It was the best war; it was the worst war: quote of the day

The second world war has been so draped in bloodless, gallant myth. You know, it’s the John Wayne war. And when you see colour [film footage], it’s no longer at arm’s length. It’s right there, and it’s the worst war ever, not the good war, cause it killed sixty million people.

Ken Burns, discussing “The War”, his new documentary on World War II.

Bonus quote:

And we were so fortunate, Lynn and I, to have this moment, where we could be with these veterans at the end of their lives, and they were willing to tell us secrets. And the best words we ever heard were, “Pop, you never told us that before;” and that you realize you were there at the birth of expressed memory.

Related:  A postmodern take on historiography, in which I discuss the implications of historical criticism for Christianity, using Burns to illustrate postmodern scepticism about historiography.

Religious institutions as a counterweight to the state

It’s very clear that the Burmese people are no longer afraid of the Burmese military. The violence and killing of Buddhist monks have taken away their fear of confrontation.
(Aung Naing Oo, activist.)

 
Burmese monks take to the streets

(Photo: AFP/Getty; originated with the Mizzima News website; taken 24 September, 2007. I picked it up from Andrew Sullivan‘s blog.)

Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris see religion as the enemy of freedom. They ought to know better; their position reveals extraordinary shortsightedness.

No institution presents a greater threat to freedom than the modern, technologically sophisticated state. Religion, in its institutionalized form — church, synagogue, monastery — is a crucially important counterweight to the state.

The protests in Burma (Myanmar) began late last month after the government sharply raised fuel prices. Guardian Unlimited reports:

Arrests and intimidation kept the demonstrations small and scattered until the monks entered the fray. On Sunday, around 20,000 people — including thousands of monks — filled the streets of Rangoon. …

Monks have played an important role in protests, first against British colonialism and later against the military junta, taking a big part in the failed 1988 pro-democracy rebellion.

From Channel 4 news:

We saw buses crammed with saffron-robed monks spilling out of the doors and windows, heading to Shwedagon pagoda. People cheered them as they went; some bowed admiringly, their hands held out in supplication.

But when we reached the Shwedagon pagoda just as the latest demonstration was gathering, we knew something was up. We saw plain-clothes government thugs threatening the monks. And we knew then that something had changed. One of them was standing above a group of monks, hanging off a railing and screaming at them. He shouted: “Do you want death? If you want death, try walking down this street.”

Just a few metres further along the road that runs in front of the gold-domed pagoda, other thugs wielding chunks of wood had surrounded about eight monks and were threatening them menacingly, almost girding them to take them on. …

When we came back to the pagoda the police and soldiers had sealed it off. Troops in crisp uniforms had taken up positions around the pagoda. There was a strong whiff of impending danger, and when the monks tried to begin their march, the troops moved in. The exuberance of recent days received a sharp reality check.

First came the tear gas, clouds of it hanging in the air as they tried to force the monks to disperse. But many stood their ground, some covering their faces with scarves and shouting defiantly. Then we heard the first crackles of gunfire. Here it was, what people had feared. The riot police and soldiers were moving in, and ready to spill blood.

Later, as the clashes intensified, so did the defiance. … The monks who had made it past the police cordons and seen some of their friends beaten severely, were cheered like conquering heroes by civilians who lined the streets.

For another such example, remember the defeat of communism in Poland. The popular revolution relied heavily on two institutions:  labour unions and the Roman Catholic Church.

Hitchens, Dawkins, and their ilk need to sit up and pay attention. Close the churches; open the door to totalitarianism.

Climate change quote of the day

The best thing we could get right now would be a monsoon for a week and a half to restore water levels to normal.

David Phillips, senior meteorologist at Environment Canada, commenting on the record-breaking dry weather in Toronto this year.

Yesterday, Toronto reached the highest temperature for any fall day dating back to the beginning of record keeping in 1840.

Quote of the day

We don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who has told you that we have it.

Iran’s President Ahmadinejad feigns innocence.

execution

These two gay teenagers existed in Iran. But I must admit, they don’t exist in Iran now. For further horrific details, click on the photo.

What?! Some people make money doing this?!

My wife wants to transition out of the caregiving grind over the next few years to become a professional writer. (Caregiving is a job for the young!)

This week she has landed her first paying gig. She’s getting paid to blog!

AisleDash is a wedding blog. It was officially launched today, but the contributors have been busily working behind the scenes so that they could immediately publish about 200 posts.

Here are some of my wife’s (fifteen!) contributions:

The concept is, lots of short posts, always with a photo and a link. The hardest part looks like coming up with a dozen ideas per week within the wedding theme. If you have any ideas to suggest, please feel free to submit them!

This professional writing business looks like it might actually involve work.

Quote of the day 5

O’REILLY: You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton. … And I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same, and that’s really what this society’s all about now here in the U.S.A. …

There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, “M-F-er, I want more iced tea.” … People were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.

FOX TV personality Bill O’Reilly discovers blacks. Hat tip, Avdat.

To be fair, O’Reilly is contrasting his personal experience with what one might expect, judging from “gangsta rap” culture. Audio here.

Quote of the day 4

Now it is clear that for screen artists, and perhaps not only for screen artists, youth is, relatively speaking, the short season; the long one is the degradation after success.

Pauline Kael, writing in 1966; generalizing from Marlon Brando’s precipitous decline in acting talent.

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