Doug Archives

The Politics of Voter Fraud

John Fund has a good round-up of the recent Supreme Court 6-3 ruling upholding Indiana’s voter fraud laws.  There was one thing, however, that the justices were unanimous on.

In ruling on the constitutionality of Indiana’s voter ID law – the toughest in the nation – the Supreme Court had to deal with the claim that such laws demanded the strictest of scrutiny by courts, because they could disenfranchise voters. All nine Justices rejected that argument.

Even Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the three dissenters who would have overturned the Indiana law, wrote approvingly of the less severe ID laws of Georgia and Florida. The result is that state voter ID laws are now highly likely to pass constitutional muster.

As much as the Left has tossed that word around (and at times incorrectly), this is indeed a crushing blow to budding Mayor Daley’s of the world.

But read the whole thing.  The case was from Indiana, and there’s a very close Obama connection.  You’d expect him to want to avoid voter fraud, right?


[tags]John Fund,Supreme Court,Indiana,vote fraud[/tags]

Christianity and Global Warming

I’ve recommended audio from the Acton Institute before, and they just keep cranking out great commentary.  Today’s recommendation is for Jay Richard’s "Is it Hot In Here? What Should Christians Think About Global Warming?"  At an hour and 20 minutes, it’s a bit to take in, but it goes in depth into 4 questions that Jay considers the main issues.

  1. Is the globe warming?
  2. Is man causing it?
  3. Is it a bad thing?
  4. What can / should government do about it?

You’ll find that Jay does believe that we’re in a warming trend if you only look back to the mid-1800s, but there have been times when the Earth has been much warmer, and Jay mentions something I’ve touched on before; that Greenland used to be farmland before SUVs, and yet the polar bears survived. 

He’s clear about what is his opinion and what is fact, so I think this is a balanced assessment of the situation. 

[tags]environment,global warming,Acton Institute,Jay Richardson,Christianity[/tags]

Pull the Troops Out

The violence has continued to increase, with no end in sight. 

An outburst of gunfire rattled the city during the weekend, with at least nine people killed in 36 separate acts of violence.


They included gang shootings, drive-by attacks, and even one case in which someone used an AK-47 to shoot up a plumbing supply store.

I think that if either Clinton or Obama are elected President, we need a timetable for our troops to pull out of Mosul Chicago.

[tags]Chicago,Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama,Iraq[/tags]

The Obstacle to Peace

Meryl Yourish lays it on the line.  Jimmy Carter and Hamas get together and talk about peace, but basically that’s it.  No actions, no changes, nothing. 

Here are the plain facts: Hamas offered nothing new. Hamas did not agree to recognize Israel in any way, shape or form. Hamas did not give any proof that Gilad Shalit is still alive. Hamas did not say they would agree to visitation for Shalit—which would be within keeping of international law, something that Carter never seems to notice—nor did Hamas make any concessions, changes, or teeny, tiny moves towards a middle ground with Israel. Hamas did not even bother to stop firing rockets while Carter was there, except during the time he was physically in Sderot. Doubtless they went by the schedule the Carter center reps sent ahead of time. Can’t be dropping rockets and having sniper fire hit the most visible tool Hamas has ever had the fortune to come across. And Hamas tried three times in the last week to invade Israel and murder and kidnap Israelis, the last time the day after Carter spoke with Hamas leaders.

Israel has forcibly removed its citizens from disputed regions and has never — never — targeted civilians.  So when sizing up the situation, Carter can, of course, come up with only one conclusion regarding who is at fault when it comes to keeping peace from breaking out in the Middle East.

Israel and the United States. And he says this even as Hamas launches more rockets, and threatens more attacks. Way to go, Jimmy. I think you need a new title. I think we’re going to call you America’s No. 1 Schmuck.

Hey, perhaps it’s Carter himself who is the biggest obstacle to peace.  If he would just take up residence in Sderot, imagine how much more peaceful it would be there.

Who’s First Amendment Is It, Anyway?

The purpose of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been eroded and molded to fit 21st century liberal sensibilities; that is to say, to take it as much out of the public square as possible.  When Thomas Jefferson responded to the Danbury Baptists, he was responding to a specific question — government interfering with or establishing a religion — and he gave a specific answer.

Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

Basically, the government will not try to take away man’s natural right of conscience.  It’s the coercion factor that was at issue.  An established religion would require allegiance to the state church for all public servants. 

But no matter how much you want to mangle this straightforward concept, did it really mean to abolish this?

East Brunswick High School football coach Marcus Borden, who said he is fighting for his peers nationwide, is expected to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a review of Tuesday’s federal appeals court ruling that prohibits him from participating in team prayer.

The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia unanimously reversed a July 2006 lower-court ruling that permitted Borden, through his lawsuit against the East Brunswick Board of Education, to silently bow his head or "take a knee" with players as a sign of secular respect for student-led team prayer.

The plaintiffs, represented by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, say respect is indeed the issue.

"The ruling underscores that school district employees, including football coaches, have to obey the establishment clause and have to respect the religious rights of students," said Richard B. Katskee, assistant legal director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which represented the school board in its appeal of U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh’s ruling.

Respecting the fact that they were praying, then, is somehow a disrespect of their religious rights?  And what of the rights of the coach?  Does he have to check them at the locker room door?  Note that we’re not talking about him bringing a Bible or leading the prayers; he’s just in the room when the students pray and takes the same position as they do. 

The judges opinions in this case are just as tortured as the logic used to misread the First Amendment. 

Read the rest of this entry

New "Human Rights"

Should a painter be allowed to decide what he or she paints?  Should a musician be allowed to decide what music to play or write?  Should a photographer be allowed to decide what pictures to take? 

In New Mexico, the answer to that last question is a resounding, "No."

The New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled on Wednesday that an evangelical Christian photographer discriminated against a lesbian couple by refusing a job to photograph the couple’s same-sex commitment ceremony. Religious rights attorneys plan to appeal.

The commission ordered Elaine and Jon Huenins, owners of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, N.M., to pay the lesbian couple $6,600 in attorney fees.

"It is just a stunning disregard for the First Amendment," said Jordan Lorence, a senior legal counsel for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the photographer couple in court.

Canada’s Human Right Commission has been, at the same time, busy accusing Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn and others of thought crimes (covered by the Shire Network News podcast here and here with many more details at, with the idea of "free speech" being considered foreign.

In fact, for an organization that is supposed to promote "human rights," the HRC’s agents seem curiously oblivious to basic aspects of constitutional law. In one famous exchange during the [Marc] Lemire case, [Dean] Steacy [HRC investigator] was asked "What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?" — to which he replied "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value." (I guess Section 2 has been excised from his copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights.)

If a photographer doesn’t want to take pictures at a same-sex commitment ceremony, but will get fined if she doesn’t, how soon before the First Amendment become a value-less concept within our own borders?

And this is not just a general free speech issue.  From the original article:

"[Vanessa] (Willock) had requested via e-mail for Elane Photography to conduct photography for her commitment ceremony, and the owner of Elane Photography responded that she would not perform that photography session because it was a same-sex commitment ceremony," [Carrie] Moritomo [public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions] told Cybercast News Service .

No punitive monetary damages were awarded because Willock did not seek damages, Moritomo added.

Lorence said the Huenins, who are fervent evangelicals, politely declined the request because they did not want to use their art to disparage traditional heterosexual marriage. That should have been the end of the matter, he said.

"The Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling people to promote a message they disagree with and thereby violate their conscience," Lorence said. "Christians should not be penalized for abiding by their beliefs.""

Eugene Volokh, UCLA Law School professor, constitutional scholar and contributor to the Volokh Conspiracy blog (where he’s blogged about this issue separately from the new story) is quoted, noting parallels to hypothetically requiring a freelance writer being forced to write for a pro-Scientology web site words that he does not believe in.  He also points out a bit of inconsistency.

"The law says that only when there is a ‘compelling government interest’ and applying the law is essential, only then can the government compel someone to violate their religious beliefs," Volokh said.

The fact that New Mexico does not recognize same-sex marriage makes it hard to argue that government has a compelling interest in protecting same-sex commitment, he added.

Human Rights Commissions are becoming less and less aptly named, and are instead becoming mere tools in the hands of liberal interest groups to silence dissent.  Where the legislative avenue doesn’t work, these commissions and activist judges are the Left’s next front to get their way in social law when the people are clearly against them.

[tags]New Mexico Human Rights Commission,free speech,Christianity,religion,homosexuality,same-sex marriage,Elaine Huenins,Jon Huenins,"Vanessa Willock,Alliance Defense Fund,Ezra Levant,Mark Steyn,Eugene Volokh[/tags]

Will He Get The Ferraro Treatment

Uh oh, don’t these Democrats realize that you simply can’t talk about this sort of thing in polite company?

Wading back into the Democratic presidential race, billionaire businessman Bob Johnson said Monday that Sen. Barack Obama would not be his party’s leading candidate if he were white.

Yes, apparently Mr. Johnson does recall Geraldine Ferraro’s remarks, and in fact agrees with them.

Johnson’s comments to the Observer echoed those of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. She stepped down as an adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton last month after saying Obama wouldn’t be where he is if he were white.

"What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called `Jerry Smith’ and he says I’m going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote?" Johnson said. "And the answer is, probably not… ."

"Geraldine Ferraro said it right. The problem is, Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair-trigger on anything racial … it is almost impossible for anybody to say anything."

Well, I wouldn’t say Ferraro’s skin color was a "problem" in the general sense, because that shouldn’t have mattered.  Equally, Bob Johnson’s skin color shouldn’t matter either, but if you click here and pull up the web page for the article, you’ll notice that he is black.  Not only can he say that Obama’s color is a factor in his popularity, he can also say that it was a "problem" for Ferraro to say this because of her color.

Whether or not you agree with Johnson’s assessments, I highly doubt he’s going to come under fire nearly as much as Ferraro for what amounts to a restating and expanding of her comments.  Obama himself may take a shot back, but the uproar, or lack thereof, over this will be telling.

And again I have to come back to the question; who it is that really has a problem with this?  It’s Democrats, the ones who insist they have more common cause with Dr. King.  It’s not just that talking about racial issues (which they, like Obama, insist they want to have a conversation on) can be taboo, but it’s a different sized taboo (or none at all) depending on the race of the speaker.  Your opinion is simply not tolerated unless you are of a particular race. 

Isn’t that, y’know, the very definition of racism?  Isn’t this allegedly what political correctness — AKA liberal sensitivity — was supposed to remove?  And yet liberals find themselves yet again in a bed, nay coffin of their own making.  Identity politics is ripping the party apart, and now oversensitivity to racial issues is continuing the breakdown. 

The facade that is the Democratic party has some gaping fissures. 

History Continues to Repeat Itself

But is the Left noticing?  While I was gone on Spring Break, a number of news stories came through showing both Hugo Chavez’s desperation for power and popularity in Venezuela, while the standard of living is predictably spiraling downward.

First, in response to a housing shortage, he declared that he’d nationalize the cement industry.  The first thing that happened as a result was that Cemex, the largest domestic supplier of cement in Venezuela, dropped almost 4% in Mexico’s stock market.  Apparently investors know a losing proposition when they see it.

Then, he renationalized the largest steelmaker in the country.  Their stock dropped 9% in New York.

And during all of this, the people are suffering.

Grimacing from contractions, expectant mother Castuca Marino had more on her mind than birth pangs. She was nervous about whether she and her newborn child would make it out of the hospital alive.

Interviewed as she stood in the emergency room of Concepcion Palacios Maternity Hospital here last week, Marino had heard news reports of six infant deaths there over a 24-hour period late last month. She knew that since the beginning of February, six mothers had died in the hospital during or after childbirth.

"What are poor people going to do?" said Marino, 20, as she was being admitted to this sprawling complex where, on average, 60 babies are born a day. "I’m just hoping that there are no complications and that everything goes well."
Palacios, Venezuela’s largest public maternity hospital and once the nation’s beacon of neonatal care, has fallen on hard times. Half of the anesthesiologists and pediatricians on staff two years ago have quit. Basic equipment such as respirators, ultrasound monitors and incubators are either broken or scarce. Six of 12 birth rooms have been shut.

On one day last month, five newborns were crowded into one incubator, said Dr. Jesus Mendez Quijada, a psychiatrist and Palacios staff member who is a past president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation.

The deaths of the six infants "were not a case of bad luck, but the consequence of an accumulation of circumstances that have created this alarming situation," Mendez said.

He and others say the problems at Concepcion Palacios are symptoms of a variety of ills that have beset the public healthcare system under leftist firebrand President Hugo Chavez. Cases of malaria nearly doubled between 1998, the year before Chavez took office, and 2007. Incidents of dengue fever more than doubled over the same period.

Chavez is trying to counter this with his own, parallel, socialized medicine program, but he’s keeping prying eyes away from the innards.  "Please ignore the man behind the curtain."

Inaugurated nationwide in 2003, Barrio Adentro initially was so popular with the poor that it helped Chavez win a crucial 2004 referendum and hold on to power. It has brought basic healthcare to the barrios, providing free exams and medicine as well as eye operations that have saved the sight of thousands.

But the system siphons resources and equipment away from the public hospitals, which have four-fifths of the nation’s 45,000 hospital beds and where the public still goes for emergency and maternity care, as well as for most major and elective surgeries.

The finances and organization of Barrio Adentro are "a black box and not transparent, so it’s impossible to analyze it for efficiency," said Dr. Marino Gonzalez, professor of public policy at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, the capital.
A lack of openness has affected other facets of public health too. After the medical establishment blamed him for an outbreak of dengue fever last summer, Chavez halted weekly publication of an epidemiology report that for 50 years had tallied occurrences of infectious diseases nationwide.

Former Health Minister Rafael Orihuela says the loss of the weekly report has deprived the government of information needed for a quick response to outbreaks of disease.
"I am not talking about a failure of the government to adopt innovations in healthcare," said Orihuela, a Chavez critic. "I am talking about a failure to maintain basic healthcare standards."

And in the meantime, Chavez’s poll numbers are approaching George W. Bush lows…

Public support for President Hugo Chavez’s government has significantly declined, according to two polls published on Tuesday.

Some 34% of Venezuelans surveyed said they support Chavez’s government, down from a high of 67% in early 2005, to the lowest level in five years, a quarterly survey of 2,000 Venezuelans by Caracas pollster Datos found.

…and the economy is tanking.

Polls have consistently shown that rampant crime is a major concern to Venezuelans. Double-digit inflation has also accelerated, and sporadic shortages of milk and other food products persist.

While these polls are not as open as those in the US, they do show a general malaise among Venezuelans.  Bruce McQuain at Q&O believes that the power grabs are specifically because of the poll numbers.  Whether or not that’s true, the narrative of The Socialist Utopia(tm) and the bill of goods it sells continues on course, to the detriment of the Venezuelan people, and to the ignorance of Chavez’s buddies in the US.

[tags]Hugo Chavez,Venezuela,Cemex,socialism,socialized medicine[/tags]

Co-Dependence in the Press

The Columbia Journalism Review, no member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy ™ they, is calling out the press corps on their (lack of) coverage of a pretty blatant lie.  First they repeat the context in which John McCain said we may stay in Iraq for 100 years, picking a number out of the air while noting our lengthy, continuing presence in S. Korea (~50 years) and Japan (~60).  But then came the lie about it.

It’s clear from this that McCain isn’t saying he’d support continuing the war for one hundred years, only that it might be necessary to keep troops there that long. That’s a very different thing. As he says, we’ve had troops in South Korea for over fifty years, but few people think that means we’re still fighting the Korean War.

Nevertheless, back in February, Obama said: “We are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another hundred years.”

And, on a separate occasion: “(McCain) says that he is willing to send our troops into another hundred years of war in Iraq.”

But the big deal for the CJR is that journalists aren’t journaling.  If their job is to report the facts, they’re derelict.  Instead, they’re burying the lead or completely ignoring it, becoming co-dependents.

Still, some outlets continue to portray the issue as a he-said, she-said spat. A long takeout on the controversy by ABC News, opining that McCain’s comment “handed his Democratic opponents and war critics a weapon with which to bludgeon him,” is headlined: “McCain’s 100 Year Remark Hands Ammo to War Critics: McCain Haunted by January Remarks Suggesting 100 More Years in Iraq.” And today’s L.A. Times story, headlined “Obama, McCain Bicker Over Iraq,” is similarly neutral.

To be fair, the ABC News piece does provide the quote in its full context, giving enough information to allow conscientious readers to figure out the truth. That’s better than the L.A. Times piece, which says only that “McCain has stressed since then that he meant that U.S. troops might need to remain to support Iraqi forces, not to wage full-scale warfare”—instead of simply telling readers that it’s clear from the context that McCain did indeed mean that. Still, neither piece stated high up and unequivocally that Obama is distorting McCain’s words.

(Emphasis mine.)  When those who lean left can’t keep quiet about leftward bias in the press (and when they make their case in a journalism magazine), the game is up

[tags]media,Columbia Journalism Review,John McCain,Barack Obama,Iraq,media bias[/tags]

On Children

A gift from God.

3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.

5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.

Well, unless they’re not planned or wanted. Then they’re a punishment, right Senator?


[tags]children,Barack Obama,Psalms,abortion,sex education[/tags]

Good News from the Muslim World

They’re turning to Jesus in droves, as noted by Chuck Colson.

According to the website Islam Watch, in Russia, some two million ethnic Muslims converted to Christianity last year. Ten thousand French Muslims converted, as did 35,000 Turkish Muslims. In India, approximately 10,000 people abandoned Islam for Christianity.

In his book Epicenter, author Joel Rosenberg details amazing stories of Muslims converting to Christianity. In Algeria, the birthplace of St. Augustine, more than 80,000 Muslims have turned to Christ in recent years. This, despite the stiff opposition from Islamic clerics who have passed laws banning evangelism.

In Morocco, newspaper articles openly worry that 25,000 to 40,000 Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years.

The stories are even more amazing in the heart of the Middle East. In 1996, the Egyptian Bible Society sold just 3,000 video copies of the JESUS film. In the year 2000, they sold an incredible 600,000 copies.

In Sudan, as many as five million Muslims have accepted Christ since the early 1990s, despite horrific persecution of Christians by the Sudanese government. What is behind the mass conversions? According to a Sudanese evangelical leader, “People have seen real Islam, and they want Jesus instead.”

Some say that America is creating terrorists by fight Islam.  But it appears that many, many more Muslims, seeing the hate from their fellow Muslims, have decided "they want Jesus instead". 

[tags]Chuck Colson,Joel Rosenberg,Christianity,Islam,Jesus film[/tags]

Another Sign of the Times

And another reason homeschooling looks better all the time (and why those folks in California need a re-hearing on that homeschooling case).

It’s an increasingly familiar scenario: An educator or coach, someone in a position of great trust, is accused of sexual misconduct with one or more students.

In Chicago, former Walter Payton College Prep basketball coach George Turner, 45, was charged recently with the criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of two 15-year-old female students.

While it’s "increasingly familiar", a study in 2004 makes one wonder how bad it must be now.

In 2004, Congress released the results of a report it had commissioned on teacher sexual misconduct. Compiled by Hofstra University Professor Charol Shakeshaft, it concluded that an estimated 4.5 million of 50 million students in American public schools "are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade."

It’s still a very underground sort of thing, as it mostly goes unreported.

"These cases tend to slip under the rug," said Terri Miller, president of the national organization Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation. "They let teachers quietly resign and move on."

That’s possible in part, she said, because state boards aren’t required to report incidents to the U.S. Department of Education.

"One of the big problems is that you’re in a situation where the acts by themselves are very private," said Chicago personal injury attorney Joe Klest, who has represented victims of sexual abuse by teachers and coaches.

"And even though they’re involving minors, and minors can’t legally consent, they are often groomed into consenting. So you’ve got two people — one saying it happened, one saying it didn’t — and there’s very rarely any extrinsic physical evidence."

I’ve covered this before, but it bears repeating.  What I’m waiting for is a public outcry like that which followed the same issue among Catholic priests.  The cynic in me wonders how much of this goes unreported so that the public school system doesn’t look bad, which would put privatization and homeschooling in a much better light.  The Teacher’s Union should be taking the point on this, but other than issuing statements tut-tutting each incident, not much changes. 

[tags]education,homeschooling,sexual abuse,George Turner,Charol Shakeshaft,Terri Miller,Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation,[/tags]

More Self-Parody at the UN

From a press release from UN Watch.

To the sound of cheers, and by an overhwelming [sic] majority of 40 out of 47 votes, the UN Human Rights Council today elected Jean Ziegler, the co-founder of the "Muammar Khaddafi Human Rights Prize," as an expert advisor representing the Western world. And for its new Palestine expert, the council chose Richard Falk, who, like Ziegler, accuses the U.S. of being responsible for many of the world’s ills and describes Israel in Nazi terminology.

Well, at least Ziegler is an award-winner, eh?  UN Watch comments in the press release:

"Even within the benighted UN Human Rights council, today was a dark day for human rights," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights monitoring agency. "The very credibility of the UN human rights system is now at stake."

No, sorry, this move won’t change any minds.  For those of us who already understand that the UN is irreparably broken, their reputation is long gone after watching this sort of nonsense for a very, very long time.  For UN apologists, however, nothing is too foolish or insane to change their minds.  For them it’s just a matter of "fixing it", which is typically just defined as rearranging the deck chairs while it sinks.

[tags]United Nations,human rights,Jean Ziegler,Richard Falk,Muammar Khaddafi,UN Watch[/tags]

When In Doubt, You Know Who To Blame

Trying again to deflect attention from the man behind the curtain, pulling lever and pressing buttons to make people believe he’s a wizard, Hugo Chavez continues the Blame Game.

Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez blamed the United States for violent protests in Tibet during the last two weeks that he said were aimed at trying to destabilize China.

In comments reported by his press office on Sunday, Chavez said the protests were an example of the U.S. "empire" "going against China" and trying to divide the Asian powerhouse.

Communist China has occupied Tibet, a Buddhist region previously ruled by monks, since a military invasion in 1950.

In other news, Chavez blames Bush for Vietnam, the Boxer Rebellion, and Adam and Eve’s disastrous choice of trees.  Honestly, protests about Tibet are nothing new, and there may just be a less paranoid explanation.

China has been widely criticized for a crackdown against the demonstrators ahead of August’s Olympic games to be held in Beijing.

Could those same Olympic games be the reason the monks thought this would be a good time to call attention to their situation?   Yes, but Chavez wasn’t done with the deflection.

Chavez is a relentless Washington critic who says he favors a multipolar world to balance U.S. dominance.

Yes, what the world needs now is another Evil Empire to balance things out.  Wonder if he’s bucking for that position.

He also refuses to recognize Kosovo as an independent republic, saying the new European state is a U.S. imposition.

"Look over there!  And look over there!  Just please, don’t look over here, where the food lines are getting longer."

Engaging the Chinese Government

During the debate some years ago over whether or not to continue to grant China “Most Favored Nation” trading status, the pro side of the argument included the idea that if we isolate China, their actions against Christians, and the religious in general, would get worse. They could do it outside of the view of the world and would be unhindered by their watching eyes. Keeping trade open would allow external influences to affect the culture.

I personally wasn’t convinced, but it was a reasonable argument. So how’s it going there these days?

The violent protests in Tibet that began last week and have since spread across (and beyond) China are frequently depicted as a secessionist threat to Beijing. But the regime’s deeper problem in the current crisis is neither ethnic nor territorial. It’s religious.

If there’s a template for Beijing’s policy on religion, it’s the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” In 1995, the regime effectively kidnapped Gendun Choekyi Nyima, a 6-year-old boy named by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, the second-highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism. In Nyima’s place, Beijing designated its own “official” Panchen Lama, the slightly younger Gyaltsen Norbu. Nyima’s whereabouts, assuming he’s alive, are unknown. More recently, a new set of “implementation regulations” on Tibetan religious affairs has come into force, drastically curtailing the freedom of monks and nuns to travel within China, and introducing political themes into the qualification exams required of religious initiates. Of the roughly 100 Tibetan political prisoners, fully three-quarters are monks or nuns.

Much the same goes with China’s Christians. The regime has substituted its own Catholic hierarchy — the Catholic Patriotic Association — for Rome’s since 1957, leading to endless friction between the Pope and the Communist Party. Similarly, Chinese Protestantism officially operates under the so-called “Three-Self Patriotic Movement” (the three “selfs” being self-governance, self-support and self-propagation), which in turn is regulated by the party. “The purpose of [the regime’s] nominal degree of sympathy for Christianity is to indoctrinate and mobilize for Communist Party objectives,” says journalist David Aikman, author of the 2003 book “Jesus in Beijing.” “I’ve often joked that the most leftist people in China are members of the Three-Self Church.”

I’m not really seeing how the world’s eyes have done much to curb government abuses in China. Not even the arrival of the Olympics there has helped. In fact, it’s possible that it’s causing more oppression so that the government puts it best facade forward.

But there is good news…

Read the rest of this entry

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