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Archive for June, 2009

A little while ago I spoke in Cairo of how peace might be achieved in this most troubled of regions. I spoke of politics, policy, and diplomacy, but I ignored what we in America call the elephant in the living room — the monstrous beast that everyone pretends isn’t there — the one gigantic obstacle that stands between us and peace: religion. Insofar as religion influences governments, it will be difficult or impossible to achieve peace by the reasonable means that I articulated in my previous speech.

A true oxymoron directly contradicts itself. And here I have three candidates. They’re deeply embedded in the language. People actually think they mean something. But what?

What puts us over the top, of course, is language. To the extent that early hominids acquired language, they were able to organize and overwhelm those groups who hadn’t. How did langauge start? It’s all very complex evolutionarily, since the capacity for language had something to do with the development of the hand as well as the vocal cords. But language was the killer app, so to speak. To the detriment of humanity, language has enabled us to magnify our simian traits, to amplify them, and, lately, to coordinate our own destruction.

Liberty is not an obvious idea to everyone, that many people really like the government to do things for them, and that – most importantly — there is, in their age cohort too, emerging, like hordes of disgusting insects from their slimy pupa shells (as our cicadas did this summer), an army of busybody control freaks who will become their generation’s politicians and keep the current corrupt system in place by rewarding everyone who supports it.

Aside from being irrational and inhumane, aside from being a racial-guilt punishment, diversity/affirmative action, like the religion and politics that support it, is founded on intellectual bullshit.

Companies aren’t better for preferential hiring and promotion, because they compromise competence and waste a ton of time on diversity activities. Individuals aren’t better, whether they’re the recipients of the preferences (their competence is ever in doubt, often rightly so) – or the screwees.

It was tough Jews who founded Israel. Over the centuries, Christian Europe proved it could not live with Jews without trying to exterminate them. So, like the Italians and the Dutch, the Jews had to have a homneland, where no one could persecute them and from which no one could expel them.

Unfortunately, the safety and security of that homeland is being threatened not only by external enemies, but from within, by religion. Yes, it’s true: the Jewish religion threatens the Jewish homeland. Jewish fanatics insist on a divine land-grant, deny rights to Arabs, and get their foreign policy directly from the Book of Deuteronomy. Religion obstructs the path to peace by introducing, into the political and diplomatic process, a monkey wrench of irrationality and intransigence. On both sides.

We are one species; we don’t even have Neanderthals to kick around. But we have 98% of our DNA in common with chimps. Perhaps in that 2% lies the solution. Perhaps we can be truly human…and see religious fantasies as the divisive, destructive forces that they are.

There are dozens of reasons why people engage in prayer and religious ritual, but one of them cannot be that it does them or anyone else any good in the real world.

On this day of tragedy for General Motors, let us remember the root cause of this terrible defeat and final humiliation: inhumanity. The failure to respect human dignity and independence. Specifically,

– the failure to treat workers humanely, thus causing the animosity that resulted in strikes (can you imagine? they had the luxury of NOT WORKING!) and lavish material concessions to the workforce, which dragged down GM in the form of long-term pension and medical commitments, abouot $1,000/car, last I heard.

– the failure of management to question its own omniscience and take creative suggestions from below.

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