Posts from March 5, 2004

Democracy delayed

Democracy delayed
: The signing of Iraq’s constitution — the first truly democratic constitution in the Arab world — has been delayed because Ayatollah Sistani thinks he’s in charge:

Shia members of Iraq’s governing council refused to sign the interim constitution at the last minute today, delaying a signing ceremony.

The delay came after Iraq’s leading Shia cleric rejected parts of the document, Iraqi officials said.

The council agreed to the accord unanimously on Monday. But Ayatollah Ali Sistani rejected provisions put into the text at the Kurds’ request to protect their self-rule area in the north, according to a source in the council.

Also in dispute was a clause outlining the nature of the presidency in the future government, a Shia official said. The Shia were reviving a demand that would allow them to dominate the presidency, he said.

Vote for Blair

Vote for Blair
: Here’s what I want to hear our leaders saying. It’s what Tony Blair said today:

Tony Blair defended the doctrine of pre-emptive military action this morning, promising to “wage war relentlessly on those who would exploit racial and religious division to bring catastrophe to the world”.

In a speech in his Sedgefield constituency, the prime minister warned of the “mortal danger” posed by Islamist terrorists and rogue states acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and insisted that “this is not the time to err on the side of caution”.

“We surely have a duty and a right to prevent the threat materialising; and we surely have a responsibility to act when a nation’s people are subjected to a regime such as Saddam’s,” he said.

Mr Blair called for the reform of international law and the UN to allow the elimination of rogue, repressive regimes which might supply terrorists with WMD….

He claimed the attacks of September 11 had “altered crucially the balance of risk”, showing as they did that Islamist terrorists were prepared to wage “war without limit”.

“From September 11 on, I could see the threat plainly,” he said. “Here were terrorists prepared to bring about Armageddon.


: Leonard Witt puts up his presentation on the transformation of what was called public journalism into the public’s journalism.

The Bush ads and 9/11

The Bush ads and 9/11
: I’ve taken a day to post my view of Bush’s use of 9/11 images in his campaign ads because I had to grapple with it.

On the one hand, the idea of exploiting those images is frightening to me — because the images themselves still frighten me; they bring back sorrow and terror every time I see them.

But on the other hand, I believe it is vital that we remember the horror of that day and act on it.

If we forget what happened or shove those memories into a PC closet we’re not supposed to open, then that is dangerous.

And if we do not admit that we are at war because of 9/11, then that, too, is dangerous.

So I believe that the war on terror must be a campaign issue. I want to see both candidates (but especially Kerry) pushed hard on what their continuing response will be to the attacks on us and the need to protect us. I fear that Kerry was so used to responding to Dean’s attacks, representing a minority of the electorate, that he will go soft on terror. And that, is dangerous.

So, in the end, I think it is necessary to frankly, even bluntly, include the war on terrorism and terror’s attack on America in the presidential campaign. I won’t criticize the use of the images in the ads. Obviously, care needs to be taken not to exploit them and the suffering behind them. But it’s more important that we make sure our government works hard to make sure that suffering does not come to our streets again.

: Matthew Yglesias and Kevin Drum can’t get worked up over this either.

On ‘Passion’

On ‘Passion’
: Father Andrew Greeley, Catholic priest and author, takes on Mel Gibson’s Passion in an eloquent column:

‘The Passion of the Christ” is a celebration of the bloody suffering of Jesus, a fundamentalist interpretation by a man who rejects the Vatican Council. It is not, contrary to claims, a literal interpretation of St. John’s Gospel but is based on the ”revelations” of a 19th century mystic. It is a film about torture, legitimated because it is the torture of Jesus. ”Passion” is a glorification of sado-masochism….

Gibson showed his hand in his interview with Diane Sawyer when he said that because the gates of heaven were closed by the sin of our first parents, Jesus had to suffer to open them again. This metaphor, which my generation heard often in grammar school, is a poor adaptation of the teaching of St. Anselm, who proposed that the suffering of Jesus paid the blood price to satisfy God and free us from our sins. Anselm’s theology is not Catholic faith. It has caused a lot of misunderstanding among Catholics who absorbed it in their youth.

One may wonder what kind of God it would be who would demand such a price from his beloved son. Is this the same kind of implacably forgiving God whom Jesus preached about in his life?

We all must suffer; we all must die. Death, no matter how brief or how protracted, is horrible. Do those who die after a prolonged battle with cancer die any less horribly than Jesus? What does his death say to all of us who must die? One will watch ”The Passion of the Christ” in vain for any hint of an answer to that question.

The lesson of Good Friday, properly understood, is that God suffers with us. Like every good parent, he suffers when his children suffer. When Jesus hung on the cross, God (the person was the Second Person of the Trinity) made common cause with the Iraqi peasant shot in the back and tossed into the pit to be consumed by fire. God cannot prevent our sufferings, but he suffers with us.

: I also happened upon an eloquent blog post on Passion by Debra Gallant, the NY Times NJ columnist (and blogger):

One day, when I was a kid, I was walking in my neighborhood in Northern Virginia, and some kid, who I didn