Posted by: bkivey | 8 May 2015

Terrorists Winning

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US, the popular refrain, repeated to the point of absurdity, was “Don’t let the terrorists win”. A good argument could be made that to a large extent the terror attacks were successful, given the travel restrictions, enormously expanded surveillance of American citizens, the creation of the Orwellian-titled Department of Homeland Security, and the militarization of American police forces. The attacks also ignited the ill-advised occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The overall results the last fifteen years has been to make American society more fearful and restrictive.

What religiously or politically motivated attacks on US soil have occurred in the intervening time have been one-offs by individuals, with no support or claim of credit from state organizations. Until Monday 4 May, when two gunmen attempted to assault an event organized by anti-Islamic political activist Pamela Geller in Garland, TX. The event was known to be provocative to Muslim sensibilities, so the event was required to pay for a SWAT team and other security. The security was effective, and the gunmen died without accomplishing their goals. The next day Caliphate wanna-be ISIS claimed credit for the event, along with promising more violence and putting Ms. Geller and others on a death list.

The circumstances in Texas were very similar to those in Paris earlier this year, when Islamic terrorists killed most of the staff of the periodical Charlie Hebdo for publishing unflattering cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and Islam in general. Public outcry was immediate and vociferous, as people from every part of the political spectrum expressed shock at the event, and rallied to support free speech.

However, if you’re exercising those freedoms, and are violently attacked, but manage to defend yourself, you’re persona non grata to the Left. The tone of the Left’s response to the attack is illustrated by Noah Feldman’s essay in which he briefly decries the attack, but moves quickly on to accusing Ms. Geller of ‘provoking’ the violence by holding an event she knew would be offensive to Muslims. This view is so completely and overtly hypocritical that even liberal bastion New Republic rejected the position, although they sprinkle in a goodly dose of Geller hate. George Parry does a good job of illustrating why the Progressive reaction is not only hypocritical, but near-psychotic in its detachment from reality.

The Left loves itself some victims, and if you refuse to be victimized, then the Left resorts to hateful allegations and ad hominem attacks. That’s pretty much their entire position on anything.  People who hold Progressive views also tend to skew heavily to the bully/coward personality type. If they think you won’t harm them, Progressives will happily trash you and your institutions. But if you demonstrate a willingness to oppose them, through the use of physical force or otherwise, they’ll run for cover, usually the cover of State intervention. And that intervention won’t be aimed at the perpetrators, but at the victims or potential victims. In the latest case, it’s not about standing up to violence or the threat thereof, but forcing others to acquiesce to it. This is not a strategy for freedom, or in the long-term, survival. I have to think that given the Progressive propensity for forcing others to their views, on some level they identify with Islamic terrorism.

As to whether Ms. Geller was being deliberately provocative, I can’t say for certain, although her anti-Islam views are well-known. I’ve read the Quar’an, and I’m not a big fan of the religion. Other major religions have become more inclusive as the world has changed, but not Islam. Recall that this is a religion where:

  • Non-believers must convert under threat of death. Christians and Jews, also people of the Book, are actively persecuted.
  • Women are treated as chattel.
  • Women are sexually mutilated.
  • Muslims are extremely intolerant of anything that doesn’t comport with their views.
  • The concepts of redemption and forgiveness are unknown in Islam.

The Progressive position is that people shouldn’t rile up the Muslims, because death and destruction will ensue. While I don’t advocate deliberately offending people, I can’t abide by an ideology that refuses to allow for variation in human expression. The Left is not only cowardly, they’re at odds with 2500 years of Western philosophical development. If people won’t exercise their rights because some group threatens to kill them, then the terrorists are winning.

The Coolest Thing I Saw This Week

I moved to Hillsboro last November, and soon found out about the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. I enjoy natural history, and made a mental note to check out the museum. They’re closed on days I usually have off, but the opportunity arose Wednesday, so I made the trip.

The museum was founded by Richard and Helen Rice in the early 1950’s. They built a house outside Hillsboro, and opened the displays in the basement to the public. The Rice’s incorporated the museum as a foundation, and over the years another building was added, as well as outdoor facilities. The main museum is still the Rice’s house. The museum is a bit off the beaten track, but still readily accessible from Hillsboro and highway 26. Admission is $8, and cheap at twice the price.

I’d visited the Crater Rock Museum in Medford last year, and was very impressed. The Rice museum is equally impressive, but in different ways. The collection isn’t as large as Crate Rock, but Rice has the most impressive collection of pyrites I’ve seen, and a more comprehensive collection of petrified wood. I didn’t know petrified pine cones existed. Rice also has a better dinosaur fossil collection, including a complete skeleton of a young dinosaur. The fluorescent rock display is housed in a room, rather than the curtained alcove of Crater Rock.

What sets Rice apart are the number of interactive and hands-on displays. An entire room is devoted to tactile displays where you can test rocks for hardness, and learn about the molecular structures that differentiate various rocks and minerals. The displays are there for the school groups that come through, but are equally fun for adults. Want to touch a 2 billion year old rock? You can do that here, as well as handle meteorites and other geological items. Touching is encouraged here. The displays also have placards that give context to what you’re looking at.

The house itself is worthy of attention, as the entire building displays a high level of craftsmanship, especially the woodwork. There is a walking tour of rocks and minerals on the grounds, as well as a rock pile where you can cart away rocks for $1/lb.

I was there on a weekday afternoon, so not too many people were there. I got to spend a fair amount of time with their geologist discussing the displays and learning about the museum history. It was a very enjoyable three hours, and a must-see for anyone interested in natural history.

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