Democracy rules, except when my guy doesn’t win

Nigeria elected a president, the incumbent, who received twice the votes of the other candidate.  But the president is a Christian, so Nigerian Muslims are rioting, setting fires, and protesting the election:

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has won a presidential election with results being reported in all 36 states, as riots broke out in the mainly Muslim north to protest the outcome.

Election officials announced Monday that Mr. Jonathan received million 22,495,187 votes in Saturday’s polls, nearly twice the number of his main challenger, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who garnered 12,214,853.

Officials say Mr. Jonathan has met the requirements to avoid a run-off vote. A candidates must win a simple majority and at least a quarter of the vote in 24 states.

Earlier Monday, news of Mr. Jonathan’s likely win sparked riots across Nigeria’s northern region.

Opposition supporters claimed the vote had been rigged and torched homes, burned tires and hurled rocks at police to protest the results.

Many in the Muslim-majority north backed Mr. Buhari, a Muslim. President Jonathan, a Christian, dominated the mostly Christian south.

Riots Break Out in Northern Nigeria As President Declared Winner | Africa | English.

There has been a debate about whether Islam is compatible with democracy and political freedom.   It appears that some Muslims are willing to use democracy and to demand political freedom when it advances their agenda.   That is, they use it instrumentally, as a means to their end.  But if the end is not what they want, they reject the process.

HT:  Carl Vehse

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    Apparently the issue also stems from the failure of a longstanding agreement by the ruling party of which Mr. Johnson is a member. The party made an agreement that power would rotate from Christian to Muslim after two terms, with a Christian as VP for a Muslim President and vice versa. Well, Johnson was the VP for a Muslim President who died during his first term and Mr. Johnson was elevated to the Presidency. He then had the affrontery to run for reelection to what he believed was his rightful 2nd term, yet the Muslims believe they should have their turn in order to fulfill the original expectation of two Muslim turns. Ah, the perils of power sharing.

  • SKPeterson

    Apparently the issue also stems from the failure of a longstanding agreement by the ruling party of which Mr. Johnson is a member. The party made an agreement that power would rotate from Christian to Muslim after two terms, with a Christian as VP for a Muslim President and vice versa. Well, Johnson was the VP for a Muslim President who died during his first term and Mr. Johnson was elevated to the Presidency. He then had the affrontery to run for reelection to what he believed was his rightful 2nd term, yet the Muslims believe they should have their turn in order to fulfill the original expectation of two Muslim turns. Ah, the perils of power sharing.

  • WebMonk

    As SK alluded – there is a LOT more to this story than what that VOA article mentions. It’s not just a “someone got elected that we don’t like so we’re rioting” situation.

    There is the power-sharing situation as SK mentioned, but there is also very credible suspicion of fraud – the “typical” 99% voting for a candidate sort of stuff. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a relatively “clean” election by recent Nigerian standards, but it’s still riddled with corruption.

    The northern section, where the riots took place, will almost certainly be “looted” politically and economically as the dominant political party has always done its best to take as much wealth into its areas of control as it can while in power. Interestingly, the president before Goodluck Jonathan, a Muslim, was the first president to NOT do that. Goodluck Jonathan has followed that example relatively well personally, but the government at large still operates in a “looting” mindset.

    But everyone should ignore complicating factors like that – it’s far better and simpler to paint Muslims with a broad brush based on incorrect/incomplete facts.

  • WebMonk

    As SK alluded – there is a LOT more to this story than what that VOA article mentions. It’s not just a “someone got elected that we don’t like so we’re rioting” situation.

    There is the power-sharing situation as SK mentioned, but there is also very credible suspicion of fraud – the “typical” 99% voting for a candidate sort of stuff. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a relatively “clean” election by recent Nigerian standards, but it’s still riddled with corruption.

    The northern section, where the riots took place, will almost certainly be “looted” politically and economically as the dominant political party has always done its best to take as much wealth into its areas of control as it can while in power. Interestingly, the president before Goodluck Jonathan, a Muslim, was the first president to NOT do that. Goodluck Jonathan has followed that example relatively well personally, but the government at large still operates in a “looting” mindset.

    But everyone should ignore complicating factors like that – it’s far better and simpler to paint Muslims with a broad brush based on incorrect/incomplete facts.

  • Carl Vehse

    One should not ignore news reports complicating factors like preconceptions that it’s far better and simpler to paint the presidential election of Goodluck Johnson with a broad brush of fraud based on incorrect/incomplete facts.

    According to The Root:

    However, the Nigerian observer group Project 2011 Swift Count said Sunday that, based on reports from a random sample of 1,468 polling units, it found “the country citizens were generally provided with a meaningful opportunity to exercise their right to vote and that the process improved over the National Assembly elections held last week. These elections were not without problems — in particular, isolated incidents of intimidation, violence, and illegal voting. But these incidents did not undermine the overall credibility of the process.”

    From the Voice of America:

    An official of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the chairman of the electoral body is likely to officially announce the outcome of the presidential election Monday.

    Nick Dazan, INEC’s assistant director of public affairs, says preliminary reports of some observers who monitored Saturday’s presidential election suggest the vote was largely free and fair.

    “There was a massive turnout this time around. A lot of young people and women came out to exercise their franchise. And Nigerians showed keen interest in who should govern their affairs in the next four years,” said Dazan.

    “The election was largely peaceful and all the collection officers who are heads of tertiary institutions who have submitted their report said that the election was free and fair,” he added.

    Now if we could only get such positive reports from poll observers in Chicago elections.

  • Carl Vehse

    One should not ignore news reports complicating factors like preconceptions that it’s far better and simpler to paint the presidential election of Goodluck Johnson with a broad brush of fraud based on incorrect/incomplete facts.

    According to The Root:

    However, the Nigerian observer group Project 2011 Swift Count said Sunday that, based on reports from a random sample of 1,468 polling units, it found “the country citizens were generally provided with a meaningful opportunity to exercise their right to vote and that the process improved over the National Assembly elections held last week. These elections were not without problems — in particular, isolated incidents of intimidation, violence, and illegal voting. But these incidents did not undermine the overall credibility of the process.”

    From the Voice of America:

    An official of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the chairman of the electoral body is likely to officially announce the outcome of the presidential election Monday.

    Nick Dazan, INEC’s assistant director of public affairs, says preliminary reports of some observers who monitored Saturday’s presidential election suggest the vote was largely free and fair.

    “There was a massive turnout this time around. A lot of young people and women came out to exercise their franchise. And Nigerians showed keen interest in who should govern their affairs in the next four years,” said Dazan.

    “The election was largely peaceful and all the collection officers who are heads of tertiary institutions who have submitted their report said that the election was free and fair,” he added.

    Now if we could only get such positive reports from poll observers in Chicago elections.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Also, making this about Muslims per se is a bit too much. Elections are disputed in Third-World countries all the time, people cling to power, loosers riot etc etc. This is a common feauture in countries struggling to break into a full democratic process.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Also, making this about Muslims per se is a bit too much. Elections are disputed in Third-World countries all the time, people cling to power, loosers riot etc etc. This is a common feauture in countries struggling to break into a full democratic process.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    This reminds me of another country with strong social, financial, racial, and political divides. The country recently elected its first president from a racial minority, and the “We want our country back” protests started up even before the inauguration.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    This reminds me of another country with strong social, financial, racial, and political divides. The country recently elected its first president from a racial minority, and the “We want our country back” protests started up even before the inauguration.

  • Tom Hering

    @ 5, Tea Party = Muslims. Interesting. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    @ 5, Tea Party = Muslims. Interesting. :-D

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@1), can you point me to an article discussing this power-rotating agreement between Muslims and Christians? None of the news stories I’ve read about the riots in northern Nigeria have mentioned it.

    WebMonk (@2), can you point me to an article discussing “the ‘typical’ 99% voting for a candidate sort of stuff”? No one’s saying it was up to Western standards, but nor am I hearing anyone saying that fraud was likely enough to change the election. Most are saying two things: (1) that it was a relatively clean election (certainly by Nigerian standards, but even by those of Western watchdogs), and (2) that Jonathan won by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@1), can you point me to an article discussing this power-rotating agreement between Muslims and Christians? None of the news stories I’ve read about the riots in northern Nigeria have mentioned it.

    WebMonk (@2), can you point me to an article discussing “the ‘typical’ 99% voting for a candidate sort of stuff”? No one’s saying it was up to Western standards, but nor am I hearing anyone saying that fraud was likely enough to change the election. Most are saying two things: (1) that it was a relatively clean election (certainly by Nigerian standards, but even by those of Western watchdogs), and (2) that Jonathan won by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio.

  • Joe

    Tom and Kristofer – you guys are so right (and clever too!). Why just yesterday a saw a bunch of tea party types burning down houses.

  • Joe

    Tom and Kristofer – you guys are so right (and clever too!). Why just yesterday a saw a bunch of tea party types burning down houses.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 6: Or, ….. Wisconsin :-)

  • DonS

    Tom @ 6: Or, ….. Wisconsin :-)

  • WebMonk

    tODD, I didn’t mean to suggest that the entire election was falsified through the fraud, but rather that there was plenty enough to get people rioting. This election is one of very few presidential elections in their current government to not be so fraud-filled as to be essentially a sham, but there was still lots of fraud.

    There are quite a few news stories that mention the fraud, here’s one. The previous president (same party as Goodluck Jonathan) won by nearly a 4:1 ration – the election was a sham. The winning ratio means nothing.

    He (and his party) are associated with the wealthier classes and the “in-power” party in Nigeria, and this has also been a source of a lot of the anger among the poorer groups in the country. Nigeria is very “socialist” in some respects in that it distributes a lot of the “income” of individuals to them directly from the government. So, when you have a “wealthy party” person win the election as part of the party that has controlled the government since its beginning, the poor people of other parties will possibly/probably be upset because they see it as the wealthy skimming money off into their own pockets, maintaining their own power, and leaving nothing for the poor.

    Then there are the tribal splits and alliances which are so strong in Nigeria. Jonathan being from a far southern tribe while Buhari is from a far northern area.

    And then you have the little detail that Jonathan’s opponent, Buhari, was a former head of state in Nigeria (took power through a coupe, and then was overthrown himself) and is a guy who still has a lot of power and supporters there (though it is fading, it seems).

    Put all of that together, (or really any single piece would do) and an entirely different picture comes out than the ignorantly execrable view that the riots are merely happening because Muslims riot when they don’t like something.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, I didn’t mean to suggest that the entire election was falsified through the fraud, but rather that there was plenty enough to get people rioting. This election is one of very few presidential elections in their current government to not be so fraud-filled as to be essentially a sham, but there was still lots of fraud.

    There are quite a few news stories that mention the fraud, here’s one. The previous president (same party as Goodluck Jonathan) won by nearly a 4:1 ration – the election was a sham. The winning ratio means nothing.

    He (and his party) are associated with the wealthier classes and the “in-power” party in Nigeria, and this has also been a source of a lot of the anger among the poorer groups in the country. Nigeria is very “socialist” in some respects in that it distributes a lot of the “income” of individuals to them directly from the government. So, when you have a “wealthy party” person win the election as part of the party that has controlled the government since its beginning, the poor people of other parties will possibly/probably be upset because they see it as the wealthy skimming money off into their own pockets, maintaining their own power, and leaving nothing for the poor.

    Then there are the tribal splits and alliances which are so strong in Nigeria. Jonathan being from a far southern tribe while Buhari is from a far northern area.

    And then you have the little detail that Jonathan’s opponent, Buhari, was a former head of state in Nigeria (took power through a coupe, and then was overthrown himself) and is a guy who still has a lot of power and supporters there (though it is fading, it seems).

    Put all of that together, (or really any single piece would do) and an entirely different picture comes out than the ignorantly execrable view that the riots are merely happening because Muslims riot when they don’t like something.

  • SKPeterson

    tODD – It was a WSJ piece that I’m going to try to get the weblink to. From what I’ve seen it is available to paid subscribers only, but I’ll mat least get the link and the by-line/date from the article. Maybe I’ll quote some once I relocate the hard copy.

  • SKPeterson

    tODD – It was a WSJ piece that I’m going to try to get the weblink to. From what I’ve seen it is available to paid subscribers only, but I’ll mat least get the link and the by-line/date from the article. Maybe I’ll quote some once I relocate the hard copy.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, here’s a link. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=power+sharing+Nigeria
    :-) Couldn’t help myself!

    There’s a CSMonitor article in those results that mentions it. Also prio.no/sptrans/-1415422889/Nigeria_full_report.pdf has some more detail – a LOT more detail.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, here’s a link. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=power+sharing+Nigeria
    :-) Couldn’t help myself!

    There’s a CSMonitor article in those results that mentions it. Also prio.no/sptrans/-1415422889/Nigeria_full_report.pdf has some more detail – a LOT more detail.

  • Porcell

    Personally, I pay little attention to what goes on in such countries as Nigeria. One knows that wherever there are Muslims fighting will be routine. In Africa this is made more intense due to excessive tribalism.

    Our real problem is that in both Europe and America the militant Islamic terrorists have gained a foothold and mostly by stealth are trying to sell themselves as moderate Islamics, a clear contradiction in terms, as the Koran and Hadith instruct the faithful to slay or make subservient the infidels. Many Americans who for the most part are moderate and optimistic have no idea that they are up against a formidable enemy out to destroy the West.

    Islam from the seventh-century on viewed the Christians and Jews as their enemy. They took over the Middle East, Armenia, North Africa, Spain, the Balkans, part of Italy and France, all the way to Hungary and Vienna until finally they were defeated by a tough-minded Christendom.

    Just now Christendom is badly divided and soft-minded secular liberals are desperately involved in a futile attempt to pacify the Islamic militants. A perfect example of this was Barack Hussein Obama’s feckless Cairo speech to which he invited the Muslim Brotherhood to sit in the front rows.

    Instead of having confidence and pride in superior western civilization, the liberals wallow in guilt and loathing. The Arabs who in truth have contributed little to civilization, as proved by Nobel prizes, are proud and ready to fight, while the West with a long tradition of high civilization has become increasingly supine in spirit and determination.

  • Porcell

    Personally, I pay little attention to what goes on in such countries as Nigeria. One knows that wherever there are Muslims fighting will be routine. In Africa this is made more intense due to excessive tribalism.

    Our real problem is that in both Europe and America the militant Islamic terrorists have gained a foothold and mostly by stealth are trying to sell themselves as moderate Islamics, a clear contradiction in terms, as the Koran and Hadith instruct the faithful to slay or make subservient the infidels. Many Americans who for the most part are moderate and optimistic have no idea that they are up against a formidable enemy out to destroy the West.

    Islam from the seventh-century on viewed the Christians and Jews as their enemy. They took over the Middle East, Armenia, North Africa, Spain, the Balkans, part of Italy and France, all the way to Hungary and Vienna until finally they were defeated by a tough-minded Christendom.

    Just now Christendom is badly divided and soft-minded secular liberals are desperately involved in a futile attempt to pacify the Islamic militants. A perfect example of this was Barack Hussein Obama’s feckless Cairo speech to which he invited the Muslim Brotherhood to sit in the front rows.

    Instead of having confidence and pride in superior western civilization, the liberals wallow in guilt and loathing. The Arabs who in truth have contributed little to civilization, as proved by Nobel prizes, are proud and ready to fight, while the West with a long tradition of high civilization has become increasingly supine in spirit and determination.

  • WebMonk

    Porcell 13,

    Personally, I pay little attention to what goes on in such countries as Nigeria. One knows that wherever there are Muslims fighting will be routine.

    First you proudly declare your intentional ignorance of the topic, and then confidently proclaim “facts” about the exact area you just proclaimed ignorance.

    Did you learn to do such things the same way you learned all about technology from being an administrator of international studies and reading a 40 year old book?

  • WebMonk

    Porcell 13,

    Personally, I pay little attention to what goes on in such countries as Nigeria. One knows that wherever there are Muslims fighting will be routine.

    First you proudly declare your intentional ignorance of the topic, and then confidently proclaim “facts” about the exact area you just proclaimed ignorance.

    Did you learn to do such things the same way you learned all about technology from being an administrator of international studies and reading a 40 year old book?

  • Cincinnatus

    Here’s my daily troll that is nonetheless intended seriously:

    Democracy is a seriously overrated and/or misunderstood institution, and as far as I am concerned, Nigeria can hang itself.

  • Cincinnatus

    Here’s my daily troll that is nonetheless intended seriously:

    Democracy is a seriously overrated and/or misunderstood institution, and as far as I am concerned, Nigeria can hang itself.

  • Porcell

    WebMonk, that forty year old book by Joseph Weizenbaum contains more truth than you’ll ever know. Among your assorted intellectual faults is what C.S. Lewis termed the arrogance of chronology.

  • Porcell

    WebMonk, that forty year old book by Joseph Weizenbaum contains more truth than you’ll ever know. Among your assorted intellectual faults is what C.S. Lewis termed the arrogance of chronology.

  • Abernathy

    Webmonk, more than a smattering of right-thinking Harvard professors echo my savvy conclusion that you have fallen for that feckless Marxist fallacy that foils all fickle fellows who fail to win famous awards. Just sayin’.
    By the way, my wife finds me irresistible. :)

  • Abernathy

    Webmonk, more than a smattering of right-thinking Harvard professors echo my savvy conclusion that you have fallen for that feckless Marxist fallacy that foils all fickle fellows who fail to win famous awards. Just sayin’.
    By the way, my wife finds me irresistible. :)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@16), that forty-year-old book by Joseph Weizenbaum contains all the computer science concepts that Porcell will ever know!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@16), that forty-year-old book by Joseph Weizenbaum contains all the computer science concepts that Porcell will ever know!

  • WebMonk

    Abernathy, I am impressed! You ‘fonate’ with fine flourishes of fantastic frippery!

    (pardon my forced misspelling, I’m not at your level of linguistic mastery)

  • WebMonk

    Abernathy, I am impressed! You ‘fonate’ with fine flourishes of fantastic frippery!

    (pardon my forced misspelling, I’m not at your level of linguistic mastery)

  • Porcell

    Todd, Weizenbaum’s book went well beyond computer “science” into the fields of philosophy, ethics, and intellectual history, though, of course, not having read the book you would be rather ignorant of this. Weizenbaum well knew that weak minds such as yours would be overwhelmed by those oughts and ones dressed up as profound knowledge.

  • Porcell

    Todd, Weizenbaum’s book went well beyond computer “science” into the fields of philosophy, ethics, and intellectual history, though, of course, not having read the book you would be rather ignorant of this. Weizenbaum well knew that weak minds such as yours would be overwhelmed by those oughts and ones dressed up as profound knowledge.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, you don’t understand! Peter was an Administrator of International Studies!!! He probably even used a keyboard back then!!! He communicated with smart people at MIT!!! How dare you question his technological clairvoyance!!!

    He doesn’t need to read any other books. He already knew everything about computers, and what they can and can’t do. He only uses Weizenbaum’s book because he’s trying to communicate in words we lowly ignoramousousouses can understand.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, you don’t understand! Peter was an Administrator of International Studies!!! He probably even used a keyboard back then!!! He communicated with smart people at MIT!!! How dare you question his technological clairvoyance!!!

    He doesn’t need to read any other books. He already knew everything about computers, and what they can and can’t do. He only uses Weizenbaum’s book because he’s trying to communicate in words we lowly ignoramousousouses can understand.

  • Cincinnatus

    Wait, are we seriously arguing the relevance of Weizenbaum to contemporary computer science? Maybe I suffer from a “weak mind,” but wtf?

  • Cincinnatus

    Wait, are we seriously arguing the relevance of Weizenbaum to contemporary computer science? Maybe I suffer from a “weak mind,” but wtf?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But Porcell (@20), according to your own rules, I don’t need to have read the book to know everything about it and be able to pontificate at length on it! I just need to claim superior knowledge and then make fun of those who oppose me, regardless of facts.

    Done and done! I win.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But Porcell (@20), according to your own rules, I don’t need to have read the book to know everything about it and be able to pontificate at length on it! I just need to claim superior knowledge and then make fun of those who oppose me, regardless of facts.

    Done and done! I win.

  • WebMonk

    No Cin, we’re just making fun of Porcell’s almost total ignorance of anything computer-related.

    He read Weizenbaum’s book and seems to have swallowed it as the inerrant Bible of all things computer. He had no clue about computers before he read the book (his self-stated qualification for being a computer expert is that he was an “administrator of international studies at MIT and communicated with” some smart technical guys). He has mangled some concepts from his reading, but continues blathering on. It’s funny, but sort of sad too.

    For example, he used to use his real name on here, Peter Leavitt, but someone stole his credit card number, and so he decided that he couldn’t use his real name on this blog any more.

    Yeah, that’s his level of “knowledge”.

  • WebMonk

    No Cin, we’re just making fun of Porcell’s almost total ignorance of anything computer-related.

    He read Weizenbaum’s book and seems to have swallowed it as the inerrant Bible of all things computer. He had no clue about computers before he read the book (his self-stated qualification for being a computer expert is that he was an “administrator of international studies at MIT and communicated with” some smart technical guys). He has mangled some concepts from his reading, but continues blathering on. It’s funny, but sort of sad too.

    For example, he used to use his real name on here, Peter Leavitt, but someone stole his credit card number, and so he decided that he couldn’t use his real name on this blog any more.

    Yeah, that’s his level of “knowledge”.

  • Porcell

    Small pleasures for small minds.

  • Porcell

    Small pleasures for small minds.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Hackneyed retorts for hacks.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Hackneyed retorts for hacks.

  • Porcell

    Getting back to this thread does anyone question the statement at thirteen that One knows that wherever there are Muslims fighting will be routine. In Africa this is made more intense due to excessive tribalism. While I pay little attention to Nigeria, these seem to be reasonable points.

    Further, among other points that Instead of having confidence and pride in superior western civilization, the liberals wallow in guilt and loathing. The Arabs who in truth have contributed little to civilization, as proved by Nobel prizes, are proud and ready to fight, while the West with a long tradition of high civilization has become increasingly supine in spirit and determination.

  • Porcell

    Getting back to this thread does anyone question the statement at thirteen that One knows that wherever there are Muslims fighting will be routine. In Africa this is made more intense due to excessive tribalism. While I pay little attention to Nigeria, these seem to be reasonable points.

    Further, among other points that Instead of having confidence and pride in superior western civilization, the liberals wallow in guilt and loathing. The Arabs who in truth have contributed little to civilization, as proved by Nobel prizes, are proud and ready to fight, while the West with a long tradition of high civilization has become increasingly supine in spirit and determination.

  • Porcell

    WebMonk, as to level of knowledge, Bror, a while back, had you well pegged as the pretentious, self appointed science guru of this thread; he didn’t buy your credibility; neither do I. On this thread you managed to get matters off topic with no substantial contribution to the topic.

  • Porcell

    WebMonk, as to level of knowledge, Bror, a while back, had you well pegged as the pretentious, self appointed science guru of this thread; he didn’t buy your credibility; neither do I. On this thread you managed to get matters off topic with no substantial contribution to the topic.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@27), how much “fighting” is there in Dearborn, Michigan? What about the world’s most populous Muslim country?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@27), how much “fighting” is there in Dearborn, Michigan? What about the world’s most populous Muslim country?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@28), ooh, ooh! If we’re trusting Bror’s assessment on people’s credibility, let’s ask him about yours! Can we?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@28), ooh, ooh! If we’re trusting Bror’s assessment on people’s credibility, let’s ask him about yours! Can we?

  • SKPeterson

    Well, Porcell, as to the relationship between Nobel prizes and contributions to civilization, lets just say it’s suspect. And Todd, Nigeria is the most populous African nation, but Indonesia is the most populous Muslim state at about 243 million (though there are sizable pockets of Christians, ~20 million or so). There has been a bit of violence there, politically speaking, some of it is related to Islam-Christian tensions, but mostly it is rather due to the parlous condition of Indonesian democracy, probably more akin to Latin American strongman stylings as opposed to the more kleptocratic variety found in Africa.

  • SKPeterson

    Well, Porcell, as to the relationship between Nobel prizes and contributions to civilization, lets just say it’s suspect. And Todd, Nigeria is the most populous African nation, but Indonesia is the most populous Muslim state at about 243 million (though there are sizable pockets of Christians, ~20 million or so). There has been a bit of violence there, politically speaking, some of it is related to Islam-Christian tensions, but mostly it is rather due to the parlous condition of Indonesian democracy, probably more akin to Latin American strongman stylings as opposed to the more kleptocratic variety found in Africa.

  • SKPeterson

    I should add that I’ve never read Weizenbaum, but I once looked at the Windows XP user’s manual.

  • SKPeterson

    I should add that I’ve never read Weizenbaum, but I once looked at the Windows XP user’s manual.

  • Cincinnatus

    I use Linux. I also know basic HTML commands, and sometimes I serf the internet. The word “administrator” may or may not be in my job title. Therefore, I am a computer expert, and, in fact, have had no need to learn anything new about computers for at least the last decade. It’s a relatively basic and static science, after all, provided that one has communicated once or twice with a few “technical guys” at some point in the past. Which I have. So my credibility is unimpeachable.

  • Cincinnatus

    I use Linux. I also know basic HTML commands, and sometimes I serf the internet. The word “administrator” may or may not be in my job title. Therefore, I am a computer expert, and, in fact, have had no need to learn anything new about computers for at least the last decade. It’s a relatively basic and static science, after all, provided that one has communicated once or twice with a few “technical guys” at some point in the past. Which I have. So my credibility is unimpeachable.

  • Cincinnatus

    serf? surf.

  • Cincinnatus

    serf? surf.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@31), yes, I was referring (@29) to Indonesia. I think it serves as a plausible counter-argument to Porcell’s Muslims-are-always-fighting claim.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@31), yes, I was referring (@29) to Indonesia. I think it serves as a plausible counter-argument to Porcell’s Muslims-are-always-fighting claim.

  • SKPeterson

    Cincinnatus is a slave to web technology.

  • SKPeterson

    Cincinnatus is a slave to web technology.

  • Porcell

    Huntington in Clash of Civilizations has a section titled Incidence : Islam’s bloody borders, including a table that shows ethno-political conflicts in 1993-94. Of the intra-civilizatonal conflicts Islam was involved in eleven of thirty among all the civilizations and fifteen out of twenty of the inter-civilization conflicts.

    As to Indonesia, the leader of a radical Muslim group, Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Bakar Bashir, made the following statement in a courtroom:

    We are fighting to turn this country [Indonesia] into an Islamic state and we are willing to die for this goal because creating an Islamic state requires bloodshed.

    Islam is the only major religion founded by a warrior leader; this religion far more than any other involves itself in wars. Huntington knows whereof he speaks when he refers to Islam’s bloody borders.

  • Porcell

    Huntington in Clash of Civilizations has a section titled Incidence : Islam’s bloody borders, including a table that shows ethno-political conflicts in 1993-94. Of the intra-civilizatonal conflicts Islam was involved in eleven of thirty among all the civilizations and fifteen out of twenty of the inter-civilization conflicts.

    As to Indonesia, the leader of a radical Muslim group, Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Bakar Bashir, made the following statement in a courtroom:

    We are fighting to turn this country [Indonesia] into an Islamic state and we are willing to die for this goal because creating an Islamic state requires bloodshed.

    Islam is the only major religion founded by a warrior leader; this religion far more than any other involves itself in wars. Huntington knows whereof he speaks when he refers to Islam’s bloody borders.

  • WebMonk

    Cin 33, please, please, please tell me you were being sarcastic!! Please?

  • WebMonk

    Cin 33, please, please, please tell me you were being sarcastic!! Please?

  • WebMonk

    Oh, and Porcell, forgive me if I’m hardly bothered if people who know next to nothing about computers casting stones at my computer credentials.

    If you wanted to take my job over, I’m sure that you won’t have any trouble quickly getting up to speed on writing code in everything from Perl to Ruby to Java to C++, and developing applications to work at low level network traffic inspection/hacking/routing across multiple platforms while handling encryption and codecs. Oh, toss in some database stuff too for Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, and just a little bit of a LOT of fun with db4o.

  • WebMonk

    Oh, and Porcell, forgive me if I’m hardly bothered if people who know next to nothing about computers casting stones at my computer credentials.

    If you wanted to take my job over, I’m sure that you won’t have any trouble quickly getting up to speed on writing code in everything from Perl to Ruby to Java to C++, and developing applications to work at low level network traffic inspection/hacking/routing across multiple platforms while handling encryption and codecs. Oh, toss in some database stuff too for Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, and just a little bit of a LOT of fun with db4o.

  • Cincinnatus

    Webmonk@38: Was it not obvious enough or is your detector broken?

    Porcell@37: Huntington’s work is widely disregarded by the field of political science for numerous substantive reasons, not least of which is the fact that it’s empirically wrong (not the greatest of which is that it’s blatantly chauvinistic). I note this briefly (very briefly!) only because you cite it on literally every thread that has anything to do–however tenuously–with Islam and/or democracy and/or Western civilization as such. You might try to find other more convincing sources.

    Of course, now I fully expect to have my “ignorance” and “small mind” exposed to the world. No doubt the entire discipline of political science is besotted and enervated by weak, self-flagellating fools who know nothing of actual politics and who vehemently hate anything remotely conservative or “Western.” Furthermore, you, no doubt, have spoken to a few authoritative people in politics at some undefined point in the past, and so your credibility is authoritative and my position in the actual field of political theory counts as nothing. No doubt either you or they had the word “Administrator” attached to their occupational titles at the time.

  • Cincinnatus

    Webmonk@38: Was it not obvious enough or is your detector broken?

    Porcell@37: Huntington’s work is widely disregarded by the field of political science for numerous substantive reasons, not least of which is the fact that it’s empirically wrong (not the greatest of which is that it’s blatantly chauvinistic). I note this briefly (very briefly!) only because you cite it on literally every thread that has anything to do–however tenuously–with Islam and/or democracy and/or Western civilization as such. You might try to find other more convincing sources.

    Of course, now I fully expect to have my “ignorance” and “small mind” exposed to the world. No doubt the entire discipline of political science is besotted and enervated by weak, self-flagellating fools who know nothing of actual politics and who vehemently hate anything remotely conservative or “Western.” Furthermore, you, no doubt, have spoken to a few authoritative people in politics at some undefined point in the past, and so your credibility is authoritative and my position in the actual field of political theory counts as nothing. No doubt either you or they had the word “Administrator” attached to their occupational titles at the time.

  • WebMonk

    Cin, while dealing with Porcell’s statements about computers my sarcasm-o-meter on the topic gets seriously warped. :-D

    Careful pointing out where Porcell is wrong, you’ll be labled pretentious, small-minded, ignorant, etc, and it will be declared that you have no credibility.

    And you know when someone like Porcell declares it, then it must be so! He has some serious cred!

  • WebMonk

    Cin, while dealing with Porcell’s statements about computers my sarcasm-o-meter on the topic gets seriously warped. :-D

    Careful pointing out where Porcell is wrong, you’ll be labled pretentious, small-minded, ignorant, etc, and it will be declared that you have no credibility.

    And you know when someone like Porcell declares it, then it must be so! He has some serious cred!

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, at forty

    Well, you’ve vaguely asserted though hardly proved that Huntington’s work is “disregarded” by the field; same with the assertion that he’s empirically wrong. Who of any importance disregards him and for example are the statistics that I cited at thirty empirically wrong?

    Of The Clash of Civilizations, Kissinger remarked that it is one of the most important books to have emerged since the end of the Cold War. Brzezinski regarded it as An intellectual tour de force, bold, imaginative, and provocative. A seminal work that will revolutionize our understanding of international affairs.

    As to Huntington’s “blatant” chauvinism in Clash of Civilizations, he cautions the West to recognize the reality that some other civilizations are catching up, requiring the West to recognize the reality of a multi-polar civilizational world and to be very careful interfering with the affairs of other civilizations. He warned the West of arrogance about the universality of its own culture and evinced great concern about the moral decline and disunity of the West. How this amounts to blatant chauvinism is hard to understand.

    If you have read the book, what exactly are your criticisms of it?

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, at forty

    Well, you’ve vaguely asserted though hardly proved that Huntington’s work is “disregarded” by the field; same with the assertion that he’s empirically wrong. Who of any importance disregards him and for example are the statistics that I cited at thirty empirically wrong?

    Of The Clash of Civilizations, Kissinger remarked that it is one of the most important books to have emerged since the end of the Cold War. Brzezinski regarded it as An intellectual tour de force, bold, imaginative, and provocative. A seminal work that will revolutionize our understanding of international affairs.

    As to Huntington’s “blatant” chauvinism in Clash of Civilizations, he cautions the West to recognize the reality that some other civilizations are catching up, requiring the West to recognize the reality of a multi-polar civilizational world and to be very careful interfering with the affairs of other civilizations. He warned the West of arrogance about the universality of its own culture and evinced great concern about the moral decline and disunity of the West. How this amounts to blatant chauvinism is hard to understand.

    If you have read the book, what exactly are your criticisms of it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell wrote (@42):

    Of The Clash of Civilizations, Kissinger remarked that it is “one of the most important books to have emerged since the end of the Cold War.” Brzezinski regarded it as “An intellectual tour de force, bold, imaginative, and provocative. A seminal work that will revolutionize our understanding of international affairs.”

    Porcell, you do realize that you are, quite literally, quoting from the blurbs on the back cover of the book? And you believe, somehow, that this amounts to legitimate criticism of the ideas contained therein? Do you even know how such blurbs come to be? Do you think that a book’s marketing materials constitute sufficient basis for your argument as to how it is perceived more widely in the field? Is this how you do all your assessing of arguments — by reading the marketing materials of the one book you’ve read that makes you an expert on the topic?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell wrote (@42):

    Of The Clash of Civilizations, Kissinger remarked that it is “one of the most important books to have emerged since the end of the Cold War.” Brzezinski regarded it as “An intellectual tour de force, bold, imaginative, and provocative. A seminal work that will revolutionize our understanding of international affairs.”

    Porcell, you do realize that you are, quite literally, quoting from the blurbs on the back cover of the book? And you believe, somehow, that this amounts to legitimate criticism of the ideas contained therein? Do you even know how such blurbs come to be? Do you think that a book’s marketing materials constitute sufficient basis for your argument as to how it is perceived more widely in the field? Is this how you do all your assessing of arguments — by reading the marketing materials of the one book you’ve read that makes you an expert on the topic?

  • Porcell

    Actually, I copied the Kissinger and Brzezinski blurbs from the back cover of my book, mainly due to having read the book twice and agreeing with the particular assessments of these scholar statesmen. You might read the book yourself and come up with your own considered assessment instead of nitpicking my assessment.
    .
    I fully understand the purpose of blurbs and discount them until proved by my own critical judgment. In the case of these two scholar- statesmen, I fully agreed with their stated blurb
    assessment. What hard evidence to you possess that contradicts their assessment? Do you suggest that the content of their blurb is insincere or inaccurate?

  • Porcell

    Actually, I copied the Kissinger and Brzezinski blurbs from the back cover of my book, mainly due to having read the book twice and agreeing with the particular assessments of these scholar statesmen. You might read the book yourself and come up with your own considered assessment instead of nitpicking my assessment.
    .
    I fully understand the purpose of blurbs and discount them until proved by my own critical judgment. In the case of these two scholar- statesmen, I fully agreed with their stated blurb
    assessment. What hard evidence to you possess that contradicts their assessment? Do you suggest that the content of their blurb is insincere or inaccurate?

  • Porcell

    WebMonk, at forty-one, I make no pretense regarding technical knowledge of computers, though since the time I had the privilege at M.I.T of knowing Joseph Weizenbaum I have been interested in the debate between Weizenbaum and Marvin Minsky on the subject of artificial intelligence.

    Weizenbaum when a young man was convinced that computers would someday be capable of artificial intelligence, though over-time he became skeptical and did a lot of reading on the subject of mind and intelligence. He came finally to the conclusion that there is a fundamental distinction between mind and intelligence that was best understood by Jewish biblical understanding, though he could never in his own thinking move beyond at best agnosticism. He, a Jew, having been brought up in Berlin in the twenties and thirties, was haunted by the Holocaust of his people, which he attributed fundamentally to scientific materialism. Ironically after a tragic divorce he ended his life in Berlin for which he had a great love.

    Of the first-rate people I have been fortunate enough to know in my time, Weizenbaum is among the very best. He understood computer science well and devoted his life to it, though he, also, understood its limitations and prophetically predicted it would have a corrosive effect on young minds.

    You frankly so far have not articulated a cogent criticism of Weizenbaum; just now shallowly on the basis of chronological arrogance you write him off as forty-year old hat, amply revealing the shallowness of your own mind.

  • Porcell

    WebMonk, at forty-one, I make no pretense regarding technical knowledge of computers, though since the time I had the privilege at M.I.T of knowing Joseph Weizenbaum I have been interested in the debate between Weizenbaum and Marvin Minsky on the subject of artificial intelligence.

    Weizenbaum when a young man was convinced that computers would someday be capable of artificial intelligence, though over-time he became skeptical and did a lot of reading on the subject of mind and intelligence. He came finally to the conclusion that there is a fundamental distinction between mind and intelligence that was best understood by Jewish biblical understanding, though he could never in his own thinking move beyond at best agnosticism. He, a Jew, having been brought up in Berlin in the twenties and thirties, was haunted by the Holocaust of his people, which he attributed fundamentally to scientific materialism. Ironically after a tragic divorce he ended his life in Berlin for which he had a great love.

    Of the first-rate people I have been fortunate enough to know in my time, Weizenbaum is among the very best. He understood computer science well and devoted his life to it, though he, also, understood its limitations and prophetically predicted it would have a corrosive effect on young minds.

    You frankly so far have not articulated a cogent criticism of Weizenbaum; just now shallowly on the basis of chronological arrogance you write him off as forty-year old hat, amply revealing the shallowness of your own mind.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell: I neither attempted nor intended to provide a systematic or thorough critique of Huntington’s work. I’m merely pointing out to you the fact that your repetitive appeals to Clash of Civilizations to “prove” your points is not–or would not be–a credible tactic in a serious debate with a scholar of political science or international relations. These are facts, for better or worse.

    Since you asked, though, my own opinion of the book–having read it, in fact!–is that it is, in short, a much too simplistic picture of global relations and ideologies. It’s yet another attempt to envision the world in hues of black and white, thus obscuring far too many complexities. His monolithic depictions of Western “versus” Muslim “civilizations” are, for example, painfully oversimplified, and are, in my opinion, actually outdated, if not patently incorrect at many points. I have neither the time nor the inclination at the moment to unpack these impressionistic critiques, because, quite frankly, the book isn’t interesting enough to me to merit more of my time. Though I can quote one of my advisors: “It’s an utterly odious book.” Again, I’m not attempting to prove that Huntington is wrong; I’m just noting that, by the vast majority of those concerned with his topic, he is not considered to be authoritative or convincing. In other words, my eyes glaze over and I transition into “internet reading mode,” which involves skimming as fast as I can, when I see the word “Huntington” in your comments. Maybe that’s my problem and not yours, but you’ll never convince me of any point with a mere appeal to Huntington.

    The same goes for Wezenbaum. No one here is trying to “disprove” Weizenbaum–heck, I haven’t read his book, so I can’t even begin to critique his work. I’m sure his assessments of artificial intelligence are fascinating and that he provides intriguing meta-criticisms of the broader field of computer science. But one cannot claim to be an expert in the state-of-the-art of computer science after having read Weizenbaum (and apparently no one and nothing else), regardless of how “first rate” he was as a person. The man died three years ago, for God’s sake. That’s practically a geological eon in the computer world. It’s been less than two years since I worked in IT, and I am not remotely confident in my understanding of computer science in 2011 as opposed to 2009.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell: I neither attempted nor intended to provide a systematic or thorough critique of Huntington’s work. I’m merely pointing out to you the fact that your repetitive appeals to Clash of Civilizations to “prove” your points is not–or would not be–a credible tactic in a serious debate with a scholar of political science or international relations. These are facts, for better or worse.

    Since you asked, though, my own opinion of the book–having read it, in fact!–is that it is, in short, a much too simplistic picture of global relations and ideologies. It’s yet another attempt to envision the world in hues of black and white, thus obscuring far too many complexities. His monolithic depictions of Western “versus” Muslim “civilizations” are, for example, painfully oversimplified, and are, in my opinion, actually outdated, if not patently incorrect at many points. I have neither the time nor the inclination at the moment to unpack these impressionistic critiques, because, quite frankly, the book isn’t interesting enough to me to merit more of my time. Though I can quote one of my advisors: “It’s an utterly odious book.” Again, I’m not attempting to prove that Huntington is wrong; I’m just noting that, by the vast majority of those concerned with his topic, he is not considered to be authoritative or convincing. In other words, my eyes glaze over and I transition into “internet reading mode,” which involves skimming as fast as I can, when I see the word “Huntington” in your comments. Maybe that’s my problem and not yours, but you’ll never convince me of any point with a mere appeal to Huntington.

    The same goes for Wezenbaum. No one here is trying to “disprove” Weizenbaum–heck, I haven’t read his book, so I can’t even begin to critique his work. I’m sure his assessments of artificial intelligence are fascinating and that he provides intriguing meta-criticisms of the broader field of computer science. But one cannot claim to be an expert in the state-of-the-art of computer science after having read Weizenbaum (and apparently no one and nothing else), regardless of how “first rate” he was as a person. The man died three years ago, for God’s sake. That’s practically a geological eon in the computer world. It’s been less than two years since I worked in IT, and I am not remotely confident in my understanding of computer science in 2011 as opposed to 2009.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, that melange at forty-six makes one question whether you seriously read Huntington’s book that actually dealt with the nuances of civilizational differences. No serious critic of Huntington has averred that he sees the world in black and white. You still haven’t cited the specifics of any important critic of the book, though you argued that he is “disregarded” by the “field,” nor have you specified any of his alleged empirical errors.

    Also, far from internet mode, I offered some specific claims of Huntington regarding your claim that Huntington was blatantly chauvinistic that you have come close to refuting. For someone of collegiate academic status, one would expect better.

    As to Weizenbaum, I hardly claimed to be an expert in computer science having known him and read his book. My comments about his work had to with his studied criticism of artificial intelligence and subtle qualitative understanding of the mind.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, that melange at forty-six makes one question whether you seriously read Huntington’s book that actually dealt with the nuances of civilizational differences. No serious critic of Huntington has averred that he sees the world in black and white. You still haven’t cited the specifics of any important critic of the book, though you argued that he is “disregarded” by the “field,” nor have you specified any of his alleged empirical errors.

    Also, far from internet mode, I offered some specific claims of Huntington regarding your claim that Huntington was blatantly chauvinistic that you have come close to refuting. For someone of collegiate academic status, one would expect better.

    As to Weizenbaum, I hardly claimed to be an expert in computer science having known him and read his book. My comments about his work had to with his studied criticism of artificial intelligence and subtle qualitative understanding of the mind.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell,

    First, “melange” is not an insult, though, in addition to your taste for Francophone vocabulary, your new tradition of spelling out numbers does indeed make you appear quite sophisticated–”forty-six” is so much better than our generally accepted custom of @46! I particular appreciate that it takes longer to type, and is more difficult to boot.

    Second, I specifically stated that I was not trying and furthermore would not try to be a “serious critic” of Huntington and that I was not going to expend the effort to “cite the specifics of any important critic of the book.” I was merely stating that as one who lives daily in the world of academia you will not get very far in a debate by appealing to Huntington–and that goes for me as well. I’m merely asking you to trust me on that one. Let me put it simply: I do not buy Huntington’s thesis. Therefore, I am likely to roll my eyes when I see you cite Huntington, as you do often and probably will do again. I’ve read the book, I don’t agree with it, after careful analysis of my own. You can’t magically convince me otherwise by citing Henry Kissinger’s paean to Huntington, or by claiming that he is a “great mind” with a “nuanced” view of the world. I offered a general sketch of my problems with the text. This is neither the time nor the place to engage in a detailed debate of its merits–because, quite frankly, I would find such a debate intensely boring.

    I can, however, prove that Huntington does have “serious critics” who have, actually claimed that he views the world too simplistically. You need to learn from tODD’s Google-fu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clash_of_Civilizations#Criticism

    Not all of the critiques in the above piece are valid, but they exist. In short, though I loathe essentially everything Edward Said has ever written, I have to agree with him when he claims that Huntington’s thesis represents a “reductive and vulgar notion.” Empirical errors? Let’s start by noting the fact that there is no such thing as a monolithic Western civilization.

    My only point, Porcell, is that I do not find Huntington convincing. I’ve read the book, furthermore, so merely quoting from the self-same book isn’t likely to reappraise my assessment of Huntington and the world. Think of it like this: I have a professor who unmitigatedly hates Plato’s Republic–a book he has read and taught many times. I’m not likely, therefore, to convince him of Plato’s merits by quoting incessantly from the Republic and citing a favorable book review by Allan Bloom.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell,

    First, “melange” is not an insult, though, in addition to your taste for Francophone vocabulary, your new tradition of spelling out numbers does indeed make you appear quite sophisticated–”forty-six” is so much better than our generally accepted custom of @46! I particular appreciate that it takes longer to type, and is more difficult to boot.

    Second, I specifically stated that I was not trying and furthermore would not try to be a “serious critic” of Huntington and that I was not going to expend the effort to “cite the specifics of any important critic of the book.” I was merely stating that as one who lives daily in the world of academia you will not get very far in a debate by appealing to Huntington–and that goes for me as well. I’m merely asking you to trust me on that one. Let me put it simply: I do not buy Huntington’s thesis. Therefore, I am likely to roll my eyes when I see you cite Huntington, as you do often and probably will do again. I’ve read the book, I don’t agree with it, after careful analysis of my own. You can’t magically convince me otherwise by citing Henry Kissinger’s paean to Huntington, or by claiming that he is a “great mind” with a “nuanced” view of the world. I offered a general sketch of my problems with the text. This is neither the time nor the place to engage in a detailed debate of its merits–because, quite frankly, I would find such a debate intensely boring.

    I can, however, prove that Huntington does have “serious critics” who have, actually claimed that he views the world too simplistically. You need to learn from tODD’s Google-fu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clash_of_Civilizations#Criticism

    Not all of the critiques in the above piece are valid, but they exist. In short, though I loathe essentially everything Edward Said has ever written, I have to agree with him when he claims that Huntington’s thesis represents a “reductive and vulgar notion.” Empirical errors? Let’s start by noting the fact that there is no such thing as a monolithic Western civilization.

    My only point, Porcell, is that I do not find Huntington convincing. I’ve read the book, furthermore, so merely quoting from the self-same book isn’t likely to reappraise my assessment of Huntington and the world. Think of it like this: I have a professor who unmitigatedly hates Plato’s Republic–a book he has read and taught many times. I’m not likely, therefore, to convince him of Plato’s merits by quoting incessantly from the Republic and citing a favorable book review by Allan Bloom.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, you have to be kidding, a Wikipedia article, Said, and a report from some provincial precinct of academia as serious criticism of Huntington.

    Regarding Said, you might read the classical scholar, Bruce Thornton, the classical scholars’s review of Ibn Warrq’s book Golden Thread including:

    So too with racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christian bigotry, Arab imperialism, and the Muslim violence that has claimed millions of Muslim victims: Said ignores all of these as he castigates the West. Yet the practice of universal human evils cannot be what makes the West exceptional. Rather, the West’s uniqueness lies in its identification of them as evils, to resist and eliminate. To attack the West outside the context of what all states and peoples have done is simplistic bigotry.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, you have to be kidding, a Wikipedia article, Said, and a report from some provincial precinct of academia as serious criticism of Huntington.

    Regarding Said, you might read the classical scholar, Bruce Thornton, the classical scholars’s review of Ibn Warrq’s book Golden Thread including:

    So too with racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christian bigotry, Arab imperialism, and the Muslim violence that has claimed millions of Muslim victims: Said ignores all of these as he castigates the West. Yet the practice of universal human evils cannot be what makes the West exceptional. Rather, the West’s uniqueness lies in its identification of them as evils, to resist and eliminate. To attack the West outside the context of what all states and peoples have done is simplistic bigotry.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@42), one reason it is so often tedious to respond to your arguments — and why you are so often mocked for them, in case you hadn’t noticed — is that they are little more than appeals to authority.

    Rare is the occasion when you actually claim an argument for yourself, stating it in your own words, perhaps putting a little of your own thought into it. No, instead, we are treated to a long series of quotes and allusions to longer works, whatever the topic.

    Of course, no man is an island, and we all stand on the shoulders of giants, or any other number of applicable cliched qualifications to the above.

    But what makes this tactic of yours so tedious is that you so rarely show yourself capable of defending these arguments of others that you put forth. Instead of a debate over ideas, it all becomes a debate about the particular authority you fancy so.

    So when you cite Clash of Civilizations, you bolster your claim (@37) with the circular “Huntington knows whereof he speaks when he refers to Islam’s bloody borders.” And when Cincinnatus challenges your favored authority (and it is rare that you have more than one authority to appeal to in a given field, such that nearly every conversation that is tangentially related to computers results in your quoting Weizenbaum, even if you often misspell his name), you merely take the appeal to authority to the next level, defending Huntington’s qualifications by … appealing to the next level of authorities, Kissinger and Brzezinski, vis-a-vis the book’s marketing copy.

    Meanwhile, you completely fail to defend, much less address, the question of whether counting Nobel Prizes is a reasonable tactic for determining a religion’s value.

    And I still can’t believe that you thought literally quoting from the back cover of the book would be in any way persuasive to those you’re trying to convince. Of course you agreed with the blurbs — you agreed with the book they were meant to make you buy! That, in sum total, appears to be your contribution here: you agree with this book. And we should all read it, apparently.

    But don’t try to make your argument more than that, challenging us to respond to the book’s claims. I know what comes next. You’ll say, “You haven’t even begun to seriously address his claims that all serious political scientists well understand!”

    In short, you’d save us all a lot of time next discussion if you just wrote something like, “I read this book and thought it had a lot of good arguments” — even if, especially if, you don’t otherwise know much about the topic.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@42), one reason it is so often tedious to respond to your arguments — and why you are so often mocked for them, in case you hadn’t noticed — is that they are little more than appeals to authority.

    Rare is the occasion when you actually claim an argument for yourself, stating it in your own words, perhaps putting a little of your own thought into it. No, instead, we are treated to a long series of quotes and allusions to longer works, whatever the topic.

    Of course, no man is an island, and we all stand on the shoulders of giants, or any other number of applicable cliched qualifications to the above.

    But what makes this tactic of yours so tedious is that you so rarely show yourself capable of defending these arguments of others that you put forth. Instead of a debate over ideas, it all becomes a debate about the particular authority you fancy so.

    So when you cite Clash of Civilizations, you bolster your claim (@37) with the circular “Huntington knows whereof he speaks when he refers to Islam’s bloody borders.” And when Cincinnatus challenges your favored authority (and it is rare that you have more than one authority to appeal to in a given field, such that nearly every conversation that is tangentially related to computers results in your quoting Weizenbaum, even if you often misspell his name), you merely take the appeal to authority to the next level, defending Huntington’s qualifications by … appealing to the next level of authorities, Kissinger and Brzezinski, vis-a-vis the book’s marketing copy.

    Meanwhile, you completely fail to defend, much less address, the question of whether counting Nobel Prizes is a reasonable tactic for determining a religion’s value.

    And I still can’t believe that you thought literally quoting from the back cover of the book would be in any way persuasive to those you’re trying to convince. Of course you agreed with the blurbs — you agreed with the book they were meant to make you buy! That, in sum total, appears to be your contribution here: you agree with this book. And we should all read it, apparently.

    But don’t try to make your argument more than that, challenging us to respond to the book’s claims. I know what comes next. You’ll say, “You haven’t even begun to seriously address his claims that all serious political scientists well understand!”

    In short, you’d save us all a lot of time next discussion if you just wrote something like, “I read this book and thought it had a lot of good arguments” — even if, especially if, you don’t otherwise know much about the topic.

  • SKPeterson

    I will say though that Said’s criticism of Huntington was also rather shallow, and his anti-Orientalism theses have been accepted as much out of pro-Palestinian emotion as to argumentative merit. I would say that Said pointed out that Huntington had driven into a ditch while simultaneously driving into one on the other side of the road.

  • SKPeterson

    I will say though that Said’s criticism of Huntington was also rather shallow, and his anti-Orientalism theses have been accepted as much out of pro-Palestinian emotion as to argumentative merit. I would say that Said pointed out that Huntington had driven into a ditch while simultaneously driving into one on the other side of the road.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wow, Porcell, well done. In the time that I was writing my last comment (@50), you actually managed to write a comment (@49) that more or less typifies exactly what I was talking about:

    Cincinnatus, you have to be kidding, a Wikipedia article, Said, and a report from some provincial precinct of academia as serious criticism of Huntington.

    I mean, that’s just … pure you.

    Let’s see, we have the association of the word “serious” with anything aligned with you, check. Tossing in unsubstantiated pejoratives (“provincial”), just because, check. And, but of course, unexamined appeals to authority (or, in the case of Wikipedia, a lack thereof), check.

    As to the last element, had you even bothered to follow Cincinnatus’ link (@48), you might have noticed there are these things called footnotes. And a full 12 of the article’s 22 footnotes are dedicated to works which criticize, in part or whole, Huntington’s book. You will note that 11 of those are not to be found online, but are in fact from fairly serious journals. Oh, but why pay attention to all that when you can merely dismiss the entire point by sniffing at Wikipedia? (Which, as it happens, merely makes me think that you don’t know how Wikipedia, or possibly encyclopedias in general, work.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wow, Porcell, well done. In the time that I was writing my last comment (@50), you actually managed to write a comment (@49) that more or less typifies exactly what I was talking about:

    Cincinnatus, you have to be kidding, a Wikipedia article, Said, and a report from some provincial precinct of academia as serious criticism of Huntington.

    I mean, that’s just … pure you.

    Let’s see, we have the association of the word “serious” with anything aligned with you, check. Tossing in unsubstantiated pejoratives (“provincial”), just because, check. And, but of course, unexamined appeals to authority (or, in the case of Wikipedia, a lack thereof), check.

    As to the last element, had you even bothered to follow Cincinnatus’ link (@48), you might have noticed there are these things called footnotes. And a full 12 of the article’s 22 footnotes are dedicated to works which criticize, in part or whole, Huntington’s book. You will note that 11 of those are not to be found online, but are in fact from fairly serious journals. Oh, but why pay attention to all that when you can merely dismiss the entire point by sniffing at Wikipedia? (Which, as it happens, merely makes me think that you don’t know how Wikipedia, or possibly encyclopedias in general, work.)

  • SKPeterson

    Here is a lecture by Said in reference to Huntington’s thesis. Google says it will be removed on April 29th, so move quickly.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6705627964658699201#

  • SKPeterson

    Here is a lecture by Said in reference to Huntington’s thesis. Google says it will be removed on April 29th, so move quickly.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6705627964658699201#

  • Stephen

    Oh the glee and the sport of it all! Such love do I feel at this moment. Sheer joy!………….Skreeeechh!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry, not sure what happened. What was the topic? Ah yes, Nigeria – Christians, Muslims, compatibility with democracy, etc. I saw a woman in a full black burka the other day following her husband into Lowes with the kids. It was a new sight. It occured to me that I know so little about Muslims beyond a kind of pastiche of things I have read, images in the media, and all the noise of the past several years. My actual experience however, is really quite small. And I have actually travelled a bit, and still I do not really know Muslim people. They are really still quite mysterious to me in the sense that I have not had more than a customary or polite conversation with a Musilm that I can recall. I’ve never hada Muslim friend or close coworker.

    When I was a teenager, I worked in a catfish restaurant busing tables and washing dishes and all the cooks were Iranians. They were nice guys. This was just before the embassy in Tehran was taken over. After that time, in the college town were I grew up, the Middle Eastern students seem to thin out quite a bit.

    The point of all that is that we make these assessments about the aims of Islam based on what Muslims do or do not do in one place or the other. This affirms our sense that they are the heathens we believe them to be. But there are so many other factors at play as others have pointed out. Would we want Iraqis to judge Christianity by the half-million or so people that have died in the so called liberation of their country? Not to stir up a debate, but if we judged Christianity by its history, it may come up just as short morally, and indeed it does if you surf the atheist and agnostic sites that criticize it for not walking its talk.

    But more to the comments of Dr. Veith, consider this – maybe Christianity is no more compatible with democracy than Islam. It certainly seems to be fading in significance in our country. And from the beginning of this country, it was clear that religion was to be set aside in one sense. Our Constitution expresses a prejudice in regards to religion. Whether that is for or against I guess is the issue, but it does seem to be a prejudice toward that one thing. The founders believed that Reason would be that arbitor of truth in this land not faith.

    Weigh in Cinncinatus and help me out. Is there anything to that? Maybe Christianity is necessarily theocratic. I don’t know.. Maybe. Islam wants it that way. Maybe Christians deep down do too.

    And oh yeah, I work on Mac and PC, so there!

  • Stephen

    Oh the glee and the sport of it all! Such love do I feel at this moment. Sheer joy!………….Skreeeechh!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry, not sure what happened. What was the topic? Ah yes, Nigeria – Christians, Muslims, compatibility with democracy, etc. I saw a woman in a full black burka the other day following her husband into Lowes with the kids. It was a new sight. It occured to me that I know so little about Muslims beyond a kind of pastiche of things I have read, images in the media, and all the noise of the past several years. My actual experience however, is really quite small. And I have actually travelled a bit, and still I do not really know Muslim people. They are really still quite mysterious to me in the sense that I have not had more than a customary or polite conversation with a Musilm that I can recall. I’ve never hada Muslim friend or close coworker.

    When I was a teenager, I worked in a catfish restaurant busing tables and washing dishes and all the cooks were Iranians. They were nice guys. This was just before the embassy in Tehran was taken over. After that time, in the college town were I grew up, the Middle Eastern students seem to thin out quite a bit.

    The point of all that is that we make these assessments about the aims of Islam based on what Muslims do or do not do in one place or the other. This affirms our sense that they are the heathens we believe them to be. But there are so many other factors at play as others have pointed out. Would we want Iraqis to judge Christianity by the half-million or so people that have died in the so called liberation of their country? Not to stir up a debate, but if we judged Christianity by its history, it may come up just as short morally, and indeed it does if you surf the atheist and agnostic sites that criticize it for not walking its talk.

    But more to the comments of Dr. Veith, consider this – maybe Christianity is no more compatible with democracy than Islam. It certainly seems to be fading in significance in our country. And from the beginning of this country, it was clear that religion was to be set aside in one sense. Our Constitution expresses a prejudice in regards to religion. Whether that is for or against I guess is the issue, but it does seem to be a prejudice toward that one thing. The founders believed that Reason would be that arbitor of truth in this land not faith.

    Weigh in Cinncinatus and help me out. Is there anything to that? Maybe Christianity is necessarily theocratic. I don’t know.. Maybe. Islam wants it that way. Maybe Christians deep down do too.

    And oh yeah, I work on Mac and PC, so there!

  • Porcell

    Todd, at fifty, If you followed this thread, you would notice at post thirteen I spoke directly to the issue of the thread without adducing any authority. I mentioned paying little attention to African issues, though it is obvious that Nigeria with its fighting Islamic population along with tribalism is involved in yet another Islamic war, something that none of you have refuted. You and WebMonk brought up the issue of issue of Weizenbaum.[Correct spelling, as usual].

    When you questioned my assessment of warring Islam, I brought in Huntington’s analysis of Islam’s bloody borders, to which Cincinnatus responded with a snarky attack on Huntington that I responded to with an analysis of Huntington’s book.

    I was taught from the Groton School on that one’s own opinions are worthless unless supported with authoritative sources. Only when really knowing sources may one branch out with his own thesis. Managing and partly owning a business, I fired people who couldn’t back up their views with at least a decent interpretation of authority. The Christian religion is based on the authoritative Word of the Bible, however variously and reasonably interpreted.

    In your case being rather ill read you apparently enjoy pontificating on your own authority, usually about some nitpicking issue of little relevance to the discussion. We rarely know what your real views are on issues, though to use one example I’m sure you’re a rather ordinary leftist, however clever you think you are at disguising this.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at fifty, If you followed this thread, you would notice at post thirteen I spoke directly to the issue of the thread without adducing any authority. I mentioned paying little attention to African issues, though it is obvious that Nigeria with its fighting Islamic population along with tribalism is involved in yet another Islamic war, something that none of you have refuted. You and WebMonk brought up the issue of issue of Weizenbaum.[Correct spelling, as usual].

    When you questioned my assessment of warring Islam, I brought in Huntington’s analysis of Islam’s bloody borders, to which Cincinnatus responded with a snarky attack on Huntington that I responded to with an analysis of Huntington’s book.

    I was taught from the Groton School on that one’s own opinions are worthless unless supported with authoritative sources. Only when really knowing sources may one branch out with his own thesis. Managing and partly owning a business, I fired people who couldn’t back up their views with at least a decent interpretation of authority. The Christian religion is based on the authoritative Word of the Bible, however variously and reasonably interpreted.

    In your case being rather ill read you apparently enjoy pontificating on your own authority, usually about some nitpicking issue of little relevance to the discussion. We rarely know what your real views are on issues, though to use one example I’m sure you’re a rather ordinary leftist, however clever you think you are at disguising this.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell, on what grounds–on what “authority,” if I may–are you asserting that tODD is “rather ill read”? I can assure you that having read Huntington does not make on “well read,” and an absence of Huntington in one’s education is not an appropriate gauge of literacy or intellectual curiosity.

    But I didn’t go to Groton, and I’m out here in the provinces, so what would I know?

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell, on what grounds–on what “authority,” if I may–are you asserting that tODD is “rather ill read”? I can assure you that having read Huntington does not make on “well read,” and an absence of Huntington in one’s education is not an appropriate gauge of literacy or intellectual curiosity.

    But I didn’t go to Groton, and I’m out here in the provinces, so what would I know?

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, Todd rarely backs up his arguments with authoritative sources. I frankly can’t remember any such example. The only authority for this would be extensive reading of his posts on this blog. If you have any convincing evidence to the contrary, I should be glad to reconsider my view.

    As to living in the provinces, I should say that Lincoln, who grew up in Kentucky and Indiana with exceedingly little formal education, is our greatest president; a professor of mine regarded his Gettysburg address on a level with Pericles’ funeral oration.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, Todd rarely backs up his arguments with authoritative sources. I frankly can’t remember any such example. The only authority for this would be extensive reading of his posts on this blog. If you have any convincing evidence to the contrary, I should be glad to reconsider my view.

    As to living in the provinces, I should say that Lincoln, who grew up in Kentucky and Indiana with exceedingly little formal education, is our greatest president; a professor of mine regarded his Gettysburg address on a level with Pericles’ funeral oration.

  • Cincinnatus

    Observing that tODD seldom cites “authoritative” sources to back up his arguments is a) patently false, as he frequently refers to empirical studies and statistics to bolster empirical claims when necessary and b) dispositive: one needn’t litter a blog post–recall that we aren’t authoring scholarly treatises here, but blog posts–to offer a compelling argument. Nor is it evidence that he is “ill read.” He appears quite literate to me, so I prefer to evaluate his arguments–and yours–on their own grounds. You’ll notice that I infrequently offer specific citations in this venue as well. Am I “ill read” due to that fact?

    In the end, I think you misunderstand the uses and abuses of authority. When I am writing a paper on political theory, I don’t cite or quote Plato because he’s Plato and, by golly, must therefore be right and convincing. I cite Plato because I think he makes a convincing argument. If he doesn’t make a convincing argument–indeed, if no one makes a convincing argument that accords with my own–I cite no one. That doesn’t make my claims invalid. If my professor responded by saying that “this is wrong,” I can’t counter convincingly by insisting, “But he’s Plato and he’s an authority!!” We’re engaging in speculative political deliberations, not scientific experiments. Samuel Huntington, for instance, doesn’t constitute “data” that “proves” your prejudices regarding Muslim civilization. He merely says it better than you can, presumably. But his argument doesn’t automatically stand because he’s Samuel Huntington. His argument stands because he is correct (which I don’t think he is, but his name and the fact that he is an “authority” is largely irrelevant).

  • Cincinnatus

    Observing that tODD seldom cites “authoritative” sources to back up his arguments is a) patently false, as he frequently refers to empirical studies and statistics to bolster empirical claims when necessary and b) dispositive: one needn’t litter a blog post–recall that we aren’t authoring scholarly treatises here, but blog posts–to offer a compelling argument. Nor is it evidence that he is “ill read.” He appears quite literate to me, so I prefer to evaluate his arguments–and yours–on their own grounds. You’ll notice that I infrequently offer specific citations in this venue as well. Am I “ill read” due to that fact?

    In the end, I think you misunderstand the uses and abuses of authority. When I am writing a paper on political theory, I don’t cite or quote Plato because he’s Plato and, by golly, must therefore be right and convincing. I cite Plato because I think he makes a convincing argument. If he doesn’t make a convincing argument–indeed, if no one makes a convincing argument that accords with my own–I cite no one. That doesn’t make my claims invalid. If my professor responded by saying that “this is wrong,” I can’t counter convincingly by insisting, “But he’s Plato and he’s an authority!!” We’re engaging in speculative political deliberations, not scientific experiments. Samuel Huntington, for instance, doesn’t constitute “data” that “proves” your prejudices regarding Muslim civilization. He merely says it better than you can, presumably. But his argument doesn’t automatically stand because he’s Samuel Huntington. His argument stands because he is correct (which I don’t think he is, but his name and the fact that he is an “authority” is largely irrelevant).

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, first, Todd does cite statistics and other data from contemporary, mainly internet, sources. That’s something far different from citing knowledge from classically authoritative authors.

    Your view that I merely defer to classic authoritative sources is a mistaken caricature. Note that on this thread I was careful to provide a specific analysis of Huntington’s views as opposed to simply claiming his authority. I asked you to specifically back up your claim that Huntington is “disregarded” by the “field,” to which you didn’t respond.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, first, Todd does cite statistics and other data from contemporary, mainly internet, sources. That’s something far different from citing knowledge from classically authoritative authors.

    Your view that I merely defer to classic authoritative sources is a mistaken caricature. Note that on this thread I was careful to provide a specific analysis of Huntington’s views as opposed to simply claiming his authority. I asked you to specifically back up your claim that Huntington is “disregarded” by the “field,” to which you didn’t respond.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@55), I will start with the low-hanging fruit. You said, “You and WebMonk brought up the issue of issue of Weizenbaum.[Correct spelling, as usual].”

    C’mon, Peter, even if your memory is that bad (it was all of two months ago), Google’s isn’t.

    “Wezenbaum” geneveith.com/2011/02/17/updates/#comment-107367

    “Wezenbaum” geneveith.com/2011/02/17/updates/#comment-107393

    “Weizenbaun” geneveith.com/2011/02/17/updates/#comment-107403

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@55), I will start with the low-hanging fruit. You said, “You and WebMonk brought up the issue of issue of Weizenbaum.[Correct spelling, as usual].”

    C’mon, Peter, even if your memory is that bad (it was all of two months ago), Google’s isn’t.

    “Wezenbaum” geneveith.com/2011/02/17/updates/#comment-107367

    “Wezenbaum” geneveith.com/2011/02/17/updates/#comment-107393

    “Weizenbaun” geneveith.com/2011/02/17/updates/#comment-107403

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, Porcell (@55), yes, your original comment here (@13) was in fact free of appeals to authority. Congratulations? It was also so stuffed full of your usual objects of tirade (railing against moderate Islam, secular liberals, and Obama, with would-be tough talk and not a little bit of a nod towards your opinions on the racial superiority of the Jews) that it almost appeared more of a satire of your usual comments than a legitimate argument.

    Of course, it was only when Webmonk pointed out (@14) your tendency to pontificate on those topics you are — even by your own admission — ignorant of that you began your typical appeals to authority, first with respect to computer science and then with respect to Islam.

    Of course, you ignored my response (@29) to your assertion, and have continued to do so. You claim that “none of us have refuted” your inchoate claim that Nigeria is somehow involved in “yet another Islamic war”, but, well, what exactly is your point? Does every riot — no matter to what degree it may have legitimate reason to exist — constitute a “war” in your mind? That’s your problem.

    But it’s obvious, as I’ve already noted, that your claim (@27) that “wherever there are Muslims fighting will be routine” is false. It’s also obvious that you have no interest in considering how an equally vapid, sweeping statement like that could equally be applied to Christians. Or did you accidentally overlook the war or two that took place somewhere in Europe during the time of “Christendom”? But then, such data hardly fits your Culture War worldview, so why would you pay attention to it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, Porcell (@55), yes, your original comment here (@13) was in fact free of appeals to authority. Congratulations? It was also so stuffed full of your usual objects of tirade (railing against moderate Islam, secular liberals, and Obama, with would-be tough talk and not a little bit of a nod towards your opinions on the racial superiority of the Jews) that it almost appeared more of a satire of your usual comments than a legitimate argument.

    Of course, it was only when Webmonk pointed out (@14) your tendency to pontificate on those topics you are — even by your own admission — ignorant of that you began your typical appeals to authority, first with respect to computer science and then with respect to Islam.

    Of course, you ignored my response (@29) to your assertion, and have continued to do so. You claim that “none of us have refuted” your inchoate claim that Nigeria is somehow involved in “yet another Islamic war”, but, well, what exactly is your point? Does every riot — no matter to what degree it may have legitimate reason to exist — constitute a “war” in your mind? That’s your problem.

    But it’s obvious, as I’ve already noted, that your claim (@27) that “wherever there are Muslims fighting will be routine” is false. It’s also obvious that you have no interest in considering how an equally vapid, sweeping statement like that could equally be applied to Christians. Or did you accidentally overlook the war or two that took place somewhere in Europe during the time of “Christendom”? But then, such data hardly fits your Culture War worldview, so why would you pay attention to it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    To continue, Porcell, to claim as you did (@55) that you “responded to with an analysis of Huntington’s book” seems to merely state the problem: that you consider appeals to authority vis-a-vis marketing blurbs to be some sort of “analysis”. It’s not.

    Nor is your just happening to mention “the Groton School” likely to impress anyone, any more than did your frequent erstwhile references to Harvard. Tell me that wasn’t yet another appeal to authority, or at least to status.

    Of course, you frequently blame your teachers for your rhetorical tics, as when you blamed some professor or other for your admitted habit of never admitting when you know you’re wrong, or even when you’re bluffing. At some point, you have to take responsibility for your own actions, or even show that you are capable of assessing on your own whether what you were taught — assuming you are even recalling that correctly — was a lesson worth adhering to for the rest of your life. I mean, come on, Porcell, you’re over 70! They probably also taught you about Upper Volta at Groton, but at some point, you may have noticed things changed.

    That said, there is some truth to your statement that “one’s own opinions are worthless unless supported with authoritative sources” — provided that by “opinions” you refer to those ideas that are not in any way falsifiable. But you routinely fail to notice that one’s own arguments stand or fall on their own merits, regardless of what famous person did or did not agree with you.

    As to my being “ill read”, I feel no particular need to defend myself on that front. Of course, it is an example of your tendency to make sweeping assumptions out of nothing more than a need to insult — how could you reasonably know what I have or haven’t read? But since I don’t read as much as I wish I did, nor will I really protest the insult, all the same.

    Of course, many of your comments serve as an example of why it’s necessary to not only read important works, but to understand them, if one is to rely on them. And you have frequently shown that, while you can name drop (and yes, you do name drop; frequently) all manner of lovely titles, yet your comprehension is not nearly so illustrious as the books themselves. I recall one particular attempt of yours to tell me that a Catholic document said pretty much the opposite of what you claimed it did. And, of course, though you have repeatedly referred to reading Horton’s latest tome, as well as various Lutheran works, yet you still make the ludicrous claim that there isn’t much difference between Lutheranism and Calvinism. Again, just because you’ve read it doesn’t mean that you’re convincing us of your understanding of it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    To continue, Porcell, to claim as you did (@55) that you “responded to with an analysis of Huntington’s book” seems to merely state the problem: that you consider appeals to authority vis-a-vis marketing blurbs to be some sort of “analysis”. It’s not.

    Nor is your just happening to mention “the Groton School” likely to impress anyone, any more than did your frequent erstwhile references to Harvard. Tell me that wasn’t yet another appeal to authority, or at least to status.

    Of course, you frequently blame your teachers for your rhetorical tics, as when you blamed some professor or other for your admitted habit of never admitting when you know you’re wrong, or even when you’re bluffing. At some point, you have to take responsibility for your own actions, or even show that you are capable of assessing on your own whether what you were taught — assuming you are even recalling that correctly — was a lesson worth adhering to for the rest of your life. I mean, come on, Porcell, you’re over 70! They probably also taught you about Upper Volta at Groton, but at some point, you may have noticed things changed.

    That said, there is some truth to your statement that “one’s own opinions are worthless unless supported with authoritative sources” — provided that by “opinions” you refer to those ideas that are not in any way falsifiable. But you routinely fail to notice that one’s own arguments stand or fall on their own merits, regardless of what famous person did or did not agree with you.

    As to my being “ill read”, I feel no particular need to defend myself on that front. Of course, it is an example of your tendency to make sweeping assumptions out of nothing more than a need to insult — how could you reasonably know what I have or haven’t read? But since I don’t read as much as I wish I did, nor will I really protest the insult, all the same.

    Of course, many of your comments serve as an example of why it’s necessary to not only read important works, but to understand them, if one is to rely on them. And you have frequently shown that, while you can name drop (and yes, you do name drop; frequently) all manner of lovely titles, yet your comprehension is not nearly so illustrious as the books themselves. I recall one particular attempt of yours to tell me that a Catholic document said pretty much the opposite of what you claimed it did. And, of course, though you have repeatedly referred to reading Horton’s latest tome, as well as various Lutheran works, yet you still make the ludicrous claim that there isn’t much difference between Lutheranism and Calvinism. Again, just because you’ve read it doesn’t mean that you’re convincing us of your understanding of it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Continuing … (I was busy yesterday)

    Porcell said (@57)

    As to living in the provinces, I should say that Lincoln, who grew up in Kentucky and Indiana with exceedingly little formal education, is our greatest president; a professor of mine regarded his Gettysburg address on a level with Pericles’ funeral oration.

    I don’t know why you think anyone here cares what a professor of yours supposedly thought. We obviously don’t even know who he is, so why should his opinion matter to us?

    Regardless, you seem to have missed Cincinnatus’ (@56) sarcastic remark about being “out here in the provinces”. It was aimed at you, and your tendency to employ geographic references (to say nothing of ethnicity!) as some sort of legitimate rhetorical counterargument. Or have you already forgotten that you mocked (@49) Cincinnatus’ “report from some provincial precinct of academia”?

    But no, you missed his point and ended up defending “living in the provinces” — at least, with respect to Lincoln’s life. Which just makes your earlier “provincial” snarl at Cincinnatus all the more ridiculous.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Continuing … (I was busy yesterday)

    Porcell said (@57)

    As to living in the provinces, I should say that Lincoln, who grew up in Kentucky and Indiana with exceedingly little formal education, is our greatest president; a professor of mine regarded his Gettysburg address on a level with Pericles’ funeral oration.

    I don’t know why you think anyone here cares what a professor of yours supposedly thought. We obviously don’t even know who he is, so why should his opinion matter to us?

    Regardless, you seem to have missed Cincinnatus’ (@56) sarcastic remark about being “out here in the provinces”. It was aimed at you, and your tendency to employ geographic references (to say nothing of ethnicity!) as some sort of legitimate rhetorical counterargument. Or have you already forgotten that you mocked (@49) Cincinnatus’ “report from some provincial precinct of academia”?

    But no, you missed his point and ended up defending “living in the provinces” — at least, with respect to Lincoln’s life. Which just makes your earlier “provincial” snarl at Cincinnatus all the more ridiculous.

  • Porcell

    Todd, wake up and die right. On this thread, I made some perfectly reasonable arguments with and without authoritative support until in order Webmonk, you, and Cincinnatus came in with assorted personal attacks. Essentially, unable to rationally make your own arguments, you engaged in what amounted to a bunch of tawdry ad hominem attacks. My only regret is wasting time defending these attacks.

  • Porcell

    Todd, wake up and die right. On this thread, I made some perfectly reasonable arguments with and without authoritative support until in order Webmonk, you, and Cincinnatus came in with assorted personal attacks. Essentially, unable to rationally make your own arguments, you engaged in what amounted to a bunch of tawdry ad hominem attacks. My only regret is wasting time defending these attacks.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcel (@64), when you — who routinely resort to personal slurs based on nothing more than the fact that you disagree; you who attack people based on nothing more than their ethnicity or nationality, not their arguments, and feel justified in doing so; you who toss out random pejoratives as some sort of rhetorical tactic — complain about “personal attacks”, then I know you truly have nothing to say in response to that which has been directed your way.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcel (@64), when you — who routinely resort to personal slurs based on nothing more than the fact that you disagree; you who attack people based on nothing more than their ethnicity or nationality, not their arguments, and feel justified in doing so; you who toss out random pejoratives as some sort of rhetorical tactic — complain about “personal attacks”, then I know you truly have nothing to say in response to that which has been directed your way.

  • Porcell

    Todd,on this thread and others, I get personal only when attacked. With people like you, who when defeated in rational argument hurl slanderous remarks, I’m happy to respond in kind on an ad hominem basis.

  • Porcell

    Todd,on this thread and others, I get personal only when attacked. With people like you, who when defeated in rational argument hurl slanderous remarks, I’m happy to respond in kind on an ad hominem basis.

  • Porcell

    My ethnic remark – in response to your personal attacks- about your Teutonic proclivity was based solely on your obsessive tendency to catalog my past remarks on this blog. How else might one explain such a tendency? In college I knew a German fellow in my house who had great difficulty seeing the forest through the trees.

    Also, I should have hardly made such a remark unless you had so habitually searched my past posts. You view this as some sort of a virtue. I view it as part and parcel of the well known Teutonic tendency to obsess about details. The last thing I would do is search your posts.

    You would do better to pay attention to the main points of threads, and give clear statements of your views rather than obsessing about details.

  • Porcell

    My ethnic remark – in response to your personal attacks- about your Teutonic proclivity was based solely on your obsessive tendency to catalog my past remarks on this blog. How else might one explain such a tendency? In college I knew a German fellow in my house who had great difficulty seeing the forest through the trees.

    Also, I should have hardly made such a remark unless you had so habitually searched my past posts. You view this as some sort of a virtue. I view it as part and parcel of the well known Teutonic tendency to obsess about details. The last thing I would do is search your posts.

    You would do better to pay attention to the main points of threads, and give clear statements of your views rather than obsessing about details.


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