Yeah, what she said (plus a little of what I have to say)

I was trying to set up a post that selectively quotes from Melanie Phillips’ articles explaining the utter insanity behind the Archbishop of Canterbury’s muddled remarks about bringing sharia law into the British legal system — but I couldn’t. Each paragraph is so information-packed and important that (a) I couldn’t pick what to quote and (b) I couldn’t bear to dilute the impact of the articles in their entirety. I therefore urge you to read the articles yourself, which you will find here and here.

I do have a few words to add, though, about parallel private legal systems. We have them here too. Religious Jews have often resolved disputes through rabbis, not civil courts, and more and more people opt for private mediation or arbitration in the hope that those methods will be cheaper than litigation. With the Jewish disputes, it goes without saying that the law applied is Jewish law. (Phillips has a good description of these tribunals in Britain, and they’re much the same here.) As for the mediations or arbitrations, people can choose their law: they can pick the law of the state in which they live, or the state most favorable to the party in the stronger bargaining position. Heck, they could even choose the law of another nation entirely, assuming all parties agree. If the ultimate outcome of the religious tribunal, arbitration or mediation pleases the participants, that’s the end of the matter, and they go away happily, without the American civil litigation system ever being the wiser.

However, if they’re not happy, they do have recourse to the American litigation system. Sometimes the judge will simply tell the disgruntled party that he agreed in advance to the arbitration, the arbitration was conducted appropriately, and that’s the end of the story. Sometimes, though, the complainant will get to have his case heard and, in that case, American law, whether it be federal or state law, applies, as it would to any other similarly situated claimant. Additionally, if someone comes in complaining that the mediation, arbitration or religious tribunal resulted in an outcome that is antithetical to American law (for example, requiring him to sell his daughter into prostitution or to place himself into slavery), the American system will bring the alternative proceedings to a screeching halt. For all that I’m no fan of judges, only those who are mentally disturbed would allow their courts to be used for those purposes.

Rowan Williams muddled proposal, however, does not contemplate a system such as the American one, in which people can circumvent Civil Courts if they so desire (opting, say, for sharia courts), but if they don’t desire, they are bound by British law in British courts. Instead, he truly states a belief that the British courts should apply sharia law. As Melanie Phillips explains:

Dr Williams for some reason abandoned nuance altogether and left no room for doubt about what he was saying. Which was, in short, that although the

sensational reporting of opinion polls

recording large numbers of British Muslims who want to live in the UK under Islamic sharia law

clouds the issue,

the adoption of sharia law in the UK seems

unavoidable

and indeed desirable, since Muslims should not have to choose between

the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty.

So although

nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states,

Muslims should be able to choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a sharia court. Such courts should therefore be

incorporated into the British legal system

as a

constructive accommodation

with Islam.

There is no parallel for this in the American system or even in the British system. Both will enforce as judgments private agreements but, as I noted above, they will not do so if the outcome is inconsistent with fundamental principles of American or British jurisprudence. Woe to England if it backs down from its near universal outrage at Williams’ proposal and allows his ideas to become reality, whether actively or by default.

So, go read Melanie Phillips’ article and then say a prayer for England, for she sorely needs it. And if you’re in a reading mood about Williams, read this one too, at American Thinker.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Try a little tenderness . . . but only if you have a death wish *UPDATED*

A repeated thread in the comments lately has been the claim that the reason the terrorists are mean to us is because we’re mean to them. If we behaved more “morally,” they would inevitably yield to our good example. My response to this kind of argument has always been the same (and I’ll quote from my own comment, because I’m too lazy to retype it):

Regarding Gandhi: His pacificism worked only because Britain was not a nation that was going to respond in a bloody, violent fashion. It wasn’t Gandhi’s morality that won India’s freedom, it was England’s. The same holds true for MLK’s non-violent protest. While the South may have had profound racist problems, it was the fact that America as a whole was a moral nation that his tactics work.

When one has an enemy that revels in blood and conquest, that makes no secret of its desire for world domination, and that is vocal in its hatred and disdain for you, whether that enemy is Nazi Germany, Iran, or your average Islamist, your restraint and morality is not only irrelevant, it is a red flag before that blood-thirsty bull.

Forbearance cannot be a one way street. If all the pacifistic forbearance is on one side, and all the violence on the other, you simply end up with a bunch of dead pacifists — and, worse, dead pacifists who have engendered the slaughter of everyone else unlucky enough to be yoked to their sides.

The question in any war isn’t just your own nature, it’s your enemies’ as well. As Mike Devx pointed out in the same comment thread, while the British were initially somewhat violent in their response to the Indian riots, they pulled back, sickened by their own violence. The opposite was true for the Germans. Their tentative forays into aggression in the 1930s against Jews, Communists, homosexuals and the mentally ill excited their blood lust. Rather than pulling back, they accelerated the killing, and became ever more murderous and creative in their brutality. What finally ended the blood soaked orgy in which they’d engaged for more than a decade wasn’t their own horror at what they’d done, but the fact that America, once roused, had the military might to destroy that regime.

With that in mind, you should read Aaron Klein’s Schmoozing With Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land, Jihadists Reveal Their Global Plans to a Jew! or, at the very least, read the American Thinker’s review about the book (from which I quote, below). As the book’s title indicates, Klein, an Orthodox Jew, was able to talk to Islamists all over the world and they spilled their ideological guts to him. These guts show that, contrary to MSM and Progressive claims, they don’t want to live peacefully by our sides, their primary goal isn’t simply to clear the US out of Saudi Arabia, and they’re not at all interested in adopting Western values:

The Arab Palestinian leaders with whom Klein spoke are very candid about their dreams not only to wipe out Israel, but to establish a worldwide caliphate. Their plans for American society should awaken anyone who thinks the Arab terrorists are only Israel’s problem. And it should also smack awake all the moral relativists who equate Israel’s security measures with hegemonic brutality.

A deputy commander of Fatah’s al Aqsa Martyrs Bridade, Nasser Abu Azziz, explained to Klein that when sharia law is imposed in Western countries, “these sick people [homosexuals] will be treated in a very tough way,” explaining that the Islamic leadership will “prevent social and physical diseases like homosexuality.” All the terrorists whom Klein interviewed agreed that homosexuality would not be tolerated in the US once Islam rules.

And homosexuality is not all they condemn. The failure of western women to conform to Islamic standards of dress will reap harsh responses including, if necessary, torture. Sheik Hamad, a Hamas cleric, said those women who refuse to cover themselves in conformity with Islamic values would be punished either by imprisonment, whipping or stoning. And we aren’t just talking about Madonna’s bustiers: under the standard described by Klein’s interviewees, even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who does in fact wear a robe — would be a target for stoning. She’s omitted the head covering.

[snip]

Klein’s interviews show that Palestinian leaders have also, and repeatedly, perpetrated a vile hoax on their acolytes. The myth of the seventy-two virgins in paradise who await each martyr is a theme echoed and believed by those who extol and consider suicide bombing an option. Klein’s subjects do not explain how the appetite for virgins fits with the love of Allah as an incentive for becoming a suicide bomber.

When asked about the source for the promise of the seventy-two virgins, Ala Senakhreh, West Bank chief of Fatah’s Martyrs Brigade, insisted such a promise was made in the Koran. When pressed about where exactly that promise could be located, neither Senakhreh nor any of his dozen henchmen clerics present could find such a passage. After much anxious searching, the Sheik became increasing hostile and Klein quickly left. He had apparently discovered the point at which the terrorists’ hospitality collided with their refusal to be questioned closely about their ideological weapons.

These are not good people, and wishing will not make them so. As Mike Devx pointed out, they are the modern equivalent of Nazis, people who embrace murder both as a vehicle to achieve their social and political goals, and as a pleasant pastime. They can be stopped only by brute force, not by peaceful example. And because everything veers back into American politics right about now, that fact alone is a good reason to vote for McCain over Hillbama.

UPDATE: Just so you can see the faces of the enemies of Western civilization.

UPDATE II: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

The Imam of Canterbury *UPDATED*

The most famous Archbishop of Canterbury was the martyred Thomas a Becket, a man who was ostensibly the victim of a political assassination, yet who essentially died for his faith. He’d been a hard living young man but, when his best friend Henry II invested him as Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important seat in the British religious heirarchy, he went through a profound change and began to take his religion seriously — so seriously that he took political stands antithetical to Henry’s interests, something that came as a great surprise to the latter, who had assumed that Becket’s would be “his man” in the Bishopric. Eventually, Becket’s attempts to defend the church’s integrity against Henry’s political desires irked the latter so much that he exclaimed “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” A handful of his loyalists, rather than viewing this as a purely rhetorical question, took it literally, and cut down Becket within the hallowed walls of his own church.

Thinking about Becket, I rather wonder what he would have made of the current occupier of his Bishopric, which is still the most important position in the Church of England:

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK “seems unavoidable”.

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4′s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.

An approach to law which simply said – there’s one law for everybody – I think that’s a bit of a danger
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says “sensational reporting of opinion polls” clouds the issue.

I can’t figure out if Williams is naive, stupid or a genuine Fifth Column within the C of E. Aside from the peculiarity of a church leader arguing for the hegemony of another religion, his ignorance is scary. He doesn’t seem to understand that sharia is a package deal. Just today, I read a little bit about that package:

Two sisters – identified only as Zohreh and Azar – have been convicted of adultery in Iran.

They have now been sentenced to be stoned to death.

Adultery is a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the canons of Islamic Sharia law. The Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the stoning sentence.

Zohreh and Azar have already received 99 lashes for “illegal relations.” Yet they were tried again for the same crime, and convicted of adultery on the evidence of videotape that showed them in the presence of other men while their husbands were absent. The video does not show either of them engaging in any sexual activity at all.

Their crime is non-existent, their trials a miscarriage of justice, and their sentencing a barbarity.

All those who believe in human rights and human dignity should protest against this sentence.

Proponents of sharia law in the West like to point out that it’s just a little thing that helps neighbors mediate fights, or husband and wife avoid (or, if need be, embrace) divorce. They willfully ignore the fact that sharia law is the single most misogynistic law in the world and, perhaps, in history. They — the same people who quiver at the mention of waterboarding — also turn a blind eye to sharia’s demands for whipping, dis-limbing, hanging and beheading. If we in the West let this camel’s innocuous little nose into the tent, if we just look to it just as a mediator of little neighbor disputes, I can assure you that very quickly that whole camel, beheading and all, will have nosed its way into the center of the Western criminal and judicial system, with horrific effects on all, especially women.

Hat tip: JL

UPDATE: Hot Air also caught and commented on this story.

UPDATE II: Another glimpse at the sharia law Williams finds so innocuous.

UPDATE III: Considering Britain’s problem with alcoholism, this little riff on sharia attitudes towards drinking alcohol (a 22 year old being hanged for drinking alcohol four times), might actually be a good thing. (And yes, that was sarcasm.)

UPDATE IV:  The information in Danny Lemieux’s comment deserves to be up here, in the post:

Here is a perspective that will never appear in the Western MSM:

There are Anglicans all over the Third World /Developing World pitted in a life struggle against Islam, from the Middle East (Sudan, Palestine, Iraq) to Africa to Southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan). Look anywhere along the burning crescent where Islam collides with kuffar infidels, you will find Anglicans struggling to protect their faith.

The largest Anglican community (by far) is in Nigeria, where Anglicans and other Christians have been struggling against an ongoing and vicious  jihad by northern Muslims, one that often breaks out into random massacres of Christian villages and a vicious imposition of Sharia in Muslim-controlled areas.

An aide to the Nigerian bishop Akinola once told me that the greatest damage the U.S. church did by appointing an openly homosexual bishop (the current bishop in New Hampshire) was to undercut the moral authority of Christians struggling against Islam in his country. It gave Muslim radicals a powerful propaganda tool with which to expand their influence.

I can’t think of an act more damaging to these Anglican Christians , in fact…ALL Christians, than to have the Archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of what is primarily a Third World Church,  give notice of his surrender to Sharia…other than, perhaps, his own conversion to Islam. What this twit did was not only horrendously stupid but enormously costly to those of Christian faith struggling in the trenches to protect all for which it stands. He will have blood on his hands for this.

You can be a Muslim and a good citizen too

A nice story of genuine heroism out of Britain:

Among the new Britons taking part in citizenship ceremonies today will be one man who has already put his life on the line to protect his adopted country.

Reda Hassaine will stand in Islington Town Hall, North London, to affirm allegiance to the Queen and pledge to give his “loyalty to the United Kingdom and to respect its rights and freedoms”.

Mr Hassaine’s journey to this point has been long and dangerous. An Algerian who went undercover in Finsbury Park mosque to gather information on extremists, he has endured beatings and death threats, and abandonment by his spymasters. After years of fighting to be British, he told The Times: “At last I can look forward to planning my life, to being able to travel freely. I will be so proud to call myself a British citizen.”

Mr Hassaine, 46, arrived in Britain in 1994, one of thousands fleeing the civil conflict between Islamist guerrillas and the Algerian military. As a journalist, he was under threat of death from the Islamists, and, after a friend was murdered, he volunteered for the Algerian secret services. He began attending mosques in North London where exiled members of the Armed Islamic Group were raising funds and planning attacks in Algeria and France.

Mr Hassaine was also asked to pass information to DGSE, the French intelligence service, and he established contact with the London embassy. Their interest in his work grew as Abu Hamza al-Masri turned the Finsbury Park mosque into an extremist haven. Mr Hassaine alleges that the French discussed kidnapping the cleric.

By the end of 1998 Mr Hassaine was working for Scotland Yard’s Special Branch before being passed to an MI5 handler. He continued to report on the activities of Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, the Palestinian cleric who ran a Friday prayer group from a community centre near Baker Street. But Britain did not regard the growing band of Islamistswith the same seriousness as either France or Algeria. The French nicknamed the city Londonistan but at the end of the 1990s the main terrorist threat to Britain was still assessed to be the IRA and dissident Irish republican groups.

In 2000 Mr Hassaine’s cover was blown and he was badly beaten by Abu Qatada’s henchmen. He claims that his MI5 handlers, who he says had promised him British citizenship in return for his information, dropped him.

“I volunteered to work for the intelligence services of all three countries because all of them had the same enemy,” he said. “The only reward I expected was from God, who teaches that if you save a life it is like you have saved all of humanity and if you kill it is as if you have killed all of humanity.”  (Emphasis mine. — ed.)

After September 11, 2001, Mr Hassaine became a prominent whistleblower, revealing how Britain had turned “a blind eye” to the Islamist threat.

His decision to go public seemed to threaten his hopes of citizenship. His former wife and his two children became citizens in 2005 but he had to wait. In a letter to Treasury solicitors, Mr Hassaine’s lawyers wrote: “Mr Hassaine was paid very little for his work but agreed to do so on the promise that citizenship would be arranged for him and his family and that he would be protected. Instead he has been threatened with deportation and his life has been put at great risk.”

This month the Home Office wrote to Mr Hassaine congratulating him. He said: “This is all I ever wanted. It gives my life a security that it has lacked for years.”

Britain’s descent into madness

From Mark Steyn:

My favorite headline of the year so far comes from The Daily Mail in Britain: “Government Renames Islamic Terrorism As ‘Anti-Islamic Activity’ To Woo Muslims.”

Her Majesty’s government is not alone in feeling it’s not always helpful to link Islam and the, ah, various unpleasantnesses with suicide bombers and whatnot. Even in his cowboy Crusader heyday, President Bush liked to cool down the crowd with a lot of religion-of-peace stuff. But the British have now decided that kind of mealy-mouthed “respect” is no longer sufficient. So, henceforth, any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will be designated “anti-Islamic activity” Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. “There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief,” she told her audience. “Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic.”

[snip]

The British home secretary would respond that not all moderate imams are as gung-ho to detonate moppets. Which is true. But, by insisting on re-labeling terrorism committed by Muslims in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity,” Her Majesty’s government is engaging not merely in Orwellian Newspeak but in self-defeating Orwellian Newspeak. The broader message it sends is that ours is a weak culture so unconfident and insecure that if you bomb us and kill us our first urge is to find a way to flatter and apologize to you.

Here’s another news item out of Britain this week: A new version of The Three Little Pigs was turned down for some “excellence in education” award on the grounds that “the use of pigs raises cultural issues” and, as a result, the judges “had concerns for the Asian community” — i.e., Muslims. Non-Muslim Asians — Hindus and Buddhists – have no “concerns” about anthropomorphized pigs.

This is now a recurring theme in British life. A while back, it was a local government council telling workers not to have knick-knacks on their desks representing Winnie-the-Pooh’s porcine sidekick, Piglet. As Martin Niemöller famously said, first they came for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character and, if I was, I’m more of an Eeyore. So then they came for the Three Little Pigs, and Babe, and by the time I realized my country had turned into a 24/7 Looney Tunes it was too late, because there was no Porky Pig to stammer “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” and bring the nightmare to an end.

You’ll want to read the rest, which you’ll find here.

Views from abroad

A Dutch politician described as “radical right-wing” and “extremist”* is about to trigger some new convulsions amongst Holland’s Islamic residents:

The Dutch government is bracing itself for violent protests following the scheduled broadcast this week of a provocative anti-Muslim film by a radical right-wing politician who has threatened to broadcast images of the Koran being torn up and otherwise desecrated.

Cabinet ministers and officials, fearing a repetition of the crisis sparked by the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper two years ago, have held a series of crisis meetings and ordered counter-terrorist services to draw up security plans. Dutch nationals overseas have been asked to register with their embassies and local mayors in the Netherlands have been put on standby.

Geert Wilders, one of nine members of the extremist VVD (Freedom) party in the 150-seat Dutch lower house, has promised that his film will be broadcast – on television or on the internet – whatever the pressure may be. It will, he claims, reveal the Koran as ‘source of inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror’.

Dutch diplomats are already trying to pre-empt international reaction. ‘It is difficult to anticipate the content of the film, but freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend,’ said Maxime Verhagen, the Foreign Minister, who was in Madrid to attend the Alliance of Civilisations, an international forum aimed at reducing tensions between the Islamic world and the West. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other towns with large Muslim populations, imams say they have needed to ‘calm down’ growing anger in their communities.

Government officials hope that no mainstream media organisation will agree to show the film, although one publicly funded channel, Nova, initially agreed before pulling out. ‘A broadcast on a public channel could imply that the government supported the project,’ said an Interior Ministry spokesman.

Demonstrations are also expected from those opposed to Wilders beyond Holland’s Muslim community – a number of left-wing activists have already been arrested – and from his supporters. Members of a group calling itself Stop Islamisation of Europe are planning to travel to Amsterdam. ‘Geert Wilders is an elected politician who has made a film, and that he is under armed guard as a result is absolutely outrageous,’ said Stephen Gash, a UK-based member, yesterday. ‘It is all about free speech.’

There were a couple of points in that article that intrigued me.  First, there was Maxime Verhagen’s view of free speech:  “It is difficult to anticipate the content of the film, but freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend.”  In fact, free speeh means precisely that — you get to say what you want to say, even if it offends someone.  This view that free speech can’t be offensive is, of course, identical to the speech codes that stultify American college campuses.  It’s also a complete lie, because those who espouse this point of view don’t mean it.  What they really mean is “freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend me or those I deem beyond criticism.  I, of course, am perfectly free to use my speech to offend you.”

The second thing that intrigued me was the fact that the film is going to include “images of the Koran being torn up and otherwise desecrated.”  Why would the filmmakers do that?  To make a film about Muslim violence is, I think, perfectly valid, since only someone in complete denial could, in a straight-faced way, claim that Muslims don’t have anything to do with many of the convulsions going on around the world today.  The fact is that, whether you’re in Iran, Iraq, Israel, Holland, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bali, Spain, Britain, the United States or myriad other spots around the world, the common denominator when bombs blow up, or free thinkers are murdered, or school girls beheaded, or airplanes collide with buildings is radical Islam.  (Check out The Religion of Peace for more info about this point.)  One can do a perfectly good indictment of radical Islam without lowering oneself to the same tactics employed by Islamists — that is, desecrating the symbols of another’s religion.  As you can see from the footnote, I’m unwilling automatically to accept the Guardian‘s designation of Geert Wilders as “radical right wing.”  However, demeaning what could be a serious film about a real problem indicates that there may be truth to that designation.

And sort of bouncing off of that last point, the rise of the truly extreme right wing in Europe (something Charles Johnson has been dealing with at LGF) demonstrates a very scary point about politics:  If the stable middle refuses to respond to a crisis, a panicked populace will embrace the radical extremes.   Had the mainstream, somewhat leftist European governments taken seriously the Islamist threat and worked harder, not to placate the extremists, but to assimilate its moderate Muslim population, ordinary citizens would not have that sinking feeling of abandonment that leads them to hate-mongering political parties.

___________________

*I don’t automatically accept this description, not because it’s necessarily false (and, indeed, there are signs that it’s true), but because (a) I don’t know anything about the politician’s point of view; (b) Europe’s right and left classifications don’t match ours that closely; and (c) consistent with point (b), above, this article comes from the British Guardian paper and in its view everything that’s not left is far right.

Oh, those wacky Islamic radicals

You can’t blame America, Israel or the War in Iraq for this one. It’s just those fun-loving, bomb-throwing Islamists having their fun again:

Islamic radicals may have been plotting attacks in Barcelona, Spain’s Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said on Saturday, after police found bomb-making materials and arrested 14 South Asians.

Rubalcaba told a news conference civil guard police found explosives and other equipment during raids on five addresses in Spain’s second city, and arrested 12 Pakistanis and two Indians after receiving information from its own and other European intelligence agencies.

Spain suffered Europe’s deadliest Islamist attack when four Madrid trains were bombed in March 2004, killing 191 commuters and wounding a further 1,800, three days before a general election. With less than two months before Spain’s next national poll, Rubalcaba said security services remained on high alert.

The interior minister said Saturday’s raids were distinct from many operations against Islamic militants in the past, which largely targeted groups seeking to finance radical groups or recruit members to fight.

“Here we are looking at something different: a well-organized group who were going beyond ideological radicalism to acquiring materials to make explosives and therefore eventually to carry out violent attacks,” he said.

Spain’s intelligence services have warned France, Portugal and the UK that radicals, principally of Pakistani origin, were ready to launch imminent attacks, newspaper website El Pais reported. It gave no further details.

Spain’s Interior Ministry regards Islamic militants, rather than Basque separatists ETA, as Spain’s greatest security threat and has significantly beefed up surveillance of mosques and employed more Arabic translators in the last four years.

Rubalcaba said the group, which had stockpiled bomb-making materials including timers and ball-bearings, had been ready to act. Computers were also seized during the operation in the historic district of Raval just after midnight.

At this point, at least a few Spaniards might be realizing that Spain’s craven yielding to the Islamists in 2004 (when Spaniards flocked to the polls to elect a government they knew would withdraw from Iraq) did not, in fact, placate the implacable. Although Islamists play to the West by offering one specific grievance or another (American’s on sacred soil in Saudi Arabia, American support of Israel, Spanish support of America, etc.), those are just sops to the credulous. This is full out war, with the world as the Islamists’ battlefield and the Western press as their usefully idiotic mouthpiece.

Another “honor” killing in Britain?

The phrase “honor killing” doesn’t show up anywhere in this article, but it sound remarkably as if a much-abused young British woman was murdered because she refused to marry the Pakistani man her parents had picked for her:

A coroner this morning returned a verdict of unlawful killing on a Muslim teenager who vanished from home after refusing an arranged marriage, saying she was the victim of a “very vile” murder.

Ian Smith, East and South Cumbria coroner, said the way Shafilea Ahmed’s body had been hidden in a riverbank miles from home convinced him she was murdered, and said she probably died shortly after going missing.

After the verdict Cheshire Police vowed to continue investigating the death of the “beautiful and vulnerable young girl” until the killer or killers had been brought to justice.

Miss Ahmed, 17, disappeared four months after being taken to Pakistan by her parents to meet a potential husband. She refused to go ahead with the ceremony and even drank bleach in protest.

Her inquest heard she regularly suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her parents and was terrified about being forced into marriage.

The inquest heard that early in 2003 she ran away from home, only to be coaxed back on the promise she would not be taken to Pakistan. However, that trip went ahead and she was introduced to a suitor, but refused to go ahead with any wedding.

In September, Miss Ahmed, who wore western clothes and wanted to be a solicitor, disappeared from her home in Warrington, Cheshire.

Four months later her decomposed body was found washed up on a flooded riverbank at Sedgwick, near Kendal. She had been strangled or smothered.

Her parents, Iftikhar and Farzana, were arrested on suspicion of kidnap, and other members of her family were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. All were released without charge.

Quick picks *UPDATED*

The kids are back in school and I thought the house would fall silent and I would blog again. However, it turns out — and this is very flattering — that there were a lot of people who wanted to talk to me but felt they couldn’t while the kids were around. I’ve spent the last two hours on the phone with people who really, really needed to have my ear. So, blogging this morning will be somewhat abbreviated, and will boil down to my sharing with you somethings I found interesting.

The first thing I found interesting was the fact that both the WaPo and the WSJ expressed real dismay at the fact that the Dem candidates are engaging in truly unseemly contortions in their efforts to deny the Surge’s success. If this is just political expediency, it reflects poorly on their character. If it’s a genuine psychological inability to recognize the situation on the ground, its very scary that people who propose themselves as our Commander in Chief are laboring under that kind of mental handicap. At minimum, I’d like the person with his (or her) finger on the button to exist in the real world, and not suffer from monomaniacal delusions.

Speaking of delusions, Dennis Prager challenges the claim that Barack Obama is a “uniter.” This claim is, of course, ridiculous on its face. Obama is bound and determined to withdraw troops from Iraq instanter, if not sooner, as a colleague of mine used to say, while I’m an equally firm believer in staying in Iraq until the situation is completely stabilized for the US’s benefit. Where’s the middle road on that one? How in the heck is he going to “unite” his and my entirely disparate views? Here’s Dennis’ take on the real meaning behind the “unity” claim:

If those who call for unity told the whole truth, this is what they would say: “I want everyone to unite — behind my values. I want everyone who disagrees with me to change the way they think so that we can all be united. I myself have no plans to change my positions on any important issues in order to achieve this unity. So in order to achieve it, I assume that all of you who differ with me will change your views and values and embrace mine.”

If people from opposing viewpoints listening to Barack actually think he stands for their position, it’s because Barack is prevaricating and obfuscating. If he were clear and honest about his positions (and he is clear and honest about the War), approximately half the electorate would not view him as a uniter, but would view him as someone who could not possibly represent their interests.

Incidentally, Fred Siegel addresses much the same issue — Barack’s alleged universality — when he points out that those he knows who like Obama are completely unable to articulate what it is they like about him beyond a pretty face and nice voice. Many are also impressed by his Ivy League credentials, something that utterly fails to impress me. As I’ve mentioned before, while I’m sure there have been lots of good lawyers who emerged from Harvard Law in the last 20 years, I haven’t met them. Without exception, the Harvard lawyers I have met, have been almost stunningly inept. Many have been smart and nice, but all of them have ranked in the bottom 5th of lawyers I’ve worked with or appeared against. For me, a Harvard Law degree is like a big red warning sign. And if you are a wonderful, intelligent, incredibly competent Harvard lawyer reading this, my apologies. Clearly, I just haven’t met you, so you haven’t been able to un-skew my view.

On a completely different subject, let’s talk about vaccination. I’m a huge proponent of vaccination, something I think results both from the fact that I’m a history lover and I have older parents. The history part means that I’ve read about all the horrible epidemics that decimated childhood populations. Even in the 20th Century, although the US was able to reduce the 50% child mortality that existed in all prior eras and other places, polio was still a nightmare disease that hung over childhood until the Salk vaccine came along. My parents had measles, scarlet fever and diphtheria. I carry a discrete chicken pox scar on my face. The diseases are real and the consequences can be significant. As the diseases receded, though, people started fearing the vaccines’ side effects, even though those side effects, in all cases, have been minute compared to the disease risks. The latest fear was the fear that the preservative in many childhood vaccines caused autism. Yet another study has dis-proven this fear. I hope that finding encourages parents who were holding off on vaccines to give the subject another thought.

Here’s another wild jump in topic. The New York Times has a moderately interesting article about gephyrophobia — the fear of bridges. I’ve always found bridges concerning, perhaps because I grew up in earthquake country. My vague fear solidified completely when I saw the first Superman movie, back in 1978. (PLOT SPOILER HERE FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE.) As you may recall, Lex Luthor’s nefarious plot involved creating a massive earthquake to get rid of California entirety, so that the Nevada property he’d purchased cheap would become valuable beach front property. When he successfully gets an earthquake going, the Golden Gate Bridge collapses. (SPOILER OVER.) As a kid in San Francisco, that image stuck with me — and was reinforced during 1989′s Loma Prieta earthquake, when a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed, killing one woman. I never got to the point where I avoided bridges, but I can’t say that I enjoy them.

Another topical leap: Your child and mine can now get college credit — at a taxpayer funded college — learning how to be gay. Yup, it’s truly no child left behind, or no child’s behind left alone, I’m not sure which. The famous university-level Mickey Mouse classes have just risen (or sunk) to a whole new level.

Whenever honor killings occur, whether in Canada or Texas, the usual suspects emerge to explain that honor killings and other acts of abuse against women have nothing to do with Islam, and that it’s just a bizarre coincidence that they keep cropping up in the Islamic community. Robert Spencer, however, got wind of a Yemeni columnist who wants nothing to do with this politically correct horse pucky. He’s quite clear on the fact that Islam demands the physical abuse of women — for their own good, of course.

And for now, th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

UPDATE: Whoops! I missed it. Fred Barnes also tackled the Dems’ peculiar aversion to the truth about the Surge.

UPDATE II: I like Bret Stephens’ take on the silliness of Obama’s constant promise to end American division in future:

Barack Obama, still fresh from his victory in Iowa last week and confident of another in New Hampshire tonight, has as his signature campaign theme the promise to “end the division” in America. Notice the irony: The scale of his Iowa victory, in a state that’s 94% white, is perhaps the clearest indication so far that the division Mr. Obama promises to end has largely been put to rest.

Of course, Barack’s Iowa victory may also cast into the light something I’ve already noted: Barack’s not really black. Sure, he’s got a genetic black inheretence, and he likes obsessing about his blackness, but his youthful influences and his education were mainstream white — something American blacks might notice.

UPDATE IIIChristopher Hitchens also examines the icky obsession with Obama’s race and suggests that, if you have questions about his racial views, you might want to check out the website for the Church with which Obama is publicly affiliated.  (Hat tip:  The Anchoress.)

Bad news out of England

British mosques are not simply preaching religious morals:

Almost half of Britain’s mosques are under the control of a hardline Islamic sect whose leading preacher loathes Western values and has called on Muslims to “shed blood” for Allah, an investigation by The Times has found.

Riyadh ul Haq, who supports armed jihad and preaches contempt for Jews, Christians and Hindus, is in line to become the spiritual leader of the Deobandi sect in Britain. The ultra-conservative movement, which gave birth to the Taleban in Afghanistan, now runs more than 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques, according to a police report seen by The Times.

The Times investigation casts serious doubts on government statements that foreign preachers are to blame for spreading the creed of radical Islam in Britain’s mosques and its policy of enouraging the recruitment of more “home-grown” preachers.

Mr ul Haq, 36, was educated and trained at an Islamic seminary in Britain and is part of a new generation of British imams who share a similar radical agenda. He heaps scorn on any Muslims who say they are “proud to be British” and argues that friendship with a Jew or a Christian makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion”.

Seventeen of Britain’s 26 Islamic seminaries are run by Deobandis and they produce 80 per cent of home-trained Muslim clerics. Many had their studies funded by local education authority grants. The sect, which has significant representation on the Muslim Council of Britain, is at its strongest in the towns and cities of the Midlands and northern England.

Figures supplied to The Times by the Lancashire Council of Mosques reveal that 59 of the 75 mosques in five towns – Blackburn, Bolton, Preston, Oldham and Burnley – are Deobandi-run.

It is not suggested that all British Muslims who worship at Deobandi mosques subscribe to the isolationist message preached by Mr ul Haq, and he himself suggests Muslims should only “shed blood” overseas.

Read the rest here.

I wonder, in the face of this fanaticism, how useful the British government’s latest anti-extremist plan is: to empower Muslim women by sending them to management courses. I’m laughing even as I write this. On the one hand, you have men and women who leave mosques imbued with the most powerful form of religious and political hatreds. And on the other hand, you have women who have been to a corporate empowerment class. Boardroom versus battlefield; negotiation table versus suicide bomber. The mind boggles.

Judeo-Christian doctrine and moral freedom

I did a post yesterday in which I quoted from an interview with Michael Cappi regarding the fact that Islam, unlike Judaism or Christianity, is not a religion that concerns itself with broader moral issues that rise above mere tribal law. I’d actually made precisely the same point in an earlier post, here. In connection with this most recent post, however, I got the following comment, which I reprint here verbatim, and which I thought was absolutely fascinating:

this person became interested in islam for what ? to embrace it or to pick, and nick and misquate,and then on top pour all the filth on islam with the likes of Rushdie, Ali Sana,Ali Hersi etc the so called humanists who have nothing to offer but nothingness,while islam comes with the full package, and answers for all your problums and they can not stomach it.they know that islam has tasted rule and one who tastes it wants it at any cast,and these poor humanist and winging liberals will be the loosers. their ways and rules have every one in mess , the biggest problum man faces is , alcaholism,the answer is in islam,gambling, again the answer is in islam,pornography,and degrading of your sisters and mothers,the answer is islam,rape ,every year over 20000 your sisters are raped in Amercia just alone,you aply the islamic law and the rate will be 0.01%,while on the other hand the law of these human wishy woshers allow the rapest to get a few years in jail where he fed and made even stronger so when he gets out he goesand rapes the other sister. shame on you ,keep listening to these devils and you will loose your daughters wholesale. so come on people look at islam your self and avoid these wingers and scare mongers. (Emphasis mine.)

As you can see, the part that really intrigued me was the bit in the second half about rape, since it seemed to highlight the way in which both Islamists and the Left view people, and may go a long way to explaining why people professing these radically different ideologies (Leftism and Islamism) can work so well together. The fact is that, although they devise different (or no punishments) for whatever crime is before them, neither believes in free will or in man’s ability to make moral decisions independent of his immediate circumstances.

Let me start with Islam’s view of free will. Actually, considering that “Islam” means “submission,” I probably don’t have to do this discussion at all, since the name tends to be a giveaway about the religion’s approach to free will. Nevertheless, I’ll still give you my little analysis explaining why I think that Islam denies that man has a moral capacity that can override his animal instincts.

It’s obvious that Islam is misogynistic. What’s less obvious is its misanthropy. The blatant misogyny is, of course, known to all of you and tends to fall into the three categories: (1) the restrictions placed on and abuses against women’s bodies and their brains, (2) the horrible punishments enacted against them for deviating from Muslim norms, and (3) the honor killings that reflect their chattel status within a male dominated culture.

The misanthropy is less overt, but it actually lies behind all these horrors visited against Muslim women: In Islam, men are viewed as so weak and animal-like that they cannot be expected to resist women’s lures. That is, a man who sees a woman uncovered or unaccompanied cannot be expected to resist taking her sexually. He is helpless.

This view of men, as utterly unable to overcome their basic instincts is, to my mind, a pathetic view that denies the possibility of free will, moral calculation or strength of character. All men are animals, controlled by their lust, and all women are mere sexual objects who must be erased for men’s protection. The Sharia laws reflect this debased view of human kind in the its punishments are extreme and violent.  They assume that men (and women) will be dissuaded from wrongful acts only if they are subject to death, dismemberment or whipping.  The concept of redemptive punishment for crimes less than intentional murder — the type of punishment that sees you lose freedom, time and dignity, but that is not a brutal physical assault against you, and that holds out the possibility of starting fresh — is alien in this world view.  In Islam, men cannot be trusted to make good decisions at the front end, nor can they be trusted to learn from bad experiences at the back end — only the most violent dissuasion will work against them.

Things on the Left aren’t much better, although the Left’s degraded view of mankind is a little bit less obvious. It starts with the Leftist principle that all people are controlled by their environment. If you’re poor; if you’re black; if you’re Hispanic; if you’re female; if you’re the victim of spousal, parental or sexual abuse; if you live in the Third World; if you’re in a former colony — all of these factors mean that, if your conduct is violent and antisocial, you get a pass. You cannot be held responsible for your actions.

The above paragraph is fairly abstract, so let me reduce it to more concrete terms. The view that environmental factors are so strong that people are incapable of exerting self-control or making moral choices appears most clearly in the way liberals view African Americans. My default example is Damian Williams, one of the young black men who savaged Reginald Denny during the Rodney King riots. Although there was no doubt that he had tried to kill Denny, Williams was still acquitted.

In a newspaper interview, Williams explained away his conduct by saying that he was “caught up in the rapture.” Indeed, as the New York Times reported at the time, “Mr. Williams, a 20-year-old black man, was acquitted in October of most charges against him by a sympathetic jury.” I believe that, had Williams been a white man who killed gays or blacks, that statement and the verdict that preceded it would have been held up by the liberal establishment as disgusting, horrific and vile. As it was, my memory (and I’m open to correction here) was that the media piled on with a bunch of stories about young men, and black rage, and mob identity, etc. In other words, being caught up in the rapture was a pretty acceptable excuse for trying to beat a man’s head in because he was the wrong color, in the wrong place. No one seemed concerned that a young man, a human being, had behaved like an animal, and no one seemed to expect better from him.

The next obvious example of this kind of liberal nihilism regarding man’s moral capacity is, of course, the reporting about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Within days of the hurricane, Randall Robinson, a prominent black activist, was stating that African-American hurricane victims were cannibalizing each other. He eventually had to retract that claim.

Although the cannibalism assertion was patently ridiculous to anyone who thought about it (it had only been three days since the Hurricane, for goodness sake), it got a lot of press, probably because the media was perfectly ready, with the best intentions in the world, to think the worst of the African-American hurricane victims. Why else would they instantly have begun reporting lurid stories of murder, rape, and suicide? (Here’s one example: “Stories of rape, murder and suicide have emerged.”)

Ultimately, it turned out that one man alone was responsible for widely spread and credulously accepted reports to the effect that, during his stay in the Superdome, a man was murdered, a woman was raped and stabbed, and a man jumped from a balcony. The media ate it up. Other reports had murder in the streets, widespread looting, and rape all over New Orleans. (This story from England is a good example.)

Almost without exception, the above stories about base black behavior were untrue. Shortly after the media had everyone a’twitter with this hysterical reporting, it emerged that almost none of the anarchy alleged had actually happened. Even the World Socialist Website attacked the completely inaccurate reporting emerging from Katrina, although it predictably saw the rumors as part of a government plot.

Both of these examples, whether dealing with actual fact (Williams really did try to kill someone) or rumor (the Katrina reports), operate on the same basic premise: blacks are economic/racial victims and are therefore incapable of controlling themselves under circumstances in which we could expect more from people of other (read:  white) races.

As I said, this kind of thinking isn’t limited to blacks, of course. It’s part of the whole Marxist/Freudian soup that hit mainstream America big time in the 1950s. West Side Story is a frivolous paradigm of both this belief system and of a moment in time when liberal American was still capable of taking a step back from, and laughing at, these Marxist belief systems about race, economics and class. Mr. Bookworm recently screened the movie for the kids and, watching it, I was struck, as always, by the utterly shallow thinking about race and economics that lies behind it. I’m not discounting the fact that there were racial tensions in all emerging immigrant neighborhoods, as there still are, but this musical makes very clear that the real issue lies with the doctrine that was to take over in America — it’s not the malfeasor’s fault, it’s our fault because he is poor.

As I said, West Side Story is an early example of this now pervasive thinking, so liberals were still able to recognize the problems it could create when it came to assigning blame for wrongdoing — as demonstrated by Stephen Sondheim’s patter song “Gee, Officer Krupke“:

ACTION
Dear kindly Judge, your Honor,
My parents treat me rough.
With all their marijuana,
They won’t give me a puff.
They didn’t wanna have me,
But somehow I was had.
Leapin’ lizards! That’s why I’m so bad!

[snip]

Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;
This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!
It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
He’s psychologic’ly disturbed!

[snip]

DIESEL: (Spoken, as Judge) In the opinion on this court, this child is depraved on account he ain’t had a normal home.

ACTION: (Spoken) Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.

DIESEL: So take him to a headshrinker.

ACTION (Sings)
My father is a bastard,
My ma’s an S.O.B.
My grandpa’s always plastered,
My grandma pushes tea.
My sister wears a mustache,
My brother wears a dress.
Goodness gracious, that’s why I’m a mess!

A-RAB: (As Psychiatrist) Yes!
Officer Krupke, you’re really a slob.
This boy don’t need a doctor, just a good honest job.
Society’s played him a terrible trick,
And sociologic’ly he’s sick!

[snip]

A-RAB: In my opinion, this child don’t need to have his head shrunk at all. Juvenile delinquency is purely a social disease!

ACTION: Hey, I got a social disease!

A-RAB: So take him to a social worker!

ACTION
Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn a buck.
Like be a soda jerker,
Which means like be a schumck.
It’s not I’m anti-social,
I’m only anti-work.
Gloryosky! That’s why I’m a jerk!

BABY JOHN: (As Female Social Worker)
Eek!
Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again.
This boy don’t need a job, he needs a year in the pen.
It ain’t just a question of misunderstood;
Deep down inside him, he’s no good!

[snip]

DIESEL (As Judge)
The trouble is he’s crazy.

A-RAB (As Psychiatrist)
The trouble is he drinks.

BABY JOHN (As Female Social Worker)
The trouble is he’s lazy.

DIESEL
The trouble is he stinks.

A-RAB
The trouble is he’s growing.

BABY JOHN
The trouble is he’s grown.

ALL
Krupke, we got troubles of our own!

Gee, Officer Krupke,
We’re down on our knees,
‘Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease.
Gee, Officer Krupke,
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Krupke,
Krup you!

I’m no Sondheim fan, but that is a brilliant song that exposes all the excuses inherent in liberal thinking about crime and punishment.  No one actually commits a crime, because no one exercises the “free will” that underlies the American system of crime, with its focus on malicious intent (as opposed to negligence).  If if people cannot be held responsible for their crime, they certainly cannot be punished.  Or at least, the actor cannot be punished.

As Dennis Prager has pointed out more than once, failing to punish the actor often means that it’s the innocent who suffer.  What this means is that, in some ways, the Left is even worse than Islam.  Both deny man free will and conscience, but Sharia law at least has the decency to punish the wrongdoing (although the moral balancing that sees a woman designated as the wrong-doer for being raped leaves something to be desired).  The Left, however, which also gives man the moral weight of an animal is too softhearted to punish that wild animal, with the sad result that, as the murderous lion is allowed to walk free, the innocent lamb is often eaten.

So, we have two apparently antithetical doctrines that share a common thread in their belief that man is enslaved to his environment and his animal lusts, and is incapable of moral decision-making and self-control. That the responses are different — violent punishment versus no punishment at all — doesn’t subtract from the nihilistic core underlying both.  Give me good old Judeo-Christian thought any day, which holds that man is a rational, moral creature who can control himself, who is capable of making moral decisions despite difficult situations, and who if he commits crimes short of the most heinous ones (intentional murder topping the list), should be punished in a way that is meaningful, but leaves the possibility of redemption.

CAIR — and why you should care what it’s doing

Cinnamon Stillwell is an amazing person:  witty, charming, personable and wonderfully intelligent, with a strong analytical bent.  It is these last two characteristics that appear in the forefront of an extremely important article she wrote in, of all venues, the San Francisco Chronicle.  Beginning with CAIR’s pernicious attacks against the self-admittedly inflammatory Michael Savage, Stillwell embarks upon a lucid, interesting and frightening analysis of CAIR, detailing what it is and how it operates.  I can’t do any part of Cinnamon’s writing justice by quoting bits and pieces here, so I simply urge you to follow this link and read the whole article yourself.

Hat tip:  LGF (and I’m really embarrassed that I didn’t find the article myself).

Islam’s long war

Michael Cappi, who got interested in Islam after being near Ground Zero on 9/11, has written what looks like a must-read book called A Never Ending War. Jamie Glazon interviews Cappi at Front Page Magazine, and Cappi has some very interesting things to say about the nature of Islam, the Koran, War and the West:

If anyone takes the time to read the Qur’an the answer to your question is simple and very obvious. For accuracy purposes I read three versions. They all agree in principle. The Qur’an is nothing like the Bible or New Testament. In no way and certainly not in substance or intent is it similar. By the way any belief system can be perverted to nefarious ends but if the system itself is fundamentally benign or moral any perversion of its philosophical premises can be righted. However, when the belief system itself is corrupt or evil no good can come from it. The Qur’an is just such a belief system: it is a “blueprint for war” and for the subjugation of the non-believer. To the extent it deals with any aspect of morality it is similar to the Judeo-Christian ethic but only if this ethic is not in conflict with the goals of Islam’s spread and world conquest.

The Qur’an is filled with endless directives compelling Muslims to convert, conquer or kill non-believers and to conquer the non-Islamic world. Further Islam dictates that the Qur’an must be accepted and followed literally. Apostasy is heresy and punishable by death. It is this belief system that throughout history has caused Muslims to endlessly embark on conquest. In 1400 years of history the only time the West has been at “peace” with Islam was from the end of the Ottoman Empire early in the 20th Century through the end of World War ll. The reason for Islam’s dormancy during this brief period was the overwhelming superiority of the West technologically and economically along with the impoverished and largely uneducated Islamic world. The difference made it impossible for Islam to confront the West in any way. The vast quantity of money flowing into the Middle East from the sale of oil after WWII has allowed Islam to buy what it needs to once again begin its quest. The modern jihad was born.

The oil money has funded the terrorists, the construction of endless mosques and madrassas- Islamic religious schools – throughout the West. Both school and mosque almost all preach the most extreme form of Islam – Wahhabism. Our “friends” the Saudis fund most of these activities.

Perhaps that was a long-winded way of saying that Islam itself is the enemy, not a number of terrorist groups. Terrorism is one of Islam’s tools but it is the religion of Islam that is at war with us. One might ask how can a religion be at war with countries? The brief answer lies in the fact that there is no separation of church and state in Islam. The law of Islam is Shari’ and it is derived from the Qur’an and Haddiths. Every Muslim country in the world is governed by Shari’a. (Turkey is an exception but even it does not violate Shari’a and in fact is suffering an internal struggle to adopt overthrow its secular laws in favor of Shari’a.)

The central theme found throughout the Qur’an and embodied in Shari’a is a concept of a very definite world order. There can exist, according to Islam only two states in the world: dar al Islam – the realm of Islam and dar al harb – the realm of war. If you are not part of Islam you are at war with Islam. The war can take any form, be it terrorism, subversion or economics.

Through Shari’a the religion of Islam and the state of Islam are one. For a Muslim there is no conflict in this regard. The absolute essential theme of every action of every Islamic nation and practicing Muslim is the establishment of Shari’a in every country in the world just as Mohammed commanded through the Qur’an. This has been a driving force for 1400 years.

And for those of you who insist on linking Mormons to Islamists as a way to defeat Romney’s candidacy — stop that right now.  I’m perfectly willing to concede that Mormon doctrine is strange to the uninitiated and that it is unforgivably derivative to Christian purists.

People also complaint about Mormonism’s subjugation of women, something that is certainly true for the more bizarre polygamists but that is not true for the mainstream Mormons.  (And I say this as someone who knows many, many Mormon families.)  The fact is that the Mormon approach to wives, although wrapped up in an admittedly peculiar afterlife doctrine, is in keeping with all Judeo-Christian religions that see a defined role for the woman that is separate from the man’s, and that gives the man pride of place in the family unit.  The most explicit statement of this doctrine I’ve ever seen was at the very beautiful wedding of super-fundamentalist Christian friends.  There the minister was at pains to remind the new wife that, just as Christ is the head of the Church, so her husband would be the head of the family. He also reminded the new husband, though, that whether in the Christian faith or the Christian family, a head with no body, or a head with a maltreated body, is ineffective at best and meaningless at worst.

To get back to Mitt — his Mormon faith believes in conversion through words and love, not through the sword which is the single most important distinction between it and Islam.  There are a few other important distinctions, though, and we’d do well not to forget them.  Mormonism it does not advocate the overthrow of the US government in favor of a Mormon theocracy; it does not advocate the subjection of Western women; it does not advocate the mass conversion of all Americans; and it does not consider Jews and other Christians to be inferior people who deserve death and slavery.

I could go on and on, but I hope you get my point.  You may not like Mormonism (I don’t myself), but please do not fall in the prejudiced fallacy of likening a solid American Mormon to a wild Islamic fundamentalist.

Would the Muslims really make nice with us if Israel were gone?

In my post about Jews’ love for Israel and America, I noted Michael Medved’s thought experiment, which was to imagine whether world attitudes towards America would change if Israel magically vanished, as well as his conclusion that nothing would change. Nevertheless, in the comments to that post — and perhaps inevitably given how widespread the canard is that Israel taints America — came the charge that it’s all Israel’s fault that the Muslim nations have aligned against us. It is for that reason that I now post about a bombing that normally would not provide subject matter for this blog (heinous though the bombing was):

Two car bombs ripped through the Algerian capital Tuesday, reportedly killing at least 62 people in what appeared to be targeted attacks on government and United Nations buildings.

One explosion occurred outside the constitutional court in the Algiers neighborhood of Ben Aknoun while the other took place in the residential area of Hydra tearing the front off the U.N.’s headquarters in the city.

A reporter from CNN affiliate BFM quoted hospital sources as saying 62 people were killed in both blasts.

[snip]

So far no group has admitted responsibility for Tuesday’s blasts.

[snip]

Algeria, which has a population of three million, is still recovering from more than a decade of violence that began after the military government called a halt to elections which an Islamist party was poised to win.

Tens of thousands of people died in the unrest. Although the country has remained relatively peaceful, recent terrorist attacks have raised fears of a slide back to violence.

In April, the northern Africa wing of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in downtown Algiers that killed 33 people.

A couple of points: First, although the police are not yet sure, it is reasonable to believe that this is an Al Qaeda blast, both because of Al Qaeda’s history in Algeria and because of the simultaneously explosions, a typical AQ hallmark. Second, neither Algeria nor the UN are friends of Israel or America.

In other words, the Muslim violence described above had nothing to do with America’s support for Israel. The same holds true for the Muslim violence in the Philippines, India, Spain, England, and Russia, all of which have distinguished themselves over the years by continued hostility to Israel and, often, to America. (Although India, faced with intractable Muslim violence and a booming capitalist economy, is hewing closer to both Israel and America.) Likewise, the Sudanese — both Christian and Muslim — being slaughtered left and right at the hands of their Islamist compatriots probably have only the haziest knowledge of either America’s or Israel’s very existence.

And for those who claim that Spain and England came into the line of Islamist fire only because they supported the Iraq war, which in turn is the result of a Zionist conspiracy, a couple of facts should put that argument to rest: First, it does not explain the Islamic violence in the other countries, which have nothing to do with or actively opposed the Iraq War. Second, Israel and most American Jews opposed the Iraq War, the former because it viewed Iran as the greater threat and didn’t want to get side tracked, and the latter because they hate Bush, and whatever he’s for, they’re against.

Indeed, when one looks thematically at Muslim violence, there is only one common thread: Islam itself. That is, one cannot wrap around each act of Muslim violence the blanket of economic oppression, or support for the Iraq War, or support for Israel, or support for America, or any other common denominator other than Islam itself. Islam is now, as it has always been, a religion devoted to territorial conquest and the acquisition of non-Muslims to serve as a tax base. Islam also is now, as it always has been, a religion defined by a deep and abiding intolerance for anything non-Islamic and, true to the teachings of Mohammad himself, this intolerance provides license for rapine and slaughter.

So please disabuse yourself of the notion that Muslims world-wide hate America because America staunchly supports the nation that so closely shares her values and that is so besieged by those who don’t. Instead, Muslims world-wide hate America because Muslims currently hate everyone.

UPDATE: Just today, out of Indonesia, comes a story, not of another bombing or attack, but of Muslim militants sent off to jail for slaughtering Christians in that land. The murder victims, including several school girls attacked and beheaded, had no known connection to Israel or America.

And now a few words on Islam

The teddy bear scandal put Islam on the front pages again as a religion whose practitioners are so insecure that they cannot accept anything that they might perceive as critical or demeaning. As have most conservative bloggers, I’ve written periodically about Islam’s misogyny, its cultural insecurity, its intolerance, etc. I’ve quoted my cousin the prison chaplain, who says that Islam is a huge sell in prisons because it doesn’t demand of the converts any change in behaviors. Instead, it allows them to justify and continue with their original criminal behaviors on the ground that they are appropriate acts towards non-Muslims.

I’ve also slowly been coming to the conclusion that Islam is not a moral religion as we in the Judeo-Christian West understand religion-based morality. The Old Testament is both a history stretching back to prehistoric times (since most Biblical scholars believe, for example, that the Bible’s telling of Noah’s Ark is the last act in an oral history stretching back hundreds, if not thousands, of years), and it is also a book of moral precepts that dictate man’s behavior towards other men. There is no doubt that men in the Bible slipped from the path God set before them, there is no doubt that some of God’s commands were frightening and violent (so much so that we still struggle with them today), and there is no doubt that many since the Bible have used the Bible to justify base behavior, not best behavior. The same holds true for the New Testament. While Jesus’ message is overwhelmingly one of love and compassion, there was certainly enough in it for those who sought a militant, aggressive Christianity to use the New Testament as their guide.

Nevertheless, almost from the moment the Bible, both Old Testament and New, became fixed, Christians and Jews of good will have struggled to analyze the morally questionable parts of the Bible in light of the overwhelmingly moral parts. (See, for example, the link I gave in the preceding paragraph, as well as this link.) As we move further forward in time, both Jews and Christians try ever more to tone down the passages that, instead of stating abstract moral principles, insist upon certain now-antiquated aspects of tribal law (such as killing witches or gays).

It’s been different since the very beginning with the Koran. As I pointed out in this post, the nature of the man behind the Koran is very different from the nature of the men behind the Bible. Moses sought freedom for his people; Jesus sought salvation for man kind. And Mohammad — well, Mohammad sought converts and tribal control. The Koran also shows someone very, very sensitive to rejection. More significantly, contrary to the Bible, Mohammad’s personal feelings on a given subject did not end up merely as narrative, they ended up as controlling doctrine.

What I just said is very abstract, so let me make in more concrete by talking about one of the Koranic stories and wrapping up with Robert Spencer’s conclusion about the larger implications of that story.

The story, as retold in Spencer’s masterful The Truth About Muhammad, is that of the Nakhla raid, which took place when Muhammad felt he had enough military power to take on his old enemies the Quraysh (who were enemies because they would not convert to Islam). Preliminarily, in connection with the Quraysh, it’s worthwhile remembering that it was as to them that Muhammad announced that the women and children of enemy tribes were to be defined by their tribal status, not their youth or sex, making them fair game for slaughter. As Spencer says (p. 98) “[f]rom then on, innocent non-Muslim women and children could legitimately suffer the fate of male unbelievers.”

As for the Nakhla raid itself, Muhammad did not participate. Instead, he instructed a lieutenant to spy on the Quraysh. Once the lieutenant got within range of the Quraysh, however, and decided it would be a shame not to kill as many of them as possible, despite the fact that any slaughter would occur on the last day of a holy period during which there was not supposed to be any killing. So, the Muslims killed and robbed.

Once the slaughter was complete, the lieutenant and his band headed home with their booty, having specifically reserved a fifth part for Muhammad himself. Muhammad was at first upset, both because he had not ordered a killing during the sacred month and because other Quraysh were pointing out that Muhammad’s prophecies seemed mostly geared to justifying banditry. However, as Spencer explains, when confronted by this discomforts, “another helpful revelation came from Allah,” this time saying that the Quraysh were so offensive in God’s eyes, that this trumped the holy month. Having received this useful ex post facto revelation, Muhammad was free to take the booty reserved for him.

Spencer’s take on the subject (p. 99) wraps back around to the point I made at the beginning of this post:

This was a momentous incident, for it would set a pattern: good became identified with anything that redounded to the benefit of Muslims, and evil with anything that harmed them, without reference to any larger moral standard. Moral absolutes were swept aside in favor of the overarching principle of expediency.

I am not saying, incidentally, that there are not millions of Muslims who behave morally in the way that we, living in the Judeo-Christian faith, understand morality. Whether they pull that morality from the Koran, from Judeo-Christian influences, or from their innate goodness and humanity, I do not know. I just know that there are enormous numbers of good people out there. However, unlike other religions, Islam encourages behavior that both the Bible, and Bibilical scholars, have tried to quash. And unlike other religions, Islam seems to have fewer scholars trying to explain or defend those passages in the Koran that seem to demand or justify immoral, rather than moral behavior (if moral behavior is understood as demanding the highest and best from man, towards himself and towards others).

As to the bad behavior that seems to be an inherent part of Islam, I’d like to give the last words in this post to Ian O’Doherty, writing for an Irish paper. (H/t: RD.) After giving a laundry list of Muslim outrage which has morphed into outrageous behavior, O’Doherty states a declaration of independence for those of us classified as Islamophobes:

And, of course, anyone who writes about this ["this" being the laundry list to which I referred] is immediately accused of being Islamophobic and racist.

Well, I am Islamophobic in the sense that I’m phobic towards the notion of treating women as third-class citizens, flogging people and killing them for having an independent thought.

I’m phobic towards the idea of killing Theo Van Gogh because he made a movie they didn’t like. I’m phobic towards killing a Japanese translator because he worked on the Satanic Verses.

I’m also rather phobic to the notion that the Muslim world has the right to riot and kill each other because of a few unfunny cartoons in an obscure Danish publication.

As regards the spurious accusation of racism which is bandied about against anyone who criticises Islam, let me make this clear — you cannot change the colour of your skin. Pigmentation is irrelevant. But you can dislike someone’s superstition and in Islam’s case, even among other superstitions, they are particularly horrible.

No, my Muslim friend, it’s your religion and your Sharia law I am criticising. It has nothing to do with the colour of your skin. And you know what? In a free democracy we still have the right to say things like that.

Taking turning the other cheek too far

I won’t go into the genesis of the teddy bear kerfuffle, because I assume you know all about it, including the fact that a Sudanese court imprisoned a British woman for 15 days for naming a teddy bear Muhammad, an insult that apparently has the prophet rolling in his grave.

The teacher claims, with corroboration, that she named the bear after a student of the same name. It’s not surprising that she had a student of the same name, since it is the most popular boys’ name in the Muslim world. It kind of leaves you wondering whether it’s an insult to the Prophet if boys sharing his name go off and do bad things, really bad Muslim things like drinking alcohol.  Should they be killed for demeaning the Prophet’s name? This whole event is a reminder, if any is needed, that Islam is a weak and paranoid religion that cannot sustain itself through the strength of its ideas, but only through fear and intimidation (or, at least, that’s the way it perceives itself as seen through its own doctrine and conduct).

Anyway, all of the above is a digression.  What I really wanted to comment on is what the teacher’s son said in the wake of her 15 day sentence in a Sudanese prison for mis-naming a toy:

Her son, John, from Liverpool, has not yet been allowed to telephone her but was hoping to fly out to Sudan to visit her as soon as a visa could be arranged.

He stress that British people angered by his mother’s jail sentence should not turn against Muslims.

“I don’t not want this to lead to any anti-Muslims feeling in this country.

“Everyone has been very nice, we have had a lot of support from Muslims in Britain, in Sudan and across the world.

My fear, and one of my mother’s fears, is that this will result in resentment towards Muslim people. That is something I really hope does not happen and I am sure my mum feels the same way.” (Emphasis mine.)

Does John really believe that pandering statement or is he just saying it because his mother is being held hostage? I have to believe he means it, because he could just as easily have said nothing at all. Instead, when confronted with a religion that doctrinally requires his mother’s death, either directly or through flogging, he’s decided to say that nobody should think twice about the connection between his mother’s ordeal and Islam.

While I think John is right to point to those Muslims who have been supportive, the highlighted language in his little press statement is an invitation to ignore a serious problem in the world today — namely, that Muslim doctrine and practices are about 1,000 years out of step with the rest of the world. (And if you need any more evidence of that, just check out the obligatory Muslim mob.)

The disconnect between non-Muslims in Britain, as exemplified by John’s fatuous statement, and Muslims in Britain cannot be overemphasized:

Poll shows Muslims in Britain are the most anti-western in Europe

Public opinion in Britain is mostly favourable towards Muslims, but the feeling is not requited by British Muslims, who are among the most embittered in the western world, according to a global poll published yesterday.

The poll, by the Washington-based Pew Global Attitudes Project, asked Muslims and non-Muslims about each other in 13 countries. In most, it found suspicion and contempt to be mostly mutual, but uncovered a significant mismatch in Britain.

The poll found that 63% of all Britons had a favourable opinion of Muslims, down slightly from 67% in 2004, suggesting last year’s London bombings did not trigger a significant rise in prejudice. Attitudes in Britain were more positive than in the US, Germany and Spain (where the popularity of Muslims has plummeted to 29%), and about the same as in France.

Less than a third of British non-Muslims said they viewed Muslims as violent, significantly fewer than non-Muslims in Spain (60%), Germany (52%), the US (45%) and France (41%).

By contrast, the poll found that British Muslims represented a “notable exception” in Europe, with far more negative views of westerners than Islamic minorities elsewhere on the continent. A significant majority viewed western populations as selfish, arrogant, greedy and immoral. Just over half said westerners were violent. While the overwhelming majority of European Muslims said westerners were respectful of women, fewer than half British Muslims agreed. Another startling result found that only 32% of Muslims in Britain had a favourable opinion of Jews, compared with 71% of French Muslims.

Across the board, Muslim attitudes in Britain more resembled public opinion in Islamic countries in the Middle East and Asia than elsewhere in Europe. And on the whole, British Muslims were more pessimistic than those in Germany, France and Spain about the feasibility of living in a modern society while remaining devout.

I understand the above to mean that, while John is joining with your average Briton in saying that Islam had nothing to do with what is happening with his mother, it’s almost certain that your average Muslim in Britain, rather than agreeing with him, would be happy to join the Sudanese mob baying for her blood.

As long as a country seems to be constitutionally incapable of recognizing a problem, it cannot deal with that problem, and it will die.  In other words, denial isn’t just a Muslim controlled river in Egypt.

What I hope is that when Gibbons is safely released, she denounces what happened in the strongest terms.  What I suspect is that, either because she is given over to PC indoctrination or because she is afraid of future assassination, she will say only nice things about a religion that wants only the worst for the West.

“Youths” honor decedents of “ethnic descent” by continuing to attack French police

I kid you not — the language I put in quotations in this post caption is the precise language the BBC uses to describe those who are engaged in a little bit of urban unrest In France. You know, the kind of innocuous urban rioting that results in more than 80 policeman being injured from beatings and bullets. Here, let me show you:

At least 10 cars have been burned and a fire broke out at a library in Toulouse, southern France, following consecutive nights of rioting in Paris.

There was also more violence in the capital as youths set cars on fire in the suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, the Associated Press news agency reports.

***

Relatives of the two dead teenagers, who were both from ethnic minorities, have insisted that police rammed their motorcycle before leaving them to die. (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s it. That’s all the information the BBC is going to give you about those rioters. But in this internet day and age, “ve haf vays” of finding out more information, even though it’s tough, very tough to do so. The Bloomberg report, for example, coyly hints at the ethnic nature of the “unrest” (Bloomberg’s word, not mine), by stating that “In France, poor neighborhoods and housing projects where many immigrants live tend to be far from city centers.” Hmm. Immigrants from where, I wonder? But we’re putting the pieces together. We’ve now got immigrant communities with people of ethnic descent.

AP, surprisingly is fairly forthright about the nature of the suburbs in which this year’s batch of riots is taking place, although it can’t resist implying that the poor innocents doing the attacking are doing so righteously because of their alienation: “The unrest showed that anger still smolders in France’s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society.” And again, “Youths, many of them Arab and black children of immigrants, again appeared to be lashing out at police and other targets seen to represent a French establishment they feel has left them behind.”

I’m sorry to say that the British paper The Independent is no help at all. While it boldly calls the youthful attacks on police something akin to “guerrilla warfare,” it places the blame firmly where it belongs: on the police. You see, last year, long after the riots ended, it turned out that the two youths who were electrocuted had been acting innocently when the police chased them into the power substation, knowing it was dangerous. (It does not appear that this was known when the actual riots happened, of course.) In other words, The Independent agrees with AP that the current crop of youths is righteously upset about the two kids killed while on the motor scooters, clearly justifying anarchy.

So, both at home and abroad, the MSM narrative is as follows: Young people are rioting in Paris and, in true “if it bleeds it leads” tradition, the news reports will happily tell you that they’re organized, they’re armed, and they’re incredibly aggressive, so much so that scores of police have been injured, and we’re not even talking property damage. If you insist on knowing more about who these people are, we’ll hint that they’re friends of youths of ethnic descent, and that they live in neighborhoods that have primarily Arab and African immigrants and their children.

If you suspect that part of the problem might be that these Arab and African immigrants are Muslim, please be assured that you are wrong. In the ponderous language of social scientists, the reporters will assure you that the riots/unrest/guerrilla warfare problem is entirely due to (1) the government’s treating these youths badly and (2) the fact that it emerged after last year’s riots that the police might have lied about their run-in with two of these same types of youths.

By the way, I don’t have any doubt but that part of the reason — even a large part of the reason — that these riots happen is because French society, indeed most European society, is set up so that there is no path to integration and assimilation for immigrants. That societal failure to absorb immigrants means that they’re going to be sitting in slums that become powder kegs of anger, unrest and, eventually, violence. Believing that, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe that another, possibly significant, part of the problem is that there is a connection in this day and age between Muslims and violence. And when news reports play so coy, rather than my ending up believing that Islam has nothing to do with the violence, I tend to believe that Islam does have something to do with the violence and that the press is simply avoiding an issue it does not want to address.

And by the way, this kind of media avoidance syndrome — where you have to read through scads of articles to gather the puzzle pieces that shape the whole picture — is not limited to youth violence. Over at Big Lizards, Dafydd has taken the time to investigate the hidden, and very sordid, connection between the Clintons and InfoUSA, with the latter being a database marketer that knowingly sells information about vulnerable populations (the old and the sick) to organizations that run scams on these same people. He’s also taken the time to smell a rat in the article that purports to show a racist/religious-ist Romney refusing to contemplate the possibility of a Muslim holding a high government position in his administration. (Note to MSM types: it’s the carefully placed ellipses that always end up giving you away.)

My bottom line to the media: either report the news or stop pretending that you do.

UPDATE: It’s currently hidden behind the WSJ’s subscription wall, but John Fund has written a great article about Nancy Pelosi’s current effort to make America more like France by working to ensure that the current generation of immigrants remains stuck forever in non-English speaking poverty. Consistent with fair use, I’ll give you just a taste of what Fund has to say, and we’ll hope that the WSJ soon releases the article for general consumption:

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn’t think that’s controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show “the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English.” A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it “very important” that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

UPDATE II: More on liberal efforts to keep minorities ghettoized.

UPDATE III: For a literary touch, I’ll just throw in one more thing. Because I’m feeling lazy, I’ve been re-reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, one of my favorite novels from England in the mid-1930s. (Even though it’s a mystery, I view it as a novel because, after many readings, there are no mysteries left in that book for me.) The book takes place at Oxford, and has a healthy respect for the old-fashioned idea of academic objectivity. Sayers therefore has one of her characters, during a discussion with someone about a history book, say the following:

“I entirely agree that a historian ought to be precise in detail; but unless you take all the characters and circumstances concerned into account, you are reckoning without the facts. The proportions and relations of things are just as much facts as the things themselves, and if you get those wrong, you falsify the picture really seriously.”

The whole book, incidentally, is a testament to examining facts without allowing private belief systems or loyalties to interfere with ones understanding of those facts.

One movie, two views

Dennis Prager likes to say (and I’m paraphrasing here) that liberals and conservatives have entirely incompatible world views. They understand facts in such a different way that there are few points of intersection. I had a reminder of that truism the other day when I watched Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center with a liberal friend.

As you may recall, WTC, which came out last year, tells the true story of two Port Authority police officers (John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno) who got trapped in an elevator shaft when the Trade Center buildings collapsed. The movie traces their day from its ordinary beginnings, to their bewildering mission into the building, to their entombment, survival in the wreckage and ultimate rescue. It also looks at how their families cope with both the news and the complete absence of news, and how they are discovered and extricated. I found it a very moving experience to watch. My friend did not. He thought it was sentimental and pedestrian, despite learning at the end that much of the dialog was lifted right out of newspaper stories and quotations from the people actually involved in the events.

My friend’s perception in that regard could just be an artistic, movie-making quibble. What was more interesting was his emotional response to the movie. As I watched events unfold, especially when the planes hit the buildings and people began to realize that America had been attacked, I became furious all over again at those who had attacked us, and at those who masterminded and funded the attack. I was sorry that the Saudis in the plane died, and that they died fulfilling their hearts’ desires, because it would have been so much more emotionally satisfying to subject to them to some horrible medieval style torture. (And, in that way, it’s probably good for America’s soul that we didn’t get the opportunity to flay them alive, and remove their intestines and burn them before their eyes, which is what they richly deserved.) That was my response.

My friend’s response was this: “Bush is going to go down in history as the worst president ever. He squandered the opportunity to go after the terrorists.” I didn’t want to talk politics during the movie, so I let it drop, but I had a few thoughts: As to the source of this attack, which was Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Bush didn’t squander the opportunity. Instead, he went in and destroyed the Taliban. And as to the fact that it was Saudi Arabia that provided the manpower, the money and the ideology, I doubt my friend seriously believes anyone could attack Saudi Arabia without destroying the West in a single, oil-dripping stroke. In other words, once Bush went after the Taliban, which was a low level player in world Islamism, although a high level players in this single attack, what should he have done vis a vis the Twin Towers?

There will be, for a long time, debate about the wisdom of Bush’s next responsive choice — invading Iraq. I’d like to avoid the justification given for the war — violating UN sanctions, creating a Potemkin nuclear village (although some of the village’s real components seem to have drifted into Syria), funding terrorism, etc. — and focus on the strategic benefit of going into Iraq.

George Friedman, who is the founder of Stratfor, a company that produces intelligence analysis, wrote a book in which he opined, based on information available to the public, that Iraq was a proxy attack on Saudi Arabia. That is, Bush used information available at the time built up a credible and honest case that Iraq was a threat (and I say honest because most of the information was, in fact, true and, as for that which was untrue, there was no way to know at the time that it was false). Neutralizing Iraq, though, was only one goal and, perhaps, even a secondary one. What he really wanted to do was to create a strong American military presence, both short and long term, that was breathing over Saudi Arabia’s shoulder. Saudi Arabia got the message, by the way, and after the War began, Saudi Arabia instantly stepped up its own attacks against Al Qaeda within Saudi borders.

Bush also hoped to create– and, in fact, may have created — a stable pro-American bulwark in the heart of the Middle East. He almost incidentally created a honey pot that attracted Al Qaeda fighters from all over the Muslim world (especially Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia), men who rendered themselves useless by becoming dead. While there may be other fervent anti-American Muslims around the world, not all are willing to die for their beliefs, so the fact that they hate America (as they have done for decades) may be less important than the fact that they’re suddenly not so willing to throw themselves in front of American bullets to demonstrate their hatred.

That’s my view, but I willingly concede that there is room for intelligent disagreement, both about the War’s origins, its conduct, and its eventual results. Nevertheless, I still found peculiar that my friend, watching in almost real time a Muslim/Saudi attack on America that killed 3,000 people, rather than venting at the attackers, used the opportunity to vent against George Bush.

My friend also had one other interesting take on the movie. I’m not giving anything away here, since it was well publicized when the movie came out, but the two police officers were discovered because an ex-Marine, living in Connecticut, recognized that the US was at war, pulled on his old uniform, and went down to the ruins to hunt for survivors. And because he was not affiliated with any official organization, he wasn’t constrained by orders from headquarters calling the search off for the night. He just went in. Once there, he found another ex-Marine, exactly like himself: someone who pulled on his uniform and did his duty. It was these men who, in the dark, dusty, dangerous smoke, went around yelling for survivors to call out or tap. And it was these men who, when they found McLoughlin and Jimeno, assured them that, as Marines, these survivors had become their mission, and the Marines would not abandon them. Since you know how I feel about the Marines, I was really moved by that moment.

Interestingly, when my friend was talking to my son, and telling him about the movie, he described these two rescuers thusly: “These ordinary guys decided to go looking for survivors.” I interrupted to say, “They weren’t ordinary guys, they were Marines.” My friend insisted that I was wrong. They were ordinary guys, he said, because they weren’t fire fighters or police officers or FBI agents or anyone else working with an organization. They just went in on their own. My friend is technically correct — both men were ex-Marines who showed up without orders — but I think he missed something profound, which is that it was their Marine identity and training that drove them there. Strikingly, both of them showed up in their uniforms, which I think was more than just a way to avoid police cordons. I think it was a statement about their identity and their goals: they were Marines, and they were on a mission.

So, one movie, two very different responses.

Our friends the Saudis

For those of you still wondering about what life will be like in the resurgent Islamic 7th century, here’s a bit more information, this time out of Saudi Arabia:

A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The 19-year-old woman — whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms — was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for “being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape,” the Arab News reported.

But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia’s Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.

A court source told the English-language Arab News that the judges had decided to punish the woman further for “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

It also appears that more than the usual Islamic misogyny is at issue here.  The woman who was raped, and is now being subject to state torture is a member of S.A.’s minority Shiite community, while her rapists, who did get prison terms, are from the majority Sunni group.

God help all women in Saudi Arabia.

Iran admits that it is governing out of the 7th Century

I firmly believe that military force should be the last option in dealing with Iran. But I also believe that, whether we talk with the Iranians, enact embargoes against the Iranians, threaten the Iranians, or whatever else the heck we decide to do vis a vis the Iranians (including an Osirak or Syria approach), we ought to understand that we’re dealing with 7th Century people who are on the verge of possessing 21st Century WMDs:

Homosexuals deserve to be executed or tortured and possibly both, an Iranian leader told British MPs during a private meeting at a peace conference, The Times has learned.

Mohsen Yahyavi is the highest-ranked politician to admit that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality after a spate of reports that gay youths were being hanged.

***

The latest row involves a woman hanged this June in the town of Gorgan after becoming pregnant by her brother. He was absolved after expressing his remorse. Britain said that this demonstrated the unequal treatment of men and women in law and breached Iran’s pledge to restrict the death penalty to the most serious crimes.

A series of reported executions of gays, including two underage boys whose public hanging was posted on the internet, has alarmed human rights campaigners.

***

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the FCO released papers to The Times about the death penalty being used in Iran for homosexuality, adultery and sex outside marriage.

Minutes taken by an official describe a meeting between British and Iranian MPs at the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a peace body, in May. When the Britons raised the hangings of Asqari and Marhouni, the leader of the Iranian delegation, Mr Yahyavi, a member of his parliament’s energy committee, was unflinching. He “explained that according to Islam gays and lesbianism were not permitted,” the record states. “He said that if homosexual activity is in private there is no problem, but those in overt activity should be executed [he initially said tortured but changed it to executed]. He argued that homosexuality is against human nature and that humans are here to reproduce. Homosexuals do not reproduce.”

***

Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Nigeria apply the death penalty for homosexuality, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

The same article concludes with a helpful list of some of the victim so Sharia law, a law that, when originally enacted, was probably consistent with the law in Western countries as well, during the 7th through 16th Centuries.  The problem is that we in the West have moved on, while those in Iran and other Islamist nations, have not:

2005

— Homosexuals Farbod Mostaar and Ahmad Chooka sentenced to death. Iran said Chooka had kidnapped, knifed and raped a student

— A woman called Soghra was sentenced to stoning for adultery and being an accomplice to her husband’s murder

— Two men executed in public after being found guilty of a homosexual relationship. A newspaper said they were convicted of sodomy, rape and kidnapping

— Zhila Izadi, 13, sentenced to stoning after becoming pregnant with her brother’s child

2006

— Malek Ghorbany sentenced to stoning for adultery

— Leila Qomi sentenced to stoning for adultery and assisting a man who killed her husband. He received 100 lashes

2007

— Jafar Kiana stoned for adultery. His female lover Mokarrameh Ebrahimi sentenced to the same fate.

While I have absolutely no doubt that there are thousands, nay, tens of thousands or even millions of good, decent, humane Iranians, it is patently clear that the country as a whole has embraced a leadership that has no conception of human rights as we understand them in the West.  Iran’s morality and belief systems are entirely different from ours, and we make a terrible mistake if we assume that they use the same decision-making algorithms we in the West do, whether we’re talking about women, gays, WMDs, or the destruction of nations.

Ecumenicalism where it counts

Americans like to talk about ecumenicalism, which is an idea that concerns itself with “establishing or promoting unity among churches or religions.” We in America have proven to be very good at it, so much so that we think nothing of little news stories about the rabbi giving a talk to his neighbor’s church, or the minister from one Protestant church joining a prayer meeting from another Protestant Church. The difficulties many conservatives are having with the Romney candidacy (Mormon!) and the Giuliani candidacy (Catholic and pro-Choice!), or even the nasty smears the Democrats leveled against Bobby Jindal during his successful candidacy for governor, are about as bad as religious differences get here. No blood is shed, no villages are destroyed, no people are persecuted or driven from their homes. We are, therefore, exceptionally blessed.

Other nations, and particularly Middle Eastern nations, are less blessed. In Muslim dominant countries, Jews are banished and Christians are persecuted. Once that’s done, the Muslims turn on each other, with the varying sects diving into blood baths to attain religious and secular predominance.

That’s why Michael Yon’s most recent photograph out Iraq, which you can see here, at his blog, is so important. On its face, it shows something wonderful: a cross going up on a Church in Iraq. What’s even more amazing, though, is the text that accompanies the photograph, since it explains that this is not just a Christian church that is taking a risk at reestablishing a place of worship. Instead, it is ecumenicalism in action, in the heart of the Middle East:

I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. (Emphasis mine.)

Some regimes are cancerous. They grow and swell, and make the body politic look strong and full, but they are, in fact, slowly killing it from within, with their poisonous tentacles reaching out to destroy every organ in their path. Cancer does not yield easily, preferring to kill its host rather than to give up.

With real cancers, we go in with knives and chemo and radiation. And with political cancers, sometimes the only answer is troops and weapons. The body bleeds and suffers but, if it is fundamentally strong and if the disease is stopped in time, it can recover fully.

I’d like to think that this is what we are seeing in Iraq — after the removal of the cancerous Hussein leadership from the Iraqi political scene, and after the trauma of that removal, the Iraqis are recovering and going on to be stronger and healthier than ever before.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, Chris Muir has the last and best word:

Loud, strong, logical, civil speech

As you may recall, Hitler’s thugs made Munich their headquarters in the 20s, and were able to use it as their power base in the early 30s.  Among other, equally unsavory tactics they used to consolidate power was thuggery to suppress speech.  It’s really a simple tactic if you have the stomach for it, and the civil side always loses in this type of asymmetrical “speech” warfare (not that there’s any real speech involved on the fascist side).

Last week’s Islamo-facism awareness week reminded us that the totalitarian’s early tactic of choice, before he gets his hands on real power, is thuggery aimed at free speech.  Big Lizard’s believes that we shouldn’t take this attack on our liberties quietly, but should go out there ready to counter any efforts to shut down speech.  He has a really rousing post here, which describes the problem and suggests many practical solutions.

Misinformation continues from those who ought to inform themselves before speaking

Read this and then read this.  Where was it written that the ignorant shall rule the earth?

Islam and women

I’ve posted repeatedly about the fact that one of the main things Islamists fear about the West is the fact that the West has decided not to subjugate its women.  So much of Islamic energy is spent on women’s issues — only not in the way NOW defines them.

To NOW, women’s issues, at the extreme end, are comparable pay, unlimited abortions on demand, and GLBT rights.  At the less extreme end, NOW’s acolytes focus on reasonable things such as equal pay for equal work, equal access to education and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination.

To Islamists, women’s issues include keeping women from driving, preventing them from being educated, confining them to the house, wrapping them in tents when they leave the house, executing them if they are raped, beating them for any infractions, allowing them to die rather than flee burning building inadequately clothed, etc.  (I’m lazy this morning, but you can readily find links for every one of the assertions I just made.)

As part of this wonderful world of viewing women as chattel who must constantly be demeaned and disciplined lest they make their manifestly inadequate men face their own inadequacy, the Islamists have come up with a new and exciting idea:  The woman free wedding.  Yay!

To heck with multiculturalism:  the Islamists — by which I mean, not Muslims generally, but only those who choose to practice the religion in its most extreme, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-Western form — are bad news, and they practice a debased form of religion.  To my mind, religion should bring out the best in people.  Islamists use their religion to justify the worst.

May I recommend to you. . . .

. . . . a wonderful opinion piece that Cinnamon Stillwell wrote about the San Francisco drag queens dressed as nuns who took Holy Communion, not as an act of faith, but to ridicule the Church.  Not only does Cinnamon expose the fundamentally anti-Christian attitude behind this attack on the deepest principles of the Church, she also shows the hypocrisy inherent in the attack on an easy target, one that will not fight back, while the same activist groups, for the most part, ignore completely the violently anti-homosexual policies in the Muslim world.

One of the core causes of Jihad

A friend of mine who has, over the years, proven remarkably prescient in diagnosing global ills, told me after 9/11 that a significant element in Islam’s rage against the West has to do with women — Islam demands the total subjugation of women, and Islamists view the West as a profound threat to their control over their women. This is not just a peripheral matter either. It goes to core issues of Islamic and male identity. A threat to the control Islamists assert over girls and women is a threat to the Islamists’ entire world view and their sense of self.

As part of Islamo-Facism Awareness Week, sponsored by David Horowitz’s Terrorism Awareness Project, David Horowitz’s Freedom Center has released a video highlighting the horror of women’s lives under Islamism*. The video is X-rated, not because it’s a sexy romp through the harem, but because it has pictures of girls having their external genitalia cut off with anesthetic, women beaten into bloody pulps, girls (7 years old) beheaded for having been raped, women being hanged, women being dis-limbed, and on and on in a 9 minute parade of horrors that needs to be witnessed. If you do watch it, please make sure there are no children anywhere near you. This is the stuff of nightmares — it’s an Auschwitz, Mengele world that the PC crowd blithely accepts as part of its multicultural, anti-American stance.

I’ll close this post by quoting from FrontPage Magazine about our responsibility to bear witness to these horrors, not only against women, but against all the people oppressed by Islamism:

However realistic the film, it is immeasurably less grotesque and disturbing than the daily lives of millions of women subject to Islamo-Fascist regimes. Only the insulated nature of the Islamic world, and the silence and acquiescence of Western feminists, allow this situation to continue. This silence is the greatest hope of Islamo-Fascism and the primary reason Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is vitally needed: to end this misogynistic tyranny and allow all the world’s inhabitants to experience the miracle of human dignity. This is precisely why there has been such a massive outcry against Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. The national campaign to censor or subvert this educational program has involved the entire spectrum of enemies we face — Islamo-Fascist theocrats on the extreme “right” to the Revolutionary Communist Party on the radical Left, both charter members of the Unholy Alliance that sees the United States as the world’s Great Satan. Between the two poles are aspiring mainstream Arab “civil rights” organizations that apologize for terrorism and the theocratic strongmen who finance it.

To combat the horrors of this video, relieve the suffering of millions of Arabs worldwide, and alert Americans to the nature of the enemy, Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week commences this week, hosting 37 separate events or panelists on 26 college campuses. Nationally known experts, such as Robert Spencer and David Horowitz, will detail for thousands of college students the comprehensive assault on the human person Islamo-Fascism embodies. Events include:

* Brown University
o Robert Spencer – 25th, 7pm, Salomon Hall 101
* Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
o Greg Davis – 24th, 7:30pm, Phillips Hall
* Clemson University
o Mike Adams – 25th, 7pm, Hunter 100
* Columbia University
o David Horowitz – 26th, 12pm, Lerner Cinema
o panel with Phyllis Chesler, Ibn Warraq, and Christina Sommers – 24th, 8pm, Math 203
* DePaul University
o Robert Spencer – 22nd, 7pm, Cortalyou Commons
* Dartmouth
o Robert Spencer – 26th, 7pm, Dartmouth Hall room 105
* Emory University
o David Horowitz – 24th, 8pm, White Hall 208
* Lawrence University
o Jonathan Schanzer – 24th, 7:30pm, Youngchild Hall
* George Mason University
o Luana Saghieh and Alan Nathan – 22nd, 8:30pm, Johnson Center Cinema
* George Washington University
o Michael Ledeen and Daphne Patai – 22nd, 10am, Mt. Vernon Campus, Eckles Auditorium
o David Horowitz – 25th, 8pm, Marvin Center
* Penn State University
o Rick Santorum – 23rd, 8pm, 119 Osmond
* Princeton
o David Horowitz – 16th, 8pm, McCosh 10
* Pepperdine
o Tammy Bruce – 22nd, 7pm, Student Lounge
* SFSU
o Brian Sussman – 24th, 12pm, Jack Adams Hall
* Temple University
o Rick Santorum – 24th, 8pm, Student Center 218
* Tufts
o Daniel Pipes – 24th, 7pm
* Tulane University
o Ann Coulter – 22nd, 7pm, McAlister Auditorium
* UC Berkeley
o Nonie Darwish – 22nd, 7pm, Evans Hall 10
* UC Santa Barbara
o Dennis Prager – 25th, 7pm, Girvetz 1004
* UCLA
o Cyrus Nowrasteh – 23rd, 6:30pm, Moore 100
o Nonie Darwish – 24th, 7pm, Haines 82
o Joe Kaufman – 25th, 7pm, Moore 100
* University of Miami
o Cyrus Nowrasteh – 24th, 7pm, Whitten University Learning Center
* University of Pennsylvania
o Rick Santorum – 24th, 5:30pm, Hillel-Steinhardt Hall
o panel with Daniel Pipes, Dr. Stephen Gale, and Ed Turzanski – 22nd, 7pm, Huntsman Hall
* University of Rhode Island
o Robert Spencer – 24th, 7pm, Memorial Union Ballroom
* University of Washington
o Michael Medved – 25th, 7pm, Smith 120
* University of Wisconsin, Madison
o David Horowitz – 22nd, 7:30, Wisconsin Union Theater
* USC
o Ann Coulter – 24th, 6pm, Annenberg School of Communication – G26

More then 100 years ago, the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin exposed the indignities of chattel slavery. The educational events of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week modestly seek to enlighten the nation’s youth about the incalculable costs of Islamic extremism. Silence is Islamo-Fascism’s greatest ally; after viewing this film, every incensed conscience will scream that silence can no longer be tolerated.

________________________
* I use the word Islamism, as opposed to Islam, to distinguish radical practitioners of the faith from those who have opted for a more moderate form of practice that, while it may pay lip service to the more extreme demands of the Koran, does not put them into effect. I don’t feel, though, that the reform practitioners of this religion should be let off the hook. With a few exceptions, their silence in these face of the horrors perpetrated by the extremists is a moral failing for which they, too, must be held to account.

UPDATE:  YouTube banned the video, but I put in an alternative link that, I think, works.  If it doesn’t, just go to Front Page Magazine, scroll down for the notice that “Our video below, The Violent Oppresion of Women in Islam, has been banned by YouTube.” Click on the video below, and it should start playing.

British insanity watch

I stumbled across a blog I hadn’t seen yet before, called Secularist Atheist Army. Strike that, I stumbled across three blogs,* all clearly the the same blogger, and all with the same message:  Britain, stop killing yourself.  Thus, the blogger, clearly writing out of Britain, has post after post after post detailing British dhimmitude. It’s fascinating, and depressing, reading.

___________________

*The other two blogs, which have identical posts, are International Delusions and Boycott Islam. I’m not sure why there are three identical blogs, unless it’s just an effort to spread the message further.

An interesting movie review & what it says about American culture

There’s a new movie out about “homegrown religious fundamentalists who kill in the name of God” — and Manolah Dargis, who writes movie reviews at The New York Times really wants to like it. You’ve got to admire Manolah. After all, who in America doesn’t want a solid documentary about the homegrown Western Islamists who are engaging in an ever escalating kill cycle. I want to learn more about the very British boys who blew up 52 people and injured 700 others in 2005. Or about Lee Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, who killed 10 people and wounded 3 more in Washington D.C. And it would be interesting to get more information about the recent German discovery of a major plot to target American interests in that country, with one of the arrestees being a German man who had converted to Islam.

Frankly, I admire a Times journalist who appreciates a movie like this. It’s probably a good movie even if it doesn’t touch upon the homegrown terrorists in Iraq who are responsible for thousands of Iraqi deaths, or the homegrown terrorists in Bali who are responsible for hundreds of Balinese deaths, or the homegrown terrorists in the Philippines who are responsible for hundreds of Filipino deaths, or the homegrown terrorists all over Africa who are responsible for hundreds of thousands of African deaths, etc.

Wait! Gosh! I’m am sorry. Ignore everything I just said. I got so excited by the first sentence in Dargis’ review, and made so many assumptions about it, that (a) I didn’t read the rest of the review and (b) I read the first sentence wrong. Here’s what the first sentence of the review really says: “The first thing you should know about the documentary ‘Lake of Fire’ — an unblinking look at the violent fight over abortion in the United States, including those homegrown religious fundamentalists who kill in the name of God — is that it was made in black and white.” The terrorists Dargis is talking about are the people who target abortion clinics.

Now, before I get to the real review, about the real movie, let me riff a little about the attacks on abortion clinics. They were and are inexcusable and do indeed manifest the same religious craziness that characterizes the Islamists. Even if you believe abortion to be profoundly wrong and murderous, the people who work at abortion clinics are acting lawfully. In any civilized country, if you have a problem with legal acitivty, you don’t kill people, you work to change the law. That is, those who bomb clinics or kill doctors are no better than any other criminal. But the thing to keep in mind about the anti-abortion activists who went violent is that the heyday of that kind of violence is over.

Between 1993 and 1998, three doctors and four clinic workers were brutally murdered in four shooting incidents and a clinic bombing. There have been no killings since then. According to statistics kept by the National Abortion Federation, most violent acts have declined dramatically or vanished entirely in the last decade. Between 1977 and 2000, there were 17 acts of attempted murder. There apparently have been no attempted murders since then. The last, very isolated, bombing was in 2001, with bombings peaking before 1991. There are still random acts of arson but only 6% have occurred in the 21st Century. That doesn’t mean people aren’t still trying, but they’re trying less: while there have been a total of 93 attempted bombings and arsons since 1971, only 16% took place in this century. All the numbers are like that (declining) except for one — trespassing, which has increased dramatically. My suspicion is that what the NAF calls “trespassing” is what is reported in the papers as “picketing. ” That is, in lieu of violence, abortion opponents have opted for nonviolent protest instead.

Most importantly, the acts of violence come from loners. Every major anti-abortion organization condemns violence and the decline in violence means that their voices are the ones dictating conduct in the field. To the extent there is a violent arm of the abortion rights movement, it is small, discredited and increasingly ineffective. In this regard, the abortion rights movement is the exact opposite of the Islamic jihad movement which is encouraged from the top, which has almost no voices from within Islam speaking against it, and which is growing ever more aggressively violent. Keep those facts in mind as you read the rest of this post about the movie review.

The movie is a British 2006 documentary called Lake of Fire. One of the movie’s strengths, says Dargis, is that it interviews “heavyweights like Noam Chomsky” to make more “sober points” (presumably, given Chomskey’s presence, sober points about how bad the anti-abortion crowd is). These sober points are necessary because, in Dargis’ view, the filmmaker commits the unforgivable sin of showing abortion. Having teased you above with mere clauses and sentences from the review, let me give you the first three paragraphs, in full, including Dargis’ honestly stated reaction:

The first thing you should know about the documentary “Lake of Fire” — an unblinking look at the violent fight over abortion in the United States, including those homegrown religious fundamentalists who kill in the name of God — is that it was made in black and white. This is critical. Because the other thing you should know about this fascinating, discomfiting, at times unpleasant, confused and confusing film is that it sets off extremely graphic images of actual abortions against a notorious photograph of a woman who died after an illegal motel room abortion, visuals that are inflammatory if, for the most part, also germane.

Not everyone will agree about the abortion visuals, including, perhaps, those who worry that such explicit imagery can speak louder than any pro-abortion-rights argument. It’s an understandable concern. Because they are filmed (the dead woman is immortalized in a still photograph), the abortions are unnerving, which is why I suggest that the faint of heart skip the rest of this paragraph. After the first operation, a second-trimester abortion, the doctor sorts through a tray of fetal parts, including a perfect-looking tiny hand and a foot, to make sure that nothing has been left inside the patient, which might lead to poisoning or even death. The doctor then holds up the severed fetal head. One eerily bulging eye looks as if it’s staring into the camera and somehow at us.

My initial and admittedly angry first thought about these images was that the director, Tony Kaye, was just resorting to shock tactics. The film doesn’t employ narration or on-screen texts that reveal his views on abortion; instead, there are 152 minutes of talking-head testimonials, on-the-street interviews and archival and new visuals. This means that you have to pay extra-special attention to his filmmaking choices, to the way he juxtaposes sights and sounds and who gets to speak and when.

It is in this context that Dargis expresses gratitude for the fact that such Leftist heavyweights as Noam Chomskey and Peter Singer inject their ideas into the film. Incidentally, for those of you who know Chomskey, but not Singer, Singer is the Princeton ethicist who created the modern animal rights movement (PETA-style); who believes parents should have a 30 day window within which to euthanize less than perfect newborns; and who thinks bestiality is okay, provided that the cow consents.

Anyway, after this start, the rest of the review is a muddled mess about context and images and credibility. You can read it yourself, but you won’t learn anything.

For me, the review highlighted, not just the Left’s, but everyone’s unwillingness to look unpleasantness in the face. We no longer live a raw life. People don’t die at home, they die neatly in hospitals. Criminals aren’t hanged in public spectacles, they’re dispatched in quiet, clinical rooms. As a squeamish type, I don’t generally mind, but it does seem to me that it interferes with our ability to understand just how bad things can be. With the Iraq War, our dead or their dead are filmed discretely from afar, both out of respect for the family’s of American soldiers and for fear that it could inflame things.

But maybe people need to be inflamed. One of the fascinating things about Ken Burns’ show “The War” is the newsreel footage he shows, both from the late 1930s and the 1940s. Keeping in mind that this was an era when married couples were not shown sleeping in the same bed and when the word “pregnant” was considered practically obscene, I would have expected the news footage to be equally discrete. Surprisingly, it wasn’t. Starting in 1938 and throughout the war, the newsreels people saw in theaters graphically showed victims of the Nazis, the Japanese and the Italians. Whether dead or dying, there they were, skeletal bodies, whose missing heads, gaping wounds, or other terrible war injuries and insults were caught for eternity in black and white. Even more shocking to a modern American, audiences got to see equally horrible images of Allied soldiers too.

I think that the old-time filmmakers showed these images because they could predict the audience reaction: when the audience saw the horrors of war visited on the innocent and the Allies, they would be outraged at the perpetrators; and when they saw the horrors visited on the Axis powers, they would feel self-righteous vindication. Nowadays, we can’t be sure how people will react and, in the mainstream media, I think the Powers That Be are worried that people might in fact react precisely as they did in the late 1930s and the War years: with outrage at the deaths Islamists inflict, whether these deaths are civilian or military; and with grim satisfaction over the deaths of these same Islamists. And you certainly can’t have that type of reaction, since it is the antithesis of the multi-culti, PC thinking that has been drilled into us for so many years.

Non-contributing immigrants

Here in America, we are (rightly) unhappy about illegal immigrants who instantly sign up for all the welfare benefits they can get. Of course, they’d be stupid not to, because only a fool says no to free money. Also, I don’t think any of us doubt that the immigrants who come here, legal or illegal, mostly work and they work hard. After all, it’s the meat packing business and agribusiness who are most aggressive in encouraging immigration, legal or illegal, because these are the people who fill their factories and their fields.

Britain has the same thing: most immigrants work (in fact, they work more than the British themselves), but large numbers of them do sign up for the dole. In that, they’re just like American immigrants.  What’s really interesting in Britain, though, and quite different from the situation here, is that the immigrants who make the greatest demands on welfare are Muslims:

Labour’s favourite thinktank yesterday named the migrant groups which are a drain on the taxpayer.

Immigrants from Somalia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Iran are most likely to be out of work and claiming state benefits, it said.

There tend to be high numbers of asylum seekers among those groups who have failed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Britain’s open economy, a study found.

It’s important to remember that the study does not say that all Muslims in Britain are on the dole. It does say, though, that, of all immigrants who arrived in the UK and get on the dole, it’s the Muslim immigrants who suck up welfare in disproportionate numbers.

Right about now, you’re shrugging your shoulders and asking, “so what?”  Every country has its people who need, use, or abuse welfare, and in Britain its Muslims.  To single them out sounds nothing more than homophobic.  True, except for one weird unique wrinkle about Muslims when it comes to welfare in Western countries, something that’s summed up in a single word:  jizya.

You don’t know what jizya is? Mark Steyn defines it:

The jizya is the poll tax paid by non-Muslims to their Muslim betters. One cause of the lack of economic innovation in the Islamic world is that they’ve always placed the main funding burden of society on infidels. This goes back to Mohammed’s day. If you take a bunch of warring Arab tribes and unite them as one umma under Allah, one drawback is that you close off a prime source of revenue — fighting each other and then stealing each other’s stuff. That’s why the Prophet, while hardly in a position to deny Islam to those who wished to sign up, was relatively relaxed about the presence of non-Muslim peoples within Muslim lands: they were a revenue stream. If one looks at the comparative dissemination patterns, Christianity spread by acquiring believers and then land; Islam spread by acquiring land and then believers. When Islam conquered infidel territory, it set in motion a massive transfer of wealth, enacting punitive taxation to transfer money from non-believers to Muslims — or from the productive part of the economy to the non-productive. It was, in its way, a prototype welfare society. When admirers talk up Islam and the great innovations and rich culture of its heyday, they forget that even at its height Muslims were never more than a minority of the Muslim world, and they were in large part living off the energy of others. That’s still a useful rule of thumb: if you take the least worst Muslim societies, the reason for the dynamism often lies with whichever group they share the turf with — the Chinese in Malaysia, for example.

(Mark Steyn, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, p. 164.)

Both Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within and Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan, make the point that welfare fraud is an Islamist speciality, not just to avoid work, but because the Islamists believe welfare paid for by the Christians around them is their due. That is, they differ from the usual welfare scammer who just wants free money. These are people who believe that they are using Europe’s and Britain’s own welfare systems to recreate the poll tax that non-Muslims are obligated to pay their Muslim superiors.  For this reason, they never have a desire to get off welfare — something especially true given that welfare benefits are so generous, and fraud so endemic, that some of the more adept users are bringing in six figure incomes.

Hat tip: RD, UP Pompeii

Death and the moonbat

All religions, at all times, in all places, have one of two goals: to give meaning to life, something usually tied to morality, or to allay the fear of death. Some religions, of course, serve both goals. It is the second goal — defusing death — that I write about today.

People who do not have a religion have no comforting philosophy about death, whether the philosophy is an immediate ascension to Heaven, resurrection on Judgment Day, or reincarnation. All they’ve got, when thinking of death, is plenty of nothing. For that reason, while it is human nature to fear dying (otherwise, how would the species survive?), the atheists among us have a particularly well-developed fear of death. I think this fear of death has a significant impact on the war against Islamic terrorism.

First, the atheists, who tend to the secular, anti-War Left, do not take the Islamists very seriously. They know, of course, that Islamists can and do kill, but they keep thinking that, if we in the West could just strike upon the magic formula of apology and empathy, the Islamists’ hostility will magically cease. Part of this willful obtuseness is almost certainly the fact that, historical evidence to the contrary, atheists simply cannot understand a culture that is not only unafraid of death, but embraces it. They can’t wrap their minds around the fact that a few groveling apologies from an uninspiring middle aged woman parading in pink is nothing compared to the allure of luscious virgins draped around you in an eternal Paradise. Atheists, staring fearfully at their post-death nihilism, are incapable of grasping how strong a draw those nubile virgins are to men steeped in a culture that celebrates dying and the rewards of death.

Second, the secularists utterly fail to understand our military. Thankfully, our military is not a culture that is steeped in or embraces death.  It is a religious culture, though, with the majority of military men and women embracing some form of Christian faith.  Indeed, 40% of Americans in the military describe themselves as Evangelical.

Christianity, of course, doesn’t encourage suicide, but it is a religion with a comprehensively realized theology about the afterlife.  For those in the line of fire, that theology may not diminish the fear of dying, which is often an unpleasant process, but it must bring with it a more comforting view of death than the void atheists face.  In other words — and feel free to correct me here — I’m supposing that, while our troops do not want to die, they have a philosophy that supports them as they contemplate the possibility.

And just as the atheists on the Left cannot recognize how fiercely the Islamists embrace a martyr’s death, creating a complete willingness to die to achieve that Paradise, so too are they incapable of recognizing that many, if not most, of our troops are more sanguine about the inevitability of death than the average atheist.  Indeed, it’s probably the fact that they are sanguine that helped them enlist in the first place.  People who fear death too much wouldn’t expose themselves to the inevitably increased risk that goes with military service.

It’s this inability to bridge the gap between their own beliefs and the beliefs of others that leads our secular Leftists to don their silly pink clothes and try to save adult men and women from freely made choices that the pink-clad non-believers would never make for themselves.  At one level, you have to appreciate the anti-War crowds’ kindness in trying to save others from that which they fear the most (assuming that they are indeed motivated by that goal); at the other level, you really have to worry about their complete inability to imagine the mind of the “other,” and to recognize that people guided by religious beliefs (or the absence thereof) make choices and get to abide by the consequences.

Something is wrong with this explanation

Deborah Howell, the ombudsman at the Washington Post, bestirred herself to explain why the Washington post pulled the two Berkeley Breathed comic strips that had Steve Dallas grappling with girlfriend Lola Granola’s decision to convert to Islam. On first read, Howell’s explanation sounded logical, but the more I read, the more I was troubled by what was done and what wasn’t done with regard to this cartoon, as well as with the peculiar explanations she gave for some of the paper’s decisions. I’ve copied Howell’s article, below, along with my comments and questions in red.

Readers were confused and angry that “Opus” comic strips with a Muslim theme did not appear in the Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 Sunday print editions. The strips, created by Berkeley Breathed, were distributed by the Washington Post Writers Group and published on washingtonpost.com.

Most of the controversy involved the Aug. 26 strip, which showed regular character and spiritual seeker Lola Granola in her version of a burqa, declaring she has become a “radical Islamist. Hot new fad on the planet.” Her boyfriend, the piggish super-patriot Steve Dallas, is horrified. She tells him he “won’t be getting a girlfriend obsessed with Western crud” or one “who resists a man’s rightful place.” Steve, with a leer and then a concerned look, asks: “Anything else I won’t be getting?” Lola answers: “God willing.”

Executive Editor Len Downie decided to kill the strip because he felt the language and depiction of Muslim female dress could be offensive. He consulted with other editors, one of whom talked to a Muslim staff member, who believed the strip was problematic.

Comics have long featured social commentary; think back to “Pogo” and “Li’l Abner.” And comics have been killed before in The Post. “The Boondocks,” a black-oriented strip no longer being drawn, was dropped several times. Editors killed episodes of the old comic strip “B.C.” that they found anti-Semitic, Downie said. “We keep things out of the paper every day that we think are inappropriate.”

So far, so good. It gets interesting after this, though.

Many of the 100 or so readers who complained accused The Post of being afraid of Muslims and said that it was unfair to “censor” an “Opus” strip on Muslims when a crack had been made in an earlier strip about the late Jerry Falwell, a conservative Christian leader. Falwell, however, was a public figure and fair game. Amy Lago, comics editor for the Writers Group, said at least 12 strips since “Opus” started in 2003 have dealt “in one form or another with religion, especially of the conservative flavor.” None were killed. Regarding Falwell being a public figure and fair game, that’s true. There’s even a US Supreme Court decision to say so. But what’s left unsaid here is that Breathed was not going after a private figure, some ordinary Joe Shmo, which would not be fair game. Instead, he was going after a way of thinking and an approach to living, which is a public concept and which is not protected by any privacy doctrine.

Downie said he would have killed a Sept. 5 “The Piranha Club” strip had it been brought to his attention because he felt it contained a stereotype about Jews. In the strip, a minister wonders whether putting slot machines in the church vestibule was “the Christian thing to do.” After hearing footsteps, another character says: “It’s another busload of Jewish ladies from New York.” The point of the strip, however, was to make fun of the Christian minister. Well, it’s not entirely clear to me that the strip did make fun of the Christian minister, since it could simply have said that there was a busload of retirees from New York. The Jewish point was gratituous. But the interesting question is why Downie hadn’t even noticed the strip? Keep in mind that, with the Breathed strip, Downie was so concerned about it, he took a poll amongst people in his newsroom, with special attention paid to the opinions of his Muslim staffer. Why was his radar up for one and not for the other one? A recent “Mother Goose and Grimm” comic drew a few complaints from Jewish readers. It showed a vampire couple wondering why they get so many invitations to bat mitzvahs. This one is even more disturbing, because it ties in with the old Blood Libel concept. The fact that this strip went by unnoticed, while the Muslim slip got Downie worried enough to poll is stuff highlights a media that is unable to distinguish between a strip that alludes to an utterly false libel that is used to rouse aggression against a group (such as the blood libel against Jews), versus a strip that rather mildly pokes fun at an ideology’s own widely touted values (such as modesty and the supremacy of men).

The Sept. 2 “Opus” strip featured Steve Dallas wanting Lola Granola to go to the beach in a bikini. He thinks that ordering her to wear it will work; “America rocks,” he says, telling his son that this “is how we’re gonna straighten out the world.” Instead she wears a Burkini, modest Muslim swimwear designed and sold by Ahiida Ltd., a company in Sydney. Aheda Zanetti, owner and designer, wears the veil and said she “just loved” the strips. The Sept. 2 strip mentioned her Web site, which prompted some hate mail, Zanetti said. So, because some wackos are going to use an otherwise reasonable strip, that doesn’t attack anyone or anything, but that pokes gentle fun at a group’s own vaunted behaviors, that’s a reason not to run it? That’s not how the marketplace of ideas works, guys.

The reasons that strip wasn’t published are murky. Downie said he did not kill it. Other editors thought that the Writers Group thought it would be hard to understand without seeing the first strip. Alan Shearer, Writers Group editorial director, said he made that point but did not want either strip killed. This murkiness is itself indicative of something. Because there was nothing objectionable in the strip, no one will take responsibility for deep sixing it. But clearly someone was afraid….

About 25 of the 200 “Opus” clients told Shearer they would not run the first strip. Old strips were sent as alternatives. Many ran the second strip. Most papers ran both, Shearer said, including the Chicago Tribune, the Oregonian, the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun. A check with editors showed that only the Sun and the Tribune got complaints — one each.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, wasn’t offended. ” ‘Opus’ poked fun at the strip’s characters, not Muslims or Islam. I see hundreds worse on the Internet every day,” he said. For once, I agree with a CAIR representative. The papers that withdrew the strip were out CAIRing CAIR.

Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic studies at American University, also wasn’t offended. He said there is a strong Muslim tradition of satire and self-deprecation. “I think there is a danger of us becoming so politically correct that we end up by blunting the critics’ bent and the satirists’ wit. Muslims need to be sensitive to the fact that in Western culture there is a healthy tradition of not taking things too seriously.” Am I the only one who sees a nonsequitur here? Ahmed said Muslims have this great tradition of self-deprecation and satire. Then he says that Muslims need to get lessons in understanding “not taking things too seriously.” Which is it? Which audience is he talking to? The West (“Muslims have a great sense of humor”) or the Muslims (“pretend you have a great sense of humor”)?

It would be an understatement to say that Breathed and Writers Group editors were not pleased that The Post didn’t run the strips. Shearer was “disappointed” and argued against dropping them. Publisher Bo Jones was in the middle. The Writers Group reports to him, as does Downie. Jones worked with Shearer and Breathed on points that concerned him and approved the strips’ distribution. But he let Downie decide not to publish them in the newspaper.

Breathed didn’t want to talk about it, because, he wrote, “Subtlety has never been my hallmark. Cartoons only work UNPARSED. Unexamined. Un-deconstructed. Two weeks ago the ‘Today Show’ spent 10 minutes doing exactly that with the ‘Opus’ Muslim strips, and it was like watching someone try to iron wet toilet paper.”

I think Post editors overreacted in killing the strips. Comics are meant to be artful, fun and provocative. The two strips were all of that and worth publishing. Let comics be comics. Howell’s offered a badly written article, one that wanders from point to point, but at least she draws the ultimate correct conclusion, which is that the comic ought to have been published in all its usual venues. What the article shies away from, though, is the fact that the WaPo displayed such an unreasonable degree of hypersensitivity to Muslims, something its editors haven’t shown to infinitely more offensive strips aimed at Jews and Christians, and something that even Muslims don’t demand. This kind of abject pre-apology is a very frightening development among a cadre of people who believe themselves to be at the cutting edge of our culture.

P.S. Love that penguin!

UPDATEHot Air also caught Howell’s acknowledgment that the WaPo erred.  Allahpundit is more generous than I, in that he doesn’t challenge the shaky reasoning leading to that admission.

Teaching kids at the BBC

I got intrigued by the BBC children’s website when I read at Power Line how that website described 9/11:

The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, including a group called al-Qaeda – who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks.

In the past, al-Qaeda leaders have declared a holy war – called a jihad – against the US. As part of this jihad, al-Qaeda members believe attacking US targets is something they should do.

When the attacks happened in 2001, there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, said he wanted them to leave.

That’s what children all over the English speaking world are reading if they naively believe that the BBC is a respectable and unbiased news source. Given the fact that the Beeb is anything but unbiased, I decided to check out some other stuff at their website. For example, I thought I’d read the BBC’s answer (for children) to the question “How do Muslims View Other Religions?

The Qur’an describes Christians and Jews as members of the family of Abraham (one of the prophets) and Muslims respect these religions because they believe that they all worship the same God.

Muslims do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but that he was one of God’s prophets, just like Muhammad.Bookworm Room › Edit — WordPress

Muslims believe in many of the stories about Jesus that the Christians believe in.

For example, they believe in the virgin birth and that Jesus will come again.

In fact, Jesus is regarded within Islam as a special prophet. His name is in the Qur’an 25 times – more times than Muhammad’s.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is God’s most recent words and is his final message.

Isn’t that sweetly ecumenical? It seems a little disingenuous, though, when this is what the Muslims are really saying:

Following a lesson on the monotheistic faiths, Saudi Arabian schoolchildren are asked to discuss “With what types of weapons should Muslims arm themselves against the Jews?” That question is part of an official textbook for 8th grade students which also emphasizes that “Jews and Christians were cursed by Allah and turned into apes and pigs,” and that “The hour [the Day of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”

***

MEMRI reports that “the textbook interprets the conversation between the prophet and his companion as follows: the most important activity is Jihad for the sake of Allah and the convocation of Allah’s religion on this earth.”

By ninth grade, students are ready for “The Promise of the Stone and the Tree” — the story of Abu Hurayra, one of the prophet’s companions who quoted the prophet as saying: “The hour [the Day of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. A Jew will [then] hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will call upon the Muslim: ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!’ — except for the gharqad tree, for it is one of the trees of the Jews.”

And there is, of course, that little problem of Muslims being killed if they convert to another religion, a practice that really doesn’t comport well with the statement that “Muslims respect these [other] religions because they believe that they all worship the same God.” And maybe I’m imagining it, but isn’t the Bible banned in Saudi Arabia, a ban that can be imposed with the death sentence? It seems to me that the BBC isn’t being quite honest with the little kiddies, is it? The BBC should either have been honest in this little segment or, if honesty was political suicide, it shouldn’t have said anything at all. As it is, it came out with what is a pretty blatant lie, and that’s offensive.

UPDATE:  Just a little more on Islamic tolerance for other religions.  Here’s a Palestinian politician calling Jews the brothers of apes and monkeys, and calling for their destruction.  And if you’re inclined to discount this link by saying these expressions may come from Muslims, but they are separate from Islam itself, which by its express terms is more tolerant, that’s not the case.  While everyone focuses on the “Jesus is a prophet,” “Moses is a prophet,” etc., they forget that Islam goes on to say that, while these men are prophets, those who follow their religion are in profound error for not having made the switch to Islam.  And for that error, they are condemned to death or perpetual servitude (see Parts I, II and III of Andrew Bostom’s scholarly analysis of Jewish life under the Turks, going back hundreds of years).  No matter how you spin it, that is not the “respect” or “tolerance” that the BBC would have people — no, make that “children” — believe exists within Islam.  Mark Steyn, as usual, has the most pithy summary of Islamic disdain for all other religions.  A religion must be understood, not only by its words (which are discriminatory enough), but by its acts over the centuries and into the present day, which are equally discriminatory.

Let me just throw in a link about the Taliban and the Buddhas.

Bringing women back from the pit of living death

I’m reading Gone With The Wind again, for the first time in about 30 years. I didn’t mean to, but I found a lovely, perfectly clean copy at Goodwill for $1.49 and couldn’t resist buying it (such a bargain). And then, of course, once it was in the house, I kind of opened it to the first page: “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charms as the Tarleton twins were.” I was hooked all over again.

There is no doubt that the book is a very painful reminder of the racism about blacks that filled the American mind, not just during the Civil War, but in the 30s when the book was written and became one of the greatest bestsellers of all time, as well as in the many decades after. Mitchell’s writing about blacks and slavery makes one writhe just reading it.

But if you scooch by those offending passages and focus on the rest of the book, it is truly a masterpiece. It’s a phenomenal evocation of a lost era, one that willingly hurled itself onto the funeral pyre of an unwinnable war. It’s a fantastic character study of a young women who is so shallow and self-centered one ought to hate her, but who is also so honest, fearless and determined that she becomes a mesmerizing figure who has fascinated generations of readers. One of the things that makes Scarlett such a great character is the way in which, with Rhett Butler’s help, she breaks the chains that bound women in the South who, for all that they were ostensibly “cherished,” were also deeply imprisoned by the conventions of the time. Indeed, one of the book’s most memorable moments includes precisely such a moment of liberation.

Whether you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you all remember the charity ball Scarlett attends, swathed in the widows’ weeds she was condemned to wear for years after her husband’s death. That same convention demanded that widows remove themselves entirely from social interaction, withdrawing to the home to mourn endlessly. Scarlett’s appearance at the ball, hidden in a corner booth, was due solely to the exigencies of the war. You also recall that, in the auction to lead off the first dance, Rhett bid $150 dollars in gold for Scarlett’s hand, and Scarlett scandalized the assembly by taking him up on the offer. What you probably don’t remember is the conversation Scarlett and Rhett had before he made that bid:

“I have always thought,” he said reflectively, “that the system of mourning, of immuring women in crepe for the rest of their lives and forbidding them normal enjoyment is just as barbarous as the Hindu suttee.”

“Settee?”

He laughed and she blushed for her ignorance. She hated people who used words unknown to her.

“In India, when a man dies he is burned, instead of buried, and his wife always climbs on the funeral pyre and is burned with him.”

“How dreadful! Why do they do it? Don’t the police do anything about it?”

“Of course not. A wife who didn’t burn herself would be a social outcast. All the worthy Hindu matrons would talk about her for not behaving as a well-bred lady should — precisely as those worthy matrons in the corner would talk about you, should you appear tonight in a red dress and lead a reel. Personally, I think suttee much more merciful than our charming Southern custom of burying widows alive.”

“How dare you say I’m buried alive!”

“How closely women clutch the very chains that bind them! You think the Hindu custom barbarous — but would you have had the courage to appear here tonight of the Confederacy hadn’t needed you?”

Arguments of this character were always confusing to Scarlett. His were doubly confusing because she had a vague idea there was truth in them.

What Rhett knew, the leader of American Reform Jewry apparently has not yet figured out. According to Dennis Prager, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, in a speech to American Muslims at a meeting of the Islamic Society of North America, asked “Why should anyone criticize the voluntary act of a woman who chooses to wear a headscarf or a veil? Surely the choice these women make deserves our respect, not to mention the full protection of the law.” Prager, echoing Rhett’s words about societal strictures that render women invisible, answered:

In the long history of women’s inequality, it is difficult to name almost anything more anti-woman, dehumanizing and degrading than the veil. We know people by their face. Without seeing a person’s face, we feel that we do not know the person. When we read about someone in the news, whether known for good or ill, we immediately study the person’s face. One can have one’s entire body covered, and it means nothing in terms of whether we feel we know the person. But cover a person’s face, and the person might as well be invisible.

Indeed, the veiled woman is intended to be invisible. That is precisely the goal of the veil.

In light of the veil’s dehumanization of women, how could anyone, especially a rabbi on the left, say he respects a woman choosing to wear a veil?

It is not new for cultures to try to hide their women for one reason or another. It is always a dehumanizing thing that leaves the women, as Rhett said, “buried alive.” That the reform rabbi would be unable to grasp this, something that has been recognized in the West since at least 1936, when GWTW was published, is both sad and shocking.

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