Just the facts, ma’am

Wishing a thing to be true doesn’t make it true.  Despite what you hear about the president’s birthplace and religion.

We’ve talked about this before (here and here) but we need to keep pointing it out because it won’t go away all by itself: too many people today are willfully ignorant of verifiable truths that conflict with what they wish to be true (but isn’t).  I came across a wonderful column by Timothy Egan on this last week, important less for blaming perpetrators than for identifying why this hurts us:

It would be nice to dismiss the stupid things that Americans believe as harmless, the price of having such a large, messy democracy.


But false belief in weapons of mass-destruction led the United States to a trillion-dollar war.  And trust in rising home value as a truism as reliable as a sunrise was a major contributor to the catastrophic collapse of the economy.  At its worst extreme, a culture of misinformation can produce something like Iran, which is run by a Holocaust denier.

It’s one thing to forget the past, with predictable consequences, as the favorite aphorism goes.  But what about those who refuse to comprehend the present?

They waste a lot of time and karmic energy, for starters.

Last week I received a chain e-mail in which the original author complains that Christians and Jews are discriminated against in the new health care insurance law, which itself marks the establishment of a system, called dhimmitude, by which the Muslims who have conquered this country through jihad will collect a tax from non-Muslims and permit us to continue to live here.

Seriously.  That’s what it says.

The writer (not the forwarder) laments that he, a Christian, will face “crippling IRS liens” on his assets and jail time when—not if—he refuses to buy health insurance or pay the penalty for not buying it, while Louis Farrakhan (a random example, surely) not only won’t face penalties, he’ll have “100% of his health needs paid for” by government insurance.  And to prove it all, he directs you to page 107 of the new health care insurance law where the word “dhimmitude” appears.

Except that it doesn’t, of course; it doesn’t appear in any of the pages of the new health care insurance law.  Nor does any jail time penalty for violators of the law.  Because this chain e-mail is a product of the south end of a northbound bull.

I checked what Snopes.com had to say and found that religious groups with an IRS exemption from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes on First Amendment grounds (and which, as a result, don’t receive benefits from either of those programs) could be exempt from the requirements of the new health care insurance law.  The entry at FactCheck.org agrees, and provides the link to the government data which makes clear that no Muslims are among the groups now exempt from Social Security and Medicare, and thus would not be exempt from the new health care insurance law.

So, in four minutes I learned that (1) Muslims are not exempt from the requirement to buy health insurance, but Amish and Mennonites and others could be (I did not know that), and (2) dhimmitude isn’t really a tenet of Islam, but an “academic concept” proposed by a writer with anti-Islam ties (fourth paragraph under Full Answer).  What I couldn’t find an answer to is, did anyone really believe that the word “dhimmitude” was right there on page 107 of the new health care insurance law, so anyone who read it would know what the conquering jihadists were doing?

Almost nothing in the chain e-mail was accurate, yet thousands of people are all worked up.  Over nothing.  At least, nothing factual from the chain e-mail, except perhaps that the Amish can opt out of Social Security.  Dang ol’ Amish get all the breaks.

Final score

Ran out of hits and luck today, got knocked around…


Season ends for our Pearland Little Leaguers, dropping the U.S. championship game to the team from Hawaii 10-0.  But you had a great run, fellas; well done.

Your Little League World Series update:

Tonight is the second straight win for the Pearland Little Leaguers…back on the field Tuesday evening Wednesday evening (rain delay) .

Go Army! (Navy, Air Force and Marines, too!)

If you can hear me over the complaining about the “insensitivity” of the plan to build a Muslim community center—including room for religious observance—two and a half blocks from the hallowed ground of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, listen to this: one way the Defense Department responded to the attack on the Pentagon that same day was to build a chapel for religious observance by all faiths—including Muslims, every single day—at the exact spot on that hallowed ground where the hijacked airliner smashed into the building!

Army spokesman George Wright said he is unaware of any complaints about the Muslim services from either 9/11 families or anyone in the building.

(That’s all…talk amongst yourselves.)

Political opportunists exploit Ground Zero, and not in a good way

September 11 is right around the corner, and this year it is likely to spike the hysteria over the planned construction of a community center two and a half blocks from the World Trade Center site.

Doesn’t that sound a lot less creepy and threatening than “a mosque at ground zero”?  That’s the gist of the problem.

A Muslim group in New York City wants to build a community center, including space for religious observance, at 45-51 Park Place in lower Manhattan, a site near the hole in the ground where the Twin Towers stood.  Google the address to see the distance between it and the pit.  There have been complaints from people who find the idea of a mosque at ground zero appalling and insensitive, and in some cases a symbolic victory for the people who carried out the September 11 attacks (and who are, it is true, still at war with the United States and plotting our destruction).  It’s not been made clear (to me) if there are objections to the swimming pool and meeting rooms in the plan, or just that there would be areas for Muslim religious activity.

I don’t follow how building a community center shows insensitivity to the victims of a terrorist or criminal act, unless you blame the builders of the center for the attack.  The man behind the Cordoba House has some questionable beliefs, but no associations with Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda.  If the people behind this proposal aren’t directly connected to the 9/11 hijackers, is the objection some sort of guilt by association?  I’d like to believe that association with Islam is not the cause of the opposition, since Islam didn’t attack us—that was done by some people with a perverted interpretation of Islam.  They’re no more representative of Islam than the (insert name of your favorite religious fringe group here) are of Christianity.

People who commandeer passenger jets and use them as missiles deserve our attention.  The last president let his administration turn that attention into fear, and enough of the fear became irrational enough to be exploited as a wedge to grab power and start a war that had nothing to do with finding the people who attacked us, merrily ignoring civil liberties along the way.  It’s not too big a leap to say that irrational fear, and political opportunism, are pumping up the volume in this case.

Charles Krauthammer makes a compelling point about preserving sacred ground, although he doesn’t say how far away would be far enough, and Ross Douthat has an interesting column about how the constitutional America and the cultural America are in conflict on this issue, and I see his point.  But I’m no culture warrior: no one’s made an argument that the proposed construction is illegal, the necessary governmental authorities have approved the plan, neighborhood and business groups approve, we’re not religious bigots…and it’s two blocks down and around the corner, for crying out loud.  Let’s move on.

Want more?  William Saletan does a skillful job taking down the anti-mosque arguments on their face, and their proponents with them.

How about a joke?  This is ridiculously close to a real news item:

The Statue of Liberty was briefly evacuated today after a faulty sensor in an elevator shaft falsely indicated smoke. While there were no immediate reports of injuries, the very idea that someone might build a Muslim community center just across the water from the site of that undamaged sacred ground was compared to a stab in the heart by a bunch of racist yahoos.