Monday, October 31, 2005

All Hallows Eve

What follows is an essay by a commenter on Gates of Vienna named Kierkegaard. He submitted it originally in a somewhat different form. After several exchanges, perhaps this final collaboration will serve to convey the meaning he intended. If it does not he is, of course, free to excoriate this editor in the comments. At any rate, it grows late and Hallowe'en will soon be over so this has to be posted in its present state.

Tonight marks the culmination of the celebration of Ramadan in the 'Night of Power', the holiest night of the year in the Muslim calendar. It also happens to fall on the same night as Hallowe'en. For Muslims, it is a sacred commemoration of the moment when Allah first spoke to the Prophet Muhammed. For Westerners, secular and Christian alike, it is 'All Hallows' (or Sainted Souls') Eve', when the dead walked the earth, before all the Saints rose to rout them with the dawn. This, of course, was originally a pagan autumnal festival, called 'Samhain' in Celtic tradition, long since co-opted by the Christian Church--just as Ramadan has its roots in a similar neolithic past.

If there actually are any traditional, old-fashioned Christians with a sense of history still practicing today, what significance might they attach to this confluence of holidays?

Let us consider for a moment the humble church-tower bell, so beloved by Lord Peter Wimsey in The Nine Tailors. In the Tolkien-like village life of our ancestors these bells served as a warning siren, a time-piece, a reassurance that all was well in the world, and a reminder to pray. To fear or flee the bells was in itself considered a sure sign of possession by a demon. Bell-ringing began as a church-approved technique of driving evil spirits away -- human voices, raised in song, were considered insufficiently noisy for the task.

And that brings us to the recent attacks on Christian Coptic churches in Egypt. The mobs with their rocks were following the ancient Muslim tradition which hatred of church bells.

The origins of Islam are enshrouded, to some degree, in a mystery enforced by Islam itself. Over the centuries, the version of the sacred texts or 'suras' on which the Quran is based has become limited, in the Sunni world, to a paltry few based on the work of 'approved' scribes. This approval has come about, not through scholarship or debate, but rather through violent enforcement (the codification of the Christian New Testament was not a process of polite disagreement either. However, it has some been centuries since any scholar — i.e., “heretic” — was murdered by the state or the Church for debating, analyzing or studying the Gospels).

Muslims believe that their prophet Muhammed received their sacred texts (suras) directly from God. Or rather, they believe that Allah received them, whole and intact, through the agency of the Archangel Gabriel. Armed with the sacred word, Mohammed then set out to convert the polytheistic tribesmen of the desert, later bringing his received truth to cities such as Mecca and Medina, where some received it gratefully and others, as the result of their 'apostasy', had to be put to the sword.

The historical problems with this sequence of events, of course, are manifold, and explains in part why the Saudi government immediately bulldozes over any new archaeological sites discovered in those cities. Here are some of the obstacles history places in front of present-day Muslims:

Problem One: Allah (the Hebrew 'El') was the chief god of this pagan pantheon, not a monotheistic new-comer (neither was Yahweh to the Jews).

Problem Two: many of the citizens of the areas conquered by Muhammed were not pagans, but were either Jewish or Greek Orthodox Christians.

Problem Three: to become an apostate, there must first exist a religion that can be betrayed and Islam is by far the youngest of the world's 'major' religions.

Problem Four: recent scholarship in Germany suggests that some of these original suras of Islam, far from 'bypassing' versions of 'pro-Semitic' myth (as for example in the Muslim version of Genesis), were in fact taken from Syriac Christian scripture. Islam has a way of obliterating other histories. Thus, long buried is the fact that Islam’s first invasion of the Byzantine Christian world did not receive a warm welcome. Mohammed's received religion was viewed by the Church not merely as a fresh heresy akin to the Manicheans, Arians, or Pelagians. Instead, Islam was viewed as something altogether new and more alarming: a heresy qualitatively worse than those arising out of internecine Christian conflict. Thus, Islam must have been inspired directly by Satan.

This possession of Islam (the literal meaning of which, in Arabic, is 'submission') by an evil entity could be plainly seen, Christians thought, in the public behavior of Muslims, such as,

  ·  the rituals of sanctified slaughter (particularly the public sacrifice of goats),
  ·  the strange physical prostrations Muslims used during prayer,
  ·  Muslim intolerance of beloved saints and higher divinities such as Christ,
  ·  and the violent desecration of churches and synagogues.

The very name of Islam's founder, Muhammed, Mahound, or 'Mahomet', was transformed syncretically by Christians into the name for the major demon, Baphomet. Through this transformation, Christians thus believed the Muslims worshipped a demon.

Later on, this perception of Islam would be important when evidence of Baphomet's worship was a major charge in the persecution of the Order of the Knights Templar by the Pope and King Philip of France. The Knights Templar (Knights of the Temple of Solomon) alone among the Crusaders had conducted scholarly studies and performed what would be seen today as cultural exchanges with Islam.

Through these exchanges an alliance sprang up between the Templars and the Shiite Ismalien sect of Islam called the "Assassins' (because of their addiction to hashish; it was they who invented the suicide assassin 'martyr'). The Assassins were headquartered in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon and also had a base at the castle of Al-Alamut in northern Iran (Marco Polo witnessed the later destruction of the castle --The Eagle's Lair -- by the invading Mongols in the 13th Century; he wrote a detailed description of the sect in his 'Travels'.).

During the early 1200’s this alliance between the Templars and Assassins helped to maintain stability in the Crusader kingdoms until the fall of Acre (Biblical Akko). After that the Templars' usefulness to the West was ended and this alliance with Muslims was used against them.

The Ismaliens, however, continued as a geopolitical force long after the Mongols had attempted to exterminate them. Their modern titular leader, the Aga Khan, continues to derive his title and a portion of his wealth from the sect even today from his ancestral home in Pakistan. Now the Iranian Shiite descendants of the Assassin Order still command by proxy the assassinations of Western and Israeli soldiers and civilians across the Middle East exactly as they did nearly a thousand years ago, using much the same combination of drugs and money to train their emissaries. They have a different name in the West now--they are called 'suicide bombers'.

By and large, these profound historical continuities are resolutely ignored in our society, even on the occasions that they are recalled and discussed. Many theologians, especially those within the Anglican Church, have come to reject the physical existence of Satan. Interestingly, they do respect the belief in Satan that is inherent in Islam. This, my- condescending-respect-for-your-belief, is after all, tolerant, Anglican multicultural diversity.

Many modern Westerners, in fact, accept as their gospel the idea that "the Great Satan" is indeed the West and its cultural horrors. In this convoluted self-hatred mainstream American churches merely reflect the views of their ever-shrinking liberal constituencies. Thus, when the mullahs who rule Iran hold 'terrorist conventions' complete with 'martyrdom booths', or 'Death to Zionism' conferences, or even export the publications published for them to the Frankfurt Book Fair few voices are raised in protest within Western religious ranks.

The use of the term Satan (more properly 'Shaitan') in Islamic theology continues to be misunderstood in the West, despite its "respect" for Muslim belief. For Islam, the name, Satan, does not refer to an actual entity but is a concept embracing all evil. The Shaitan in the Muslim version of Genesis is specifically named 'Iblis' and is an 'ifrit' ('afreet') or demon. This term, Shaitan, seems to have evolved from a word meaning 'astray' or 'misled.' Eventually, this idea came to be the metaphorical interpretation of Satan's primary role in the Christian Bible as well. So when the President of Iran names the United States as the "Great Satan" he does not mean to say we are literally the body of Iblis. Instead, he is calling us the chief source of evil in the word.

Salman Rushdie's conflict with the mullahs illustrates this point. In his novel The Satanic Verses, Rushdie dared to suggest allegorically that perhaps parts of the Quran were "misled," inspired alternately by a 'good' angel and an 'evil' one. Such "literary criticism" of the Holy Book, which may never be altered or mocked even allegorically, is an automatic death sentence for whomever utters it. Rushdie’s heresy led even the Sunni Egyptian Nobel prize-winner Naghib Mahfouz to back the murderous 'fatwa' pronounced against Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini. As V. S. Naipaul observed, the Iranians were merely exercising literary criticism of their own. Naipaul and Mahfouz are sophisticated, Western-educated writers who represent the face of 'moderate Islam', yet this is how they speak and think on this single, inflammably irrational subject.

A further irony is that Rushdie was merely echoing the Greek New Testament chapters in which a voice whispered temptations to Jesus, as he wandered during his fast in the desert. Jesus rejected this voice out of hand, recognizing it as that of the Devil. Small wonder then, that in the view of Christian theologians for nearly a millennium, when this same experience befell Mohammed (as it did so many Christian saints), he did not order the voice to depart. Instead he heeded it, and proclaimed that what he heard was the voice of God speaking through an angel. Once Christianity understood the origins of the Koran, Papal Bulls were explicit on this matter: Mohammed was mistaken about the source of the voice he heard in the cave. Much later, Jeanne d'Arc was to burn at the stake for following her voices.

So where do things stand now? Is it that the West, and Christianity on which it was founded, has been the one to change while Islam has remained exactly the same? Is this the root of the "clash of civilizations"?

Obviously, Christianity has changed, but so has Islam; over the centuries it has fractured, divided, and adapted to the various cultures where it has taken root. What has not changed is the Koran and the fundamentalist tenets of its followers. Thus, even "moderate" Islam becomes baffled and contemptuous for what it sees as the West's lack of belief, and particularly our treasonous rejection of our heritage.

Thus, Islam continues to encroach simply because it can: since we appear to them to have neither pride nor hatred to fall back on, they can continue to push us back. It seems to be working, doesn’t it?

Cultures, like human beings, have their demons. Islam has repeatedly revealed its demons to us while we continue in a state of denial: demons? Us? Beneath the West’s sanitized tolerance and sophistication lies a terrible reluctance; we are afraid to even admit our demonic side, much less to confront it.

In recent years, what passes for theological debate between Islam and Christianity evidences a one-sided respect. Is this because where there is not fear there is also no respect?

The West long ago ceased viewing Satan in an immediate and anthropomorphic way. While this is a tribute to our sophistication and modernity, such a perspective fails to impress those for whom Evil remains a palpable presence. It has been reported on Al-Jazeera that Saddam Hussein himself is a longtime Satanist and wears an amulet to prove his loyalty. And the voice at the ears of Bin Laden, Zarqawi, and Ahmadinejad, whispering exhortations to kill and kill again? No, that is not God.

These are terrible, cynical people who exist in a world straddling a brutal past and a nihilistic future; they are equally at home in the symbolism of both. Our hubris and our ignorance allows us to imagine that we can talk such men out of creating and using nuclear (or any other) weapons. They see talk itself as weakness and continue their pursuit of nuclear technology so that they can manipulate the doctrines of their religion and 'eradicate evil' for their own personal gain. “Eradicate,” as the President of Iran just proclaimed again, not just Israel, not just the United States, but “the whole evil Anglo-Saxon devil.”

The Shaitan.


This Halloween we might do well to ponder what we really know about those who plan to destroy us. We would be wiser if we understood what inspires their ambitions.

It is also the right time — a good and proper time — to examine our own demons, to uncover them and to name them. In this the ancient Church was correct: the first step in conquering evil is to name it.

To read further about the Crusades go here. This is an online edition of the most definitive works ever published on the Crusades.

For more information on the Assassins, go here.

Information on Iranian anti-Semitism at the Frankfurt Fair.

Vanity Unfair

One judges the cut of a man’s jib by the quality of his enemies.

Therefore, I reckon we’re doing pretty well.

Just yesterday Dymphna and I were talking about Pajamas Media (which, as you may know, we have joined).

I said, “They’re mostly going to cover the center-right, you know.”

“But what about Drezner, and that guy from the Nation?” she responded.

“Well, Roger and Charles are trying to balance things out. The thing is, we right-wingers are willing to share a forum with the lefties, but not vice versa. Their comrades won’t allow it; it’s considered treason.”

It turns out that my words were prophetic. Take a look at this cute little post by the renowned James Wolcott, entitled Pajama Bottoms:
     I recognize that it is not always easy to be fastidious about the company one keeps. You can find yourself being introduced to the most awful ogre at a party, someone who may regard you with equal disdain, forced to shake hands and grimace a smile because refusing to do so would provoke a “scene” that could wend its way into Page Six. Or you may find yourself at a dinner party adjacent to someone you vowed you’d never be trapped indoors with again, all because the host or hostess conveniently “forgot” to tell you Satan’s playmate had been invited.
Those things happen.
But I don’t understand why someone as politically keen as The Nation’s David Corn would lend his name to the editorial board of Pajamas Media, the greatest assembly of conservative deadbeats since Jonah Goldberg’s last fondue party. What an illustrious roster of ideological utensils make up Pajamas’ masthead: Michael Barone...John Podhoretz...Tim Blair...and this inveterate stirpot, whose presence all decent men and women should shun until proper disinfectant can be found. By allowing his name to be slated on the editorial board, Corn is letting himself be used as a figleaf enabling Pajamas to pretend that it’s a bipartisan effort instead of what it so flagrantly is, a neocon popstand.
Does Corn really want to be associated with fun blogs like Little Green Footballs and Gates of Vienna (“At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war”)? I guess he does, because he’ll be appearing on a panel at Pajamas’ gala conference in November in Manhattan, where Roger L. Simon and company will break out the ginger ale and announce their new monicker. Then everybody will adjourn to invade Syria, if they can arrange transportation.
We’ve arrived! James Wolcott despises us! O, frabjous day!

You can’t tell from my snip of his screed, but there was a hot link on our name in there — he’s sending us traffic!

I was so tickled by this that I danced with glee. I tell you, I ambled up and down with shallow jesters and rash bavin wits!

It’s too much.

James, my dear fellow, the freight train is coming full speed down the track at you, but you’ve got your back to it.

Choo choo!

Rock and Roll at the Watcher of Weasels

Watcher's Council

The man has a superb writing style. Sometimes I’m surprised that he doesn’t walk off with first place every week. That being said, Rick Moran takes it away with Syria and the Hariri Conspiracy:
     The assassination of Rafiq Hariri was a Syrian blunder of monumental proportions. It has isolated Syria from most of the international community. It has placed Syria in a much weaker military position in the Middle East. And it has placed the rule of Bashar Assad himself in danger. On top of all that, the act of assassinating Hariri failed to achieve the desired result, and indeed had the opposite effect: it united the Lebanese opposition who, with the courage of and determination of the Lebanese people, kicked the Syrians out of Lebanon for good.
Umm…they were maybe stuck on stupid? Probably still are — with a difference: stupid and dangerous.

And I must put in a good word for the second place winner, just for his snarky response to a whiner. Lawrence Wilkerson, who used to hold Colin Powell’s coat in the halcyon days of the first round of Bush ’43, isn’t taking his forced retirement gracefully. For Wilkerson’s very unstatesmanlike behavior, Sundries Shack whacks a roundhouse, richly deserved:
     I know this will come as a shock to Wilkerson, but it is not the job of the Secretary of State to make national security decisions. In fact, a President is not obligated to even consult his Secretary of State on matters of national security. The Secretary of State is our chief diplomat and the public face of the President of the United States to the world.
The reason Colin Powell isn’t still the Secretary of State (and that Wilkerson doesn’t have that super-important office anymore) is because at some point he decided not to be the steadfast representative of the President he was hired to be. He didn’t do his job and worse, let his people backstab the President at every turn, and so the President cut him loose.
Wilkerson isn’t stuck you understand — the man never left stupid in the first place. It's where he lives.

In the non-council posts, my guy didn’t win. But the person who did get it, Shrinkwrapped, is — like Rick Moran — a thoughtful writer. He’s also a brilliant cultural analyst and this week’s choice has given me much to ponder in Race and the Unconscious:
     In the late 1970's, I spent some time working in the VA Hospital system. At that time, the primary Psychiatric population we treated were those whose psychiatric problems fell under the category of "service-connected disability." Patients with SC disabilities received a significantly higher monthly disability payment, as long as their psychiatric problem persisted. A subset of patients, mostly young, Vietnam era vets, was created who were hospitalized for short stays every 6 months. According to VA rules, if you were hospitalized every 6 months, that was considered a priori evidence that you were still disabled.
Go over there to see how he contrasts this governmental Frankenstein with the race cartel as it currently exists in our culture. I love it when people say things the mandarins don’t permit.

Read it —you’ll have more than you want to think about.

The usual brilliance and derring-do can be found at the usual spot, His Grace, the Watcher.

Map? What Map?

Somebody better stone that speechwriter, huh?

Those Clever Joos...

What's the Yiddish for "Jihad"?

Is there a Yiddish word for “jihad”? If not, we need a neologism for this new turn of events. It sure looks like the Israelis are taking the gloves off:
     Israel’s defense minister vowed Sunday to wage war on the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad until its capabilities are wiped out.
The threat by Shaul Mofaz follows a suicide bombing by the group last week that killed five Israelis in the coastal city of Hadera.
Israel responded Thursday with an airstrike on a car in the Gaza Strip targeting Islamic Jihad militants, but it also killed people standing nearby in crowded streets.
"We are carrying out a broad operation against terrorism, a broad operation against the Islamic Jihad infrastructure in light of Islamic Jihad's intention to continue with suicide bombings," Mofaz said ahead of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
"We are making huge efforts to prevent these attacks ... and this activity will continue until we can say that the Islamic Jihad infrastructure can no longer carry out suicide bombings," he added.
Oh. Wait a minute. This looks familiar.
     But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said unto Judah: 'What? shall we be able, being a small company, to fight against so great and strong a multitude? ...' And Judah said: 'It is an easy thing for many to be shut up in the hands of a few, and there is no difference in the sight of Heaven to save by many or by few; for victory in battle standeth not in the multitude of an host, but strength is from Heaven. They come unto us in fullness of insolence and lawlessness, to destroy us and our wives and our children, for to spoil us; but we fight for our lives and our laws. And He Himself will discomfort them before our face; but as for you, be yet not afraid of them." (The First Book of Maccabees)
Wouldn’t you know it? Judah Macabee’s fight all over again. A little early for Hanukkah, but in this case, better early than late.

Sometimes history can be a damned comfort, especially when it repeats itself like this.

Hat tip: Tigerhawk

The Carnival of the Armchair Generals

The Virtual Armchair GeneralLast Friday’s open-forum post, Confronting the Enemy, provoked a lot of interesting commentary. People argued and disagreed, yet remained civil, which is always a prerequisite for a good discussion.

The theme questions of the topic were “Does violent jihad represent the essence of the religion of Islam?” and the corollary “Is the existence of the ‘moderate Muslim’ possible?

We’re all on the same team, but different people are proposing different strategies for the game. Some favor a Hail-Mary play (peggy); some want to throw a bomb into the end zone (El Jefe Maximo); others want to hand off to the fullback and bust a hole straight down the middle (Bill and Heloise).

I’ve divided the different strategies into three broad groups: Moral High Ground, Divide and Conquer, and Fierce Guard Dogs. Cato, who inspired the thread but didn’t contribute, is most definitely a Moral High Ground person. Some of the commenters didn’t seem to fit in any of the groups, but those I could classify are listed below:
Moral High Ground   Divide and Conquer   Fierce Guard Dogs
a4g  bordergal  Bill
Clouse  Jesse Clark  El Jefe Maximo
Jason_Pappas  PD111  Gryffilion
Old School    Heloise
Papa Bear    JoeC
peggy    Papa Ray

And now for some samples from the three groups.

Moral High Ground

     The truth is our greatest weapon. We should only resort to other means if our free speech to protest against islam were threatened by the powers that be and then it is our right as citizens to fight those powers. The average muslim person should never have to worry about our intentions towards their persons or families or property or businesses or prayer centers as long they abide by the laws of our land.
If we keep to the high ground, we should with time be able to turn things around. The first idea we must get across with meticulous care is this: It is possible to oppose islam without bearing hatred towards all those who believe it and everyone should be able to freely and openly dispute the ideas and beliefs of others by right as long as they dont call for violence against the other group in an indiscriminate way that would hurt peaceable folks.
A big problem with islam and muslims is that they do not understand this. They equate open rejection of their beliefs as hatred and bigotry mainly because their own leaders encourage them to do so by their example. But coming as they do from their original environment which is devoid of the hurly-burly of true democracy and liberty, they are easily mislead to shut their ears to the “bigots” who dislike all muslims and are encouraged to dismiss all criticism of their religion as ignorant. If we happen to think that islam is the worst idea for a religion there ever was but have no inclination to hate those who believe in it then we have to distinguish ourselves from the true haters by our conduct, by our charity and hospitality towards all.
I have no fear of islam being able to win the battle of ideas once it ceases its current childish and violent tactics. It is easy to see which side has formed a successful civilization from its internal resources and which side will have to be forced by pressure from without to behave in a civilized manner.
     If Islam is inherently bloodthirsty, and Christianity not— so what? Whether the distributions of killers and lovers among adherents are titled “devout” or “lax” matters little, because the distribution curves will remain largely the same despite the titles.
So the answer to Islam is not peculiar to Islam— and probably not particularly profound.
What has worked in the past to allow man to crawl out of his filthy hole for a few fleeting moments? We are fortunately living in the greatest example in history.
Work to create environments where people can take charge of their own lives. Free markets. Political participation.
Will this “reform” Islam? Or will it merely precipitate the conversion of quite a few muslims to the more sanity-friendly Christianity?
Either way, I think it doesn’t matter. For the outcome will be the same.
     There are peaceful moslims. In the main, they are peaceful, secularist and law abiding where ever they live. Among them live the enemy, using these peace folks as a shield and cover. They are usually careful to not expose themselves even to their neighbours. The problem with islam is being able to discern the friend from the enemy. Here is where it is the responsiblity of the moslims to police themselves and be law abiding by turning in those among them with the intent of breaking our laws. This should already be in place, and sadly I don’t think much of this is happening yet. It is with apprehension that I see our moslims being taken down in this country whether they are innocent or complicit if we suffer another bad attack. As posted above, telling the truth, shining the light in dark places and straight line communications should be our first line weapons of choice against those who use islam as their reason for total control globally.
Divide and Conquer

Jesse Clark:
I think it’s also important to understand all of Islam. This is not just some great monolithic religion in which all its believers adhere to the same tenets. It is as divided as Chrisitanity or Judaism.
There is more division than just Sunni and Shi’a, and there is more than just the Qur’an. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of Hadith out there. Moderate Muslims accept only a few (by comparison) to the more radical and fundamentalist groups, who accept great numbers of Hadith as accurate.
There is not just one Sahri’a. There are four. Four seperate schools of thought on how to apply Islamic Law. They range from the moderate and quite liberal Hanafi to the radical Hanbali, which states that the Qur’an must be applied without interpretation or question. There is no reason, or ‘ijtihad’ to be made in discerning the law, as there is in the other three schools. Hanbali is the source of the Wahhabism the so often makes headlines. Yet Hanbali is followed by less than 5% of all Muslims worldwide.
And I haven’t even begun to talk about Sufism.
It is important to not see Muslims as homogenous. Yes, there is an extremely violent sect of Islam. Yes, we need to completely annihilate them before they annihilate us. But the moderate Muslims should not be viewed as accessories to their crimes. If we are to defeat our true enemy within Islam, we will need their help.
     Now it is true that some muslims are peacable enough. Yet it has to borne in mind that some very peaceful muslims, to the utter surprise and shock of their friends and family, have become shaheeds. There is also demographics to consider. Muslim representatives will always use muslim numbers to extract further dhimmification.
There is no need to think of a “war of civilisatations”. A separation is far better and humane then considering Three Conjecture scenarios, just so to prove that all cultures can live together. It is a recognition that all cultures cannot live under the tent of multiculturalism. It is a recognition that some cultures, islam in this case, is not yet ready to embrace plurality and tolerance.In the future that may come about, but in the meantime, the whole excercise is getting fraught with danger for all mankind.
Fierce Guard Dogs

El Jefe Maximo:
    Given that what you say is correct, I don’t see much alternative to the reimposition of a species of at least indirect colonial control over much of the Muslim world, coupled with mass expulsions or detention of dangerous persons within the west.
The main feature would be a type of interdiction or blockade in the form of bans on the movement of persons out of the interdicted countries (i.e. prohibition of passenger air and sea travel), and denial of access to employment, residence and education in the west. Traffic back and forth would be solely financial and commerical. The Muslim world is afforded access to the imports it may need from the west in exchange for access to oil and raw materials, without major movements of population.
Some mechanism would need to be in place to adjudicate requests for individualized exceptions/waivers of the ban.
Allied to this would need to be a propaganda and education effort -- essentially a promise to remove the interdiction/blockade when the Muslim world espouses “civilized values.”
All of this administered not by the UN or anything like it, but by a commission directly answerable to the governments of the great powers (i.e. US, Japan, China, India, Europe/(UK seperate?) and probably Brazil).
This whole scheme would permit a substantial degree of liberty to exist outside the interdicted area, and for trade and commerce to go on, but would doubtless take a traumatic shock to the west before imposition of any such thing would be considered. Unfortunately, I suspect that our enemies will in time supply the necessary shock. Establishment of this system would require a major war.
Essentially, it turns the Muslim world, involuntarily, into pre-Meiji Japan, to enter its Meiji stage, probably on a regional basis, as it shows it can.
    We need to wake up to the fact that going to war means suspending our “civil rights” and that the constitution is going to be “shredded.” We can comfort ourselves that our citizen volunteers and elected citizens will restore those rights and “tape” the constitution back as good as new after we’ve kicked the enemy’s ass.
For all the hand-wringing about profiling and deportations and internment camps, try reading a solid analysis of the Reconstruction after the Civil War. Then come back and tell me that deporting is so horrible comapred to the absolute tyranny, abrogation of the Bill of Rights, and nullity of the constitution that the people of the South suffered under for YEARS. Being forced to vote a certain way or not being admitted back into the union as citizens? Doesn’t that sound like one of the most horrifying crimes that can be perpetrated on a supposedly “free” citizenry?
I’ll take internment camps any day. FDR was an ass, but he was right to be cautious with the camps.
     The icons of islam, beside the koran, are the shrines in mecca of the black metorite and the magic well, zamzam, where believers go on pilgrimage. Their belief is that allah will always protect these shrines. Just today, a muslim said this on Jihad/DhimmiWatch.
If the icons are destroyed, then allah is not omniscient and islam has no god. The shock to the mind of the muslim would be so great as to render them inactice or at the least confused and extremely disillusioned, for what is there to fight for now?
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I tend towards the “Moral High Ground” camp, but the “Divide and Conquer” people make sense. Also, my emotions make me root for the “Fierce Guard Dogs.” In fact, looking at them from the Freudian viewpoint, the three categories could be matched up with the Superego, Ego, and Id.

But I’d like to look at what’s politically feasible, and not just at what we wish would happen. Jefe and Bill, I could be with you 100%, but what you’re talking about can’t happen in our current political context.

And the current political context does matter. If we’re going to backseat-drive the auto politic, we have to take into account the road conditions, how bald our tires are, and how many horses we have under the hood. If we have a major terrorist attack next week that kills 100,000 people, the political context changes dramatically. Then the system becomes chaotic, mathematically speaking, and hence unpredictable. All bets are off.

So, if we want to argue, let’s assume the political context stays more or less the same for the next couple of years, i.e.:

1. Terrorist attacks that kill American civilians remain sporadic and minor.

2. The situation in Iraq stays the same, with security improving slowly but steadily.

3. Musharraf manages to stay in power.

4. Boy Assad remains damaged but hangs on in Damascus. The mullahs don’t get any openly revealed nukes. North Korea continues to heel for the Chinese.

5. The lily-livered craven gonadally-challenged cowards in Congress continue their pork-driven profligate ways at least through the 2006 elections.

6. The EU and the UN continue to undermine, anklebite, obstruct, and otherwise interfere with the Coalition.

7. The price of oil doesn’t fluctuate more than 25% in either direction.

8. But the mujahideen continue planning jihad, amassing firepower, and indoctrinating in the madrassas, all funded by the Saudis.

So those are the ground rules. You’re in the Administration making policy, and those are your political constraints. No fair invoking any deus ex machina. What course would you attempt to follow in an attempt to deal with the Great Islamic Jihad?

If you post on this in your own blog, let me know and I’ll link here.

On your marks… Get set… Argue!


JoeC is glad to be a Fierce Guard Dog, and has weighed in on his blog at The Gates of Vienna, Redux.

Thunder Pig has joined the task force with Introducing...Armchair General Thunder Pig?!?

Jesse Clark has his take up at Armchair Generals Conference - WWIV Edition.

Always on Watch recommends a new anti-jihad British blog called A New Dark Age Is Dawning. He takes on Prince Charles, aka Prince Dhimmi, which is good enough for me.

I borrowed the graphic at the top of this post from The Virtual Armchair General, which is a site that you’ll want to visit, because Patrick Wilson is the “Exclusive Provider of Unique Wargames and Collectible Miniatures & Accessories.” Right up Jefe’s alley.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Pod... What?

Shire Network NewsAll right, everyone, we need your assistance. We did something yesterday and we don’t understand what it is. Or rather, we partly understand it, but not entirely. It woud be most helpful if some of our more technically inclined commenters could drop by and tell us more about it.

We were interviewed yesterday morning by Tom Paine of Silent Running for a podcast. Now, being old fogeys, we we don’t really know what a “podcast” is, and we’re not likely to learn anytime soon, because it includes a 3MB mp3 file, and we have a 28kb dialup here in Backofthebeyondville.

But, whatever it is, it involved having a pleasant telephone conversation with someone from the Southern Anglo-Hemisphere, at a time which was the middle of the night for him. A most interesting fellow, this Aussie. Actually, he lives in Australia, but he’s a Kiwi — that is, he’s from New Zealand, which stands in relationship to Australia roughly as Canada does to the USA. You know — tree-huggers and peace activists vs. beer-drinkers and gun nuts.

Tom is very much part of the Anglosphere, and well-informed about events here, as well as in Canada and India. You could call his prognosis for our continued existence “guarded.” Like the rest of us, he finds the Islamofascist threat one to be reckoned with.

And I do mean “reckoned with,” which does not mean “talked to firmly.” Come to think of it, “negotiations” aren’t a part of reckoning either. Think of it as you might think of “ a day of reckoning.”

According to Tom, the Australian blogosphere is a foulmouthed and anarchic sort of place — the motto of Silent Running is “If you are offended by strong right wing views and bad language, you should probably…” Whoops. I can’t put the rest of it here; this is a family website.

But go on over to Silent Running and see for yourself. While you’re there, you can listen to us cast a pod.

It’s Not Just Zionism

The World Without ZionismDr. Zin at Regime Change Iran has a request to make of the blogosphere. He wants us to get the word out about what “The World Without Zionism” envisions in its entirety.

It’s not just the destruction of Israel. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is quite explicit that the United States in particular and the Anglosphere in general are very much in the crosshairs of the Great Islamic Jihad as orchestrated from Teheran. Just look at the complete graphic the mullahs produced for the week of jihadist zeal: both Israel and America are falling to the bottom of the hourglass.

Read the words of Ahmadinejad’s chief strategist, Hassan Abbassi:
     We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization... we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.
But it is not only the US that Abbasi wants to take on and humiliate. He has described Britain as “the mother of all evils”. In his lecture he claimed that the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and the Gulf states were all “children of the same mother: the British Empire.” As for France and Germany, they are “countries in terminal decline”, according to Abbasi.
“Once we have defeated the Anglo-Saxons the rest will run for cover,” he told his audience.
Given the predilection of the craven appeasers now dominant in the media, academia, and the upper levels of the diplomatic corps, it’s understandable that Mr. Abbassi might come to this conclusion.

Those of us who form the backbone of the Anglosphere know that he is wrong, tragically wrong, but there is no way to communicate that to him. Our only hope of avoiding massive carnage is regime change in Iran.

So we’ll let Dr. Zin have the last word:
     The vast majority of the people of Iran do not share [Ahmadinejad’s] views and long for real democracy in Iran. How long will we wait to support the people of Iran in their struggle to free themselves from these dangerous mad men?

The Congress Party Cashes In

India has not escaped the tentacles of the Oil-For-Food scandal. According to Ashish’s Niti, K. Natwar Singh, India’s External Affairs Minister, and the Congress Party are listed in the Volcker Report as “non-contractual beneficiaries” of Iraqi oil sales in 2001, through an intermediary company named as Masefield AG.
     So much for No War for Oil! Remember it was considered bad for a company to lobby for Iraq Reconstruction contract and to profit from the war. Many of us knew that much of the opposition to liberation of Iraq was rifed with hypocrisy but the extent of corruption is coming to light only now. Looks like the removal of Saddam Hussein destroyed a whole ecosystem.
I’m not so sure that the ecosystem is entirely destroyed. The Saudi branch of it seems to be flourishing even now.

Hat tip: Desipundit.

Surprise, Surprise

Well, I waited up all night for the announcement that Hindu extremists had taken credit for yesterday’s blasts in New Delhi. But early this morning I read the following item in AsiaNews:
     The Islami Inqilabi Mahaz (Islamic Revolutionary Group), an obscure Kashmiri militant group, claimed responsibility on Sunday for yesterday bomb blasts in India's capital which killed at least 61 people. However, security officers see the hand of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Force of the Pure), a Pakistan outlaw group, in a new attempt to derail the peace process between India and Pakistan.
On Sunday, Islami Inqilabi Mahaz phoned local newspapers in Indian Kashmir, claiming responsibility for the blasts and warning of more to come.
Yesterday’s speculation by commenters turns out to have been accurate: the mujahiddeen are not happy when the infidel Hindus move into Kashmir to help with earthquake relief, and otherwise promote a “peace process.” For the Great Islamic Jihad, it has to be All War, All the Time.

It’s a good thing nobody took me up on my bet.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Peggy Noonan Comes to Gates of Vienna

Well, not really. But it sure sounds like she’s been sitting in on the dinner table discussions with Dymphna and me:
     Do you have confidence in the CIA? The FBI? I didn’t think so.
…people sense when an institution is overwhelmed. Citizens know. If we had a major terrorist event tomorrow half the country — more than half — would not trust the federal government to do what it has to do, would not trust it to tell the truth, would not trust it, period.
You go, girl. Speak truth to power!

One of the most dangerous threats we face is the erosion of public confidence in the institutions charged with protecting us. When government officials plainly lie to the public — see Annie Jacobsen’s story or the Able Danger fiasco — even law-abiding, dedicated, and public-spirted citizens begin to doubt all statements coming from the government. It doesn’t matter if only one percent, or one hundredth of one percent, of official pronouncements are lies. The tiny bit of leaven is in the dough, and the loaf rises.

And then, down the road, when the next big attack comes — and almost all of us believe it’s coming — then… Well, what will happen then?


A spokesman for the president told reporters that he was confident that the Department of Homeland Security had the situation under control, and that the investigation was continuing. As of this point, no connection between any known terrorist group and the attackers could be established.

Meanwhile, Manhattan authorities report that the death toll has risen past 150,000, and that the cloud of radiation has moved across the East River to…

It’s a dangerous and depressing when you have a government that’s stuck on “Trust Us.”

Viking Observer

There is hope yet for those of us who have been thrown into despair by the imminent closure of Fjordman’s blog.

A new Danish blog in English has arrived on the scene, reporting on the Great Islamic Jihad from the front lines in Scandinavia. Go and pay a visit to Viking Observer.

The Religion That Dare Not Speak Its Name

If you read all the way through any of the current versions of the
Associated Press story about today’s bombing in New Delhi, two words are notably absent: “Islam” and “Muslim”.
    Bomb blasts in New DelhiWhile [Prime Minister Manmohan Singh] did not say who was suspected in the explosions, the Indian government faces opposition from dozens of militant organizations, from tiny fringe groups to well-armed Kashmiri insurgents who have previously attacked New Delhi, including a bloody 2001 assault on parliament. Some of those groups fiercely oppose the India-Pakistan peace process, which began early last year.
Pakistan condemned the multiple attacks in New Delhi.
Eventually some group will claim responsibility for this atrocity, forcing the MSM to mention the forbidden words for a brief moment before they return our attention to more important matters — such as the contents of Scooter Libby’s garbage can, or the drop of President Bush’s numbers in the most recent polls.

So let me state it for the record: Islamic terrorist groups have a long and bloody history of attacking Hindus and Sikhs in India, and Muslims carry out these attacks, ostensibly because of what India does in Kashmir. Pakistan is mentioned prominently in the above quote because Pakistan, officially or otherwise, has a habit of aiding and abetting these terrorists.

There. I’ve said it. Now the sky will fall.

Update — From The Counterterrorism Blog:

Walid Phares reports: “My monitoring of the chat rooms over the past few hours indicate that the Jihadists-Salafists are celebrating. High possibility that a Jihadi (either local Cashemire or al Qaida like) group will take responsibility in 24-48 hours… This note is sent with caution, as other leads are also followed. The Jihadi theory is the highest, but we do not rule out mafia related causes.”

(Hat tip: Andrew Scotia)

Hey, Minh Duc! Here’s a Real Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize is a sham, a scam and a shame. It’s become so truly banal that I actively avoid reading any news about it, sure that it will be one more New York Times Moment — i.e., a skewed, off-kilter version of reality both unpleasant and untrue.

Turns out I was right. This year’s winner joins the ranks of Yasser Arafat, et al. Long may he reign. And no, I’m not going to link to the story; on principle I don’t link to sites which promote a New York Times state of mind.

Back when the nominees were being considered, Minh Duc emailed me his choice: Mukhtar Mai. He had a post up giving his reasons for nominating her, and suggested that I might want to do the same. I meant to follow him since she is a woman whose courage deeply affects me. But with one distraction after another, I never did write the post.

Probably the real reason for my distraction was the certainty that yet another inconsequential person would have the Peace Prize undeservedly bestowed upon him and it would be depressing… I’m a real avoider of the “news” for that reason.

Nonetheless, I did go over to State of Flux to read his thoughts about the subject. I often go over there, because of one thing you can be sure: Minh Duc will inevitably have his own original, intelligent, and enjoyable take on any given situation. His introductory anecdote about the 2004 awards was worth the read. In fact, I remain amazed that State of Flux is not up there in the big blogs. His version of English is in itself entertaining! That’s not making fun, either: he uses language well while I do not speak a word of Vietnamese. So anyone who sees condescension in my remarks about Minh Duc’s writing is seriously not getting my point. One of the nice things about native English speakers — as opposed, let’s say, to the French — is that we genuinely like to read people whose native language is not English. They give it a certain “je ne sais quoi” which provides its own charm. Kind of like when Texans speak English, or Cajuns. It’s their own version of a rich and varied tongue.

But now, Minh Duc and I can share our pleasure at the announcement of a real Peace Prize:

Damas de BlancoDamas de Blanco, the Ladies in White, have won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for 2005.

These women banded together in 2003 to protest the detention of their husbands and sons, political dissidents jailed by Castro. Every Sunday, the Ladies in White march in solidarity with their men incarcerated without due process or any knowledge of when — if ever — they will be released. Damas de Blanco’s walk through the streets of Havana serves as a voice united for their loved ones — those whom the Castro regime has silenced.

The Sakharov Prize was established in 1988 by the European Parliament. Here, from their website, is some background explanation of the award:
     Since 1988, to honor the spirit of Andrei Sakharov, the European Parliament has awarded an annual prize in his name, singling out those individuals or organizations who best exemplify Sakharov’s fight for fundamental human freedoms. From their website
From Gorky, where he was living in exile, Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989), the renowned physicist, member of the Academy of Sciences, dissident and 1975 Nobel Peace Prize winner, sent a message to the European Parliament saying how moved he was that it intended to create a prize for freedom of thought which would bear his name. He rightly saw this as an encouragement to all those who, like him, had committed themselves to championing human rights.
Coming from a background in nuclear physics and ending as a dissident, he not only sought the release of dissenters in his country but also drew attention to the relationship between science and society and to the issues of peaceful coexistence and intellectual freedom, which he analysed in his writings. In the eyes of the world, Sakharov came to embody the crusade against the denial of fundamental rights. Neither intimidation nor exile could break his resistance.
As the website Net for Cuba International puts it:
    - It is fantastic good news that Damas de Blanco gets the Sakharov Prize. The publicity that this prize is bringing is invaluable for these brave, peaceful ladies supporting their imprisoned husbands. In their situation they need all the support from the outside world they can get. This again shows that the situation on Cuba is extremely serious and that the EU has to take action.
Yes, they are “brave, peaceful ladies.” Just as Mukhtar Mai is. And their recognition cheers the soul. It is always cheering when the occasional experience of justice occurs.

I would say “long may they march” except… as long as they have to march, it means that freedom of speech in Cuba still has a gag over her mouth.

Long may their courage reign.

Hat Tip: Free Thoughts

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Fate of Ozymandias

World Without Zionism There’s a new exclusive club, succinctly named Zionot. It has the elegance and brevity of a mathematical term. Its aim is as lethal as sniper’s bullet.

Consider it a celebration by the Religion of Peace in Ramadan. What are they celebrating? A world finally made Judenrein. According to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it is imperative that Islam “wipe this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world.”

This effort, dubbed “The World Without Zionism,” is being co-ordinated during a week of special events in thousands of mosques, schools, factories, etc. It is designed to create a critical mass of jihadist zeal. Syria and Lebanon and even Afghanistan are holding simultaneous activities for the same purpose.
     In a speech Wednesday, Ahmadinejad described Israel as “a stain of shame that has sullied the purity of Islam,” and promised that it would be “cleansed very soon.” All nations that establish ties with Israel, he warned, would burn “in the fires of our Islamic rage.”
Ahmadinejad’s vision is apocalyptic. This is not about politics; this is about religion. It’s important to remember that religion and politics are one and the same for Islam. That’s why there can be no negotiation, only holding patterns.

Of course the “world community” has reacted predictably with stern notes, lectures to Iranian ambassadors, and announcements by governmental leaders regarding their grave concerns. Always on the brink of hell, we have pronouncements about grave concerns. It is the mass graves that should concern us.

Back in 2002, Lee Harris explained the fatal consequences of Islam’s “fantasy ideology.”
     To an outside observer, the fantasist is clearly attempting to compensate by means of his fantasy for the shortcomings of his own present reality — and thus it is tempting to think of the fantasist as a kind of Don Quixote impotently tilting at windmills. But this is an illusion. Make no mistake about it: The fantasist often exercises great and terrible power precisely by virtue of his fantasy. The father who demands his son grow up and become a professional football player will clearly exercise much more control over his son’s life than a father who is content to permit his child to pursue his own goals in life.
This power of the fantasist is entirely traceable to the fact that, for him, the other is always an object and never a subject. A subject, after all, has a will of his own, his own desires and his own agenda; he might rather play the flute instead of football. And anyone who is aware of this fact is automatically put at a disadvantage in comparison with the fantasist — the disadvantage of knowing that other people have minds of their own and are not merely props to be pushed around.
For the Arabs and their fellow travelers, anti-Semitism is the air they breathe. Jews are not real; they are evil “props to be pushed around,” even eradicated.

Why now? Why, at this juncture, did the president of Iran pick up that old discredited 20th century banner? Why the New Holocaust?

Let’s look at the lay of the land.

Iraq, despite the efforts of the global appeasers, is on its way to becoming a functioning democracy. The nationwide vote on the constitution reverberated throughout the unfree Islamic states. With the Coalition’s support, Iraqis are on the road to the 21st century. Syria, humiliated by its forced relinquishment of the golden goose on the Mediterranean littoral, now faces the imminent collapse of the Baathist Party and the Assad dynasty. Egypt is holding elections of a sort. Jordan has its head down, hoping to avoid the shrapnel, while the wicked House of Saud is frantically shoring the walls of its house of cards. Meanwhile there is that Wall in Gaza, a monumental insult and reminder of failure to the Palestinians in particular and the Islamic world in general.

Things are unsettled, to put it mildly. The only bright spot, from the point of view of the Great Islamic Jihad, is those Iranian nuclear weapons. For a long time the mullahs waltzed with the French, marking time and making faces until they could finish the plan that has been so long a-borning. The ultimate fantasy, about to become a murderous reality.

Here’s one analyst’s breakout of Iran’s incentives for what appears to be a suicidal enterprise:
    …there remains the question of why the Iranian government is doing this. Iran has a reasonable intelligence apparatus, and the information I have set out is all in the public domain (see Global or the International Institute of Strategic Studies’ publications for more). All I can come up with is that a domestic crackdown on enemies of the current mullah regime is imminent, (particularly those in the universities), and the targets are being set up as Zionist agents. There is some kind of Iranian website (see the photo on the Real Clear Politics Blog)which is apparently part of the campaign.
The Mullah regime is in serious economic trouble: the Shah’s reign was a golden age in terms of wealth and liberty by comparison with this government.
Another possibility is to justify deeper Iranian involvement in Iraq -- the forward outpost of Zionists and Crusaders. But I think the other possibility (the domestic crackdown) is far more likely. Most Iranians require no justification for intervention in Iraq.
Given the pre-emptive and lethal nature of Zionot, the possibility of a general Middle Eastern conflagration has escalated into the red zone.

Is this the Big One, the one in which the boiler finally explodes?

History has never been Islam’s strong point. Nonetheless, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would do well to ponder the fate of Ozymandias:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said— “two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
And on the pedestal, this legend clear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing remains beside. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Perhaps some kind soul will send him a copy of Shelley’s poem. Gates of Vienna suggests that a Farsi translation be slipped into Condoleezza Rice’s briefcase for her next trip to Teheran.

NB: This post was a Baron-Dymphna collaboration. They are still speaking to each other.

I Am the Very Model of a Secretary General

Dr. Sanity is writing songs again, this time mixing Oil-for-Food with Gilbert and Sullivan. Everyone should go read (and sing along to) I Am the Very Model of a Secretary General.

A Permanent Outcast

Well, at least it’s now out in the open, and even the Europeans will have to admit it: Iran wants to completely destroy Israel. We always knew it was true, but now it’s clearly stated Iranian government policy.

The Daily Telegraph outlines Israel’s options:
     Although Israel is widely believed to have its own nuclear arsenal, it fears such weapons falling into the hands of hostile states.
In 1981, when Saddam Hussein threatened to develop a nuclear capability, Israel launched a pre-emptive air strike to destroy Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.
Unilateral military action by Israel would be much harder against Iran’s nuclear capability.
Military jets would have to fly much greater distances, and the Iranians have spread their nuclear programmes across a number of sites - some located under mountains.
However, Israeli military planners are believed to have a number of options including air strikes using American-designed bunker-busting munitions and commando raids.
Don’t expect the Europeans to support any action that Israel might take, and don’t expect them to do anything but condemn it afterwards. And, if the State Department and the Arabists and the Old Guard Republicans in this country have their way, the Jewish state will get no support from the USA, either.

There was a time when the Jews stood meekly on the railway platforms amid their meager belongings, boarded the freight cars, and departed docilely for their unspeakable destination. But the state of Israel is unwilling to go gentle into that not-so-good night. If necessary, the Jews will fight their enemies alone, since the alternative is national extermination.

Richard Baehr, in a recent speech in Los Angeles, said that
     Israel has never lived without a threat to its existence. The truth of the matter is that Israel has never been accepted as a permanent nation within the Middle East by the 22 Arab nations, and much of the broader Muslim world. First the Arabs fought to prevent Jewish settlement within Palestine, and then fought the UN partition plan to create two states within the British mandate territory. After the British left, and Israel declared its statehood in 1948, the war against it resumed. The history of Zionism is a history of terrorism and war, but through it all, the tenacity of a people building and defending their new state.
Western Europe’s governments have already effectively abandoned Israel, much as they did Czechoslovakia in 1938. It is too much of a burden for them to defend Israel, what with their surging Muslim immigrant populations to appease with the bone of hostility to Israel. And of course since Israel is a close ally of the United States, Europe’s envy of America and its power and world leadership works its way to the surface by confronting the US in the Middle East conflict, through support of the Palestinian side in international organizations, such as the UN.
If the United States abandons Israel, then the Israelis will have face the Iranian threat alone. But face it they will.

If I were one of the mullahs, I wouldn’t be sleeping well at night.

Update: From the Daily Telegraph again:
     Tony Blair delivered his strongest warning to Iran last night, saying Teheran would not be allowed to become a “threat to our world security”.
He hinted that the West might have to resort to force.
Well, good for him. Are we sure he’s a European?

Hat tip: Cuanas.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Confronting the Enemy

President Bush made an excellent speech on Tuesday at Bolling Air Force Base, outlining the scope and rationale of the war on terror — which he once again identified as a struggle against “Islamo-fascism:”
     Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it is called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam.
Mr. President, are you sure that’s true?

There is, of course, no way of knowing whether Mr. Bush believes this. Given the political exigencies, it is necessary for him to say it. His statement does, however, beg the central question of our time:

Does violent jihad represent the essence of the religion of Islam?

And the corollary:

Is the existence of the “moderate Muslim” possible?

I don’t pretend to be able to answer these questions, nor do I think it is possible to answer them yet. But they should be uppermost in our minds as we watch current political events unfolding across the world, and especially those unfolding across the bloody littorals of Islam.

The central problem is that Islam is more than a religion. It is a blueprint for political action, one whose core text requires the adherent to be violent in the pursuit of political goals. In this respect Muslims bear more resemblance to Communists than they do to Presbyterians.

But there are peaceable Muslims. The ones I know personally look and act like ordinary Americans. The women don’t wear the hijab, and the girls go to school and act like any other American kids.

But these Muslims are also not particularly observant; they don’t pray five times a day or visit the mosque very often. They are roughly equivalent to “lapsed Catholics.”

So I am still left with the open question:

Will the truly observant Muslim always engage in or support violent jihad?

A lively discussion emerged in the comments section of my post yesterday (I recommend the entire thread, which is full of thoughtful and vehement argument by a variety of people). In response to some of the more bellicose commenters, Cato said this:
     Do you really think all billion muslims hate the west that implacably? Do you think there is any practical program that will lead to the elimination (or forcible conversion) of all the planet’s muslims?
I often wonder where the logic of “all Islam is out to get us so we had better do something about it” leads.
So where does it lead? If the enemy is in our midst, but not actively pursuing violence at the moment, what do we do? And are all Muslims our enemies?

We know that some of them are, and it is a reasonable assumption there are some among us who are even now planning to harm us. But is the proper response to declare that all Muslims are our enemies?

If all Muslims are in fact our enemies, then we will have to take concrete action. The first step would be to require them all to register with the government so that they could be monitored. Next they would have to be disarmed. Then we would need to require them to display some sign so that we could recognize them as the enemy, say a yellow crescent and star sewn onto their outer clothing. The next step would be to gather them all together in secure camps removed from the rest of the populace, so that they could do us no harm. Then…

Wait a minute. We’ve seen that road before, and we’re not going to follow it.

The civil liberties accorded citizens of this country protect people from being targeted simply for their beliefs or membership in a particular group. Yet members of a particular group are plotting to do the country harm by murder, mayhem, and levying insurrection. If they succeed in their diabolical plans and unleash a devastating attack within our borders, people may well take the law into their own hands and civil liberties will be thrown out the window.

I don’t buy the idea that we should just be quiet and let domestic law enforcement do its job. I’m certain that it has indeed interdicted many terrorist attacks since 9/11, but Able Danger and Annie Jacobsen’s experience on Flight 327 and the Jamaat ul-Fuqra compounds and the farce that masquerades as airport security have all convinced me that incompetence rages throughout the system.

So what can be done?

First and foremost is to propagate as much information as possible. Turn over every rock. Open all the closet doors and turn on the lights. Bust open all the rotten stumps so we can see the termites inside. Spread the word, because that is what the blogosphere is for.

But let’s be sure we distinguish fact from speculation and rumor. And above all, remember that incitement to violence is the enemy’s specialty, not ours.

The second tactic is political. We are not going to be able to control the mujahideen in our midst if we don’t shrug off all the politically correct nonsense that hobbles us, and also control our borders. The current administration seems to have no will to do either of these things, and the next administration, no matter which party takes office, is unlikely to do any better.

Therefore we’re going to have to throw out an awful lot of rascals, and elect people who will shake the entrenched bureaucracy until its back teeth rattle.

Any other ideas out there? This is an open forum. Somewhere between the extremes of “Islam is a religion of peace” and “nuke the ragheads” is a course of action which will protect American citizens and also secure their liberties. I invite you to help me find it.

Calling all armchair generals! Gather at the Gates and make yourselves heard!

UPDATE: Best comment so far, by peggy:

I have been saying for a long time that the solution to the problem that islam poses is a simple one if we only have the courage and vision to pursue it relentlessly.

Just tell the truth about it.

The truth is our greatest weapon. We should only resort to other means if our free speech to protest against islam were threatened by the powers that be and then it is our right as citizens to fight those powers. The average muslim person should never have to worry about our intentions towards their persons or families or property or businesses or prayer centers as long they abide by the laws of our land.

If we keep to the high ground, we should with time be able to turn things around. The first idea we must get across with meticulous care is this: It is possible to oppose islam without bearing hatred towards all those who believe it and everyone should be able to freely and openly dispute the ideas and beliefs of others by right as long as they dont call for violence against the other group in an indiscriminate way that would hurt peaceable folks.

A big problem with islam and muslims is that they do not understand this. They equate open rejection of their beliefs as hatred and bigotry mainly because their own leaders encourage them to do so by their example. But coming as they do from their original environment which is devoid of the hurly-burly of true democracy and liberty, they are easily mislead to shut their ears to the "bigots" who dislike all muslims and are encouraged to dismiss all criticism of their religion as ignorant. If we happen to think that islam is the worst idea for a religion there ever was but have no inclination to hate those who believe in it then we have to distinguish ourselves from the true haters by our conduct, by our charity and hospitality towards all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Valiant and the Victims

What’s the difference between a victim, a fatality, and a dead hero? Let us consider some lives and some deaths. Let us see if there may be a thread that connects them.

Over on The Neighborhood of God I described the bloody death of a 7th century young woman who’d valiantly fought off and escaped her incestuous father, only to die by his sword anyway, far from home. In my view because she refused to submit, Dymphna therefore was not a victim. However, one of my commenters disagreed. Did the simple fact that she failed ultimately to escape her father's sword seal the meaning of her life? I can understand why someone might see it that way, though her death is not how I choose to characterize Saint Dymphna; to me she is defined in her refusal to submit the core of her integrity to another person. Yes, her refusal contained her death warrant, but it was that very defiance which ultimately trumped her father’s rage. Dymphna’s courage and determination resonate down the centuries, bearing a signficance she could never have imagined.

And yesterday, I heard about the long awaited, the hoped-for, the tipping point death of the war in Iraq: Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander Jr. was # 2,000 in the line of soldiers who have fallen in Iraq while serving their country and liberating the Iraqis. The meaning of his life was dumped into the total “body count” cauldron that the unscrupulous keep on the fire in aid of an enemy who would see us vanquished and the Iraqis returned to hell. As one commenter said of him:
     I’ve been thinking about the cries that he is being victimized by the left-- and how ignoble a title “Victim” to bestow upon a warrior.
Instead, he is, with his family, a warrior whose service goes beyond merely his life, and includes bearing the weight of fools.
My commenter is exactly right: the sergeant is a Warrior and the burden of fools who latch onto his death desecrate his life and do themselves dishonor.

Last year, there was another death in Iraq, one which stood out from the thousands of victims of this ugly war. Remember Fabrizio Quattrocchi? Remember his defiance? Mr. Quattrocchi didn’t choose death. But when it showed up wearing the visage of evil, he turned and faced valiantly what he could not escape. Attempting to tear off his mask, he yelled his last words: "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies." Was Quattrocchi a victim or did he choose valor in his moment of dying? Whichever you choose, his defiance ruined his captors’ plans to show the video of his death; his bravery was dangerous and had to be hidden from view. If anyone in recent times can be said to have taught us how to die, it is this Italian contractor, lifted out of his anonymity for the purposes of an evil propaganda machine which he then broke, at least for the moment.

Just three examples: the girl, the sergeant, the contract worker. None of them chose to die, but all of them chose how to face death. One in defense of her integrity, another in the defense of his country, and the last because, like the first, he refused to submit to evil.

Meanwhile, back here at home, in 2003 — the year the war began in Iraq — forty two thousand people victims died in traffic accidents. They died for no reason. 42,643 people are gone and from none of their deaths can we salvage some small shred of consolation. These horrible deaths are merely wasted lives, cut off without reason.

So where is the hue and cry? Where are the headlines? Where are the protestors demanding that something be done about this on-going annual carnage right here in our country? Extrapolating from the figures for 2003, we can reliably estimate a death toll from traffic accidents (in the United States alone) of at least 125,000 men, women, and children dead since the start of the war in Iraq. Where are the Cindy Sheehans to carry on about this ignoble carnage? Where are the placards blaming…blaming whom, precisely? The car manufacturers? The highway engineers? The government for not setting a lower speed limit? The people who exercise their freedom to drive?

In our rural county, the annual death toll of inexperienced adolescent drivers is high. Or so it seems, given that our population is small and mostly we already know those kids who don’t make it around the curve. Their deaths fell their families; we weep for youth and potential cut off so suddenly and if we have teenagers, we wonder if our child will soon lie among the others. But our tragedy has no edge of valor to soften it. There is only the ugly specter carrying his scythe, reminding us how indiscriminate and cruel is his harvest.

I leave it to you to sort out and assign the labels and their meanings. The valiant and the victims already know who they are.

Reverse-Engineered Taqiyyah

Earlier today I wrote and posted a bitter satire which several readers (and at least one spouse) considered somewhat — um — intemperate. Wiser heads prevailed, so I took it down.

Deleting my post left me feeling dissatisfied and stifled. After mulling it over, I decided to revisit the same topic, this time without the irony. This post will be serious. Dead serious.

One of the advantages of a site meter is the ability to monitor visitors’ searches. Presumably most bloggers are familiar with the disgusting and perverted things that people are trying to find on the internet — if a few of the keywords match, sure enough, they show up at your site. We get our share of these visitors, mainly because of Dympha’s concerns regarding the treatment of Muslim women.

However, Gates of Vienna has its own special class of search engine referrals. It started back in July, and for some reason the same search string often recurs verbatim: “how to make a bomb — jihad.” Once we mentioned it in our posts, of course, our search-engine profile on the topic went up, and we got more and more of them. There are variations:
  ·  make a bomb
  ·  how to make bomb
  ·  make bomb islam
  ·  how to make a simple bomb at home
  ·  make bomb kill jews
  ·  etc.
But they all boil down to the same thing.

What gives one pause is this: the certainty that somewhere out in the world, at the other end of those searches, are people who want to do us harm, evil, twisted minds that long to attain paradise by killing as many infidels as possible. Every day more searchers arrive here, a steady drip… drip… drip of rancid malevolence.

And those who appear here are just the searchers in English — what about those in Arabic? Or Pashtun, or Urdu, or Swahili, or Turkish, or Farsi, or Tagalog, or…

Moreover, those who wash up at the Gates of Vienna are but a sample. Instead of this nest of kaffirs in the heart of Dar-al-Harb, the more intelligent and adept jihadis have long since found their way to the real bomb-making instructions. Think of the thousands upon thousands who must be out there searching. Some of them are in the West. Some are in America. And some are right down the road.

After a while, it does weigh a body down.

My fantasy is to draw in these deadly Islamists and prepare an ingenious trap designed solely for the unwary mujahid, and — like a genetically-tailored virus which will infect only one host — cause them to self-destruct.

That’s what I want.

Call it reverse-engineered taqiyyah.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dymphna, Patron Saint of the Insane

Over at The Neighborhood of God the post requested by Erico is up.

NB This is my version of Dymphna, drawn from various accounts read over the last few years -- ever since I discovered her when a bookmark with her likeness and a prayer to her fell out of a used book I'd ordered through the mail.

Proceed over there at your own risk.

“Yet Another Really Great Blog”

The blogosphere increases geometrically, spawning sites into the ethernet at a prodigious rate. If not up yet to the speed of light, no doubt it will be shortly.

Recently there tottered onto the stage, dragging the modest banner of Insignificant Microbe behind its small self, and blinking in the light of sudden blogdom, another such effort: Yet Another Really Great Blog. It is this stage to which I recommend that you repair and take your seat for the show.

On the marquee (not the html “marquee,” but the old fashioned one which displayed film titles and the movie stars appearing therein) you will find talent, that were it displayed in some economic form, would surely be a heap of gold coins high enough to bring Scrooge McDuck running. Just look at this list of contributors!

  ·  vnjagvet
  ·  offworld
  ·  Rick Ballard
  ·  ambisinistral
  ·  chuck
  ·  Jamie Irons
  ·  truepeers
  ·  terrye
  ·  flenser
  ·  Knucklehead
  ·  MeaninglessHotAir
  ·  RogerA
  ·  SneakyFeet
  ·  Seneca the Younger
  ·  David Thomson
  ·  ContraryPelican
  ·  Syl
  ·  smart parrot

To paraphrase President Kennedy, there hasn’t been this much brain power in one place since Thomas Jefferson dined alone. I would add John Quincy Adams and James Madison to mix, with a dash of Benjamin Franklin to add some reality to President Kennedy’s quip. Commonwealth of Virginia heresy alert: Jefferson wasn’t that smart, but he was immensely curious. Curiosity, the energy that fuels desire, is its own brilliance.

YARGB’s subtitle is “Flares Into Darkness,” a statement both hopeful and sad. It evokes Plato’s Cave, with contributors occasionally providing bursts of light to illuminate the place.

I bring this conglomerate to your attention not only because of the breadth and depth of its contributors but because the notion of bringing together seasoned commenters, intelligent and probably simpatico voices in the cave, is the future wave of blogging. As anyone who blogs frequently knows, posting with any regularity on your ownsome chews up brain cells and spits them out at a great pace. Not a pretty sight when a post goes three ways wrong and then Blogger melts down, leaving your essay forever in Limbo instead of on the screen (yes, I do indeed know and often follow the wisdom of the cut and paste before finally attempting to put a post to bed, but sometimes, when the pile around my chair of chewed and discarded neurons has begun to slide and topple, I forgets). That’s probably why there are so many started-and-abandoned blogs floating around out there. The strain was simply too much.

Besides the limits of working alone, I intuit there is a synergy created when the blog is spread across a group such as this. The notion of Koinonia comes to mind here. There are religious uses for this word from koine Greek, but in this case, koinonia appears to have been an idea which grew from Wilfrid Bion’s seminal work with groups in England following World War II. His ideas and their applications grew from his initial interactions with “shell-shocked” soldiers in veterans’ hospitals and his subsequent observation of “regular folks” in the civilian world in post-World War II London.

Dr. Bion’s meta-view of the kinds of small groups and their purposes led to Patrick deMare’s (et al) hope of creating true dialogue through Koinonic groups that would work through and past the petty, defensive hatreds we bring to our encounters with one another. His underlying philosophy was that by meeting in groups larger than a family-of-origin setting but small enough so that people knew one another (a village, perhaps?) perhaps change in our internal relationships would be possible. These beneficent changes would perforce spill over into our relationships with one another, decreasing reactivity and paranoia. Thus, the book describes the authors’ hopes:
     A study of the larger group, focusing on the processes and dynamics whereby the group micro-culture emerges. As the initial frustrations of the group find expression in hate, this is transformed through dialogue to what the Greeks knew as ‘koinonia’, or the state of impersonal fellowship.
Even though the book was written in the ’90s it seems already dated to some extent. Perhaps because the England in which it was written is fast disappearing into a chunk of Islamicized EU, losing its identity in the process.

Happily, to some extent Demare’s hope is being lived out in the blogosphere (thank you, Mr. Quick), though it is far too early to even guess what forms will metamorphose from this process. Whatever they may be, Yet Another Really Great Blog, shooting off its flares into darkness, may be a forerunner.

Yes, there are other group bloggers and aggregates out there. But these people, who seem to have emerged full blown from the world of commenters, may be in a different category. Whether or not this accurately represents who they are, YARGB is nonetheless a sensational aggregation. May they flourish beyond their original dreams.

Meanwhile, over there among a rich variety of posts on Godel’s theorem and ol’ Harriet’s nomination and disquisitions on the bird flu, discover what happened to The Girl from Ipanema. Yes, she was a real person. Given my predilection for sadness over lost dreams and how others’ hatred can trip us up, this post left me in tears. Late at night, over a glass of Jameson’s this is to be expected. However, on a lovely October morning, tears for the slings and arrows directed at another simply because she existed are more disquieting; they are a hot blade and cut more deeply than late-night lachrymosia (yes, it is my own neologism). Perhaps it is the threat of the destruction of beauty, simply because it was beautiful and therefore aroused curiosity and desire. WARNING: reading the post may undercut any cherished ideas of “fair” you may have secreted away, waiting for better times.

Disclaimer: No, this is not a case of mutual back-scratching. Gates of Vienna is not blogrolled at YARGB. Maybe if we work real hard to improve, attaining The List is possible. It’s an illustrious but select group — I intuit we aren’t there. Yet.

Weird Quirks from the Turks

According to this “Oddly Enough” Reuters story,
     A Turkish court fined 20 people for using the letters Q and W on placards at a Kurdish new year celebration, under a law banning characters not used in the Turkish alphabet, rights campaigners said on Tuesday.
The court in the southeastern city of Siirt fined each of the 20 people 100 new lira for holding up the placards, written in Kurdish, at the event last year. The letters Q and W do not exist in the Turkish alphabet, but are used in Kurdish.
Quick, Walid! Bring the eraser and whiteout!

Apparently, however, the law is not uniformly enforced:
     Many shops and companies in Turkey have names, signs and advertising using the letters Q, W and X which are not used in Turkish, in apparent violation of the 1928 law, but have not been prosecuted.
So if you’re Kurdish, you’d better watch your P’s W’s and Q’s.