Muslim Slavery

A Georgetown professor says it’s not so bad. Meanwhile, at least fifty million Muslims support violent defense of their religion.

Seems low.

[Update a few minutes later]

A fourth Muslim group refuses federal funds to fight Islamic extremism. Gee, it’s almost as though they don’t have a problem with it.

And more on the joys of Muslim slavery from Rod Dreher:

Just past the 1:00 mark, Brown says that slavery under Islamic law was not comparable to chattel slavery in the American South, in part because the slaves of Muslims had rights. He said it was in fact comparable to feudalism in medieval Europe — something “social,” not “economic.” When the questioner persists in his challenge to Brown’s take on slavery in Islam, Brown goes on to say that it’s an undeniable fact that Muhammad held slaves.

“Are you more morally mature than the Prophet of God?” Brown says. “No, you’re not.”

So, there you have it. If Muhammad held slaves, how bad could slavery really be?

It’s a challenging point, actually: if the Prophet behaved in a certain way, who are Muslims today to stand in judgment of him and what he did? If we say that slavery is evil, are we not implicitly condemning the Prophet as an evildoer? Can a Muslim do that and still be a good Muslim? I don’t know.

It’s worth pointing out that in the New Testament, St. Paul doesn’t condemn slaveholding, which was common in his day, nor does he explicitly endorse it. He simply recognizes it as a fact of life, and tells slaves and slaveholders how to treat each other. (See here for more information.) However, the principles of Christianity led in modern times to the rejection of slavery among Christians. To canonize someone as a saint does not mean that they led perfect lives, only that the led lives of heroic Christian virtue. The only perfectly sinless life was that of Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, it is worth considering whether or not Islam today has within it the resources to oppose slavery, which continues to exist in some Muslim countries. The line I quote above can be used to justify slavery (if Muhammad held slaves, who are Muslims to condemn other Muslims who own slaves?), or, I suppose, to undermine confidence in Muhammad and his teaching.

One of these religions is not like the other.

One of the infuriating things about the Zinnization of education is the notion that too many young people have that America invented slavery, rather than sacrificing over half a million men to end it, at the urging of Christians.

The Political Assassination Of Michael Flynn

I was no big fan of Flynn, but this sort of thing makes me support Trump, on principle. If they figure out who the leakers were, they should bring the hammer down on them. It’s a very frightening precedent.

[Wednesday-morning update]

What happened here is deeply worrying:

The whole episode is evidence of the precipitous and ongoing collapse of America’s democratic institutions — not a sign of their resiliency. Flynn’s ouster was a soft coup (or political assassination) engineered by anonymous intelligence community bureaucrats. The results might be salutary, but this isn’t the way a liberal democracy is supposed to function.

Unelected intelligence analysts work for the president, not the other way around. Far too many Trump critics appear not to care that these intelligence agents leaked highly sensitive information to the press — mostly because Trump critics are pleased with the result. “Finally,” they say, “someone took a stand to expose collusion between the Russians and a senior aide to the president!” It is indeed important that someone took such a stand. But it matters greatly who that someone is and how they take their stand. Members of the unelected, unaccountable intelligence community are not the right someone, especially when they target a senior aide to the president by leaking anonymously to newspapers the content of classified phone intercepts, where the unverified, unsubstantiated information can inflict politically fatal damage almost instantaneously. . . .

But no matter what Flynn did, it is simply not the role of the deep state to target a man working in one of the political branches of the government by dishing to reporters about information it has gathered clandestinely. It is the role of elected members of Congress to conduct public investigations of alleged wrongdoing by public officials.

What if Congress won’t act? What if both the Senate and the House of Representatives are held by the same party as the president and members of both chambers are reluctant to cross a newly elected head of the executive branch who enjoys overwhelming approval of his party’s voters? In such a situation — our situation — shouldn’t we hope the deep state will rise up to act responsibly to take down a member of the administration who may have broken the law?

The answer is an unequivocal no.

In a liberal democracy, how things happen is often as important as what happens. Procedures matter. So do rules and public accountability.

That hasn’t been the case for eight years. This is just a continuation, likely by the same people.

[Update a while later]

The Empire strikes back:

Welcome to the Deep State, the democracy-sapping embeds at the heart of our democracy who have not taken the expulsion of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party lightly. They realize that the Trump administration poses a mortal threat to their hegemony, and so have enlisted an army of Democrats, some Republicans, the “neverTrumpumpkin” conservative die-hards, leftist thugs, Black Lives Matter and anybody else they can blackmail, browbeat or enlist. They mean business.

Time for a rebel alliance. I hope Pompeo doesn’t have anything that can be used against him. But I fear that these people are morally capable of manufacturing things.

Risk In Human Spaceflight

I didn’t make it to the conference in time to hear him, but I was told a couple weeks ago that Bill Gerstenmeier would be talking about many of the themes of my book. He apparently did. I would note though, that “loss of crew” isn’t just probability of killing crew; it also includes causing a career-ending injury.

[Update a few minutes later]

Related: With new types of launch systems, we’re discovering new causes of launch failure, even after almost sixty years of orbital spaceflight.

AI

The huge economic issue that no one in Washington is talking about:

Driverless trucks delivering goods to fully automated warehouses and loading docks. Drones delivering everything from pizza to furniture. Offices will become almost fully automated as work is farmed out to smart machines. There’s even speculation that AI could take the place of reporters and editors, writing copy with more speed and less bias than humans.

Most of these innovations are not far off. What’s worse, our schools are stuck in a time warp, teaching kids as if it was the 1970s, sending them to college where they major in English Lit or Environmental Management. How many of these young people would be better off going to a trade school and learning a valuable skill that would be useful in the new economy?

What’s needed is a revolution. Not rage against the machines, but a clear-eyed recognition in society from top to bottom that we can’t go back. The days when you could graduate from high school and go to work for 40 years in the local plant, earning a good middle-class wage and being able to buy into the American dream, are gone forever. Donald Trump can’t bring them back. The Democrats can’t bring them back. The unions can’t bring them back.

Nope.

Federal Bureaucrats

…are disconsolate over the repeal of their regulations.

Good.

[Update a while later]

This is an amusing argument. And by “amusing,” I mean stupid:

Pizarchik is already working on ideas to write a new version of the stream rule under a future president, though he declined to share any details. He also hinted someone could mount a constitutional challenge to the review act itself, which critics have long argued tramples on the separation of powers.

“I believe there’s a good chance that, in a legal challenge, that a court will overturn Congress’ actions here as an unconstitutional usurpation of the executive branch’s powers,” he said.

So let me get this straight. He thinks that Congress repealing a rule arising from a law passed by Congress, per another law passed by Congress, is a usurpation of the executive branch’s powers? Hokay…

Do you know what’s a real usurpation of separation of powers? Unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats taking over the legislative function through rule making.

[Update a few minutes later]

As a (female) friend told me last week in DC, I bathe in and drink their tears every night:

“It’s almost a sense of dread, as in, what will happen to us,” said Gabrielle Martin, a trial lawyer and 30-year veteran at the Denver office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where colleagues now share daily, grim predictions about the fate of their jobs under Mr. Trump’s leadership.

“It’s like the movie music when the shark is coming,” Ms. Martin said, referring to “Jaws,” the 1975 thriller. “People are just wary — is the shark going to come up out of the water?”

Very soon, I hope.

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