Thursday, November 09, 2006

Council Winners

[posted by Callimachus]

Here are the Watchers Council winners from the week of November 3.

First place went to Female Genital Mutilation in Georgia: Who is the Perp? a very smart piece by Gates of Vienna which takes a skeptical view of a news story that had a lot of people excited for different reasons. It finds that, even given the facts as presented in the news report, the story has holes that look big enough to drop a bowling ball through.

Also getting votes were You Would Weep from right here, The Least Bad Choice by American Future, Day Book, October 23, 2006 by The Glittering Eye, and Rats in the Kitchen: A Parable by Joshuapundit.

The winner outside the council was Isis' Guide to Sensible Islam Posting, a lucid and sensible set of instructions for right-leaning Americans who want to get outside the blog hothouse and think, talk, and write sensibly about Islam

When all you ever read about an entire group of people goes against your experiences with actual members of that population, you are inclined to disregard the author’s views. All of the author’s views. On all subjects. And this is beginning to happen to pundits failing to distinguish between Islamic terror-lovers and law-abiding, freedom-desiring Muslims who are supportive of the Global War on Terror. ... Focusing on a small aspect of faith, magnifying its importance, presenting it as fact, and failing to recognize that the aspect is rejected by most Muslims does Islam an injustice.

This is, I should note, partly inspired by the work being done by Ali and Dean at Dean's World.

Other votes went to:

  • Covering Iraq: The Modern Way of War Correspondence by Michael Fumento, my nomination for the week.

  • Absolute Moral Authority Revisited, a post by Dean Barnett, who inches toward a topic that even some of the bolder voices on the right have been uncomfortable broaching, since it has a tendency to blow up in their clumsy hands like a stunt cigar:

    Allah yesterday uncomfortably alluded to an Ann Coulter theory that the left was devising a strategy where it would rely solely on spokespeople that you couldn’t argue with. While I, too, deplore Ann’s bomb throwing, when she’s right, she’s right. The left’s strategy is to have absolute moral authority figures like the Jersey Girls or Cindy Sheehan carry its message. The messengers would also necessarily be victims so if you got down ‘n’ dirty with them, you would automatically qualify as a cretin.

  • The Dark Ages from Victor Davis Hanson. He means it literally: "The Dark Ages." It is a historian's tendency to see a modern threat in terms of an ancient one.

    Beheading? As we saw with Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, our Neanderthal enemies in the Middle East have resurrected that ancient barbarity — and married it with 21st-century technology to beam the resulting gore instantaneously onto our computer screens. Xerxes and Attila, who stuck their victims' heads on poles for public display, would've been thrilled by such a gruesome show.

    Who would have thought centuries after the Enlightenment that sophisticated Europeans — in fear of radical Islamists — would be afraid to write a novel, put on an opera, draw a cartoon, film a documentary or have their pope discuss comparative theology?

  • Hanson on the Terror Network by Thomas Joscelyn, which takes a Hanson piece as its starting point:

    At a meeting the other day with some political scientists, I was lectured by some that there was nothing such as jihadism in the comprehensive sense. That is, that Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. simply have entirely separate agendas, understandable (i.e., Israel, "occupation" of Arab lands) and particularist grievances, etc. rather than a deeply shared anger at the West that originates from a common sense of lost pride and frustration, brought on by recognition of failure when zeal and religious purity do not restore honor or influence in the age of globalization.

    And holds that view up to critique.