Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The long and continuing history of Islamic jihad

In my continuing post-9/11 quest to learn more about Islam, I've been looking through Andrew G. Bostom's new, thick book, The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. It is hair-raising and definitely eye-opening stuff, and includes, among much scholarly material and original sources, new first English translations of old Arabic texts concerning jihad and dhimmitude ("the sociopolitical status of those indigenous non-Muslim peoples vanquished by Islamic jihad campaigns").

It is very interesting to learn that "the consensus on the nature of jihad from all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e. Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi'i) is clear"--jihad is clearly accepted by these Muslims as a divinely inspired precept to wage war on unbelievers until they convert to Islam, submit to subjugation as dhimmis, or die by the sword or enslavement.

It is also very interesting to see the details of how dhimmis were treated throughout history. "Jewish, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, and Serbian sources provide copious evidence that the jizya-kharaj [tax on conquered and subjugated unbelievers] was demanded from children, widows, orphans, and even the dead...punishment and torture were used by tax collectors...." Some who could not pay the heavy taxes were hanged, crushed, or drowned. Enslavement of the conquered as "booty" has also been an integral part of jihad, shockingly right up to the present day.

I appreciated the depth and breadth of this book, as it provides "juridical texts, historical accounts, scholarly analyses, and excerpts from eyewitness accounts" throughout history to "provide the rationale for jihad as forumlated by Muslim theologians and jurists, and highlight[s] the global consequences of more than thirteen centuries of jihad campaigns during ancient, premodern, and modern times."

It answered a lot of questions I had, in my ignorance, about how Islam has historically "spread" its way via jihad, across the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, Asia Minor, Persia (Iran), Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Palestine, Armenia, Greece, France, Austria, Bulgaria, and India....and how it continues to "spread" today where there are conflicts raging in Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East, and where attacks, riots and upheavals continue as cultures clash in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, and the U.S. To better understand and recognize jihad, its Islamic underpinnings, and its history around the globe is a sobering thing.

I thought these excerpts from the very beginning of his book [pages 24-26] were particularly worth sharing:

The late philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul emphasized in his foreword to Les Chretientes d'Orient entre Jihad et Dhimmitude, VIIe-XXe siecle (1991), how contemporary historiography whitewashed the basic realities of jihad war:

In a major encyclopedia, one reads phrases such as: "Islam expanded in the eighth or ninth centuries..."; "This or that country passed into Muslim hands..." But care is taken not to say how Islam expanded, how countries "passed into [Muslim] hands."... Indeed, it would seem as if events happened by themselves, through a miraculous or amicable operation...Regarding this expansion, little is said about jihad. And yet it all happened through war!
...the jihad is an institution, and not an event, that is to say it is a part of the normal functioning of the Muslim world...The conquered populations change status (they become dhimmis) and the shari'a tends to be put into effect integrally, overthrowing the former law of the country. The conquered territories do not simply change "owners."

Writing more than six decades ago, Arthur Jeffrey described the continuum from jihad to what has become known as dhimmitude...and belittled as "the sheerest sophistry" attempts

made in some circles in modern days to explain away all the Prophet's warlike expeditions as defensive wars or to interpret the doctrine of Jihad as merely a bloodless striving in missionary zeal for the spread of Islam.... The early Arabic sources quite plainly and frankly describe the expeditions as military expeditions, and it would never have occurred to anyone at that day to interpret them as anything else... To the folk of his day there would thus be nothing strange in Muhammad, as the head of the community of those who served Allah, taking the sword to extend the kingdom of Allah, and taking measures to insure the subjection of all who lived within the borders of what he made the kingdom of Allah.

Bostom goes on to cite other examples of how contemporary scholarship on jihad tends to display an apologetic trend, including this:

John Esposito's apologetic writings regarding expansionist military jihad simply ignore voluminous but inconvenient historical data. For example, he provides this ahistorical characterization of the entire period between the initial Islamic jihad conquests, in the fourth decade of the seventh century CE, and the first Crusade in 1099 CE: "Five centuries of peaceful coexistence elapsed before political events and an imperial-papal power play led to centuries-long series of so-called holy wars that pitted Christendom against Islam and left an enduring legacy of misunderstanding and distrust."

Recently Bat Ye'or analyzed Esposito's summary assessement of the first millennium of jihad conquests. Bat Ye'or notes how Esposito completely "ignores the concepts of jihad and dar al-harb," and she highlights the "thematic structure" of Esposito's selective overview, typical of the prevailing modern apologetic genre:

[H]istorical negationism, consisting of suppressing or sketching in a page or a paragraph, one thousand years of jihad which is presented as a peaceful conquest, generally welcomed by the vanquished populations; the omission of Christian and, in particular, Muslim sources describing the actual methods of these conquests: pillage, enslavement, deportation, massacres, and so on; the mythical historical conversion of "centuries" of "peaceful coexistence," masking the processes which transformed majorities into minorities, constantly at risk of extinction; an obligatory self-incrimination for the Crusades."

In his foreword to this book, Ibn Warraq quotes Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis as having once said, "those who are unwilling to confront the past will be unable to understand the present and unfit to face the future." He also quotes Lewis as having said this:

We may, indeed, we must study the history of Atlantic slavery and expose this great shame in the history of the Western world and the Americas north and south, in all its horror. This is a task which falls upon us as Westerners and in which others may and should and do join us. In contrast, however, even to mention--let alone discuss or explore--the existence of slavery in non-Western societies is denounced as evidence of racism and of imperalistic designs. The same applies to other delicate topics as polygamy, autocracy, and the like. The range of taboos is very wide."

I would add that jihad and universal respect for human rights--and can they ever be reconciled? (otherwise sometimes termed the "clash of cultures" or the "clash of civilizations") is another "delicate topic" that we must discuss. Preferrably face to face and in a caring, thoughtful, respectful, and personal manner, including one conversation at a time, all over the world.

It is time for all of us, of all faiths and nations, to find out and face the real truth about the past, even if we have to break through natural or imposed restrictions of political correctness, anti-intellectualism, laziness, or religious dogma. Only by dealing with the truth can we find out how we are going to deal with each other as we go forward.

For further reading:

The wife of the Sheik of Qatar gives a shot at "Constructing Understanding Between Islam and the West."

Three blogs, Dhimmi Watch, Jihad Watch, and Gates of Vienna, keep track of the current "clash of civilizations."

Breath of the Beast blog breaks some taboos to move the discussion forward.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The roaming blogger returns

Blogger finally forced me against my will to accept its new updated software (which I have read elsewhere is a buggy nightmare to use). Without accepting the update to the new software, I could no longer access my blog. So if I suddenly seem to stop blogging here, it'll be because the new Blogger software has become too punishing to be worth the trouble. We'll have to see.

Meanwhile, my family and I were out of town for four days last weekend, and stuff piled up and I didn't get to blog for awhile. I must admit I'm a little bit inwardly pleased when real life fills up my time, even if it does mean no blogging temporarily. I emphasize the "temporarily."

We visited Tampa, Florida, got to see old friends, manatees in the bay, the Florida Aquarium, and also stopped to see Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. Even though it was too cold to swim (or even to go outside without a coat!) it was great to see some parts of Florida I've never seen before. The kids loved it all, and the Honda Odyssey minivan is still the champion of all roadtrips.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sudden jihad syndrome

Terrorism cannot be ruled out in the Salt Lake City killing case (although FBI investigators seem reluctant to go in that direction) (via Neal Boortz).

Robert Spencer sums up the case for the killer having been engaged in jihad (via Bookworm Room, who points out there have been no known instances of Holocaust survivors or WWII vets shooting victims in malls):

As such attacks grow in number, it would behoove authorities at very least to consider the possibility that these attacks were inspired by the jihadist ideology of Islamic supremacism, and to step up pressure on American Muslim advocacy groups to renounce that ideology definitively and begin extensive programs to teach against it in American Islamic schools and mosques.

Hear, hear. And maybe somebody should start with the Al-Noor Mosque in Salt Lake City.

Why can't the U.S. be a tax haven too?

...and get all that smart international business, like the Netherlands does (via Michelle Malkin).

We could, in fact, begin drawing international investment like a magnet if either the Democrats or the Republicans, or both, understood the power and the benefits of The Fair Tax idea and got behind implementing it pronto.

Instead, as Tax Day, April 15th once again rolls around, and we begin wasting our times filling out the hellacious tax forms for the intrusive bureaucrats, we are reminded once again of the cold reality that we are being strangled, both personally and nationally, by a punitive, politicitized, and counterproductive tax code that puts our entire nation at a huge disadvantage on the international scene.

Want to know why jobs and businesses are fleeing our country? It's the TAX CODE, stupid, and seeking to entrap and/or punish those who are just trying to maximize their resources, instead of harnessing and profiting from their entrepreneurial spirit, hurts us all.

Other countries like the Netherlands and Ireland "get it" and boy, they get reap the benefits from being smart. How dumb are we not to see that?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The problem with Islam

Here's an excerpt (pages 176-7, my bold) from The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer, who puts his finger right into the beating heart of today's global clashes of Islam vs. human rights:

To say that the problem is within Islam is not to say that every Muslim is the problem. As we have seen, many who identify themselves as Muslims have only a glancing acquaintance with and interest in what Islam teaches. No, to admit that global jihadist violence indicates a problem with Islam is simply to be honest: there are groups around the world that believe that it is their responsibility before God to wage war against non-Muslims and impose Islamic law, first on Muslim states and then on non-Muslim states. This is a core motivation behind terrorist violence today, and it is rooted in the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunna (Islamic tradition).

Some analysts fear that if Western authorities begin to acknowledge that America's foe in the War on Terror is not a bunch of hijackers of Islam, but people who are working from core Islamic teachings, we will soon be embroiled in a war with the entire Islamic world. This will certainly make it harder to perpetuate the sham alliances that now exist with the Saudis, the Pakistanis, and the Egyptians. But it would also allow the United States to call those putative allies to account for their allegiance to the global jihad and to give real substance to President George W. Bush's post-September 11 announcement to the world that "you're either with the terrorists or with us."

Others have shied away from admitting the deep crisis in Islam today on the pretext that it will demoralize and anger moderate Muslims. If they are genuine moderates, there is no reason why this should occur. No problem can be solved unless its source is identified. A doctor who treats persistent headaches caused by brain tumors with aspirin will not escape malpractice suits for long. If any moderate Islam project is to succeed, it will only do so by identifying the elements in Islam that give rise to violence and terrorism, and working in whatever way possible to change Muslims' understanding of those elements so that jihadist recruiters can no longer convince young men to join them by appealing to their desire to live out "pure Islam."

Whether moderate Muslims can actually succeed in changing millions of Muslims' understanding of Islam is an open question. But it has no chance whatsoever of happening unless they acknowledge why Islam creates people like bin Laden and Zarqawi.
Moderate Muslims should not worry so much about convincing non-Muslims that Islam is not a violent religion, and start working on the potentially violent jihadists--even if they do persist in still using the "hijacking" metaphor--or is that just Christiane Amanpour talking?).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

A Canticle of Love

Let love be genuine and live in harmony;
hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.
Outdo one another in showing honor;
be humble and never conceited.
Love is stronger than death
and jealousy is cruel as the grave.
Floods cannot drown love
and wealth cannot buy it.

Put love above all else;
let Christ's peace rule your heart.
Always be forgiving,
as Christ has forgiven you.
Love is not jealous or boastful,
arrogant, rude or stubborn,
irritable, resentful or possessive.
Love is patient and kind.

Do not love in word or speech only;
love also in deed and truth.
Receive each other in sincerity,
find mercy and grow old together.

Love rejoices in the right;
it bears, believes, hopes,
and endures all things,
for love is faithful and endless.

When the Lord builds the house,
the labor is never in vain.
Happy are those who
take refuge in God;
those who serve
the Lord are redeemed.

[#646, The United Methodist Hymnal, adapted from the Bible, including Romans 12:9 & 6; Song of Solomon 8:6-7; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Colossians 3:12-14, 1 John 3:18; Tobit 8:7; and Psalms 127:1 and 34.8.]

Monday, February 12, 2007

Today's report on U.S. higher education

A study of 14,000 college freshmen and seniors at 50 schools reveals:

  • There is trivial difference between freshmen and seniors in their knowledge of America's heritage.

  • 16 of 50 schools surveyed exhibited negative learning.

  • Overall, seniors failed the civic literacy exam with an average score of 53%.

  • The ISI advises that "Parents of future undergraduates should consider this report's findings, keeping in mind that prestige does not pay off. U.S. News rankings offer some guidance, but it and others like it do not measure the most important aspect of undergraduate education: what students are actually taught and what they actually learn."

    Meanwhile, this just in: English professors are detached from reality.

    I'm still waiting for that list of colleges and universities I can safely pay my children's ways to for a good education with a minimal aberrant social scene. And waiting....

    Until then, here's a book I'm ordering for myself and my kids: The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature. Nothing wrong with combining homeschooling and continuing education.

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    When "online romance" is not so fun

    "Dear Abby" (newspaper advice columnist Jeanne Phillips) recently received a letter from a woman who described her plight this way:

    "I am a 23-year-old woman who has always had a hard time letting people down or saying no. A few months ago, I met a man online who lived across the country, and within a week he was telling me he loved me. I'll admit now that I have some emotional and relationship problems because of my past, and I enjoyed hearing it. In fact, I embraced it and told him I loved him in return. Now that I look at it, I realize I was only in love with the idea of being in love..."

    To make her long story short, once she began having second thoughts about the whirlwind nature of their "romance" and escalating intimacy (she had promised to marry him and move to his city without even having met him!) and told him so, he became irate, nasty, and threatening. Looking for love, she became a fly in the clutches of a spider.

    One of the advantages of sharing these tales of woe publicly is that they can become moral tales to warn the prudent public--usually younger folks who haven't heard of these things or haven't thought through all the pitfalls and possible unpleasant consequences of certain situations.

    Another sad tale along similar lines was the experience last October of a woman who became infatuated with television personality Keith Olbermann after an email correspondence. They arranged to meet at a New York hotel, had consensual sex, then he gave her the classic brushoff. This kind of story is as dusty as the hills, yet once again reveals to those willing to learn from it a man's callous and deceitful attitude toward women, sex, and intimacy, along with a woman's incredibly foolish expectations of same from a man she never really knew. What is new about this telling of the old tale is the "relationship" proceeding apace via email, and the post-modern revenge of the scorned woman: she started a blog to reveal to the world the failures of Keith Olbermann as she had experienced them (and concommitantly revealed her own huge missteps, too).

    I want to say to this woman, and all people sadly duped and hurt in this way: Didn't you realize at some point that you were letting yourself in for this? And more instructively for the others around watching this: What is it about the promises, seductive language, personally directed blandishments and innuendo that another person can deliver to you via the internet that would make you even possibly ready and willing to give up your body, your money, or your heart before you even meet him or her?

    "Online relationships" can feel and appear very compelling and personal, especially if the correspondent is a skilled writer and/or very articulate and intelligent. They can become very personal very fast, as there is a feeling of intimacy and privacy in online correspondence (emails and chats), not to mention immediacy, and an illusion of "safeness and trust" that is very potent. But the feelings of intimacy, privacy, and trust are at base, false. One can learn some things about another person from an online correspondence, chats, and phone calls, but you can't learn enough to judge a person in any serious sense, until you meet that person and spend a lot of time with him or her, getting to see how that person reacts up close over a long range of issues and conditions. In other words, you should never be persuaded to give your heart or anything else away based on what you learn from an online correspondence, because:

    1.) The person may be lying, and/or shading the truth, very cleverly, too, about the most important things you can imagine, or more frighteningly, can't imagine; and

    2) Even if the person is honest with you online, the flesh-and-blood human eventually in your face may have so many innate mental, emotional or physical traits or habits you didn't know about and wouldn't like, that you would be appalled (or even endangered) by what you may have already foolishly gotten into, based on a thin sliver of reality: what he or she has chosen to reveal to you.

    Children are not the only ones susceptible to online seduction. Adults should never say or even think "I love you" to anyone they haven't met in the flesh and spent a long time getting to know in the flesh. Because despite how it all seems and feels via the internet, you can't and shouldn't and mustn't go there until you've met the whole person and judged him or her over a good chunk of life's road in front of your own eyes.

    Here's an additional warning: Online romances seem so beguilingly private. They are not. Every keystroke you send to that fascinating, clever, appreciative other person could someday end up in court, on a porn website, posted on a message board or on a vengeance blog, or sent to your family members or co-workers, soon or in years to come. If that thought doesn't chill you, you're already dead. If you carry on as if every missive, chat, and cozy phone call will end up published in Prince-Charles-and-Camilla detail on the front page of your hometown newspaper tomorrow morning, you'll be assuring yourself of no regrets.

    The other thing about the illusion of privacy in an online romance: the people around you, your friends and family, can't know what's going on in your head and heart unless you clue them in about it. In real life if you're dating someone, you can get feedback (often annoying, but still valuable and often objective) about what's going on from your true, caring friends and family observing how things are going with your new romantic interest. The danger in having no reality checks or balances in what you are doing or getting rapidly and privately sucked into is obvious.

    In looking for love, people are looking for happy endings. When plunged into romance, you still need all the objective reality your beguiled brain can get to pull off those happy endings. What many people don't seem to realize is that "online romance" in particular is overwhelmingly fantasy.

    Skip the cheap, secret thrills that so often lead to unhappy endings. Just as our grandmothers told us long before the internet was invented: You will be most happy in life if you have the smarts and the strength to guard your heart (and with it, your body and whole being) and preserve yourself for one who is truly worthy. Learn and know the deceptive nature of the online beast and do not go blithely off into that brave new world of so-called "online romance" unversed in its pitfalls. Use the computer to connect and screen, but not to compromise yourself. You can still do that better the old-fashioned way, in the flesh.

    Knowledge is power. Study for some further moral tales.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    We swear because we're so passionate and authentic and in touch with what's real, man

    Sure you do. IMAO posts a semi-amusing analysis of this currently observed phenomenon (via Michelle Malkin, blogging about the vitriolic rants of John Edwards' new staff blogger):

    ...if you look at the most popular blogs on both the right and the left, one is left with the feeling that angry swearing harms one's credibility on the right while it's expected on the left.

    Yeah, what's up with that anyway? Inquiring minds need a scientific explanation.

    Meanwhile, Power Line reviews a new book of essays by "twelve leading conservative thinkers [who] explain how they ended up on the right" (Why I Turned Right):

    In essence, the essays are episodes from the ongoing battle of ideas in this country.

    I find this movement to the right an interesting process to learn more about (as, for one, neo-neocon has written about), on both the personal/psychological level and the philosophical/societal level.

    Incidentally, Power Line also points out that the Democratic National Committee hosted a radical imam and supporter of Hezbollah to lead them in prayer at its winter meeting. How very broad-minded of members of the Democratic National Committee (or would that be "how ignorant of them?").

    But seriously, on a tangentially related issue to blogging and habits of characterizing one's political opposition, I often feel there is too much cheap character assassination, name-calling, and knee-jerk bashing going on between the Right and the Left, and I don't much care who started it or who's doing the most of it--I want it to stop (don't I sound just like a mother?). The point is, making sweeping generalizations about "all liberals" (or all Democrats) or "all conservatives" (or all Republicans), based on the poor judgment, ignorant opinions, or flaming antics of one or a few, only inspires divisions, not more understanding, among Americans, while it unfairly tars those of whatever political or philosophical persuasion who are willing to see more than one side to any debate. I have thoughtful friends among the Democrats who do not appreciate being lumped in with the loons, just as I do not appreciate being characterized as a heartless Republican who doesn't care about the poor, the needy, the Earth, etc.

    When I hear a teen say, "Oh, she's a ["liberal" or "conservative"]--I don't know why my Mom is friends with her," something is seriously amiss. We Americans are so much more than our political philosophies or affiliations, and those should not stand in the way of our friendships and our working together, our recognition of character and worth.

    The labeling is simplistic and overgeneralized, and the name-calling too often wanders into venality and, what's worse, is unwise. When I see intelligent, educated Americans spending time and hot air calling each other creative or obscene nasty names, I wonder just who (besides the name-callers who get to let off steam, score points, and entertain themselves and their friends) is really thrilled about this rancorous division (besides Satan, of course). Could it be--bin Ladin? or-- Just fill in the blank, you intelligent, educated people on both sides of the political barbed wire. And you Christians, I don't have to remind you of what Jesus said about how we should treat other people, do I? (Maybe it's true there are fewer people of faith on the left, which would explain why there is more swearing--but the Christians among us should know better.)

    Listen: there may well come a day when we Americans will have to stick together, despite our differences, to survive--and this kind of fun-making, posturing, polarizing rhetoric of insult will make that all the more difficult. As my mother used to say, don't burn any bridges behind you that you aren't sure you won't need.

    We non-swearing bloggers already know that we best use our time and resources when we stick to debating the issues on their merits and by their facts, in order to further real human progress and persuade and inform all people of good will and open minds. And then let's have at the loons (wherever we may find them) not as stereotypes, but as part of the human comedy.

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Light blogging

    I've been letting other things besides blogging fill my time recently, so don't be alarmed, my fawning public. I will still be posting here occasionally, but perhaps not as frequently. In other words, real life takes precedence. No crises have seized me, just ongoing chores and family matters, a five-week night class, devotion to a creative project with a firm deadline, and my "other" hobby.

    Friday, February 02, 2007

    What do "contemporary libertarian conservatives" stand for?

    As Republicans start turning on each other in ever-smaller splinter groups, and as the Libertarian Party in America (called the "losertarians" by Michael Medved) persists, yet persists in no viable measure, Instapundit today links to a first draft of a declaration of principles for contemporary libertarian conservatives proposed by Arnold Kling (IATF RFC Number 1, version 0.2: Who We Are). Comments are welcome, as the statement of principles is hoped to grow and improve organically as much internet-fed communal content does these days (an "open, voluntary, do-it-yourself, just-in-time approach").

    Since I usually refer to myself vaguely as a sort of conservative libertarian, or libertarian conservative, without having yet cobbled together any formal statement of how those two ideologies have come to mesh in my own mind, I am heartened to see at least one other person has been thinking along the same route, and is in fact, ready to offer affirmations of principles like these:

    Economic Principles

    1. We weave a thread of self-reliance into a sturdy fabric of interdependence. By respecting the law, we reinforce impersonal justice. By competing intensely and fairly in an impersonal global market, we raise our standard of living through specialization and innovation. By upholding Constitutional principles for limited government, we sustain our individual freedom.

    2. We are creative and pro-active in helping one another. We do not have the patience to wait for government, nor do we want to be lulled into passivity by the promise of government. Instead, to solve those problems that require collective action, we form voluntary associations, including civic groups, corporations, clubs, standards-setting bodies, consumer information services, and charitable foundations.

    3. Government must be kept in its place. We hold government officials to high standards of competence, honesty, and fairness. However, we do not confuse government with family. We do not confuse government with religion. We do not confuse government with business. We are conscious that any expansion of government responsibility, however well-intended, crowds out those institutions that are the true bulwark of our society.

    4. We celebrate the successes of others. We are glad when an entrepreneur becomes wealthy by finding a way to fill a customer need. We are glad when an immigrant family climbs the ladder of success. We are glad when people living in other countries make economic progress and spur us to innovate and improve....

    Preach it, brother. I find the whole first draft entirely in keeping with my own philosophy, which by the way, differs significantly from large portions of both the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party platforms. So today I have not only found myself, but perhaps have begun the journey to finding an organized cohort.

    As far as what comments I would add to the draft:

    ---Overtly emphasize, in personal, national and international affairs, the right of self-defense

    ---Emphasize that we believe in individual freedom and voluntary relationships--government by the consent of the governed, a right to enter into mutually-agreement-upon contracts, in all personal, business, and economic alliances entirely free of governmental coercion or interference (no "minimum wages," for instance), short of the last resort to law enforcement or the courts in cases of breach, dispute, or harm.

    ---Emphasize the truly limited role of government as prescribed by the Founders. The "crowding out" and "affecting incentives" arguments against the government's poorly taking over the roles that private organizations could and should better handle are excellent points we don't hear enough of.

    ---We affirm and uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, but emphasize the need to pay close attention these days to upholding and affirming the principles of free speech, free inquiry, and the sanctity of private property.

    ---"By respecting the law, we reinforce impersonal justice." I would put it: We affirm and uphold the rule of law, vital for the survival of our country and the flourishing of our people, and we abhor corruption as undermining same.

    ---Finally, the conservative part of me emphasizes: We believe in honor before profits. Although we do not denigrate wealth, nor do we seek to restrict the freedom of individuals to succeed in legally creating wealth or pursuing happiness in whatever ways they choose, we affirm that ethical and moral behavior and personal and public honor are higher values than mere monetary rewards. We accept our duty and responsibilities as privileged citizens of the U.S. to love our country, and to do what we can to educate ourselves and hold ourselves to high standards to make our home a better place, and to use persuasion, argument, and education to urge others to do likewise. (This last statement might be too bossy for some individuals to swallow, but I am thinking of--to name just two giants--Cincinnatus and Washington, and the moral suasion they inspired for generations by their example, besides the benefits their service gave to their countries. Is it so wrong for us to affirm this principle as a virtue too?)