Sunday, January 29, 2006

Council Winners

I've been a laggard and failed to post the results of the most recent Watchers' Council awards. Part of that you may write off to natural modesty, because my overlong reflection on the civil rights movement was voted first among the council member submissions. I do think it was a good piece and it reflected a lot of painful thinking (some would say all my thinking deserves that adjective), but as blog posts go, it was on the long side. Thanks to the council for taking the time to read it.

Second place was a recollection of both the Challenger shuttle disaster and Ronald Reagan, who was at his finest in that tragic time. I met him once, too, under very different circumstances. I'll have to write that someday, if I haven't already. The trouble with having run a blog for any length of time is, like some demented great aunt, I start to forget which stories I've already told here.

Among non-council posts, first place went to an excellent view of the Iran nuclear crisis at Winds of Change. I know this one got my vote. I also voted for the second-place finisher in this category, a look at the 'pact of Omar' in light of modern Malaysia.

The Pact of Omar is the historical document that stipulates the restrictions on non-Muslim peoples (those that are allowed to live) in a Muslim-ruled nation. Its history is somewhat cloudy, and it may not actually be Omar's, but it has been around for centuries and is upheld as the basic template for this situation. It makes sobering reading, even if you allow the apologists to convince you it simply enshrines the sort of restrictions that any dominant religion might place on a subordinate one in those days. After all, the early Christians smashed the pagan idols outright and buried their shrines under churches. But then, we're not living in the eighth century anymore, and yet there still are places where these rules are in force.