Obama and the Muslim World

Jim Miller nails it:

But all these — and many more practical objections — are small considering the grandiose stupidity of his central idea, that our differences with radical Muslims can be worked out in an “honest discussion”. A significant minority in the Muslim world does not want to talk to us, but wants us to submit and, preferably, convert. Most Muslims do not want that, but most Muslims are not our problem. Our strategy must be to separate the radicals from the moderates, not to unite all Muslims to demand things from us.

(See also this post.)

Left and Right both err fundamentally by treating Muslims as monolithic. The Left imagines a harmonious Islam that the West has offended and should now appease. The Right is concerned about a monolithically hostile Islam that the West must defend itself against. In fact there are all kinds of Muslims, many of whom are friendly to the West, many of whom are part of the West. If our leaders don’t understand the important distinctions between Muslims then we will have great difficulty in responding effectively to events in the Muslim world.

Obama’s statements on foreign affairs reveal both foolishness and arrogance. Foolishness because appeasement as a strategy is never effective against committed enemies. Arrogance because it’s not all about us: there is big change underway in the Muslim world, it’s been going on for decades, and while we are now deeply involved and have a lot of power and influence, we didn’t start it. At best we can protect ourselves and help reasonable Muslims to prevail over the killers. But to do that effectively we need to draw clear distinctions between good guys and bad.

The Jonathan Corollary

This started out as an email to Jonathan, but I think morphed into something that is post worthy.

 A few days ago Jonathan proposed Angie’s Law, and along with it the Jonathan Corollary.  As a reminder, the Jonathan Corollary is put forth thusly:

People who argue a political point by telling me to read an article or book that they link to are generally not worth arguing with.

 That is pretty wise.  Today I see a related post at Althouse, where a 911 “truther” challenges Ms. Althouse to a debate and she says to get Bill Clinton to debate you instead.  Pretty funny.

 Even better is a comment in the thread from one Simon, and it could very well be considered the quote of the day:

Lookit, just because someone has a right to believe something unbelievably uneducated that flies in the face of physical laws doesn’t mean that they deserve the dignity of being treated like their loony idea is worth taking seriously enough to debate. That’s something these 9/11 “truth” folks – as, with unbearable arrogance, they term themselves – need to realize. They’re like flat earthers demanding that intelligent people meet them on the field of debate – or the High School football team from nowhere, KS, who demand that the New England Patriots are clearly an inferior football team since they won’t come out to Kansas to prove that they’re better. (bold mine – dfm).

Turning the Sow’s Ear into a Silk Purse

Lately I’ve been struggling with the concept of “educated beyond one’s intelligence”. Testing and education is supposed to separate the meritorious from the masses. Unfortunately, education serves only to cut off the very bottom, obviously inept cohort, but seems to have less ability to separate truly good people from mediocre intellects and fakers. This has direct implications beyond Academia, as David Foster pointed out when he noted the reliance of businesses on paper trail rather than accomplishments as a means of filtering potential new hires.

I’m now starting to construct a mental model for why education seems to be failing at this central task, and a few terms spring immediately to mind.

Read more