Thursday, March 31, 2005

Repairing the Mothers

My co-contributor Dymphna has written extensively here and at I Could Scream on the plight of Islamic women. With the de facto acceptance of the jurisdiction of sharia over Muslims in such Western countries as Canada and Britain, even those Muslim women currently residing outside the Ummah in the liberal democracies have reason to fear for their rights.

But it is not simply the religion which causes such brutal oppression of women; culture is also a significant factor. Arab culture is the epicenter of the phenomenon; the closer the society is to the Arab heartland, the more brutally it treats its women. Muslim women in Indonesia and Turkey fare much better in that regard than their Arab sisters.

So what is it about Arab culture that causes such repression and degradation of women? Last year, Phyllis Chesler posted a much-discussed article, "The Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Terrorism". Referring to an upcoming book called Sheik's New Clothes: the Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Suicide Terrorism, she described conditions among Palestinian Arabs:
     ...Kobrin, and her Israeli co-author, counter-terrorism expert Yoram Schweitzer, describe barbarous family and clan dynamics in which children, both boys and girls, are routinely orally and anally raped by male relatives; infant males are sometimes sadistically over-stimulated by being masturbated; boys between the ages of 7-12 are publicly and traumatically circumcised; many girls are clitoridectomized; and women are seen as the source of all shame and dishonor and treated accordingly: very, very badly.
 ...Both male and female infants and children are brought up by mothers (who are debased and traumatized women). As such, all children are forever psychologically "contaminated" by the humiliated yet all-powerful mother. Arab and Muslim boys must disassociate themselves from her in spectacularly savage ways. But, on a deep unconscious level, they may also wish to remain merged with the source of contamination -- a conflict that suicide bombers both act out and resolve when they manfully kill but also merge their blood eternally with that of their presumably most hated enemies, the Israeli Jews.
With such a culture perpetuating itself generation after generation, how is it possible to hope for any kind of reform in the way women are treated?

Of course, Palestinian culture is the behavioral sink of the Arabs, so that generalizing from it to the Arab world at large may not be advisable. Still, one can assume that a similar process goes on in other Arab countries. How could anyone on the outside ever intervene to introduce change into such a destructive system? Men are just as much the victims of it as the women are, growing up angry, fearful, resentful, and self-pitying, expecting nothing but brutality and intimidation from the world at large, and meting it out themselves when given a chance, particularly to their womenfolk.

But Iraq gives us a glimmer of hope: what women need in order to begin their emancipation is the franchise. Forget for the time being the laws enforcing the hijab, the proportion of women in the universities or the government, and the laws of property and inheritance. When a woman can make her voice heard through her vote, those who get elected will tend to pay attention to her needs. It is impossible to believe that the vast majority of Arab women would not vote to ameliorate their condition in some degree, if ever given the chance.

Bring on the purple fingers.

Hunting Osama: Update

Update: TigerHawk and The Daily Demarche both have posts on this story from the other day.

TigerHawk questions how effective the program could be, while Demarche prints an email from a retired FSO who describes why it would be a practicable application.

First, Tiger Hawk:
     Representative Kirk, of course, makes big claims about how effective matchbooks can be -- he cites one arrest as the result of a matchbook reward -- but is a single case ten years ago (and probably not involving al Qaeda) proof that the matchbooks work? I would be interested in knowing whether these programs really do work. There is undoubtedly a big memo in a file somewhere in Foggy Bottom with State's actual assessment, and probably a contradicting memo in another file in Langley. The single ancient anecdote offered by the Sun seems like a frail reed on which to hang Nancy Powell, though.
Then, the email at Demarche:
     ... So advertising on match books/boxes is one of the few effective media. In most of the Third World (and the old Second World, the USSR and Warsaw Bloc) there are no free matches, so smokers (lots of males in the Third World smoke) are happy to take free matches...

I was told by people involved in the "turn in a terrorist program" (my name for it, not theirs) that the match box advertisements did produce leads that caused several terrorists to be caught. Knowing the nature of far too many FSOs, Nancy Powell was offended by the manner of the advertising (on match boxes), offended that such advertising might offend some Pakistanis (it certainly would, anything that helped us would offend some of them), and/or just offended by anyone who was helping to fight "GW Bush's War". We will not know what was in Powell's head. We do know the nature of the culture of the State Dept. whereby the ambassador is supreme and all powerful, able to openly disobey orders from Washington, DC (unless the orders are really really important to the Secretary of State)...
As pointed out in the earlier post, it's hard to find "clean" intelligence programs and this one seems a good example of that. Might it make people mad at us? No more than anything else does. Has it served to improve embassy intelligence morale? Seems so. Does it cost very much? Not as these things go. The materials were already printed, and it takes few personnel to track the responses, at least initially.

Think about it this way: matchbooks are a measured, low-tech, low-cost and even amusing response to bin Laden's machinations.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Source Documents

Dan, from riehlworldview has a link to an anti-war site which claims to post reports from Iraqi “resistance” fighters:
     Iraqi Resistance Report for events of Friday, 25 March 2005
Translated and/or compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr, member editorial board
The Free Arab Voice.

Friday, 25 March 2005.
Al-Anbar Province.

Intermittent fighting took place in the northern neighborhoods al-Jawlan and the area of the sheep market in al-Fallujah, 60km west of Baghdad on Thursday between Iraqi Resistance fighters and US and Iraqi puppet troops. A captain in the puppet so-called "Iraqi national guard" told Mafkarat al-Islam that the fighting left seven US troops dead and 11 more wounded, and it killed nine Iraqi puppet soldiers and wounded five more of their number.

The captain said that four Resistance fighters were martyred in the battles.

The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam met an administrative official in the city police who told him, "it is quite impossible to accept the theory that Resistance fighters have come into the city, because 90 percent of the people of al-Fallujah are members of the Resistance. So if we wanted to control the city completely, we would have to expel all the population or wipe all of them out, and that's fundamentally impossible and irrational." The correspondent reported that on Friday security measures were tightened at the entrances and exits from al-Fallujah.
Given the level of veracity of the other pages on the site, this is recommended purely for entertainment value. For even more enjoyment, read Dan's riff on the report:
     On this glorious night we engaged the despotic forces of Satan Bush using the new Russian made night vision goggles smuggled in by our friends in Syria. Unfortunately, in what is sure to be found out as a Jew plot, the Russians, they did not so much tell our Syrian brothers that the little black lens caps to keep out the demon sand were to be removed before the battle.

Praise Allah, my brothers, it was a glorious night for we have gained many new martyrs in our illustrious cause. We looked right into the eyes of the American devil, well, we did not quite look into his eyes, as we were unable to see too very much, what with those damnable Russian Jew lens caps on. But still praise be to the troops of Al-Hadithah now all become martyrs.
Here’s the rest. As the author might say, we implore you, read the whole thing.

Hunting Osama...or not

Just shows you what a determined Congressman can do.

Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, was on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan in January, 2004. Rep. Kirk is an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve, so while there he sought out information from embassy intelligence on the progress of the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

In particular, Kirk asked about using matchbooks printed up in the local languages — - and presumably offering rewards. As evidence he cited the capture of the terrorist who opened fire on CIA employees in Langley, VA in 1993. Mir Amal Kansi was arrested two years later in Pakistan, based on a lead provided by someone who read the matchbook cover offering $5 million dollars for his capture.

Embassy officials told Rep. Kirk that such materials were available but that they’d been impounded by the previous ambassador and the current one, Nancy Powell, had refused to re-activate the program, called “Rewards for Justice,” despite its proven record in other areas. When Rep Kirk approached Ambassador Powell, he was effectively rebuffed.

Not a good move. Ambassador Powell is a career diplomat in the State Department and Rep. Kirk is a member the subcommittee that funds State. In February, he met with members of Congress and with the Speaker of the House. He began to bring up the subject with White House officials. In July, he was a guest on Air Force One during the campaign in Illinois.

By November, Ambassador Powell had been replaced. “Rewards for Justice” is back in working order.

The American Embassy in Islamabad now boasts a 24-hour call center to receive tips. The center is manned by two locals, both of whom speak the three major languages of Pakistan, and supervised by a Diplomatic Security officer. Embassy staff recently launched a 12-week radio and television campaign alerting residents that, in the words of one 30-second Urdu-language radio spot, they "may be eligible for a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to the arrest of known international terrorists." About 25 calls were received in February 2005, the center's first full month of operation.

Under legislation co-sponsored by Mr. Kirk and signed by Mr. Bush in December 2004, the top reward for information leading to the capture of Mr. bin Laden has been raised to $50 million from $25 million. The Rewards for Justice program has also been extensively retuned. Embassies are now required to conduct focus groups of locals to discover precisely which radio stations they tune in to and which newspapers they read. Based on those reports, the American Embassy in Pakistan is now broadcasting advertisements on the radio programs most closely followed by the residents of Waziristan, a mountainous region of Pakistan that is believed to be a haven for Al Qaeda.
Ambassador Powell is back at Foggy Bottom and unavailable for comment. Osama bin Laden is still at large. Do you think he remembers her in his daily prayers? If he turns up on the coinage of another domestic terror attack, should someone invite the former ambassador in for a chat?

(Thanks to JihadWatch)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Who Decides?

The ongoing controversy over the fate of Terri Schiavo has highlighted a prominent feature of cultural life in America: the central role of the judiciary in contentious matters. Terri's husband says she would want the tube which keeps her alive removed; her parents say she would not.

Who decides?

In this particular case, a single Florida circuit court judge has decided that Terri would have indeed wanted to die, and so she will die. All the arguing and wrangling and evidence and medical testimony have been channeled through the single narrow gateway of a particular judge in these particular circumstances. Regardless of one's position in the debate, it is unsettling that a single judicial official can hold in his hands the fate of a disabled and voiceless young woman who has committed no crime.

This is not the only instance in which matters of great import have been decided by a handful of judges or justices. When Congress passed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, cynical Republican legislators voted for it, and President Bush signed it, with the understanding that parts of it were unconstitutional and the expectation that the Supreme Court would overturn it.

Who decided?

The Supreme Court decided, or, in this particular case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor decided, since she was the "swing justice" casting the deciding vote. Congress and the President ceded decision-making authority to a single person, who arguably acted against the provisions of the First Amendment. Whether by ignorance, indifference, or calculation, the Executive and Legislative members of our government failed to carry out their oaths to uphold faithfully the provisions of the United States Constitution.

Then there is the ongoing issue of gay marriage. State by state gay rights activists are pushing to have gay marriage mandated by the courts, and laws against it overturned. People in favor of gay marriage say that it is only fair; those opposed say that it goes against all tradition and threatens the institution of marriage. Religious people cite scripture or the words of Christ to support one side or the other of the argument.

Who decides?

Four out of seven justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided that the Commonwealth, in order to give gay couples equal rights, must allow them to marry. California seems to be following suit.

Regardless of which side one is on in this issue, how is it possible to read in the Constitution a right for two people of the same sex to wed? The Constitution makes no mention of it. Until about 1970 the idea would have been laughable, and never seriously considered. If times have changed, the people of the country, acting through their elected representatives, could choose to pass new laws allowing gay marriage. Yet it is a handful of justices, acting against the popular will, who decide.

The Constitution does nor mention automobiles or drivers' licenses; yet the Commonwealth of Virginia, through its legislature, has decided to require that anyone who wishes to drive a car have a valid driver's license. I think that is unfair and discriminatory against me: can a judge decide that I do in fact have the right to drive a car without a license, regardless of the law?

Who decides?

On issue after issue -- the execution of minors, affirmative action, school busing, even the raising of taxes to achieve certain goals -- the same process has evolved: a judge or panel of judges makes the decision. Our elected representatives are perhaps afraid of the adverse publicity (since the mainstream media support the same agenda as the judiciary) and do nothing to halt the process. A few well-timed impeachments might do wonders to focus the judicial mind, but such is unlikely to occur.

As ShrinkWrapped says:
     We also need something greater than ourselves to anchor our morality; otherwise morality is just opinion. In our secular world, we have had the tremendous advantage of some rather brilliant men who put to paper, over 200 years ago, a set of principles which have served to protect the kinds of personal freedoms that have never been seen before for so many for so long. If we replace our reliance on the words they left us and instead rely on what we want the words to mean, we are endangering our freedoms, almost always with the best of intentions. When Justice Kennedy writes that his recent decision on executing minors (a decision I agree with, by the way) is in part based on the opinions of the international (ie EU) elite, I see us moving into dangerous territory. We need Supreme Court Justices who are humble men, who do not see things in the words that are not there. If our freedoms depend on the opinions of nine fallible individuals, I would prefer to rely on individuals who recognize how little we really know, even about ourselves, and how little we really can know. We should be extraordinarily careful of altering something which has worked well, if not perfectly, for over 200 years.
The rule of law depends on the existence of a permanent law whose meaning is clear to everyone. When the law means whatever Justice Blowhard says it means, then, in the immortal words of Mr. Bumble, "The Law is a ass."

As we approach Easter, it would be worthwhile to remember Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands and declined to decide Christ's fate. Even so, somehow the nails were driven in, the gibbet was raised, and the Son of Man was slain.

Who decides?

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Good Friday Contemplation

The stores are full of people buying Easter candy, grass and baskets.

The shelves are full of chocolate bunnies and fluffy lambs.

People are coloring Easter eggs and sending cards.

Choirs are rehearsing Resurrection music.

Altars are bare, waiting for Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, Ms. Schiavo is dying. The consensus on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is divided and vitriolic. How it "should" come out depends on where you stand vis-à-vis the law, Ms. Schiavo's intent, or perhaps a consideration for what is "best" for all concerned.

At ShrinkWrapped the doctor asks where our empathy has gone. He questions whether or not we're so narcissistic that we have lost all fellow feeling
    Without knowing what is going on in Terri Schiavo's mind, we are left with the next best thing, our empathy. Imagine yourself being compelled to starve to death. If you were guaranteed you would feel no suffering, would you agree to this? If you were told there was a 10% chance you would experience all the pain and suffering of starvation and dehydration and then die, likely after first having seizures, would you accept that risk? 25%? 75%? We have no idea what she is experiencing and no way to find out.
Here is something to think about for this Good Friday: Ms. Schiavo is not going to die of starvation. She is going to die of thirst.

Weep not for her -- weep for your children. They will inherit the world she is slowly, slowly leaving.

Nation-Building Marches On

On March 23rd, the Afghan National Military Academy re-opened its doors to the first class of 109 cadets.
    Afghanistan’s institutional rebuilding will take another step forward when the country’s first military academy is officially opened in the capital on Tuesday.

The academy, located on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, stems from the country’s first military school set up by King Nadir Shah in the 1920s.

The school fell into disuse after the Moslem mujahideen captured Kabul in April 1992. Troops loyal to the then president Burhanuddin Rabbani and the assassinated commander Ahmed Shah Masoud occupied the facility until the radical Taleban swept them from the capital.

“From now on, all military educational institutions will operate under the supervision of this academy,” {said} General Zahir Azemi, spokesman for the defence ministry.
At the behest of the Afghani military, the school is modeled on the United States Military Academy, and staff from West Point have taken turns deploying to Afghanistan in order to help establish curriculum and recruitment. They worked closely with the Afghanis to create a curriculum that conformed with Afghan's culture.
    "Our environments are different. Planners considered all cultural aspects and did not impose anything on us," Academy Superintendent Maj. Gen. Mohammed Sharif said. "While the academy will be similar to West Point, it will not be the same."
The winnowing process began with more than 350 candidates, eventually identifying 120 for basic training. Now 109 have entered the first class, their goal to graduate with degrees in engineering. The curriculum focuses on engineering, because "our country is war struck and devastated," said Sharif. "We are in the process of rehabilitating it. We need more engineers because we need reconstruction."

Obviously, the competition to enter the new academy is fierce. So is the commitment: cadets have to agree to serve for twenty-five years after graduation. In Afghanistan, for many, this is not a sacrifice.
    "It is my country," said Afghan Sgt. 1st. Class Ghazi Ahmad, a platoon sergeant from Paktia province, as if puzzled by the question about why he would serve at the academy. If he did not serve his country, then who would, he asked.
Sounds like many of the US forces when asked the same question.

(thanks to Winds of Change)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

UNnatural and UNnecessary

In yesterday's Belmont Club comments (on a
post concerning Kofi Annan's recent proposals for UN reform), a conversation arose among a group of committed UN-skeptics:
  SANGELL:Yes, modernize the Security Council. Give the seat France currently has to the EU. Award a permanent veto bearing seat to India and Japan. Let the other large nations ( my criterion population over 100 million, GDP of 1 trillion) have rotating full membership. Let the small General Assembly nations vote for one member to represent them on a rotating basis.
  Baron Bodissey:Sangell -- I think that's rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The UN is compromised in its core functions. Wretchard is right: the UN can only give the patina of legitimacy to what the great powers agree among themselves to do. And when they can't agree, one or more will do it anyway. The UN is a diabetic monster sucking out the sugar from the American taxpayer.
  SANGELL:Agreed Mr. Bodissey, the UN is a monstrous organization but it isn't going to be dissolved so we have to deal with it ( or do we?) My point was by supporting the removal of an exclusive French seat in favor of a UN seat we play a little mischief with 'Old Europe' and by including Japan and India, which the Bush team already support, we do ourselves no harm and force Japan to take a more direct role in world affairs.

As the UN now stands the larger and more cumbersome we can make the machinery of the UN the less likely it will be used against us. which is the direction many in Europe would like to take it. Having India and Japan on the SC weakens that possibility
  Annoy Mouse:Diplomacy is war by other means: If we were to "pull out" of the UN, you could expect the formation of another League of Nations, perhaps the EU, China, and Russia. I wouldn't put it past Schroeder and Chirac to do just that. We wouldn't even be privy to their deliberations or more likely we'd be the brunt of their findings. This could, probably would create serious consequences for our policies abroad, our trade relations, and it would probably create a greater rift between the Blue-Red states internally. Even moderates might fear that the US is "going it alone" or at least being barred from its' proper seat at the big global table. I think the EU would get a sadistic kick out of this. Most people I know think Political Correctness is a bunch of hooey, but you can be damn sure that they will play the semantics game to ensure that they will not be consumed by the ravages of the PC police at school, work, and at home. So feign a little obeisance, do the UN turkey dance, talk the drivel. It doesn't cost that much and in the end it does more than keeps worse things from happening.
Upon further reflection, this topic cries out for a longer response.

The League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, were created in the aftermath of the Great War in reaction to its horrors: Nothing like that must ever happen again. An idealistic vision was born, midwifed by Woodrow Wilson, as well-meaning members of the educated elites visualized a world without war, in which conflicts were mediated and short-circuited by an international deliberative body.

The League of Nations, of course, failed to prevent another and even greater conflagration just over twenty years after the first. The United Nations arose from the formal alliance of the victorious powers in World War II, expanding after the war to become the bureaucratic entity we all know and love today.

Neither organization ever proved empirically to have any utility in preventing armed conflict between and among nation-states. The League was a signal failure, and the two successes of the UN (Korea, Gulf War I) can be attributed to serendipity -- the Soviet Union was unable to interfere in both cases. The failures notched on the UN's belt are numerous: Vietnam, Sino-Indian wars, Arab-Israeli wars, Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq war, Somalia, Rwanda, and now Darfur.

In the years since Hitler drank the hemlock in the Göttedämmerung of his bunker, the keeping of what peace there has been can be attributed to two primary causes: the atomic bomb, and the armed might of the United States.

The UN has provided cover for what the great powers have wanted to do anyway, or for their inaction when they want to do nothing. Acting in their several interests, they consult among themselves, and when a consensus is reached, the Security Council passes the appropriate resolution. When consensus is not reached, various combinations of the great powers act anyway, according to their interests and consulting with one another through the usual channels.

What Annoy Mouse describes is quite plausible, but such doings went on before the UN, have gone on during its tenure, and would continue after its demise. The interests of nations will be acted upon, UN or no UN.

The armed might of the United States continues to be the primary regulator of the process. Now that it is the sole great power, the lesser powers tend to collude in order to thwart and circumvent it. But, arguably, the UN is the collective exemplar of such obstruction -- it gives the patina of legitimacy to a process whose main goal is to bring down the United States, becoming, in effect, a League of Ankle-Biters.

Make no mistake: the necessity of kowtowing to the UN charade has its deadly consequences. By delaying for six months what Britain and the US would have done anyway, the farcical run-up to the Iraq war in the UN telegraphed to Saddam exactly what he was to expect, allowing him to arrange for the insurgency and move his banned weapons to their caves in Syria or the Bekaa Valley. It also guaranteed that Turkey would get cold feet and deny the 4th Infantry passage through its territory.

How many more Iraqis were blown up because of all this high-minded folderol? How many innocent civilians were beheaded? How many more US Marines lay dead in the back alleys of Fallujah, all in order that Emperor Kofi could give the thumbs-down to the removal of a tyrant?

First do no harm. The UN fails the Hippocratic test.

A Bureaucrat's Dram... I mean Dream

In his inimitable style, Wretchard is having his way with Mr. Annan's new ideas re the reform of the United Nations (that first typed itself as the "Unintended Nations." There is much to be said for observing slips of the pen/keyboard).

we find that Annan has themed his proposals in almost concious competition with those of the Bush Administration. His report subtitle is "In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all". Superficially, it is an "alternative" agenda towards these same goals, atttainable in the kinder, gentler way that so characterizes the 'World Body'.
"Superficial" is the key word there. Simply based on its past record the least likely mechanism for "human rights for all" is the Untied Nations. As Wretchard says, the place is a bureaucrat's dream:

It was a dictum in Field Marshal Zhukov's Army that a good commander never reinforced failure only success. It is a maxim of the United Nations that progress is achieved by doing everything that never worked all over again. Probably nowhere is the bankruptcy of Annan's vision (and I use that word consciously) more evident than in Paragraph 29, where he lays out the UN vision for a better world. It is a laundry list of all the special interest 'development' goals the UN has acquired over the years where problems of different orders of magnitude and positions in the chain of causality are jumbled together; a bureaucrat's dream and a human being's nightmare.
The ghost of Max Weber is stalking the halls. He is smiling.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The New Kristallnacht Redux

An article in today's "Inside Higher Ed" describes an alarming, but sickeningly familiar, phenomenon:
     Hate Group Casts a Wider Net

A few weeks ago, participants on an anti-Semitic Web site became angry when a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles refused to participate in an exchange of e-mail messages.

The professor was Jewish, and the Web site responded by placing photographs of and biographic material about UCLA professors and anti-Semitic diatribes online. In recent days, the Web site - Vanguard News Network - has expanded its campaign, which it says is designed to draw attention to the high percentage of Jewish professors on law schools' faculties.

The Web site is now publishing a variety of information - photographs, results of Google searches, phone numbers - of faculty members who are Jewish (or have Jewish-sounding names) at leading law schools all over the United States.

Among the institutions who have faculty members discussed by name on the Web site are Georgetown, Harvard, New York, Stanford and Yale Universities; and the Universities of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Most of the comments attack Jewish faculty members at law schools, with a theme being that they make up a larger share of law school faculties than do Jews in the U.S. population, and that this over-representation signifies Jewish control of American society.
The link to VNN is omitted, in order to avoid increasing their linkbase on the web.

The same characteristic of the Jews which has been celebrated here is used against them by the VNN. Those wily Jews! Staying a few extra years in grad school to increase their representation in the professions. Using their ill-gotten lucre to pay for a law-school degree so that they can control our judiciary. Working long hours for low pay to indoctrinate our vulnerable young women with their dangerous cant. How much more can white Christians take?

A quick look at their site -- and a brief exposure is the most that a person can tolerate -- reveals juicy tidbits such as this one, concerning a professor at UVA (professor's name and offensive terms are redacted):
     ...Before entering academia, [the professor] served as a legal counselor with the Washington Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.(I WONDER IF SHE CHARTERED AIRCRAFT TO FLY WHITE GIRL RAPING SOMALI N***ERS INTO THE DAKOTAS AND MINNESOTA?) She spent 1997-99 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she was director of the International Human Rights Law Group's Bosnia program for 14 months. The program's work included a report on women's human rights and development of a training program on employment discrimination. Before joining the Law Group, [the professor] served as an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) liaison officer to the Human Rights Coordination Centre of the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

...Between 1981 and 1993, she led regular delegations of U.S. citizens on study tours of the Middle East, and spent a sabbatical year (1989-1990) in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
With dismaying irony, the contributor cites activities which should endear the professor to his Jew-hating heart -- she has been involved in the UN and travelled to Israel in order to provide aid and comfort to the enemies of Jews! Surely this would endear her to his Aryan heart...? But race trumps everything.

Another entry is straightforward and traditional, with its frisson of implied miscegenation:
So the lesser mongrel races are colluding against the purity of their white betters.

It is difficult to do anything other than gape slack-jawed at this hackneyed hate, in all its banality. Does nothing ever change?

An ominous novelty is a headline appended to many of the entries on the VNN site: White Racists Seek To Ally With Middle Eastern Wahabists Against The Jew. So, following in the footsteps of the führer, the neo-Nazis are assembling the Arab auxiliaries...

The Jews of the world would do well to realize that it does not serve their own best interests to lie down in front of tanks in the West Bank or chant "No blood for oil!" on the streets of Ann Arbor.

Repeat after me: Never again.

Ringing in the Changes II

The two elements of change

In an elegant little book from the 1970’s, the late psychiatrist Allen Wheelis says about change that it has two parameters: attitude and environment, or, rather, he says attitude or environment. Change in one produces change in the other. While it doesn’t seem possible to add to his list, the particulars of each can be elucidated to underline his point.

Begin with environment. The Middle East is as good an example as any of a milieu that could reasonably have been asserted not to be capable of much change. In fact, it has been proposed that change would not be a good idea. While the Middle East didn’t have much else going for it, at least it was stable. Why introduce change and upset the balance of a poverty-stricken, despot-ridden, sand-blasted anteroom to Hell? Why disturb the Arab Street and bring down its wrath upon the West?

Why indeed.

The crowbar that G.W. Bush inserted into the apparatus of history has changed that environment irrevocably. Do things still blow up? Do people still die unfairly and before their time, in cruel and useless ways? Yes and Yes. But they were doing that before Bush arrived and they were dying in much larger and more predictable numbers. Now that he and his men have marched through in army boots, let’s tick off the changes their journey has wrought in the environment of several countries.

Starting with the first quagmire,

a. Afghanistan. The Taliban is gone, or gone enough for government purposes. The rest is the long, slow process of putting the million tiny pieces of the puzzle into order. Poppies? You were hoping for zero-tolerance for drugs? Is that your litmus test of success? How about the freedom to sing again, people digging up their buried radios, sending their little girls to school? Women appointed to high office? The rest will come with time. Umm.. those of you in the back, how about humming a few bars of “give peace a chance?”

b. Iraq, or Quagmire #2. 1,500 dead American soldiers and 25,000,000 free Iraqis. On the spectrum between harm and good where should the present situation in Iraq lie? It depends on where you stand -- or even more crucially, what platform you were standing on when this train departed. Some of the doubters are coming around. Most of the Iraqis are, too. There has been a sharp decrease in ‘insurgent’ (read ‘outside agitators’) activity. Iraqi police recruits are blown up and the next day there are even more standing in the same place. And now the EU is moving in to train the judiciary. Surely if the EU and the UN are in town, the new environment is safer.

c. Most of the wagers for the next environmental change are on Lebanon. Liberty brought to you by a bloody (and bloody stupid) assassination, which the UN is now set to blame on Syria. Even Hizbollah came to pay its respects at the martyr’s tomb. Meanwhile, it looks as though Syria is on its way home while the Lebanese decide on their next elections.

d. So whither Syria? Or, “wither Syria,” as the case may be. Or Palestine? Or Iran? Wherever they are headed, it is not back to the status quo ante. That road is closed, the entrance guarded by the fierce cherubim of history.

The environment of the Middle East will never be the same, and that is change, change for the good. GW Bush doesn’t much care who gets the credit, which is fortunate. A president whose focus is liberty rather than his 'legacy' is a man willing to risk change for the sake of freedom.

Meanwhile, how about the other element of change? Attitudes seem to be evolving at a rapid clip.

When I came to Lebanon two weeks ago, I watched with awe, and at times envy, as the Lebanese took to the streets striving to recapture the freedom they were robbed of for so long. Their efforts represented to me an epic struggle against the impotence of the Arab world and a condemnation of the failings not only of the Lebanese leadership but that of the Arab world in its entirety.

On my way to a demonstration commemorating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, I saw Egyptians enthusiastically making their way to Martyrs' Square, where the opposition rallies have been held, all too eager to participate in solidarity with the Lebanese people, but also perhaps out of frustration with the status quo at home.

The winds of change in Lebanon are not necessarily the result of Iraqis and Palestinians going to the polls, or because of U.S. President George W. Bush's manifesto of spreading freedom and democracy in the region. All these variables, while certainly interlinked, are not the overarching causes for the unfolding events. Instead, change is in the air because of a thirst to live a democratic life with dignity, to speak freely, and above all to repudiate the ominous and abhorrent conditions Arabs have lived under since the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

He’s right. It’s the “thirst to live a democratic life with dignity” that is driving this change in attitude.

Imagine having lived in the desert for a long, long time, dreaming of water. Imagine a well being drilled right in your own courtyard.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Ringing In The Changes I

The Elevator Operators

The seal which once separated the elite from the rest of us has been irreparably broken. When the moat was crossed and the castle gates breached, in rushed not just hordes of the unwashed, but also the fresh air of information and events -- good, bad and indifferent -- more information than any one person or group could manage or contain.

Information driven by technology has been atomized and dispersed: it is carried by the wind through the all-pervasive cell phone, 24/7 broadcasting, and the ethereal net. No one who wants to know (and many who do not) is any longer beyond the reach of "events," however the news is defined. With each new upgrade in communication gadgetry, and with a geometric increase in the gadgets themselves, comes a corresponding decrease in the cost of dispersing information. The old guard sneers about the new democratization of knowledge, calling it degraded; the young Turks don't hear -- they're listening with headphones in place.

It is now impossible to build a wall high enough to keep out what is carried in on the air. Egypt, which had to await Napoleon's intrusion in 1798 to get Gutenberg's invention, grows restive in this new atmosphere. Iran refused to let a printing press into the country until the end of the 19th century; with cell phones and bloggers all over the country, it is now reaping the whirlwind. Gutenberg's ghost is dancing in dust devils swirling in the streets of Tehran.

Never before have so many had access to so much information. Formerly dispensed in packets, as though too much at once would purge the body politic of all sense, the news is taken in great draughts, crowds are giddy with euphoria. The gatekeepers, those dispensers of what ought be known -- whether the MSM, the mandarins in academe and government, or the American Medical Association -- are faced with the loss of security in this tumult. To a large extent, everyone can now do for themselves what they formerly had to wait upon for the "experts."

It is to be expected that drastic changes in their standing and fortune cause howls and disbelief among the elites as the storm descends. Some have been swept overboard, some carried out to sea, some cling to life rafts as they drift over the horizon. Will there be anyone left?

Yes, indeed. But it's all open to question, to second (and third and fourth) opinions, to suspicion about motives and agendas. Those who understand will adapt; their changes will be seen as humility. Some few will find the integrity and grace to transcend their former limits.

Translation: don't write off Hillary Clinton based on what she said before the Iraqi elections. Pay attention only to what she says from this point forward. But pay meticulous attention nonetheless. Much more scrutiny is required than would be the case for someone with an established reputation for being able to spot the small ship on the edge of vision. Let her get her sea legs before deciding what she can do.

Meanwhile, what do you think happened to all the elevator operators?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Gates Are Moving Closer

The Counterterrorism Blog has a disturbing report. In early March, An American official with the Transportation Safety Board was in Mexico to inspect the security of Mexican airports. During his visit he was beaten. By Mexican police.
This official…left his hotel room in Tijuana, Mexico on Friday evening and crossed the street to buy his daughter a gift. While returning from the gift shop he was accosted by two Mexican police officers. They pulled the U.S.Federal agent into an alley and beat him while demanding $1,000.
The man’s attempts to get away not only failed, his efforts landed him in jail until he was rescued the next day by the US Embassy. After his release he was returned to the US under the protection of an armed convoy.
Beside the emotional trauma inflicted on him by greedy,corrupt Mexican police officers, the U.S. agent suffered serious nerve damage to his hands. To make matters worse he faces possible retaliation from his own Government. Instead of lodging a forceful protest with the Mexican Government,the U.S. State Department is trying to keep the matter quiet. TSA, rather than stand up for its people, is blaming the Agent who was so viciously attacked for causing the incident "because he left his hotel room after dinner".
This is not the first incident with US citizens in Mexico. As Larry Johnson points out, the White House and the State Department have responded with “deafening silence.” Not so much as the courtesy of a public warning to anyone traveling to Mexico.

America deserves better treatment from its leaders.

Terrorism exists at many levels and many intensities. Obviously, as lawlessness is increasingly accepted at the borders, it follows that American citizens abroad are also increasingly at risk. They are simply aspects of the same perception that the US tolerates unruly, anarchic behavior directed at its citizens and its boundaries. As long as this situation continues, expect foreign travel to become less pleasant and more perilous.

While the President turns a blind eye to the near events, The Gates are moving closer.

Soon, if government does not protect its people, vigilance driven by extremity will become an individual matter.


Update: Apologies are in order regarding the statements above concerning the State Department's lack of warnings to Americans traveling in Mexico. According to USA Today,

On Jan. 21 the department cautioned Americans about the Matamoros area. Five days later, it broadened the announcement to cover the entire border with Mexico.
See comments below.

Friday, March 18, 2005

What Is a Life Worth?

photo credit: http://www.middle-east-online.comSo her story is not unusual after all: two million Asian maids are subjected to physical abuse, beating, sexual harassment, rape in Gulf states. Some of them die as a result.

The record of abuse, Sharia court "justice" and the practice of dhimmitude is flourishing in the Middle East. Even in cases of compensation for accidental death or murder, there is the heavy, cruel hand of Mohammed. In Saudi Arabia for example, what the heirs receive is determined according to religion first, and then to gender.
  • The families of Muslim men receive the "full compensation amount, which is 100,000 riyals (almost $27,000.00).
  • Christian and Jewish males are worth about half that.
  • Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, etc., -- so-called "polytheistic" religions -- are only one-sixteenth as valuable as Muslims
  • And of course, the women in each category above are worth half the amount in the twisted calculus of Islam.
These are the people who gave us the zero and algebra. It's time to thank them and move along. Especially if you're a Buddhist woman in Saudi Arabia: you're "worth" US$843.75.

More or less.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sinn Fein Plays Dominos

President Eisenhower, in a press conference in 1954, talked about the "falling domino" principle as it applied to Indochina. In the context of that conference, the reporters were concerned about the on-going hydrogen bomb program. Why couldn't we just stop now? Eisenhower spoke of tyranny, of national interest, and of the interconnection between nations.

So here is it is, fifty-six years later, and the domino theory seems, finally, a reality. Only this time the geography has widened to include more than just one region. Dominos are falling all over the place.

The domino called Northern Ireland was long-overdue for a tumble, but it looks as though it may have happened at long last. What the Belfast Telegraph calls a mafia economy -- "Sicily without the sunshine" -- has come onto the world's radar again, and for the same reasons: outlaws reigning in a supposedly civilized land.

Sinn Fein and the IRA have a long history of fascism dating back to World War II and their sympathy with the Nazis. The Republic of Ireland (the South), newly born in the Easter Rising of the early 'teens and twenties of the last century, remained "neutral" in the War, though many of her young men went off to fight in the British services. But Dublin itself was a haven for Nazis; sympathizers among the Irish population were numerous. To give the devil his due, their reactions -- coming as they did after centuries of domination by England -- had more to do with anti-British feeling than it did with the reality of Hitler.

Sinn Fein -- meaning "we ourselves"* or "ourselves alone" -- briefly had a proud history in the birth of the Irish nation. My aunt, born in 1916, was named Ellen Sinn Fein Sullivan -- her American father having come to Ireland to found the film industry was quickly caught up in the fever of independence and found himself in gaol briefly for his outspoken American talk. But "Alone" has its dark side. A divided house cannot stand, and Ireland is all-too-famous for division and recrimination. They have hung separately for generations.

Now Sinn Fein and the IRA are infamous for their mafia-like control of businesses in Ireland. No one dare stand up to them. And as sure as shamrocks appear in the florists' shops, every year on this date Gerry Adams waltzes over to America and collects the sentimental money from clueless Irish descendants raised on vague talk about the Troubles and the bloody English... "for the stranger came and tried to teach us their way/they scorned us just for being who we are." All over the Northeast of America they'll be bellying up to the bar and singing "Galway Bay" till they're hoarse.

Meanwhile, back in Belfast, the murdering IRA will be soldiering on, robbing banks, intimidating the populace, murdering the dissidents.

There's no way to tell in advance what will be the tipping point in any situation. When the IRA murdered McCartney, it was the whim of the tyrant. McCartney's chum "dissed" a mobster in a bar and before it was over, McCartney lay eviscerated, bleeding to death on the sidewalk while the IRA closed down, cleaned up, threatened everyone, and shut the phones so help couldn't be called until after McCartney was dead.

What they failed to take into consideration -- nor would it have been of any concern to them anyway -- was the five Mc Cartney sisters. They refused to "shut it up." Like Mukhtar Mai in Pakistan, they named the tyrant and they called for justice. The IRA offered the only justice they knew: they'd kill the murderers if the family would stop.

Instead, the five McCartneys are off to America, off to the White House to see the President. Their unheard-of courage has caught the conscience of the crowd and now no one will talk to Gerry Adams...or rather, no one important. He's still giving speeches to the union members in New York and Boston who will gather to listen. And U.S. special envoy to the peace process, Mitchell Reiss, will listen to him. But Ted Kennedy, his old friend these many decades, won't be among them.
     The sisters have been invited to the White House and the Capitol Hill speaker's luncheon. They will also meet with Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Sen. Christopher Dodd.
Like all the other terrorists (the IRA has trained and worked with the PLO and FARC), the Sinn Fein/IRA domino is falling as surely as has that of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine -- and all the way back to the Big Domino: the Berlin Wall. Perhaps they will see it coming in time to move toward the rule of law. Not likely, given how difficult it is to live as a former terrorist.

Meanwhile, Bush soldiers on, bringing into his circle those who would spread the mantle of liberty, those who have known the cost of tyranny. The McCartneys made the list and Gerry Adams will be gnashing his teeth in the outer darkness.

For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad

-- G.K. Chesterton

*Irish Gaelic sinn féin : sinn, we (from Middle Irish, from Old Irish) + féin, self (from Middle Irish, from Old Irish).

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Under the Whip

Tigerhawk has an interesting link to a UAE newspaper report. It seems that a maid has been discovered to be pregnant and has been sentenced by a Sharia court to 150 lashes, after which she will be deported.

It was her national sponsor who reported her pregnancy to the police, accusing her both of adultery and of being pregnant. Leaving the adultery charge aside, what is fascinating in the news report is what is missing. Here are the facts we are permitted to see:
     She refused to reveal the name of the child's father, despite being interrogated by the police and the public prosecutor. The public prosecution department referred her to the emirate's Sharia Court. She refused to identify her lover again. The court sentenced her to 150 lashes, to be administered in two stages. She will then be deported.
Here are the missing pieces:
  • We aren't told the miscreant's nationality. In all probability she is from the Philippines. Poor women are often recruited for domestic work in the Middle East, hoping to send money home to their families. Instead, they end up as virtual slaves, in bondage to their employers.
  • We can guess that her "national sponsor" is this self-same employer. What Muslim would sponsor a kafir domestic into the country except as his own employee?
  • Given her virtual slavery, three guesses as to who had physical access to this "maid"? And therefore, who is the father? And might there be an angry spouse in the background? Or was she handed around to guests or family members?
  • Another three guesses as to why she refuses to name the father. One hundred and fifty lashes is better than dying "accidentally" for speaking out. Though she will never fully recover from her punishment. Think about it. Would you?
  • Finally, she is not Muslim. A Sharia court would've had a Muslim woman stoned to death. After she delivered, of course.
If you're the praying sort, offer a few petitions for this poor woman today. She is someone's daughter, someone's mother and she has suffered for a long, long time. Just 150 more lashes and she gets to go home.

While you're there, light a candle in gratitude that this is not your story, is not your mother or your daughter.

Well Past Her Fifteen Minute Allotment

Mukhtar Mai's story continues to reverberate through the news cycle. It even appears to be gaining momentum, at least in the Western press. The latest, in Fox News, is by columnist Wendy McElroy. Ms. McElroy, no stranger to abuse herself, has the rudiments of a blog on domestic violence. There are untold thousands of us out here, not merely survivors, but transcendors -- if there be such a word -- of privately meted-out sadism. Mai's refusal to follow the usual decline down the steep slope of humiliation into the arms of suicide is inspiring to some, but it is a cautionary tale to those of us who have considered annihilation as a solution to the shame which follows degradation.

Mai's story is vital for those who search for the possible redemption of their own suffering To know that love can bloom and flourish in the face of evil grants to the soul the necessary tensile strength for battling the memories of the past and facing the future.

In this case, each recounting of the tale helps to keep Mukhtar Mai alive. The more light that shines upon her, the more fearful her enemies become of simply slaughtering her. She may never be able to live without body guards, but she has learned to live in the face of fear. Mai knows that there are worse things than dying.

A prediction: the tipping point has been reached in this story. The telling of it has gone on long enough -- well past the fifteen allotted minutes -- that it will emerge in a book-length version in the not-too-distant future. Some author, perhaps Ms. McElroy herself, will do the honors.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Spine Award

Fox must be doing something right: feathers are being ruffled again. This time it is protestations from American Muslims that the drama "24" portrays Muslims in a bad light. In one episode
     Muslim terrorists gain control of a nuclear plant, causing it to melt down.... One of the leaders of the plot shot his own wife and tried to shoot his son, fearing they would thwart his plans (And this was after kidnapping the U.S. defense secretary and trying to behead him live on the Internet).
So what is the problem here? One Muslim viewer finds the show "disgusting." He doesn't say that it's inaccurate, simply that it's the Muslims 'turn,' just as it had been the Italians and the Russians before them. He's got the reality pegged accurately; it's his reaction that could use some reality-testing.

Italian mobsters have carved a large swathe through American jurisprudence. Their contempt for the law, which they brought to the US, is widely acknowledged; only the over-sensitive could complain that this is the sole image of Italian Americans, though it is an image that has fueled a lot of good film. The funds that have had to be diverted to combat teh Mob could well have been spent elsewhere. And the Russians were the bad guys; their scofflaw attitude deserves our attention. Some of them who have moved here are indeed as lawless as they were at home. That goes, too, for the illegal Mexicans who cross the borders in droves and end up wards of the penal system.

A large so-what is due to American Muslim high dudgeon about the dramatic portrayal of Islamofascists on television dramas. Their lack of co-ordinated, vehement, enthusiastic and muscular support for the mores of their adopted country -- both before and after 9/11 -- leaves them little room to complain about a tame portrayal when the reality of terrorism is so much worse than what takes place within a television drama.

Let's start showing the reality: the butchered young woman in London, killed by relatives because she was marrying a divorced man; the drive-by shooting of the Muslim mother in Germany who had the audacity to leave her husband; the vicious slaying of Theo van Gogh Or how about the melodrama of Mukhtar Mai, survivor of both an officially-mandated gang rape and the scorn of her village. How about the scene where she overcomes her own illiteracy and begins to open schools for girls? Even schools for boys, since she thinks they have to start somewhere.

Then CAIR can come to us and complain. And then they can explain to us the huge influx of Saudi money to American mosques, money used to promulgate the Wahhabi view of life, a view in total opposition to American history, law, and custom. They can explain away the dhimmi laws of their own history and theology.

Either the Muslims stand with us or they stand against us. They can't have it both ways.

And good for Fox for refusing to cave. Read the whole article: they met with CAIR, they listened, they put in the p.c. clauses, and they have continued with the show. Finally, a network that doesn't cave.

Perhaps there should be some sort of annual network award for this kind of response. Call it the "SPINE" award. Because obviously they have one.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Beat Goes On: How Can I Keep From Singing?

According to the AP,

Pakistan's highest Islamic court has reinstated the convictions of five men sentenced to death for raping a woman on orders from a village council, following a firestorm of criticism after a lower tribunal ordered the men freed.
For the moment, it seems as though Mukhtar Mai, the victim of a village council-sanctioned gang rape, will be safe from her predators. What is interesting to note is that the higher court which reinstated the convictions of her rapists is not part of the regular court system; it is the Shariat Court, and claimed its superior judicial standing in matters of Sharia law. Islamic law considers rape and domestic cases within the purview of Sharia, rather than the jurisdiction of government law. Thus, the Shariat Court has stepped in to take over the case. They have not said what their ruling will be, only that the Lahore Court had no standing in the case.

Remember Sharia Law as it applies to allegations of rape? A woman has half the legal standing in one of these courts as does a man. If she alleges rape, there must be four men as witnesses who will testify on her behalf if her story is to be accepted as truth. Part of the horror of Ms Mai's ordeal was the 150 men who watched in silence as she begged for help, who watched as she was dragged away to be gang-raped, some of whom were participants in the "jubilation" during the actual ordeal, who were part of the crowd of 300 who witnessed her being forced to walk naked back into town. From where will come the four Muslim men required for Sharia law, to convict these rapists and acquit Ms. Mai of lewd conduct for her sexual congress with her aggressors? It remains to be seen how this 'higher' court will mete out justice and on whom Sharia justice will fall.

To what does Mai owe her current safety? For one thing, the public outcry. For another, the public beneficence of Western governments and NGOs. There is nothing quite like the fresh air of media coverage, public bestowal of funding, and public outrage to tip the scales in favor of justice and mercy.

To add your voice to the growing storm of concern, contact Ms Mai here: (from

The larger the choir, the more thunderous the song. And the less likely it is that Mai will disappear at the hands of her rapists.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
how can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing?

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Thing With Feathers

The Saga of Mukhtar Mai, Continued

 Mukhtar Mai
This week, the Canadian High Commissioner in Pakistan, Ms Margaret Huber, has given Rs2.1 million to Mukhtar Mai for the continuation of her educational work in Punjab.

This follows the public outcry, going on for three years now, against the brutal gang rape of this village woman who was set up to take the retribution required for her young brother's alleged dishonorable behavior. The whole ugly story was a set piece, a frame-up to distract attention from the fact that her brother was the first victim in this story: he was kidnapped and taken to a field to be sodomized by a group of men from a powerful family in his village

On June 22, 2002, three Mastoi men kidnapped Abdul Shakur, a tall boy 11 or 12 years of age. They took him to a sugar cane field. Then they took turns sodomizing him. "They asked me if I would tell my family," Abdul recalled. "When I said yes, they beat me up. Then they locked me up in a room."
Subsequently, Abdul was joined in the room by a young woman, Salma Naseen, from the Mastoi family. Then the police were summoned and the boy was accused by his sodomizers of having an affair with Salma. He was arrested and jailed.

It is at this point that Mukhtar Mai becomes the next victim. When the powerful Mastoi clan convened the village council to address their grievance, the outcome was never in doubt. The sentence in the case could have been the forced marriage of Abdul and Salma, but the Mastoi were hardly likely to agree to the union of one of their clan with a member of a poorer and less prominent family. Instead, Mukhtar was dragged from the village to the field where the tribal council had convened. In retribution for her brother's 'crime' she was ordered to be raped by four men.

For an hour and a half, as other Mastoi people "danced in jubilation," Abdul Khaliq and three other men raped her. Then Mukhtaran Mai was forced, before perhaps 300 people, to walk home naked.
Her father covered her with a shawl and took her in.

Usually, a woman thus humiliated simply commits suicide. There is no life left for her in her village after such an experience. Mai considered doing just that, and then...and then, in some mysterious transformation that can occur in the midst of devastation, Mai decided instead to fight back. She brought charges against the men. She stood firm against the death threats. The ostracism? What had she to lose after her long, naked walk home?

The higher court in Lahore overturned the convictions of the men who raped her, a legal decision which threatens her safety. But three years into this battle, Mai is too strong to kill. And the Islamofascists know it. Money has poured in from all over the world. She has used it to start schools, have them wired for electricity, buy textbooks and supplies, and begin to look for ways to make her projects self-sustaining.

Stories of courageous transcendence are universally compelling. Ms. Mai embodies the magic of transformation: a small woman in a remote village in Punjab is gang-raped. Just like so many before her, she is used and disposed of. Phoenix-like, she rises from the ashes of her humiliation and sets out to tell the world. Her story is proof that there is more to the news than simply bad news; there is also a desperate and overwhelming need for stories of personal redemption.

This case will go on to the Supreme Court. Given the outcry in all of Pakistan, the rapists may yet be sentenced. This excerpt from The Daily Times (Pakistan) illuminates the changing of the guard:

This is not a case in which a woman has been raped. This is a case in which a nation has been raped. That is how we should feel about it. This is not a case in which technicalities and police incompetence can be allowed to override national security. The issue of this country's image is one of national security as General Musharraf has said time and again. It's a question of how we treat one half of Pakistan. For any court to ignore this aspect is to tackle the issue very narrowly. That needs to change.
Mukhtari Mai has a website where stories can be read and donations made to her expanding projects for education and medical care in rural Pakistan:

             "Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all

                          --Emily Dickinson

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Speaking Taqiyya

The Pakistani government is firmly in the ideologue-Islamist camp. So is the rest of the Middle East. Thus, Daniel Pipes sounds a warning to those of us -- especially us, the optimistic and sometimes fatally hopeful Americans -- who fail to see how powerful the Islamofascists will remain, no matter which tyrant dies or is toppled.
one main danger threatens to undo the good news: that a too-quick removal of tyranny unleashes Islamist ideologues and opens their way to power. Sadly, Islamists uniquely have what it takes to win elections: the talent to develop a compelling ideology, the energy to found parties, the devotion to win supporters, the money to spend on electoral campaigns, the honesty to appeal to voters, and the will to intimidate rivals.

This drive to power is nothing new. In 1979, Islamists exploited the shah's fall to take power in Iran. In 1992, they were on their way to win elections in Algeria. In 2002, they democratically took over in Turkey and Bangladesh. Removing Saddam Hussein, Husni Mubarak, Bashar Assad, and the Saudi princes is easier than convincing Middle Eastern Muslim peoples not to replace them with virulent Islamist ideologues.
This is more than simply "converting" Muslims in the Middle East to democratic reform. What is the point of elections when they do not rest on the fundament of rule of law? Islam rests on something far less flexible and infinitely less merciful: taqiyya.

Whether the politically correct would disown it or not, Western political philosophy is Judeo-Christian in nature. Thus, lying is considered unethical and in some cases unlawful. Western jurisprudence takes seriously the need for truth in the rule of law.

Such restrictions do not hold in Islamic jurisprudence and theology. In fact, taqiyya against unbelievers is a necessary virtue in the waging of jihad. All is fair in war. And all is war until the arrival of the Hour, that time when the world is Allah's.

The celebration of taqiyya can be traced all the way back to Mohammed and his abrogation of the treaty he made with Mecca. It can be traced forward through the centuries of Muslim conquests, all the way to the Gates of Vienna.

Taqiyya may seem clever to those who use it against the seemingly witless West. Such tenets, however, are in the end self-destructive. They shred the society of believers into ever-smaller tatters. They halt the natural progress toward transparency and flexibility in human interchange. Such a culture is riven with distrust; such a house, divided against itself, cannot stand. However, it can bring the rest of the neighborhood down with it.

For Muslims, that means it will not be a short run up to liberty's transformative power. First they have to practice truthfulness with all of us.

For the rest of us, it would be well to heed Mr. Pipes' warning. He praises President Bush's "steadfast vision of a free Middle East" but warns
his administration should proceed slowly and very carefully about transferring power from autocrats to democrats. The Middle East's totalitarian temptation, with its deep questions of history and identity, needs first to be confronted and managed. To skip these steps could leave the region even worse off than during the era of unelected tyrants.
In the midst of a much longer passage, Jesus tells this cautionary tale:

When a foul spirit has left a man, it roams about in the Desert, seeking a resting-place; but, unable to find any, it says, `I will return to the house I have left;" 25 and when it comes, it finds the house swept clean and in good order. 26 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more malignant than itself, and they enter and dwell there; and in the end that man's condition becomes worse than it was at first. 27 (Luke 11:24-26)
If you have ever wondered what that story meant, simply consider "the Middle East's totalitarian temptation" and the possibility of elected tyrants in place of the despots we are busy destabilizing.

With such destruction is strewn the path of unintended consequences.

No Submission

Over at Dr. Sanity's new page, she notes that they're celebrating International Women's Day in Iran. If 'celebrating' is the right word. They arrested the women (and the men who accompany them) for shouting "Na roosari, Na toosari!" (No Veil, No Submission).

According to the article cited in her post, the protesters were hauled away to waiting buses. Given the fact that Islam itself means "submission," and this was the very condition they were refusing, this was obviously a subversive and threatening group.

It is demoralizing to watch and be able to do nothing here. But at least we can reject the all-too-common rationalization made by and for Muslim women that their position in Islam is anything more than servitude. As Dr. Sanity notes,
It is astonishing to me that there are women who justify Islam and even describe it as "liberating" because it "frees" women from having to worry about issues like fashion or looks. By that line of reasoning, you could say that Death "frees" people from having to worry about Life.
She also doubts that Islam and equality for women are compatible:

But if it is, then it {Islam} will have to stop beating up 50% of its population in order to act out male fantasies of superiority, potency and power in the other 50%. Because if an individual, nation or religion has to act those fantasies out, the truth is that they are covering up the pathetic and desperate soul of a murderer.
The good doctor is correct in her diagnosis. Islam has more than one kind of fascism. The ingrained tyranny of the family is truly malignant tyranny. The hand that rocks the cradle is also the hand that kills when daughters step out of line.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The First Step Causes the Most Trouble

On March 2nd, the Pakistani government, allied with Islamists in Parliament to defeat a bill which would have strengthened the legal sanctions against honor-killings.
...declaring it to be "un-Islamic," the bill was defeated by a majority vote. Law minister Wasi Zafar told parliament that there was no need for further amendments in the country's penal code after an amendment bill was passed last December.
This so-called "amendment" was simply a twist in the old law which allowed killers to seek or to buy pardon from the families of the victims of honor killings. Once pardon is bought or obtained, there is no criminal matter to be resolved. Life goes on, albeit not for the woman who has paid the honor-price with her life, with gang-rape, or with disfigurement. Any particular woman's fate is up to the whim of those meting out her punishment. The only limit seems to be the depth of their rage and the creative breadth of their sadism.

Several days after the legislative defeat, thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan on behalf of Mukhtar Mai, a provincial school teacher who sought justice for her ordeal at the hands of the village council -- the panchayat -- which directed that she be gang-raped in retribution for a supposed crime by her twelve-year old brother.

The panchayat in Meerwala, southern Punjab, had found Ms Mai's younger brother, Shakoor, guilty of raping a girl from the village's powerful Mastoi clan.

It was later revealed in a conventional court that the 12-year-old had in fact been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the same men who later made up his jury.

... Ms Mai was then taken away to be raped in revenge for her brother's supposed crime. None of the 150 men present responded to her pleas for mercy, she said.
Mai then did a courageous and unprecedented thing: she sought legal prosecution of her rapists. Six men were found guilty of the crime, which occurred in 2002. This week, co-incidentally with the defeat in Parliament of sanctions for these kinds of crimes, convictions of five of the rapists were overturned on appeal. The judges found the police at fault for not having followed proper procedures.

Meanwhile, Mai has been re-building her life. With the backing of a minority of her community, she sought legal help. And then, with the compensation she received for her ordeal, she has built two schools in her village: the Mukhtar Mai School for Girls is the first. The school for boys is named for her father, Farid Gujjar.

Pupils sit on wheat sacks because there are no chairs or desks. The school has no electricity, so they learn in the shade of the classrooms in summer and take classes in the bright winter sun of the courtyard when it gets colder.
However, things have not been easy.

For each of the 270 pupils in school, two more of the village's children are kept away by their parents.

Mukhtar believes men are scared of being undermined by a better-educated new generation, including stronger young women.

"They think it will lose them power," she says.

"Even if I don't succeed in my struggle," she says, "I'll keep trying until my death."
She is starting with the girls of her own village.

"School is the first step to change the world," says Mukhtar. "It's always the first step that causes the most trouble, but it's the start of progress."
May Allah bless her undertaking to wipe out ignorance in her small corner of the world. It is an ignorance which has cost her dearly.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

An Escalation of Force

Two articles published this morning provide additional information about the deadly incident involving Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena last Friday on the Baghdad airport road. According to Rowan Scarborough in the Washington Times,
Italian security forces failed to make arrangements for safe passage out of Iraq for a freed Italian reporter, whose car was fired on by U.S. troops, killing intelligence agent Nicola Calipari who brokered the reporter's release, according to an internal Pentagon memo.

The memo says checkpoint soldiers are trained to deal with erratic speeding vehicles whose drivers ignored warnings -- a profile that matches the Army's version of events in Friday night's shooting.


According to the division, the patrol attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car.
The details of the warnings given to the Italian vehicle before the final shots had not been released previously, and are still classified -- the US military does not want to reveal the exact procedures required under its ROE, for fear that the terrorists will learn to game the system or otherwise gain advantage from it.

Writing in Newsday, Craig Gordon provides a similar account:

The U.S. soldiers at the checkpoint say they did what they were supposed to do.

The hand and arm signals, the flashing white lights and the warning shots -- all were steps designed to halt a vehicle like the one carrying a freed Italian journalist Friday night in Iraq.

But the vehicle kept coming and, within seconds, they took aim again, this time shooting into the engine block to stop it. Instead, they wounded journalist Giuliana Sgrena and killed her rescuer, an Italian intelligence agent, who died instantly from a bullet to the head.


"I hate to say it, but there's not much time to say, you stop or you don't. And if you don't, I have to put you in the category of enemy, and I have to try to kill you," a senior defense official said Monday.

The principle behind the rules is that an "escalation of force" should give an innocent driver ample warning to stop -- first through signs posted outside the checkpoint, then physical and verbal warnings and finally warning shots.
Based on the military account, the response of the soldiers was regrettable, but understandable, and carried out exactly according to the procedures designed to protect our military and the Iraqis from deadly car bombs. No one wants innocent people to die, but neither does anyone want to see more headlines such as "Car Bomb Kills 40 On Airport Road".

The question that comes to mind is: Why did the Pentagon and the Administration allow the story to be defined by the Italian communist press and the major media for four days? An Italian journalist with an anti-American agenda was ransomed; the Italian government eschewed an American security escort and failed to notify the US military of what it was planning; the Italians approached the checkpoint at speed in a non-descript unmarked pickup truck. Nothing about the story, when released in its entirety, reflects badly on the United States military. Yet the sensationalist European press was allowed to control the coverage over the weekend.

Why only an internal Pentagon memo? Yes, certainly, the classified procedures had to remain obscure, but surely the story could have been released prominently with such details redacted.

Over and over again the Bush administration fails to make the case for its actions against the Great Islamic Jihad in a compelling -- or even competent -- fashion. Any blogger in his pajamas could take the same information and do a better job.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Dog Didn't Bark

The initial reports in the MSM concerning the shooting incident involving hostage Giuliana Sgrena were unusually muted. Sgrena is an Italian reporter for the Communist Newspaper Il Manifesto, and was released by her kidnappers in Iraq last Friday, after the Italians reportedly paid a $10M ransom. The car carrying her to the Baghdad airport was stopped by gunfire after the driver failed to stop at a US military checkpoint. An Italian secret service agent was killed, and Sgrena was wounded.

It seemed that this would be an opportunity for the Legacy Media to exploit in the manner of Abu Ghraib. It had everything -- innocent victims, trigger-happy US military personnel, the vendetta by the cowboy USA against the European left, etc., etc.

But the initial stories on the incident were restrained by MSM standards, even on NPR. One was forced to conclude that there must have been more to the incident than met the eye.

Today's Washington Times opens a peephole into the story's background:
Italian agents likely withheld information from U.S. counterparts about a cash-for-freedom deal with gunmen holding an Italian hostage for fear that Americans might block the trade, Italian news reports said yesterday.

The decision by operatives of Italy's SISMI military intelligence service to keep the CIA in the dark about the deal for the release of reporter Giuliana Sgrena, might have "short-circuited" communications with U.S. forces controlling the road from Baghdad to the city's airport, the newspaper La Stampa said.
So the seamy details of the operation were kept from the United States, contributing to the final tragic events. At first Sgrena maintained that the car had been deliberately targeted by the soldiers at the checkpoint, but later backed off that assertion:
Miss Sgrena, whose newspaper ardently opposes Italy's deployment of 3,000 troops in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition, offered no direct evidence to support the charge and toned down the suggestion in a later interview with Reuters.

"If this happened because of a lack of information or deliberately, I don't know, but even if it was due to a lack of information, it is unacceptable," she said from her hospital room.
Thus we have tragedy as farce: pay ransom to the terrorists, hide the facts from the military, speed through the checkpoint, and blame America for the final result.

Is it any wonder that the Left is discredited in the eyes of sane and rational people?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Endgame for Bashar?

From Syria comes Amarji - A Heretic's Blog. In yesterday's post, Syrian author Ammar Abdulhamid has this to say:

       Analysis: The scene has been set for an internal showdown. the President seems poised to implement Scenario One of the three scenarios previously highlighted (purge, assassination, coup), that is the purge meant to consolidate his grip on power.

Implications: This is the year of decision for Syria, barring some miraculous recovery by the opposition and devil society dissidents, our fate will be determined by a potentially bloody showdown between the various power centers in the regime. Reform is not the issue here, but promises of reform will be on everybody’s lips. But, barring for the rise of some unforeseen actor on the scene, one of the existing sides is capable of actually delivering on reforms. Still, as a regional player, Syria has been, and for the foreseeable future, completely marginalized. This is indeed the end of an era. It cold also mark the beginning of the end of an unlikely and quite mediocre dynasty.

In a previous post he explored the possibilities for the Assad regime:

       Indeed, the only possible scenarios in Syria today are:

* A purge by the Presidential Family to help them stay in power and avoid any potential sedition related to the impending withdrawal from Lebanon or impending international sanctions as a result of not-withdrawing (hence the recent promotion of the brother-in-law making him in charge of all military intelligence).
** Assassinating the President as the most logical fall-guy, in the hope of stirring the mix a little bit, and create a new sense of dynamics, which, whether violence or not, could eventually pave the way for a faster “recovery” from all set-backs.
*** The emergence of a fifth column which will most assuredly seek US support to overthrow the current leaders, seeing that the gun-power is on their side. Believe it or not, the Fifth Column here will most likely be made up of certain Old Guard figures, Sunnis and ‘Alawis alike, who are rumored to be extremely upset with the President’s handling of the country’s foreign affairs. Indeed, we have to note here that we can no longer live under the old assumption that Old Guard are to blame for the country’s stalemate. Indeed, it now seems that the New Guard, the President included, are more to blame.

Can you see then, my friend, why Khawla and I have decided to leave? This country is about to implode, and we cannot afford to be caught up in this. We will be among the first people to be targeted in the upcoming mayhem: we are secular, liberal, Americanized and have all these "dubious" connections with all these “dubious” figures and organizations. What used to be helpful for us before, will soon turn against us. The magic has turned against the magician, as some had put it.

It is totally understandable that Abdulhamid wants to take his family out of the country; more than personal courage is at stake for him. But we must regret the departure of a Syrian blogger, blogging in English so that we in the West can have a window into the events unfolding there.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Removing the Leech

Today's story from the Associated Press, Anti-Syrian tide drives workers out of Lebanon, describes how Syrians have become persona non grata in Lebanon:
Despite official Syrian and Lebanese denials, anti-Syrian sentiment has reached a fever pitch in Lebanon. Anti-Syrian protests brought down the country's pro-Damascus government and calls are intensifying for the withdrawal of Syria's 14,000 troops based in the country.


Many Syrian workers do not have work permits, making it impossible to know their exact numbers. But estimates range from about 500,000 in low seasons to more than a million during harvest time and the summer, when tourists stream into Lebanon.

It is also not known how much money Syrian laborers transfer home, financial analysts say, because most earnings are in cash.

"It is for sure in hundreds of millions of dollars," said an economist, Louis Hobeika.
In addition to these cash transfers, Syria's economic nervous system is deeply intertwined with Lebanon's. According to Die Welt (translation by Joshua Livestro),

When the Syrians leave Lebanon, that "will also spell the end of the Syrian regime," says Alan Merhi (a 23 year old graphic design student camping out on the square, JL). All the others agree with him - it's Lebanese money that pays for the Baath-regime in Damascus. "They control the casinos, the harbours, they take 50 percent of our taxes, they took the $40 billion in reconstruction loans that the country received after the end of the civil war," says Merhi.
It is hard to foresee the endgame of the struggle that has just begun in Lebanon. Bashar al-Assad's honor and prestige are already at stake in the outcome. How can Syria possibly back down, when the economic costs are so high?

If the United States presses for a complete withdrawal of all Syrian military troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon, the stress on the regime in Damascus could well become unbearable. The glass becomes cloudy: Syria could face popular unrest and demonstrations, followed by a crackdown according to "Hama rules"; Assad could be overthrown in a military coup; Syria could generate more spectacular terrorist attacks outside its borders so as to divert attention from the regime.

If the Syrian leech is removed from Lebanon's body politic, the coming days will hold far more than their share of history. We live in interesting times.