Saturday, March 26, 2005

Moral Policing in Malaysia

Malaysia's Islamic government spends a good deal of time trying to restrain its more zealous officials from turning the country into a full-blown theocracy. Recently, the government has moved to curb "moral policing" by various state agencies, which employ bands of young Muslims to root out immoral activtity.

State Islamic departments have been told to seek permission from the police before launching raids to catch Muslims alleged to be committing immoral acts.

One state has disbanded a youth snoop squad that was told to spy on couples.

A coalition of human rights, labour and women's groups called on the government to stop the spread of moral policing.

Their protest was prompted in part by a raid in January by the Kuala Lumpur Islamic department on a fashionable nightclub.

Dozens of young Muslim women later claimed they had been harassed by religious officers asking intimate questions and requesting dates.

Not only are these moral squads invidious, but not all of their members are as morally pure as they'd like to suppose.

Meanwhile, Malaka's chief minister, Mohammed Ali Rustam has stood down a snoop squad he had instigated to monitor the behaviour of Muslim couples in the state.

The cabinet had ordered the unit be disbanded.

The 60-strong squad organised by the local 4B Youth Movement had already turned in a number of people to the religious authorities for kalwat, the offence of a man and a woman being alone together in private.

However, the suggestion that the squad's activities be extended to non-Muslims had caused considerable concern among Malaysia's religious minorities.

The squad's future had already been called into question by news that one of the youth movement's leaders had himself been found guilty of illegally entering into a polygamous marriage.

Of course, Malaysia's morality police don't hold a candle to Saudi Arabia's much-feared Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Gallic Change of Heart?

France has been the great driver and promoter of the European Union, hoping to see the multi-national superstate emerge as a competitor to the hated American colossus. French President Jacques Chirac has labored hard and long to push for a EU constitution that would transform the union from a loose confederacy to a more centralized, federal entity, with Paris guiding EU policy. Unfortunately for Mr. Chirac and the legions of EU bureaucrats in Brussels, many Europeans distrust the idea of the European superstate, and perhaps the idea of the French running it. More galling to Mr. Chirac's dreams are two recent opinion polls in France that suggest that the upcoming vote to accept the new 511 page EU constitution might just produce a resounding "non!"

Yet something structural is going on as well: the rise of a new Euroscepticism. In France, a founder member of the European club, this sentiment has in the past belonged largely to the political fringes: the hard left, or Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front. From a tender age, French voters are taught the virtues of Europe. For political leaders, on left and right alike, Europe has been the means of preserving and projecting French power in a world that was otherwise eroding it. In short, Europe offered comfort: protection from decline; reaffirmation of their social model; the foundation of peace.

This sense of comfort is now falling away. In its place, Europe is increasingly seen as a menace: a destroyer of privileges and a source of new threats. Take the two issues that vex the French most just now, neither related to the constitution, but both overshadowing it: the European Commission's directive to liberalise services, which Mr Chirac ripped apart, just as he had earlier torn up the euro area's stability and growth pact, at this week's EU summit (see article); and Turkey's possible EU membership. The first, introduced by Frits Bolkestein, a Dutch liberal, has become an emblem of French fears about an “ultra-liberal” Europe. There may be genuine concerns about lower wages or safety. But nobody has even tried to explain the merits of the measure, although it was approved by the two French commissioners at the time (one of them, Michel Barnier, is now foreign minister). It has rather become, as one socialist puts it, a symbol of “Europe's drift towards liberalisation”.

Popular discomfort with a federalized EU differs from that expressed by the British. The French dislike the free market, fiscal accountability and transparent government policies being pushed by Scandanavian EU members, which appear to be gathering strength, especially as France and German remained mired in economic malaise. The British, on the other hand, remain traditionally skeptical of Europe as a concept, and wary of ceding British sovereignty to Brussels.

Hispanic Girl Gangs Prowl Portland

Fueled by Washington's open door immigrant policy, Hispanic gangs are growing in numbers throughout the US. Now Hispanic girls are taking to the fore of the gang movement, establishing their own gangs in Portland, Oregon, and its suburbs.
'It's big time,' said John Sena, a member of the Clackamas County Youth Gang Task Force. 'It's unlike anything in local history. We're having almost as many referrals for females as we are for males.'

Police and others who work with teenagers say at least three separate Latina gangs operate in the Portland area, with activity noted in Portland, Beaverton, Canby, Hillsboro, Gresham and Milwaukie.

'There's been a transition,' said Officer Russ Corno of the Portland Police Bureau's Gang Enforcement Team. 'A few years ago, the female gang members were viewed as property of the male gang members. For them to branch out and form their own gangs under their own names is really something that we're only seeing in the last two years.'

He said most Latina gang members are in their early to mid-teens and gang activity typically involves graffiti and intimidation. He worries that the seriousness of their crimes will increase as the girls get older and the gangs become more established.
No doubt a "cultural studies" or "ethnic studies" professor from some state university will soon pop up on TV to argue this as a positive example of modern feminism in the Hispanic community. The dramatic rise in gang activity for all racial groups throughout the US has paralelled the disintegration of stable family structures - which the gangs serve to replace. Gang activity has spread from major urban centers to even small towns. Poverty and a lack of parental supervision (or presence) drive young people to join gangs.
Sena said female gangs take their cues from their male counterparts and many impoverished Latina gang members have boyfriends in gangs and sometimes rely on them for basics such as food and shelter.

'Some of these kids eat a piece of bread for breakfast,' Sena said.
But intimidation and peer pressure also play a major role in convincing young people to seek gang affiliation. Once gangs become established in a given area, violence and criminal activity rise and local teenagers are usually faced with the choice seeking the protection of gang membership or being targeted by the gang.
Rebecca, a Milwaukie-area teenager who declined to give her last name, said she joined Latin Babes, one of the largest Latina gangs in the area, for protection after getting involved in several fights.

She said Latin Babes has about 35 members in Milwaukie, who range in age from 13 to 18.

'We tag,' she said, using a slang term for graffiti. 'If we see girls we don't like, we'll jump them and take their stuff. We get into trouble. Basically, all we do is go party.'

Rebecca said she has been arrested twice for spraying graffiti. She said she gets good grades but skipped school at least two days in February because she feared she would have to fight a rival gang member.
The decline in stable family structures is being accelerated by mass illegal immigration - mostly from Mexico and Central and South America. The presence of so many illegal immigrants drives down wages and benefits for lower class workers, putting financial strain on families at the lower end of the economic sprectrum and driving both parents to keep full-time (and occasionally multiple) jobs just to keep the family solvent. Parents working such long hours cannot properly supervise their children. Of course, this trend - made worse by divorce, the welfare system and the rise in single parenthood - is not limited to Hispanics and has been worsening in the US for decades, but the disastrous social and economic consequences of mass illegal immigration have radically increased the pressure on families. That pressure is now spreading up the economic ladder into the middle class. The rise in gang activity is a sign of serious social decay; the advent of girl gangs represents a dangerous warning sign.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Culture of Democracy in Iraq

Despite the heady images of Iraqis holding up blackened thumbs as they emerged from voting booths, the Iraqi democratic experiment may not give birth to the secular, liberal democracy that Washington hopes. All indications, in fact, are that religious zealots are gaining ground throughout the country. An example of this worrying trend, unfolded recently in Basra, when local students decided to have a picnic. Local fundamentalist Shia thugs quickly descended on the students to punish their "immorality."

“There were dozens of them, armed with guns, and they poured into the park,” Ali al-Azawi, 21, the engineering student who had organised the gathering in Basra, said.

“They started shouting at us that we were immoral, that we were meeting boys and girls together and playing music and that this was against Islam.

“They began shooting in the air and people screamed. Then, with one order, they began beating us with their sticks and rifle butts.” Two students were said to have been killed.

Standing over them as the blows rained down was the man who gave the order, dressed in dark clerical garb and wearing a black turban. Ali recognised him immediately as a follower of Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia cleric. Ali realised then that the armed men were members of Hojatoleslam al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army, a private militia that fought American forces last year and is now enforcing its own firebrand version of Islam.

The picnic had run foul of the Islamist powers that increasingly hold sway in the fly-blown southern city, where religious militias rule the streets, forcing women to don the veil and closing down shops that sell alcohol or music.

Islamic militants like al-Sadr, whose brief rebellion against US forces ended after his followers sustained heavy casualties and more moderate Shia leaders including the powerful cleric Al-Sistani prevailed upon him to join the political process, are pushing the new Shia-dominated Iraqi government to adopt the Sharia, a strict code of Islamic conduct, as national law.

In Basra, however, Islamic militias already are beginning to apply their own version of [the Sharia], without authority from above or any challenge from the police.

Students say that there was nothing spontaneous about the attack. Police were guarding the picnic in the park, as is customary at any large public gathering, but allowed the armed men in without any resistance.

One brought a video camera to record the sinful spectacle of the picnic, footage of which was later released to the public as a warning to others.

It showed images of one girl struggling as a gunman ripped her blouse off, leaving her half-naked. “We will send these pictures to your parents so they can see how you were dancing naked with men,” a gunman told her. Two students who went to her aid were shot — one in the leg, the other twice in the stomach. The latter was said to have died of his injuries. Fellow students say that the girl later committed suicide. Another girl who was severely beaten around the head lost her sight.

Far from disavowing the attack, senior al-Sadr loyalists said that they had a duty to stop the students’ “dancing, sexy dress and corruption”.

“We beat them because we are authorised by Allah to do so and that is our duty,” Sheik Ahmed al-Basri said after the attack. “It is we who should deal with such disobedience and not the police.”

Students fleeing the attack begged local police to do something about it. Their pleas fell on deaf ears. The local police refused to confront the Shia militia and British soldiers stationed in Basra refused to intervene since Iraq is now a "sovereign nation."

When the students tried to organise demonstrations, they were broken up by the Mehdi Army. Later the university was surrounded by militiamen, who distributed leaflets threatening to mortar the campus if they did not call off the protests.

When the militia began to set up checkpoints and arrest students, Ali fled to Baghdad.

A British spokesman said that troops were unable to intervene unless asked to by the Iraqi authorities.

Colonel Kareem al-Zeidy, Basra’s police chief, pleaded helplessness. “What can I do? There is no government, no one to give us authority,” he said. “The political parties are the most powerful force in Basra right now.”

President Bush's effort to "democratize" the Middle East is predicated on the notion that most people want a westernized version of freedom, which includes the right of dissent, rule of law, secular government and tolerance of minorities. The evidence that most Muslims desire these things is thus far lacking, however. As is evidence that Muslims who do desire such Western ideals are capable to restraining militant Muslims who do not. Leaders of the Shia coalition that won 70 percent of the vote in Iraq's recent national election have insisted that they do not wish an Iranian-style democracy. But al-Sadr's participation in that coalition, and his growing militancy and influence, brings the coalition's resolve to avoid theocracy into question. If Basra becomes dominated by Islamist fanatics like al-Sadr, it won't be long before they hold sway over most of Iraq. One hates to think that 1500 Americans died to impose the Sharia on Iraq.

TB Higher Among Immigrants to US

Though tuberculosis infection rates are at an all time low in the general US population, infection rates are significantly higher among illegal immigrants and rising in states with large immigrant populations.

Infection rates for Asians were 20 times as great as those of whites, and rates for blacks and Hispanics were 8 times as great as those of whites, the centers said. The overall number of cases, 14,511, was the lowest since recording began, in 1953.

The high rates for Asians "are a reflection of immigration patterns and TB rates in the countries of origin," said Dr. Kenneth Castro, director of the tuberculosis control division at the C.D.C. China and India have the most cases in the world, and there are relatively high rates in Vietnam and the Philippines.

More than half the cases in the United States were in people born overseas and probably first infected there, Dr. Castro said.

The higher rates for Hispanics and blacks reflect a combination of high rates in Mexico and the disproportionate rate of incarceration, homelessness and drug abuse among those populations, Dr. Castro said.

Though the number of TB cases remains low, immigrants are bringing new and more virulent strains of TB into the US, a potential threat to the general population.

Cases of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, the most dangerous kind, also continued to decline. Only 114 people had drug-resistant strains in 2003, the last year they were measured; 86 of them were born abroad.

Getting patients to complete treatment regimens has become so difficult - especially among immigrants - that physicians are resorting to "incentives" to lure the infected individuals to their offices so that treatment can continue. Failing to complete a treatment regimen can contribute to the development of drug resistant strains of TB and thus adds to the threat facing the general population.

Also, [Dr. Castro] said, local clinics are more sophisticated at enticing patients to report daily for six to nine months to take their pills while a nurse watches. Some clinics offer sandwiches or vouchers for fast-food restaurants, some pay transportation costs, and some send workers to shelters for the homeless, subway platforms or other places where the homeless congregate.

"By making sure that people complete their therapy, you minimize drug resistance," Dr. Castro said.

In previous decades, people with infectious diseases like TB were properly quanantined by the health authorities until they ceased to be infectious. This vital safeguard was jettisoned by public officials for reasons of political correctness, but in the case of individuals whose life circumstances clearly indicate that they cannot be trusted to complete the treatment regimens on their own, shouldn't quarantine be considered?

Resistant strains can also be picked up from other victims.

Dr. Castro cited two recent outbreaks of such tuberculosis in high schools in Georgia and California, each from strains circulating abroad. "To me, that shows the importance of the U.S. being involved in controlling TB overseas," he said. "It's enlightened self-interest."

Enlightened self-interest for the US might also mean controlling our border and preventing people from illegally entering the US (and thus avoiding the medical screening that applies to legal immigrants). But Congress and the White House clearly don't consider that a priority - no matter what damage illegal immigration does to the general population.

Creationism in Israel

If anyone thinks that creationism and anti-science thinking persists only among Christian fundamentalists in the US, Rabbi Nosson Slifkin can argue otherwise. Rabbi Slifkin is an Orthodox Jew, living in Israel, who "teaches a course in biblical and talmudic zoology at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah, near Jerusalem, and gives frequent lectures," in which he tries to reconcile Jewish theology with the findings of modern science. Though only 29, he has already published nine books, including "The Science of Torah" and "The Camel, the Hare and the Hyrax." But Rabbi Slifkin's efforts have won him the condemnation of local Orthodox rabbis, who branded him a heretic and have banned his books among their followers.

Twenty-three ultra-Orthodox rabbis had signed an open letter denouncing the books of Rabbi Slifkin, an ultra-Orthodox Israeli scholar and science writer. The letter read, in part: "He believes that the world is millions of years old - all nonsense! - and many other things that should not be heard and certainly not believed. His books must be kept at a distance and may not be possessed or distributed." Rabbi Slifkin, the letter-writers continued, should "burn all his writings."

Fundamentalist Christians have long championed a literal reading of the Bible that suggests the planet is thousands of years old, rather than millions. But the denunciation of Rabbi Slifkin has publicized a parallel strain of thought among ultra-Orthodox Jews, a subset of the Orthodox Jewish community that is deeply skeptical of modern culture, avoiding television and the Web and often disdaining college education.

The Orthodox community in Israel wields considerable social power. The letter's effects were immediate.

In the days after the ban, Rabbi Slifkin's publisher and distributor dropped the three books mentioned in the open letter. He himself lost several speaking engagements and saw his own rabbi pressured to expel him from his synagogue. "He was crushed," said a friend, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, a professor of Jewish law and ethics at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "Do you know what it's like to walk through the street and see posters branding you a heretic?"

Of course, the act of banning something merely increases its popularity as certain US "musicians" can readily attest.
Predictably, the banned books have become hits. A copy of "Science of Torah" recently sold on eBay for $125, or five times its cover price. And Rabbi Gil Student, whose company, Yashar Books, has taken over the distribution of the other two books, said he had done a year's business in a month selling them.
And exactly what, you may wonder, provoked the ultra-Orthodox rabbis' wrath?

... in "The Science of Torah," he took a scientist's eye to the Torah. Evolution, he wrote, did not disprove God's existence and was consistent with Jewish thought. He suggested that the Big Bang theory paralleled the account of the universe's creation given by the medieval Spanish-Jewish sage Ramban. And Rabbi Slifkin wrote, to quote his own later paraphrase, that "tree-ring chronology, ice layers and sediment layers in riverbeds all show clear proof to the naked eye that the world is much more than 5,765 years old."

The latter statement was particularly galling to the rabbi's critics, who support a literal reading of Genesis that they say puts the earth's age at 5,765.

Given that the state of Israel's existence depends in large measure on the superiority of its modern military technology, including the shadowy threat of its presumed nuclear arsenal, one might expect that even the most Orthodox Israeli rabbis might grant modern science some deference. But the thing about religious fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Jewish, Islamic or otherwise, is that no challenge to the inerrancy of sacred texts can be tolerated. Even when the evidence of scriptual error is manifest, that evidence must simply be ignored or suppressed in order to sustain the central mythology. Science can admit error, religion rarely can. The persistence of anti-science sentiments among such an influential component of Israeli society should be of concern to Israelis, since the products of modern science are Israel's only real guarantee of security in the chaotic and violent Middle East. In Israel, as in the US, anything the weakens the national commitment to science, ultimately weakens the nation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Mexico's Accomplishments

Speaking to reporters in Mexico City on the eve of his trip to Crawford, Texas, for a summit meeting with US President George Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin , Mexican President Vincente Fox trumpeted Mexico's economic successes.
Still, Fox defended Mexico's economic progress in a news conference with foreign reporters here, noting that Mexico's unemployment rate was just 4.1 percent at the end of January. He also said that Mexico's per capita income had tripled since the North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, Canada and the United States went into effect in 1994.

''We're the first nation in Latin America to reduce by 30 percent the rate of extreme poverty, and the seventh largest economy in the world,'' he said.
What President Fox neglected to mention is that Mexico's unemployment rate has fallen sharply because it has exported huge numbers of its unemployed citizens to the US. This mass exodus of poor and unemployed Mexicans has driven the 30 percent decline in Mexico's poverty rate cited by Mr. Fox. In a sense, Mr. Fox can legitimately claim credit, however. Under his administration, the Mexican government has encouraged so many of its poor citizens to illegally cross into the US and find sub-minimum wage jobs there that Mexico's economic statistics look better by simply writing those people off the books. Mexican immigrants living illegally in the US remain poor, but they can't be counted in Mexico's statistics. Unfortunately, their impact is increasingly reflected in US statistics in terms of falling wages for lower class US workers and increased burdens on US state-funded healthcare and welfare agencies.

Illegals to March in Kansas

As the numbers of illegal immigrants residing in the US spirals out of control, Hispanic activists feel increasingly emboldened to demand that state and local governments treat illegal immigrants as if they were legitimate US citizens. In Kansas, the illegal population has grown so large, that activists plan to make a display of its size as a means of intimidating officials into granting their demands.
Thousands of Hispanic residents are expected to descend on Topeka this week to ask state legislators for rights for undocumented and illegal immigrants.

The residents will march for better access to education and health care in an event organizers are calling Out of the Shadows.

'For too long, the 'illegal' name has stigmatized our people,' said Sulma Arias, director of special projects for Hispanos Unidos -- a chapter of Sunflower Community Action, which is organizing the march.

'The system forces them to feel they have to live in the shadows.'
Illegal aliens are properly stigmatized because they broke the law and violated a sovereign country's territorial integrity by running across its borders. One wonders why Ms. Arias believes that Hispanics have the right to arbitrarily decide which US laws they will obey and which they will disregard. If other American citizens tried that, they'd be arrested.
The Hispanic activists have a laundry list of demands, all of which aim to drastically increase the burdens on Kansas taxpayers.

Representatives of Hispanic groups will talk to lawmakers Tuesday about the need for better access to health care. A lack of insurance coverage and translators to help answer questions often blocks them access to proper care, organizers said.

In addition, they want continued support of the law allowing children of undocumented or illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at universities.

'We hope (legislators) are open-minded about these things and will explore the possibility of making people's lives better in the state,' said Father Juan Fahey Guerra, director of Hispanic Ministries for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City.

They also want lawmakers to grant driver's licenses to undocumented or illegal immigrants.
A driver's license is the primary article of personal identification in the US. To permit illegal aliens, whose provenance and intentions are unknown, to obtain such identitification places the entire country at risk as such licenses would make it easier for terrorists to move freely inside the US (not to mention mere foreign criminals). In the wake of September 11th, making it easier for undocumented aliens to obtain passable identification makes absolutely no sense.

Contrary to the arguments offered by advocates, the granting of driver's licenses to illegal aliens has little to do with improving road safety and more to do with the gradual erasure of any legal distinction between American citizenship and residence in the US. This deliberate effort has as its long range goal the diminishment of American sovereignty.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has expressed support for the idea of granting licenses to illegals.
Those who are opposed, such as Wichita lawyer Kevin Mark Smith, say state regulatory agencies can give immigrants access to insurance without the legislature granting them driver's licenses.

'I don't think our state should reward criminals,' Smith said. 'From an illegal immigrant standpoint, when someone crosses the border without authority, they are breaking the law.'
State agencies should restrict their benefits only to those who have legally entered the US and remain here in obeyance of our laws. Granting benefits of any sort to criminals only encourages the activity. Kansans should consider removing Governor Sebelius at their earliest opportunity - and demanding that Washington, whose failure to control the border has resulted in this problem, shoulders the financial burdens imposed on Kansas taxpayers by illegal immigrants.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Dumbing Down America

As America's once formidable world lead in science and technology shrinks, some Americans are doing their very best to further undercut the nation's already crumbling scientific literacy.
In several US states, Imax cinemas - including some at science museums - are refusing to show movies that mention the subject or suggest that Earth's origins do not conform with biblical descriptions.

Films include Cosmic Voyage, an animated journey through the universe; Galapagos, a documentary about the islands where Darwin made some of his most important observations; and Volcanoes of the Deep Sea, an underwater epic about the bizarre creatures that flourish near ocean vents.

In most southern states, theatre officials found recent test screenings of several of these films triggered accusations from viewers that the films were blasphemous.

Carol Murray, marketing director of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Texas, said audience members who had watched Volcanoes had commented 'I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact', or 'I don't agree with their presentation of human existence.'

As a result, the science museum had decided not to screen the film. 'If it is not going to draw a crowd and it is going to create controversy, from a marketing point of view, I cannot make a recommendation,' Murray told the New York Times yesterday.
This would be funny, if the consequences weren't so devastating. If science museums can be cowed into omitting the last 150 years of scientific discoveries for fear of offending religious fundamentalists, what chance do public schools have of keeping real science in the classrooms? Worse, what seems like a problem particular to the American Bible Belt has ramifications far beyond that region. The high costs and marginal financial returns involved in the production of IMAX science programs leaves the productions vulnerable to the pressure of even a small segment of the market.
They require special cameras and expensive projectors. The economics of Imax film-making are therefore very tight, and the actions of these southern Imax cinemas will only exacerbate the problem. It is expected that producers will be far less likely to make films that could offend fundamentalists, as the loss of venues in the southern states could be enough to turn profit to loss.

'It is going to be hard for our film-makers to continue to make unfettered documentaries when they know that 10 per cent of the market will reject them,' said Joe DeAmicis, vice-president of the California Science Centre in Los Angeles.

This point was emphasised by Bayley Silleck, who wrote and directed Cosmic Voyage. Many institutions across America were coming under pressure about issues relating to natural selection. 'They have to be extremely careful as to how they present anything relating to evolution,' he said.

A spokesman for the Science Museum in London described the development as worrying: 'It is a very tight market in the Imax business and we would be extremely disappointed if this sort of pressure led to a narrowing of the market for popular Imax films. These films are very popular with families.'
The movement against evolution - and the rest of modern science - has gained considerable confidence since the re-election of George Bush. School boards in more than a dozen US states are examining ways to tone down discussions of evolution or to introduce "intelligence design," a carefully crafted bit of salesmanship for the old, scripturally-approved idea that God created the world - creationism in new rhetorical garb. The intelligent design theorists have found their voice in the Discovery Institute, the successor to previous creationist organizations.
Discovery Institute raised money for "Unlocking the Mystery of Life," a DVD produced by Illustra Media and shown on PBS stations in major markets. The institute has sponsored opinion polls and underwrites research for books sold in secular and Christian bookstores. Its newest project is to establish a science laboratory.

Meyer said the institute accepts money from such wealthy conservatives as Howard Ahmanson Jr., who once said his goal is "the total integration of biblical law into our lives," and the Maclellan Foundation, which commits itself to "the infallibility of the Scripture."

"We'll take money from anyone who wants to give it to us," Meyer said. "Everyone has motives. Let's acknowledge that and get on with the interesting part."

Meyer said he and Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman devised the compromise strategy in March 2002 when they realized a dispute over intelligent design was complicating efforts to challenge evolution in the classroom. They settled on the current approach that stresses open debate and evolution's ostensible weakness, but does not require students to study design.

The idea was to sow doubt about Darwin and buy time for the 40-plus scientists affiliated with the institute to perfect the theory, Meyer said. Also, by deferring a debate about whether God was the intelligent designer, the strategy avoids the defeats suffered by creationists who tried to oust evolution from the classroom and ran afoul of the Constitution.
The Discovery Institute and its acolytes have concocted a clever strategy for infiltrating the public school systems. Borrowing arguments directly from the Left, they argue for an "inclusive" strategy in which all ideas and theories are equally valued and deserve a hearing. If this sounds familiar, it's because its the same sort of argument that undergirds the leftist ideas of multiculturalism, a ideological wedge which - despite sounding reasonable at face value - has allowed the left to gain control of most US universities and slowly discredit and excise the promotion of Western Civilization, the very reason for which those same universities were originally established. The idea that we must teach all points of view - ignoring any standards of evidence, integrity, civility or scholarship - has produced universities filled with the likes of Ward Churchill, Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. Generally, the physical science departments have thus far managed to beat back multiculturalist and deconstructionist challenges, saving those departments from degenerating into the same sort of the intellectual sewers that many literature and humanities departments have become.

Unfortunately, the new strategy may prove as successful for the anti-science right in the public schools as its ideological cousin was for the socialist left in the universities.
Despite some disagreement, Calvert, Harris and the Discovery Institute collectively favor efforts to change state teaching standards. Bypassing the work of a 26-member science standards committee that rejected revisions, the Kansas board's conservative majority recently announced a series of "scientific hearings" to discuss evolution and its critics.

The board's chairman, Steve Abrams, said he is seeking space for students to "critically analyze" the evidence.
That approach appeals to Cindy Duckett, a Wichita mother who believes public school leaves many religious children feeling shut out. Teaching doubts about evolution, she said, is "more inclusive. I think the more options, the better."
"If students only have one thing to consider, one option, that's really more brainwashing," said Duckett, who sent her children to Christian schools because of her frustration. Students should be exposed to the Big Bang, evolution, intelligent design "and, beyond that, any other belief that a kid in class has. It should all be okay."
Consider the shocking admission in that statement. Ms Duckett believes that no intellectual standard of evidence should guide what students are taught. Every belief or idea should be considered equally. If a student believes that the Earth is 6,000 years old, then that should be taught as a "viable alternative." If some students believe - or more correctly, if their parents believe - that mankind existed contemporaneously with dinosaurs, that should be taught too. The results of the last 100 years of science are reduced in Ms. Duckett's view to merely more more world view, just as valid as any other.

But just as in the case of the universities, this particular dose of intellectual poison will have effects far beyond what its proponents envision. For instance, if we are to teach all views on evolution, then what about history? There are many "historians" who claim the Holocaust never happened. Some of these "historians" have seemingly sound credentials. All of them, just like the intelligent design proponents, claim their views are being stifled by a "dominant liberal establishment." If we must give equal time for all theories in science - with no regard to quality of evidence - then shouldn't we air the views of Holocaust deniers in history class? Isn't it just a matter of fairness? And why not the views of those who assert that aliens from outer space built the pyramids? Or the rantings of various Afrocentrists who claim that the Greeks stole all their ideas from Egypt? If you throw out intellectual standards, you leave yourself defenseless against any bad idea that slithers into your head - or classroom.

But the intelligent design proponents either haven't thought that far ahead, or don't care how much damage they do so long as evolution gets slowly drummed out of the public schools. They do have long range goals, however.
Fox -- pastor of the largest Southern Baptist church in the Midwest, drawing 6,000 worshipers a week to his Wichita church -- said the compromise is an important tactic. "The strategy this time is not to go for the whole enchilada. We're trying to be a little more subtle," he said.

To fundamentalist Christians, Fox said, the fight to teach God's role in creation is becoming the essential front in America's culture war. The issue is on the agenda at every meeting of pastors he attends. If evolution's boosters can be forced to back down, he said, the Christian right's agenda will advance.

"If you believe God created that baby, it makes it a whole lot harder to get rid of that baby," Fox said. "If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die."
For all the noise about wanting to teach "all views" in the name of simple fairness, the intelligent design proponents have only one goal: discrediting the scientific challenge to their religiously derived worldview. Unable to do it scientifically, they have resorted to crafty propaganda and a public relations campaigns meant to convince the public of what they cannot persuade scientists (who know the actual evidence). In waging this theological jihad against science, they threaten not science - and certainly not evolution - but the long-term economic and technological supremacy of the US.

How can a nation that refuses to expose its children to the findings of science expect those children to grow up and become world-class scientists? Answer: It can't. How can a country that doesn't produce enough world-class scientists expect to remain economically competitive in a world where economic might is based on science-driven high-technology? Answer: It won't.