps, if it's Western civilization you're condemning.)
My son was most exasperated by the textbook's suggestion that Western civilization's response to other cultures was "complex" and that this was probably just as true of Chinese, Persians and others. No, he protested, the only civilization that is self-critical -- at all -- is our own. Other world civilizations continue to express pride and even arrogance about their own histories.
Those who resist the self-flagellation that travels under the name multiculturalism are accused of chauvinism. But the withdrawal from any kind of judgment is yielding a generation of moral cripples.
God may be first casualty as Australian Girl Guides look for a fresh start
Lessons in condom use will be next. More decay of standards just when kids need them most
"I promise that I will do my best: to do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country; to help other people; and to keep the Guide law.
THESE are the first words a little girl utters when she becomes a Girl Guide and they haven't changed in more than 40 years.
But now the Girl Guide promise is being reviewed to bring the 100-year-old organisation into the 21st century - and God and the Queen could be casualties of the modernisation.
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The word "obedient" as a girl guide law is also under review.
The Board of Girl Guides Australia is asking its 30,000 members to suggest how the Guide promise and law could be made more relevant to their lives today.
The Australian Guides are trying to shed their old-fashioned folksy image to appeal to a wider group from different faiths and cultures. "We're seen as outdated, yet the programs we run are far from outdated," the NSW Guides Commissioner, Belinda Allen, said.
They introduced new uniforms last year, run modern leadership and personal development programs alongside their traditional outdoor activities, and now want to overhaul the promise and law, last updated in 1969.
"We feel it's time it was in language that is appropriate to girls of the 21st century, and to Australia, because the nature and composition of the Australian community has changed dramatically since 1969," Ms Allen said.
The Australian promise - a code of living that Guides strive for - is nearly identical to the promise made by the British Guides.
But Canadian Guides don't mention God or the Queen in their promise. After reviewing their wording last year, they now pledge "to be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada". [i.e. nothing]
Ms Allen is reluctant to publicly single out which parts of the promise and law are likely to change, lest she pre-empt the survey responses of Guides. But it is believed that the references to God and the Queen are key elements up for review. It became optional last year for Australian Guides to promise to serve the Queen.
Guides in the Netherlands and Switzerland can omit the words "with the help of God", while Guides in Britain and the US can substitute their preferred spiritual deity for God.
When it comes to the Guide law Ms Allen has a "big problem" with the sixth law which states "A Guide is obedient". "It is totally out of step with girls in this day and age," she said. "In a time of gender equality it's very important that girls are empowered to think for themselves and make good decisions. I think the word we'd like to use is respect, as opposed to obedience."
After declining during the '80s and '90s, Guides membership has stabilised and is now growing again.
Ms Allen hopes a new, more inclusive promise and law will encourage more girls to join the Guides. "I hope we'll broaden our appeal," she said. "I'm sure there have been cases in the past where girls felt [excluded]."
Ms Allen doubts many Guides will be alienated by any changes to the promise and law. "Anything is controversial where you are looking to change," she said. "With any change do you please everyone? We are listening to our membership."
A new promise and law are likely to be unveiled next March.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.