Even though the struggle between Christianity and Islam began 14 centuries ago, its violent and persecutory vestiges still haunt us. While Christianity, for example, is the fastest growing religion in the world, it is also the most oppressed and molested of all the religious faiths. For those killed around the world for their religious beliefs, 75 percent are Christians. Even as Christianity explodes among the denizens of Africa and Asia, attempts to muffle and eradicate it grow with alarming speed. The building of churches and seminaries in Arab lands are forbidden; Christians are slain with impunity in Nigeria; 600,000 to 1 million Coptic Christians, despite the presence of the American military, have fled Iraq fearing for their lives. There is not extant a single Christian church in Saudi Arabia; a mass exodus of believers in Egypt continues unabated to safer pastures and postulates of the Christian faith are languishing in the prisons of Pakistan for no crime other than observing the tenets of their religion.
There’s been a lot of talk about gun control lately but not enough thinking. It’s an understandable knee-jerk reaction to the heartbreaking massacre at Newtown, CT that has jolted us into action on gun-violence, but we must guard against the ideologues on both the left and the right who seek to hijack the discussion with nonsense that is neither grounded nor realistic. This issue is too important and the sensible people in the middle must resist being crowded out.
This is a rare moment of national accord, when most people agree that something must be done, and we simply cannot squander this opportunity with legislation that doesn’t work. Now is the time to logically and realistically assess the situation and design effective laws that will actually keep us safer.
If you blinked, you missed it. In fact, the silence from Democrats and the media who chronically warned of the dire threat being posed to the American Republic speaks volumes. Indeed, condemnations back then of the president and his accomplice Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney were deafening and quotidian.
Yet, with the full support of the Obama Administration, Washington renewed the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, without hearing so much as a cat’s meow. So what happened to Attorney General Eric Holder who was so aghast over these tactics of White House-directed eavesdropping that he accused the President of the United States as acting in direct defiance of federal law?
What can we conclude about Messrs. Obama and Holder now that they have adopted the methods of their political enemies: Have they been born again? The verisimilitudes between the respective administrations are too conspicuous to deny congruence. What happened is the Obama Administration was hit by a Mack truck with the license plate: Reality.
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all a happy and healthy New year on behalf of your village board. I hope all enjoyed their holiday season.
The Village employees have, for the most part, completed the cleanup from Sandy and the Nor’easter. Although there may be some minor issues to be resolved, the major effort is completed. Reimbursement requests from FEMA began weeks ago with the filling of numerous documents required to complete this process. We have been informed that the formula for reimbursement is 75 percent federal, 12.5 percent state and 12.5 percent village. The way in which the reimbursement guidelines have been set, the village should be able to absorb its share of the costs due to the total number of items available for reimbursement. Having said that, I’m concerned about how this funding is being handled in Washington. There should be no politics involved and the relief monies should be dealing with damages suffered in the northeast as a result of Sandy and the Nor’easter.
The following letter was submitted for consideration by the Districting Advisory Commission for the creation of new county legislative district lines on Jan. 3. Our belief continues to be that, as the Village of Floral Park is one village, it should be identified and represented as such, completely intact, within the boundary of one legislative district.
Dear Chairman Francis Maroney,
I am the mayor of the Incorporated Village of Floral Park. It is requested that Floral Park’s written comments, as contained herein, be made a part of the public record.
Our budget process has started and we face a long and arduous task of creating a budget that maintains staff and programs, and is at the same time, fiscally responsible to our taxpayers. Each year when we prepare our budget there continues to be additional add-ons that add to the dilemma of creating a balanced budget. New and continued economic considerations that effect our budget planning include passed on costs such as the tax certiorari and restrictions placed by the state tax levy cap, increases in the employee retirement and the teacher retirement systems, and a host of other unfunded educational reforms and mandates. This year we had the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy estimated by our governor to be somewhere around $60 billion. It is only common sense to realize that this will have a profound effect on the New York State budget and possibly affect the general foundation state aid level of revenue.
The literary and social critic Edmund Wilson, one of the 20th century’s great men of letters, wrote the famous essay The Wound and the Bow about the relation between art and suffering. To make his point, Wilson employs a mythological character from a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles, Philoctetus, who on his way to the Trojan War is bit by a serpent. The odor that emanates from the wound is so noxious that he is exiled to the island of Lemnos to live out his remaining days as a pariah. After the war starts, the seer Cassandra prophesizes that without the bow of Heracles which was passed on to Philoctetus, the Trojan War would be lost.
Wilson modernizes the story by tying the wound to psychic trauma and the bow to inspiration whereby interior agony of the suffering artist is transmuted into monuments of artistic creativity. Wilson chooses several luminaries of the Western canon to illustrate this point but in re-reading the essay it strikes me that he omits the most self-evident subject of all.
“I’ve striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them.” These musings were written by the 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who was intensely interested in the praxeological art of mining the deepest depths of the human psyche. But who could make sense of the madness that occurred at Newtown Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School, which was nestled comfortably in the heart of a sleepy little village in Connecticut. Whatever energumen preyed upon the tormented mind of young Adam Lanza, once the dam broke a cataract of venom extinguished the lives of 20 children and six adults before, turning the weapon upon himself.
Amid the ruins lay a shattered community, a grieving nation and endless unanswered questions. The spate of mass shootings in this country had been troubling enough, but now our children are targets. While I’ve long been an advocate of laws against assault type weapons (having written about it in these pages) I’m not prepared to say that stricter gun laws would have averted the carnage at Newtown. I do maintain, with the NRA, that armed guards at the Newtown Elementary School would have probably thwarted Adam Lanza’s evil designs. The media was in high dudgeon, as it usually is over the rhetorical expostulations of the NRA, but theirs was an emotional rather than an intellectual objection. All of America was overwrought with emotion over the greatest domestic tragedy since 9-11.
I received an email from Afghanistan in late October; actually from one of our local guys from New Hyde Park who is currently stationed there.
He serves in what is uniquely known as one of the Navy’s “Force Reintegration Cells.” It’s not what you might think, though. His unit actually distributes small grants and community funding for local projects, most of the time using the former insurgent fighters as laborers on the projects. Each leaves the fight “honorably” and each represents one less fighter or suicide bomber for the Taliban. As he notes in his message:
John Lennon once sang, “A very Merry Christmast/And a Happy New Year/Let’s hope it’s a good one” in his perennial Christmas standard “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” and given the turmoil that has defined 2012, this closing out of the current 12 month cycle couldn’t come at a better time. Hurricane Sandy, a contentious presidential election, the ever-present struggle with school budgets, the decamping of the Islander to Brooklyn or more recently, the depravity and horror surrounding the events in Newtown, CT—-for many this calendar year couldn’t end fast enough. But as is the case ever year, we all get to start out with a clean slate and the optimism that things will get better. So in that spirit, the Illustrated News wishes everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
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