Saturday, October 25, 2003

The Death of Minds

 This, from the New York Times, about suburbs in France where the name of the game is hunting down women for gang rape.

VIGNEUX-SUR-SEINE, France — The boys were patient, standing in line and waiting their turn to rape. Their two victims, girls of 13, were patient, too, never crying out, at least that is what the neighbors said, and enduring the violence and abuse repeatedly over five months. That was three years ago. Late in September, 10 young men, now aged from 18 to 21, were convicted of rape in a closed courtroom in nearby Evry and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to five years. Seven others will go on trial in November.

Many of the boys are raised in closed, traditional families and are hopelessly confused or ignorant about sex; others are simply street toughs. In this world, women enjoy little respect; often girls who appear weak, or wear tight-fitting clothing, or go out unaccompanied by their fathers or brothers, are considered fair game. To avoid trouble, many girls have taken to wearing loose-fitting jogging clothes, and hidden themselves behind domineering fathers or brothers; others have organized themselves into their own gangs. Many of the Muslim girls have donned head scarves — more for protection than out of religious conviction.

This, from Space Daily, about a hundred foot (30 meter) telescope about to be constructed by the California Institute of Technology, "which would result in images more than 12 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope (and) ... will have nine times the light-gathering ability of one of the 10-meter Keck Telescopes, which are currently the largest in the world." The Caltech astro website has renderings which show a cutaway of the future 100 foot telescope in comparison with the Mount Palomar reflector, for many decades the largest optical instrument in the world, looming like an elephant over a goat; an instrument on the Krell scale. The hundred foot primary mirror will allow astronomers to look further back in time to conditions in the early universe; to discover hitherto unseen objects; to better understand the ground of reality on which we, mere mortals, live.

The contrast between the youth at Caltech, striving to touch the face of God and the illiterate Muslim boys in a French suburb striving to touch the underpants of their neighbors is a consequence, not of the difference in their natures, but of the contents of their minds. Nothing in the US Army arsenal has been half so devastating to the Muslim world as the Saudi-funded Wahabi madrassa. For where one can injure the body, the other can destroy the mind. Nor is there help in the land of France for those who have managed to leave Arabia yet are never quite permitted to arrive in Europe. The dole for food and a policeman's truncheon, maybe; but never a candle for the dark; nothing whatever from the condemned store of Western values.

The New York Times story goes on, without a trace of self-awareness or irony:

At the vast housing project where the girls lived and where the rapes occurred, the grounds are clean, even landscaped. The population is multiracial and multiethnic, blending both French-born citizens and immigrants from places like North and sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey and the Caribbean. Nearby are a butcher selling halal meat, an oriental pastry shop and coffeehouse, a laundromat, a health club and a supermarket — as well as drug dealers openly selling hashish.

 And in the corridors, a young man waits.