The Long View 2005-12-14: Frauds & Provocations

John did guess right here that Australia would see less interethnic violence than France in the coming years.

Frauds & Provocations

The recent riots in France probably were an episode in the clash of civilizations. The even more recent Australian riots, however, look more like West Side Story, but without the annoying music. I gather from the links at The Null Device that there is a Middle Eastern youth gang problem that be could discussed only obliquely for multiculti reasons, and which provoked a reaction that was fanned into a riot by talkshow hosts. The original beach riot seems to have begun as a protest by Anglo Australians that got out of hand.

On the other hand, if you believe reports today, the situation could be taking a nastier turn:

A suspicious fire at a Sydney church hall early Wednesday and shots fired during a Christmas carol service heightened tensions as Australians braced for more racial violence between whites and ethnic Arabs...Four men were seen near the Uniting Church hall, which is next to an Islamic centre in the multicultural suburb of Auburn, before the fire broke out in the early hours of the morning...

I am not much impressed with suspicious fires, particularly fires that are suspicious because they are "near" something else, but the harassment of churchgoers does sound like an attempt to put the dhimmis in their place.

* * *

A federal judge has outlawed Christmas, if you believe The Onion, which of course you shouldn't:

"In accordance with my activist agenda to secularize the nation, this court finds Christmas to be unlawful," Judge Rinehart said. "The celebration of the birth of the philosopher Jesus -- be it in the form of gift-giving, the singing of carols, fanciful decorations, or general good cheer and warm feelings amongst families -- is in violation of the First Amendment principles upon which this great nation was founded."..."Getting rid of every wreath or nativity scene is not enough," [Senator] Kennedy said. "In order to ensure that Americans of every belief feel comfortable in any home or business, we must eliminate all traces of this offensive holiday. My yellow belly quakes with fear at the thought of offending any foreigners, atheists, or child molesters."

This would be over the top, if the judge were not supposed to be in the 9th Circuit.

Please note that the description of the outlawing of Christmas that appears in that piece is exactly what millenarian novels describe as happening during the Tribulation.

* * *

But some people can't take a joke, at least in Scotland:

Satan's Grotto, a tinsel-free "fun" alternative to Santa's Grotto, has opened its doors to the public at Edinburgh Dungeon....where the Prince of Darkness interrogates young and old to try to track down Santa Claus who has escaped his clutches....The Rev William Armitage, minister of [a] church, said they had objected to the "satanic Christmas". He added: "We got loads of e-mails from groups in the United States supporting us, and other churches in Edinburgh said if they had known about it they would have formed a campaign."

Nothing in that grotto could be as scary as Tim Burton's 1993 film, The Nightmare Before Christmas. That's the stop-action masterpiece in which Halloween tries to take over the management of Christmas. We tend to forget that Christmas is, generically, much the same sort of season as Halloween: a year-end celebration in which the boundaries between this world and the other grow thin. The tradition of telling ghost stories over Yuletide seems to survive chiefly in grotesque recastings of A Christmas Carol, and of course in the release of all those end-of-the-year horror flicks.

There was a brief period after The Nightmare Before Christmas appeared when it seemed like prophecy. Christmas displays took on a gothic cast. At least one of the major department-store window displays in Manhattan featured spider webs and gremlins in red caps. The danger passed, however.

* * *

Here's how one grinch got his comeuppance, according to the physicist Stephen Barr:

The philosopher Daniel Dennett visited us at the University of Delaware a few weeks ago and gave a public lecture entitled “Darwin, Meaning, Truth, and Morality.” I missed the talk—I was visiting my sons at Notre Dame and taking in the Notre Dame-Navy football game. Friends told me what I missed, however. Dennett claimed that Darwin had shredded the credibility of religion and was, indeed, the very “destroyer” of God. In the question session, philosophy professor Jeff Jordan made the following observation to Dennett, “If Darwinism is inherently atheistic, as you say, then obviously it can’t be taught in public schools.” “And why is that?” inquired Dennett, incredulous. “Because,” said Jordan, “the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution guarantees government neutrality between religion and irreligion.” Dennett, looking as if he’d been sucker-punched, leaned back against the wall, and said, after a few moments of silence, “clever.” After another silence, he came up with a reply: He had not meant to say that evolution logically entails atheism, merely that it undercuts religion.

Note that the cleverness is not on the Supreme Court's part.

* * *

Speaking of comeuppance, the recent massacre of protesting farmers at Dongzhou could turn out to be very important, precisely because of the efforts of the government to suppress information about the incident. As the New York Times reported today behind its own self-destruct shield:

Beijing casts net of silence over protest: One week after the police to violently suppressed a demonstration against the construction of a power plant in China, leaving as many as twenty people dead, an overwhelming majority of the Chinese public still knows nothing of the event.

That was a bad incident, and reporting it would certainly embarrass the provincial and possibly the national government. However, the government was by no means able to suppress all information. All it succeeded in doing was to ensure that the reports were fragmentary and unofficial. Moreover, quite a lot of people in newsrooms and in ISPs had to be told what to delete. The government has, in effect, ordered the national communications system not to think about white bears. We can imagine what lurid horrors are being added to the reports about the event that must be circulating surreptitiously.

Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly

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