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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

July 2018

Clash of Civilizations


Western Civilization does not have all the answers to those wanting a perfect society. Even the excellent American Creed (everyone is an equal citizen under the law) does not have all the answers, but both are far better than any other older, traditional civilizations.

Modern intellectuals do not like to repeat what seems to be the arrogance of 19th century Europeans and Americans who looked down on all other cultures. We shudder at the notion that only White people of No more...

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Pakistan?s blasphemy Law


People in the modern world roll their eyes when they hear the word "blasphemy." This is such an old-fashioned concept: that a person should be prosecuted (and executed) for saying something that seemed "insulting" to religion. But what can one do with Pakistan, a country that supposedly has elections, a parliament, judges, and nuclear weapons? How can such a country execute people who have been accused of saying something "insulting" about Islam? Yet this issue is spurring public debate more...

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October 2017

Leaving the Union: Pros and Cons

If American foreign policy were based on our own historic experience, we must oppose secession movements. We would not like to see Spain lose part of its country to a province leaving them for independence (Catalonia) or the Kurds leaving Iraq. But does our own experience with the American slave-states trying to leave the union really compare with that of the two current potential breakaway states? And have we forgotten that we seceded from England?

Our southern states declared t more...

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July 2017

Liberal or Illiberal Democracies, What Are They?


My vigilant husband has called my attention to my use of the term "Liberal Democracy." Many readers, even when college educated, are not familiar with that term. The word "liberal" suggests a political position, such as left-leaning. So in this column, and in future ones, when I use the term Liberal Democracy, I will spell out what it really means.

Liberal in this case means Liberty, or freedom. That freedom is provided by a division of power in the government (President, more...

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Where Religious Tolerance is Scorned (Part 3 of 3)

On May 13, my column provided the global history of religious tolerance. On May 20, I charted the history of western religious persecution that led to today?s modern values of tolerance. Today?s column visits the absence of religious tolerance in the Muslim world and among authoritarian states.

The most interesting case is roiling Muslim-majority countries, countries that enjoyed a brief period of modernization that brought with it (temporarily) secular governance downplaying rel more...

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Limits to Tolerance (Part 2 of 3)


On May 13, my column provided the global history of religious tolerance. This column features the history of western religious persecution that led to today's modern values of tolerance.

European religious intolerance dates back to when the Romans made Christianity the state religion. Other faiths were discouraged and some actively persecuted. The arrival of Islam in North Africa and the formerly Christian Holy Land created a conflict that soon became the three-century "C more...

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Religious Tolerance in World History


Among primitive humans, the world was frightening and animated by benign or hostile spirits. Our ancestors feared the power of these unseen forces, believing that sacrifices could calm these spirits. Sacrifices ranged from sharing food (burning foods so that the smoke could reach the deities) or, in dire circumstances, human sacrifices to pacify an angry god or goddess.

As we developed as a species, these nature spirits evolved into a system of many gods and goddess, spel more...

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Religious Tolerance in World History

Among primitive humans, the world was frightening and animated by benign or hostile spirits. Our ancestors feared the power of these unseen forces, believing that sacrifices could calm these spirits. Sacrifices ranged from sharing food (burning foods so that the smoke could reach the deities) or, in dire circumstances, human sacrifices to pacify an angry god or goddess.

As we developed as a species, these nature spirits evolved into a system of many gods and goddess, spelled out more...

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February 2016

How Our Presidents Promote Tolerance

The United States was founded just as the European Enlightenment swept through. The Enlightenment occurred after two centuries of religious wars had exhausted not only Europe?s population, but also its intellectuals. Ordinary people were not theologians; they simply retreated to the various sects accepted by their families or rulers. Southern Europeans remained Catholic, while the more economically progressive north (England, Scotland, Scandinavia, and northern Germany) and their rulers favored more...

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