Saturday, January 17, 2015

Today's Good News: The Attorney General Curbs Local Police From Taking Civil Assets

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the widespread practice of police seizing money and assets, such as vehicles, from people they stop without a warrant and without proving a crime will no longer be shielded by federal law.  His move drew bipartisan support from Congress.

Until now, police could seize assets they thought were suspicious and keep them, if they shared a portion with the federal government, and be protected by federal law.  By greatly restricting the circumstances of such seizures, Holder eliminates the incentive that some departments had succumbed to to get a significant part of their annual budget from asset seizures.

The Washington Post reported that "the Institute for Justice and other libertarian-leaning groups teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union and left-leaning groups to press for changes in the wake of the Post's investigation."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Two Kinds of Universal Identity

How do you think about the largest human identity group?

Christians say we are all children of God.

The biggest secular option is to be a cosmopolitan citizen of the world.

The latter has the advantage of seeming like an adult and modern identity.  But it has the disadvantage of depending on a universal state that one could be a citizen of, which clearly does not exist.

The best modern Christian universal identity I can think of is something like co-worker with God.  This works for Jews and Muslims, too.

(This is a half-formed idea).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

State-Backed Modernization of Islam in Egypt Will Help

The president of Egypt has come out forcefully for modernizing Islam on religious, rather than nationalist, grounds.

He has already enlisted al-Azhar University, the great seat of Sunni learning and, in effect, an arm of the Egyptian state to make small steps.  For example, "texts on slavery and on refusing to greet Christians and Jews, for example, have been removed" from Egyptian textbooks. 

I don't think a religious reform initiated by the state can work by itself.  I don't think President el-Sissi can be the Muslim Martin Luther.  But he could be the Muslim Frederick the Wise, who sheltered the reformer from political attack.