Portrait of two ladies and their treatment by the Gray Lady
Sure, many conservatives say The New York Times is biased against Sarah Palin, but let's remember the Times editorial published right after John McCain made his choice: "So much for the snickers about Boring McCain. His choice of Sarah Palin enlivens a leaden campaign season. It energizes the Republicans. And for all Americans, not just women, it's a genuinely historic moment. The verbs of Sarah Palin's life convey her solidity: worked, earned, raised, ran, won, led. In selecting her, Mr. McCain pays signal tribute to the difficult path pursued by many American women."
The Times, in its usually fair-minded way, noted that some would say Palin's selection was merely political, but it then rebutted that criticism: "By choosing a woman who seems untested on the national stage, it will be said that Mr. McCain looks desperate, driven to gamble that the women's vote will turn into a plus. Maybe, but so what? That has always been the first criterion for running mates: Who will bring the most to the ticket?"
OK, confession time: This was not the initial Times editorial about Sarah Palin. It was the editorial on July 13, 1984, that supported Democratic VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro: Merely trade Ferraro for Palin, and Walter Mondale (that year's Democratic presidential candidate) for McCain. This year, the Times is repeatedly demanding that Palin "fill in for the voting public the gaping blanks about her record and qualifications to be vice president." In 1984, as WORLD reader Keith Appell pointed out to me, "the Times made no such demands-but blindly accepted that she was ready."
Let's all admit that Palin doesn't have all the experience one might want, but neither does Barack Obama, and neither did Geraldine Ferraro, who was one of 435 members of the House of Representatives for three terms, and not even a leader. Match that against governing the largest state in the country: If Ferraro's experience was sufficient, so is Palin's. On the other hand, the intense questioning of Palin is fair only if Obama, No. 1 on his ticket, receives interrogation at least as hard-and so far he has not.
While we observe the hypocrisy in the gimlet eye of The New York Times, evangelicals also have the opportunity to notice what obscures our own vision. Sometimes we succumb to the impulse to hector other people on how to live their lives; it's better to note humbly that we've found a better way for our own lives, so we hope and pray that others will too. Sometimes we come across not as people of compassion but as politicians making our own power plays.
None of that justifies New York Times arrogance (sure, those reporters have read The Scarlet Letter, so they know how evangelicals think), but self-examination may reveal the major difference between evangelicals and Times secular fundamentalists-and it's not lipstick. The difference is that all of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking up to God. - Marvin Olasky
Just as the U.S. election cycle nears its end, Afghanistan's will begin. President Hamid Karzai announced last month that he will seek reelection in 2009 when his first five-year term is up (under Afghanistan's constitution presidents may serve two five-year terms). But he will have competition. A list of contenders compiled by Afghan news site Quqnoos includes Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born current U.S. ambassador to the UN and former U.S. ambassador to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Khalilzad made his first return to Afghanistan in 2001 after spending 30 years in the United States, where he served in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations and is currently the highest-ranking Muslim in any U.S. administration.
She still has one more hurdle to cross, but Tzipi Livni is likely to become Israel's prime minister, the first female to hold the post since Golda Meir held it 34 years ago. Livni won the Kadima Party primaries on Sept. 17 by a narrow margin of 431 votes. Exit polls showed a clear lead against chief rival Shaul Mofaz, a hard-line transportation minister and ex-general, but the gap narrowed as votes were counted. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert-knee-deep in corruption charges-vowed to step down as soon as his party elects a new leader.
Livni still has work to do: The 50-year-old mother of two has 42 days to cobble together a coalition government or a new general election will be declared for early 2009. And an early election means she would likely face off against hawkish Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, a formidable rival. "The fact that I'm a woman doesn't make me a weak leader," Livni said during an interview a week prior to the election. "It's not that generals pull the trigger and women don't. I have no problem pulling the trigger when necessary."
Addressing opposition leaders as "my brothers," President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Sept. 15 signed a power-sharing deal with a rival he once arrested, Morgan Tsvangirai. Under the agreement, Mugabe continues as president and chairs the cabinet and national security council. Tsvangirai as prime minister will manage day-to-day running the country and become a member of the national security council. Mugabe's party may appoint 15 cabinet ministers, while Tsvangirai's may appoint 16. Tsvangirai called the agreement a "product of painful compromises" and said it did not provide "an instant cure." But, quoting from a 1980 Mugabe speech, Tsvangirai said, "It is time to turn our swords into plowshares."
As the eastern Indian state of Orissa entered its fourth week of violence, anti-Christian attacks spread to five more states across the country, furthering panic and calling into question the lackluster response by local and national authorities.
At least 45 people have died and more than 40,000 are believed to be hiding in forests, according to the All India Christian Council (AICC). The violence began when Christians in Orissa were blamed for the Aug. 23 assassination of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and four of his disciples. Maoists have since claimed responsibility for the death of Laxmanananda Saraswati, but Hindu extremist mobs have continued their attacks on Christians, destroying more than 4,000 homes and 115 churches, according to the AICC.
Violence has spread to 14 of Orissa's districts as rumors of forced conversions of Hindus to Christianity added fuel to the fire. In Orissa's Kandhamal district-the epicenter of the violence-20 houses were set on fire and 70 Christian families were forced to "re-convert" to Hinduism on Sept. 8. Reports circulated that Hindu extremists poisoned water in government refugee camps-home to an estimated 12,000 people. Local police also became targets after efforts to disperse a violent mob resulted in the death of one of the rioters. Extremists retaliated by killing a policeman and burning down a police station in Kandhamal district on Sept. 16.
"What we are witnessing in states like Orissa most recently is a carefully orchestrated ploy by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] and its sister organizations to inflame religious prejudices and passions," Indian Congress president Sonia Gandhi told her country's Supreme Court on Sept. 16. She accused the BJP, the VHP and other Hindu nationalist groups of instigating a campaign to "divide and polarize society, with no regard to loss of lives and livestock" ahead of elections.
Several VHP leaders accused Gandhi of covering for those behind the assassination of their leader. VHP Orissa State President Gauri Prasad Rath told Compass Direct News that he did not condemn the violence against Christians in his state. "You should ask me to condemn the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and his associates with AK-47s by Christians," he said.
Christians comprise 2.4 percent of Orissa's population-almost 900,000 people. -Jill Nelson
Ukraine's coalition government collapsed in September, a blow to its Western allies who championed 2004's Orange Revolution that brought President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to power. The coalition fell apart on Sept. 3 after Tymoshenko's party sided with a pro-Moscow opposition party to pass several laws curtailing Yushchenko's presidential powers. Yushchenko and Tymoshenko formed a successful alliance four years ago to stand up to Moscow's intervention in the election process but have since become rivals in the run-up to 2010 elections. The collapse comes as Russia is exerting its influence over former Soviet republics-of which Ukraine is one of the largest and most prosperous-following its August invasion of Georgia.
It looks like Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was accurate when he asserted earlier this year that it "seems unavoidable" that some accommodation for Islamic Shariah law would eventually find its way into British culture. The Sunday Times and Daily Mail reported last month that a little-known clause in the UK's legal system already allows Shariah courts to issue civil and some criminal verdicts that are legally binding.
Under the 1996 Arbitration Act, Shariah courts qualify as arbitration tribunals, the rulings of which are enforceable by county and high courts when both sides agree to use the tribunal to settle the dispute. Reports indicate such tribunals began levying Shariah judgments last summer and Shariah courts are already operating in five major British cities with the ability to rule on cases including divorce, financial disputes, and domestic violence. The revelation has ignited concerns about fair treatment for women and has drawn criticism over the prospect of a parallel legal system operating in Britain.
Media scrutiny of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's religious beliefs, which amount to non-denominational evangelicalism, has latched onto the connection between the Alaska governor's church and the evangelistic organization Jews for Jesus. Mainstream publications have reported breathlessly in recent weeks that Wasilla Bible Church played host to the group and that Palin's pastor led the congregation in a prayer that Jews would turn to Jesus.
What effect, if any, might all this have on Jewish voters? Some supporters of Barack Obama are trying to paint Palin as far-right by association. In South Florida, for example, Rep. Robert Wexler has pointed out Palin's appearance at a 1999 event with Pat Buchanan, an unpopular face in some Jewish communities.
Democrats are trying to hold onto Jewish voters-more than 75 percent voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in the last four elections-in the face of concern about Obama's foreign policy beliefs, particularly in relation to Israel.
Web giant Google agreed to reverse a policy banning pro-life religious organizations from placing ads on its search engine after a court challenge from the Britain-based Christian Institute. The nonprofit Christian organization filed a lawsuit against Google earlier this year when the internet company refused to run an ad with the group's website and this text: "UK Abortion Law. Key views and news on abortion law from The Christian Institute."
Google officials told the group that it didn't permit ads for websites that contain "abortion and religion-related content." The company does allow ads with details about abortion clinics and pro-abortion groups.
The Christian Institute charged Google with religious discrimination, and the web company agreed to reverse its policy. Google spokesman Ben Novick said the ads must be "factual" and added another caveat: "They cannot link to websites which show graphic images that aim to shock people into changing their minds."
The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County will have to pay nearly $1 million to Teen Challenge after a Tennessee federal jury ruled that city officials discriminated against the religious-based ministry in its efforts to build a residential treatment facility for young adults suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. According to the jury's findings, Metro Nashville violated Teen Challenge's rights by revoking its earlier approval for the project and enacting an ordinance to block the ministry from building on the 13-acre property. "This jury verdict sends a powerful message that religious discrimination by government officials simply won't be tolerated," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented Teen Challenge. The ministry, which already auctioned off the original property, now plans to look for a new location to build its facility.
The radical concept of a presidential campaign with civility vanished with the coming of the fall. As our cover suggests, partisans began pushing the idea of election as apocalypse, with the stakes so high that Barack Obama even urged his followers to love their neighbors in a peculiar way: "I want you to argue with them and get in their face."
With the increased intensity comes a dramatic increase in cash. Obama shattered presidential fundraising records in August by raking in $66 million in a single month. By mid-September, Obama made another major haul: The candidate raised just under $10 million in a single night in Beverly Hills with a $28,500 per plate dinner and a $2,300 per person reception headlined by Barbra Streisand.
Despite Obama's sweeping hauls, Sen. John McCain was keeping up. After accepting $84 million in public funds on Sept. 1, McCain may no longer raise money directly for his campaign. But the well-financed Republican National Committee (RNC) is still raising funds and producing ads that tout McCain. Party operatives said the RNC would have $110 million cash on hand by the beginning of September.
The Democratic National Committee lagged far behind: The party reported $7.7 million cash on hand at the beginning of August. Meanwhile, Obama's campaign spent some $55 million a month over the summer. McCain's camp spent about $31 million in July.
Those numbers mean McCain may have more cash on hand at the beginning of the final stretch of the campaign. But Obama's operation is ramping up: The campaign aims to raise another $150 million by Nov. 4.