Friday, June 03, 2005

IQ and Persecution

IQ researchers have known for decades that Jews of European (Ashkenazi) origin have an average IQ several points higher than the average IQ for non-Jewish Europeans. It has been long speculated that the persecution suffered by Jews in Europe during the Middle Ages (and after) as well as the cultural tendency among Jews to shepherd intelligent Jewish youth toward rabinical training and large families (as opposed to the nominally celibate Christian priesthood), acted as selection pressures which over the centuries slowly raised the average Ashkenazi IQ. Now, a team of researchers led by Dr. Henry Harpending, an anthropologist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and Gregory Cochran and Jason Hardy, of the University of Utah, have subjected these hypotheses to scientific scruitiny.
A team of scientists at the University of Utah has proposed that the unusual pattern of genetic diseases seen among Jews of central or northern European origin, or Ashkenazim, is the result of natural selection for enhanced intellectual ability.
The selective force was the restriction of Ashkenazim in medieval Europe to occupations that required more than usual mental agility, the researchers say in a paper that has been accepted by the Journal of Biosocial Science, published by Cambridge University Press in England.

The result is almost certain to set off a firestorm, especially amongst the multicultural/PC left which denies any innate human differences (especially in regard to intelligence), and will likely go apoplectic at the suggestion that one group may have a genetic advantage over another. In the wake of the controversy over Harvard President Larry Summer's remarks over the representation of women in science and mathematics earlier this year, the new study promises to cause a furor worthy of 1994's publication of The Bell Curve.

The hypothesis advanced by the Utah researchers has drawn a mixed reaction among scientists, some of whom dismissed it as extremely implausible, while others said they had made an interesting case, although one liable to raise many hackles.

"It would be hard to overstate how politically incorrect this paper is," said Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, noting that it argues for an inherited difference in intelligence between groups. Still, he said, "it's certainly a thorough and well-argued paper, not one that can easily be dismissed outright."

Intriguingly the study posits a link between Ashkenazi intelligence and several genetic diseases known to afflict predominately people of Askenaze descent.

In both cases, the Utah researchers argue, evolution has had to counter a sudden threat by favoring any mutation that protected against it, whatever the side effects. Ashkenazic diseases like Tay-Sachs, they say, are a side effect of genes that promote intelligence.

The explanation that the Ashkenazic disease genes must have some hidden value has long been accepted by other researchers, but no one could find a convincing infectious disease or other threat to which the Ashkenazic genetic ailments might confer protection.

A second suggestion, wrote Dr. Jared Diamond of the University of California, Los Angeles, in a 1994 article, "is selection in Jews for the intelligence putatively required to survive recurrent persecution, and also to make a living by commerce, because Jews were barred from the agricultural jobs available to the non-Jewish population."

The Utah researchers have built on this idea, arguing that for some 900 years Jews in Europe were restricted to managerial occupations, which were intellectually demanding, that those who were more successful also left more offspring, and that there was time in this period for the intelligence of the Ashkenazi population as a whole to become appreciably enhanced.

The full text of the paper ("A Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence") can be found here.

Virulent Islamism Grows in Europe

Europeans officials find themselves grappling with ever more fanatical Islamists, the natural consequence of decades of open-door immigration from the Middle East.
European counter-terrorism officials say they are facing a new, more dangerous generation of Islamic extremists, younger and more radical than their forebears, and in some cases trained and battle-hardened by their participation in the insurgency against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Balthazar Garzon, the Spanish investigating magistrate who heads that country's effort to prosecute Islamic terrorists, told a conference in Florence, Italy, that this 'second generation' of extremists, some of them as young as 16, have in many cases no history of affiliation with al-Qaida or other established terror groups.

Speaking through an interpreter, he described the group that carried out the Madrid railway bombings in March 2004 as 'a whole network based on personal contact, where a single person was a kind of catalyst.'
Most worrying to European officials, most of the new wave of Muslim radicals are European-born, the children of immigrants from extremist countries who have grown up in Europe, fully exposed to European culture. Despite the promises, rhetoric and expectations of the proponents of multiculturalist, this generation of European Muslim youth embraces neither European culture or even the notion of tolerance. Worse, they are very easily recruited by radical Islamists.
Garzon's comments echoed later off-the-record contributions from officials in other European countries who discussed their concerns about what he dubbed 'spontaneously generated' terror cells among the grownup children of Muslim immigrants recruited to the extremist cause in jails or over the Internet.

Rather than being organized in discrete cells, Garzon said, these second-generation jihadis tended to form loose constellations defined by 'the system of personal relationships among the members.'

Rather than a hierarchy, they were 'individuals who make up a sort of galaxy.'

For these new, looser networks, Garzon said, 'Al-Qaida is an ideological reference point, not a real articulated structure with a command chain.'

Because these youngsters often have no history of connection to extremist groups, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies can remain unaware of their existence, the conference heard.

'They are unknown people,' said one senior European law-enforcement official who asked for anonymity because of his involvement in prosecuting such groups.
European Islamists are using Iraq as a training ground for their recruits, who will eventually return to Europe well-educated in the finer points of urban warfare and weapons and explosives use.
Officials from several European countries reported recent investigations that discovered networks of Islamic extremists recruiting and making travel arrangements for young radicals who want to go to fight the U.S. military in Iraq.

Those who join the Islamic insurgency and survive will be used to 'being hunted in a much more aggressive fashion than by law enforcement,' Roger Cressey, who was the White House deputy counter-terrorism coordinator during President Bush's first term, told United Press International.

They will have acquired skills 'in terms of operational security, counter-surveillance, communication and overall tradecraft that are going to make it very difficult to track them and take them down.'

He said the creation of a new cadre of hardened Islamic terrorists was 'one of the biggest unintended consequences of the war in Iraq.'

'The administration gave no appreciation of the danger of creating a new cadre of jihadis,' Cressey said.
Indeed, the Bush administration and its neocon advisors were so entranced by their vision of spreading democracy in the Middle East, they overlooked almost all of the potential consequences, including the eagerness of Muslim voters to elect radical Islamists when given the chance. The possibility that Iraq would be used to train new jihadists - just as a previous wave of Islamists used Soviet-occupired Afghanistan to train the jihadis of the 1990s - complete escaped Messrs. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Perle and Bush. But Europe isn't the Islamist primary objective - co-opting the Saudi government and steering it away from cooperating (quasi-cooperation, at best) with the West remains the Islamists' central goal.
Analyst and author Peter Bergen called these battle-hardened veterans 'the shock troops of the new Islamic International.' He said the threat they posed was likely to be even more severe on the Arabian Peninsula.

Citing one study showing that more than 60 percent of the foreign fighters killed in Iraq were from Saudi Arabia, Bergen concluded, 'The Saudis are going to have a much bigger problem' than either Europe or the United States with returning fighters.

Only a handful of the foreign insurgents killed or captured so far by the U.S.-led forces in Iraq have been Europeans.
The best means for Europe to contain this threat would be to prevent European Muslims who venture to the Middle East from returning to Europe. However, since these Muslims are citizens of various European countries, any such effort would be instantly mired in legal challenges and would be denounced by the European left as "racist." Islamists have learned how to exploit Western guilt (political correctness) and self-hatred (multiculturalism) to conceal and defend their activities. The European visas held by these freshly-trained Islamists pose another grave threat:
But, as citizens of European nations, these second-generation radicals can easily travel to the United States without a visa.

Concern about this threat, about what al-Qaida and its affiliates might have -- in Cressey's words -- 'metastasized' into, is also said to be one of the factors behind a high level interagency review of counter-terrorism policy in Washington.

'We are looking at ways to strengthen our global counter-terrorism strategy,' one White House official confirmed to UPI.

The review -- first reported by The Washington Post last week -- was initiated by the White House sometime in the spring 'to improve on the progress we've already made ... (and make) sure we are doing everything we can to protect the American people,' the official said.
Such rhetoric remains utterly empty so long as the Bush administration adamantly refuses to secure the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders. There can be no claim to increasing security for the US homeland when more than a million people - their provenance and intentions unknown - violate its borders every year. Any claim to protecting the American people by President Bush and his minions is an outright lie so long as this problem continues.
Cofer Black, who until recently was the State Department's counter-terrorism coordinator, the most senior U.S. diplomat on that beat, told the conference that despite U.S. successes in killing or capturing foreign insurgents, the capabilities the survivors are acquiring are changing the odds.

'Not many have to get past you when they are trained so well in explosives,' he said -- a reference to the skills needed to make suicide-bomb belts and large truck bombs.

Indeed, Black prophesied that protection against such a serious threat might entail significant changes to the U.S. way of life.

'I predict that the quality of all our lives will change to a certain extent, as measures previously considered needed (only) in forward areas will increasingly be ... adopted in our home countries,' Black told the conference.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Europe in Turmoil

The reverberations from this week's two stunning "No" votes against the proposed EU constitution in France and the Netherlands, continue to ripple across Europe. The rejection of the constitution shocked most of the continent's Eurocrat politicians and intellectuals who had considered the constitution a fiat accompli. The twin defeats are a warning sign of just how divorced European elites have become from the opinions of their peoples. European voters, however, are now energized and willing to confront the political machinations of their ossified national leaderships.

Not only do the Netherlands and France now face domestic political turmoil, but the German government is reeling from a recent humiliation in regional elections and Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is in the middle of an acute political crisis.

Europe's leaders now fear a domino effect and opinion polls show the "no" vote growing even in Luxembourg - one of the most pro-European nations of all the 25 member states - which faces the next referendum, on 10 July. Meanwhile, a political storm is breaking out over the euro amid reports - strenuously denied - that Germany is about to blame the single currency for its chronic economic troubles and five million unemployed.

Urged on by Britain yesterday, the Czech Republic, which still has to put the constitution to a referendum, became the first country to call for the deadline for ratification - currently the end of 2006 - to be set back. That position, which would mean putting the constitution on ice, is backed by the UK and probably Poland where popular votes would almost certainly now be lost. This would scupper a plan to press on with ratification if 20 of the 25 member states ratify the constitution. The hope is that the rest would be pressured into changing their minds.

Germany's economy is in shambles; Gerard Schroeder's party suffered a humiliating defeat in recent regional election, a prelude - most observers believe - to his defeat in upcoming national elections. Shroeder's fall will crush any lingering hope in Paris for a strong European superstate run by a Franco-German partnership (but with Paris dictating foreign policy).

Tony Blair, who barely survived the recent UK elections, hopes to restore his popularity by rescuing the EU.

Mr Blair is now ready to turn the British presidency into a personal campaign to lead Europe out of its impasse. He is apparently ready to confront M. Chirac over the need for economic change. M. Chirac said on Tuesday night he would not accept Anglo-Saxon economic reforms. Mr Straw will also make a statement to Parliament on Monday.

The former European commissioner Lord Patten fuelled Tory Eurosceptic fears that changes would be introduced through the back door. He said a number of reforms were still needed and they could happen without a treaty renegotiation.

Lord Patten said: "We've made considerable progress in the last few years - not all those institutional changes require treaty change. But to say that there is nothing that can be done now because of the vote in France is completely preposterous."

Mr. Blair's crusade to revive the EU will founder on two political shoals. First, the French (among other Europeans) do not want to surrender their cushy welfare states, not matter how badly their economies fare because of them. Monday's French "Non" came in large measure due to public fear that the EU constitution would lead to market reforms. Mr. Chirac, whose hold on power remains extremely precarious after Monday's humiliation, can do nothing but fight "Anglo-American" capitalistic reforms. Indeed, it has already occurred to the Machiavellian Mr. Chirac that he might revive his political popularity by vocally opposing any such reforms.

In a TV address last night , M. Chirac rejected the idea of a Thatcher-Blair approach to economic revival.

"National mobilisation" against unemployment must "scrupulously respect our French model," M. Chirac said. "This is not the Anglo-Saxon model but neither is it a synonym for immobility".

The [Dominique] de Villepin government ­ whose composition will be announced today­ can, therefore, be expected to adopt a less reformist, more protectionist and high-spending approach, which could put Paris on a collision course with Brussels.

Of course, this only condemns the French economy to continued stagnation and slow decline. But the French have not heeded the examples provided by the demise of virtually every other socialist economy. Continuing the economic status quo in France may remain popular with the French people, but it mere ensures France's continued decline.

Mr. Blair's campaign to save the EU is doomed for a second reason: the British people are adamantly against UK membership in the EU by even greater margins than the Dutch rejection. Britons do not view themselves as Europeans in the same way residents of the continent do, and likely never will. Britain stands alone and is proud of that heritage. Mr. Blair's popularity has sunk so low in Britain due to his involvement in the Iraq War that his crusade to rescue the EU can only sink his poll numbers to even lower depths, perhaps accelerating Mr. Blair's departure from 10 Downing Street.

What Messrs. Blair, Chirac, Shroeder and all the nameless, faceless Eurocrats in Brussels fail to understand is that Europeans are simply reasserting their individual ethnic and cultural identities. Most Europeans do not want to see those identities submerged into a greater, blander, European superstate. Given their first real chance to have a say on the subject, they have rejected their leaders bloodless vision of a Europe stripped of its colorful panoply of divergent cultures, customs and languages, united under the unelected and souless leadership of technocrats in Brussels. This should not come as any great surprise, Western intellectuals occasionally blinded by universalist rationalism have never properly appreciated the power of ethnic and cultural ties, and are thus constantly surprised when they come roaring back even after decades of political supression (i.e. Yugoslavia, the former USSR, Rwanda).

Moreover, most Europeans cringe at their leaders' plans to admit Turkey, a nation whose culture is so alien to that of Europe that its admission to the EU would pose a mortal threat to what remained of European identity. The Netherlands has watched its decades long experiment in multiculturalism explode in seething religious and ethnic hatred as the Muslims it allowed to migrate into its country turn against native Dutch culture and embrace Islamic extremism. In France, Muslim ghettos boil with similar extremism; in Germany Muslim immigrants cheer the honor killing of "Westernized" Muslim women. In Britain, a rising tide of violent crime committed by immigrants is well known to the British people, but unspoken of by their leaders since the topic is politically incorrect. Voters in France and the Netherlands properly saw the EU constitution as a real threat to their cultures and acted accordingly. Now that the people of Europe have been permitted their say, it is unlikely that Brussels and its advocates can pick up the pieces.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Dutch Say: No!

On the heels of Monday's stunning rejection of the proposed European Union constitution by French voters, today the Dutch have followed suit and voted overwhelmingly against the constitution. Turnout in the Netherlands was even greater than first thought, apparently adding to the "No" vote's margin of victory.

Exit polls suggest 63% voted "No" in the referendum. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who urged a "Yes" vote, says he will respect the result.

The BBC's William Horsley in Brussels says the ballot has probably delivered a death blow to the constitution, at least in its present form.

It was also rejected by the French in a vote on Sunday.

Mr Balkenende said he was "very disappointed" with the result.

The vote was consultative, and not legally binding, but Mr Balkenende said his government would honour it.

The Dutch and French rejection of the EU constitution represents a crushing blow to Jacques Chirac and the Brussels Eurocrats who hoped to create a European superstate to rival the US. French and Dutch voters expressed deep dissatisfaction with their faltering domestic economies and feared that the emergence of an englarged European Union would threaten their welfare states and national identities. In both France and the Netherlands, a growing awareness of the threat posed to their cultural characters by Muslim immigrants also played a role in building strenght for the "no" votes, since it was generally assumed that EU enlargement would ultimately result in the admission of Muslim Turkey, a state with a culture utterly alien to that of liberal Europe. French and Dutch voters correctly perceived Turkey's admission as a dire threat to European culture and rebuked their Euro-enthusiast leaders accordingly.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Consequences of Telling the Truth

If you are a European who dares to criticize Islam and the extremists it inevitably seems to breed, you'd better be prepared for lifestyle changes. In the case of Somali-born, Dutch member of parliament, Hirsi Ali, a barrage of very credible death threats combined with the murder of other Islam-critics will force you to seek government protection. Hence, Ms. Ali lives under siege from radical Muslims, a perfect allegory for her adopted country, the Netherlands, actually.

She answers questions about her predicament by gesturing to the two ubiquitous bodyguards. "You can observe how it is," she says. "I am limited in my freedom of movement." Things have improved from the immediate aftermath of the killing, when she had to sleep in a naval base. She has travelled to the US and has met Salman Rushdie (the fatwa against whom she once supported in her youth). Now she has a flat, although of its two bedrooms one is reserved for the security team, and each time she opens her door a bodyguard will appear to check on her.

Ms Hirsi Ali travels in an armoured-plated car, and knows that were she to have a relationship she would put a partner's life at risk.

Fortunately, Ms. Ali is a woman of extraordinary courage and poise. Her outspokenness in the face of death threats and violence have helped awaken the Dutch people to the extent of the threat growing in their cities.

"I travel, I have an apartment since March so I have a little more privacy than when I was being moved from place to place," she says. She smiles slightly as she adds: "There are some bad things and some moments when I think, 'Well, what is all this about?' - some form of panic, you know - you are threatened and stuff like that. But there is also the positive side, because within three years I have been able to convey my message to the public. So everyone in Europe knows the situation of Muslim women is not comparable to the situation of the native women. That there are also atrocities performed in the name of culture and religion taking place within Europe, within the Netherlands, and governments must deal with this."

Even if the Muslims don't physically assail their critics, they will use any means available to silence them. Sadly, the radical Islamists have found an endless supply of "useful fools" in the form of Western multiculturalists, who are willing to compromise every western value and principle in the name of diversity, which they have elevated to a quasi-religious tenet. Thus, when Italian leftist Oriana Fallaci criticizes Islam in a book, Muslim activists easily use the anti-intolerance laws passed by Italian multiculturalists to have her indicted.
A judge has ordered best-selling writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci to stand trial in her native Italy on charges she defamed Islam in a recent book.

The decision angered Italy's justice minister but delighted Muslim activists, who accused Fallaci of inciting religious hatred in her 2004 work "La Forza della Ragione" (The Force of Reason).

Fallaci lives in New York and has regularly provoked the wrath of Muslims with her outspoken criticism of Islam following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities.

In "La Forza della Ragione," Fallaci wrote that terrorists had killed 6,000 people over the past 20 years in the name of the Koran and said the Islamic faith "sows hatred in the place of love and slavery in the place of freedom."

State prosecutors originally dismissed accusations of defamation from an Italian Muslim organization, and said Fallaci should not stand trial because she was merely exercising her right to freedom of speech.

But a preliminary judge in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, Armando Grasso, rejected the prosecutors advice at a hearing on Tuesday and said Fallaci should be indicted.

Grasso's ruling homed in on 18 sentences in the book, saying some of Fallaci's words were "without doubt offensive to Islam and to those who practice that religious faith."

Pause, for a moment, and consider the irony in this. Ms. Fallaci is to be tried for writing a book criticizing Islam in the same country where four hundred years ago Galileo faced the Inquisition for writing a book that affirmed that the Earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa. So much for freedom of speech, conscience or tolerance of dissent - in short, in the name of tolerating its non-Western minorities, Italy has turned its back on the last four centuries of Western political progress. Muslims, quite naturally, are overjoyed to see a Western legal system used to eviscerate defenders of Western civilization.

Adel Smith, a high-profile Muslim activist who brought the original law suit, hailed the decision.

"It is the first time a judge has ordered a trial for defamation of the Islamic faith," he told reporters. "But this isn't just about defamation. We would also like (the court) to recognize that this is an incitement to religious hatred."

Isn't that clever? To criticize Islam is to defame it; to defame Islam is to incite religious hatred. So much for the European Enlightenment. So much for science and free inquiry. The truly vile aspect of Ms. Fallaci's predicament is that so many Italians (and, for that matter, Europeans in general) are willing to betray their cultural heritage in order to placate hostile immigrants.