Muslim Group Calls for Secular Society, Defends Separation of Church and State

Often it seems like Muslims are dominated by extremists, but we hear too little of other viewpoints. Some present views which are far more reasonable than those of the religious right. The Muslim Canadian Congress calls for a secular society and defends separation of church and state:

As Muslims we believe in a progressive, liberal, pluralistic, democratic, and secular society where everyone has the freedom of religion. We want our communities to be equal and active contributors and participants in the development of a just, democratic, and equitable society in Canada.

  • We believe in the separation of religion and state in all matters of public policy. We feel such a separation is a necessary pre-requisite to building democratic societies, where religious, ethnic, and racial minorities are accepted as equal citizens enjoying full dignity and human rights enunciated in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • We believe that fanaticism and extremism within the Muslim community is a major challenge to all of us. We stand opposed to the extremists and will present the more humane and tolerant face of our community.

They also list several other beliefs beyond the first two.

(Hat tip to The Secular Outpost)

Atlas Shrugged Reaches 50th Anniversary

The New York Times notes that next month will mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged and it is fitting that this comes in the business section. Ayn Rand has many critics on both the right and the left, but she also has many admirers:

But the book attracted a coterie of fans, some of them top corporate executives, who dared not speak of its impact except in private. When they read the book, often as college students, they now say, it gave form and substance to their inchoate thoughts, showing there is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit.

“I know from talking to a lot of Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ has had a significant effect on their business decisions, even if they don’t agree with all of Ayn Rand’s ideas,” said John A. Allison, the chief executive of BB&T, one of the largest banks in the United States.

“It offers something other books don’t: the principles that apply to business and to life in general. I would call it complete,” he said.

Rand certainly has many faults, but that does not mean that those who wish to write her off completely are correct, as I discussed last month. Putting aside those who go overboard in making Objectivism a religion, Rand did say things worth considering. Rand fled the Soviet Union and her ideas were shaped by “when the Bolsheviks broke into her father’s pharmacy and declared his livelihood the property of the state.” During a period when Marxism was often seen as the dominant philosophy reshaping the world, Rand helped provide a much-needed moral argument for capitalism. While the viewpoint can be taken too far, Rand also displays a bold message on the power of the individual and value of excellence.

More on Ayn Rand at Q&O, Wake Up America, and The van der Galiën Gazette.

Does Money Influence Coverage by Daily Kos?

The hot topic of the day is this post from March which responds to another post (no longer on line) which accused Kos of changing his position on Hillary Clinton in response to ad revenue. The argument against Kos has become even weaker in subsequent months after the ad ran completed and as we do not see Daily Kos turning into a hot bed of support for Hillary Clinton.

As I’ve noted from time to time in relation to his posts on John Kerry and Bill Richardson, Kos does sometimes misrepresent the views of candidates. Obama supporters have similar criticisms, which I’ve also noted. There have also been other signs that Kos does not always do his homework before expressing opinions.

Not being able to read his mind, I suspect that in many cases this comes from Kos taking statements, sometimes out of context, from a single news story which reinforce his personal beliefs without bothering to get the full story. This actually happens quite frequently in the blogosphere, but is more frustrating when done by Kos in light of his prominence in the blogosphere. It remains unclear to what degree his financial ties to the Dean campaign influenced his misrepresentation of Kerry’s beliefs, either intentionally or subconsciously, especially considering the manner in which he changed his claims about Kerry after November 2002 as his support for Dean increased. The case that he is being influenced by ad revenue this year is even weaker, but should be kept in the back on one’s mind. This is true for all sources of information.

My post from March has periodically received links from discussion boards and blogs raising the question of whether Kos is influenced by ad money. It has regained considerably increased notice this week when this diary on Daily Kos linked to it.