Ian Birrell: We have nothing to fear from our Muslim citizens
This man is a fool. What I don't yet know is whether he is a fool because he genuinely believes what he writes,or because he underestimates his readers by thinking that we will be so stupid as to believe him. Muslims are not Roman Catholics but without the left feet. Neither are they hard working and ethical Jews. From the London Evening Standard on the day information from the 2011 census revealed that the white English are now a minority in London and Muslims, 1 million of whom live in London, are now 4.8% of the population as a whole.
New census figures showing an increase in the UK’s Muslim population are no excuse for scaremongering. Shortly after the end of his first term in office, Liberal leader William Gladstone penned a pamphlet against Catholicism. Denying it was even a spiritual faith, he argued that British followers could not be loyal to the Crown and the Pope and said they sought to undermine traditional British values . . .
Today Gladstone’s diatribe seems absurd. One of his most recent successors attended mass while in Downing Street, and the monarch can marry now into the faith. Each wave of mass immigration provokes the same old fears before newcomers are subsumed into evolving nations.
Now it is the turn of Muslims. Debate over their place in modern Britain has been thrown into sharp relief this week with the release of the latest tranche of data from last year’s census. . . The previous census in 2001 asked about faith for the first time and revealed Islam as Britain’s second-biggest religion, with 1.6 million adherents. Since then, 13 of the 20 fastest-growing boroughs are those with high concentrations of Muslim residents, led by Tower Hamlets and Newham in east London. The 2011 census estimates that there are now 2.7 million British Muslims, with nearly 40 per cent of them — a million — living in London.
It is not just the hate spewed out by far-Right groups, who shifted from battling black immigrants to crusading against Muslims. Across society, bile against Muslims is the acceptable bigotry —Baroness Warsi, the Tory minister, was right to round on its dinner-party respectability last year.
A little-noticed section of the Leveson report said Muslims were targets of systematic press hostility. The judge had good cause for concern: even journalist Polly Toynbee, the high priestess of progressive politics, has admitted to taking pride in Islamophobia.
Polls have found nearly half of Britons think there are too many Muslims in Britain and more than half believe they “create problems”. Needless to say, such negative attitudes are not found against other religions.
These are brilliantly taken apart in The Myth of the Muslim Tide, a new book by Canadian journalist Doug Saunders. To take just one surprising finding, the number of jihadist terrorist incidents in Europe in the eight years after 9/11 represented less than one per cent of terrorist incidents on the Continent.
But now old myths are turbocharged by the internet and social media. Just look at the 13.6 million hits of an infamous video on YouTube called “Muslim demographics”. The statistics showing a supposed Islamic takeover of Europe are false but are ceaselessly recycled — the seven-minute video was even played at a Vatican synod.
The consequence of this is men being abused, women having their hijabs ripped off and mosques being vandalised. One Muslim woman told the BBC last week how she changed her name by deed poll to improve her chance of getting a job, yet still saw attitudes alter at interviews.
Gladstone, a devout Christian, was no liberal when it came to Muslims either. He once called the Koran an “accursed book” and, holding it up in Parliament, declared there would never be peace in the world so long as it existed. The sooner he is proved wrong on this count too, the better for us all.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar endorsed a plan Tuesday to remove a disputed inscription from the Martin Luther King Jr.
You do know why I affixed that title, don't you?
If your memory needs jogging, perhaps this comment will help:
28 Aug 2011 Hugh Fitzgerald
Since neither the hideous kitsch of this chinese-communist or saddam-hussein firdowsi-square or kim il-sung great-leader effort, nor the quotation misattributed to King (thereby permanently drawing attention to King's history of plagiarism, beginning with his doctoral dissertation), can be removed or changed, the statue and the graven errors will be a monument, but not the monument it was intended to be. It will instead serve as a monument not to a particular man, but as a monument to the degradation of the democratic dogma. And that last phrase, I hope everyone knows I know and certainly hope that they know that they will know and am not trying to full a fast one, is not by me, but by Henry Adams.
Or this one:
22 Aug 2011 Hugh Fitzgerald
Not a standing stone, but rather woven into the warf and weft of our national fabric. It might be called the telltale figure in the carpet. And by the way, James, home, please, and don't spare the horses
Or you can read several previous postings on the subject, beginning with one about the Theodore Parker quote, attributed to Martin Luther King, and among the bouquet or florilegium of five woven quotes on the carpet made specially for the Oval Office:
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." According media reports, this quote keeping Obama company on his wheat-colored carpet is from King.
Except it's not a King quote. The words belong to a long-gone Bostonian champion of social progress. His roots in the republic ran so deep that his grandfather commanded the Minutemen at the Battle of Lexington.
For the record, Theodore Parker is your man, President Obama. Unless you're fascinated by antebellum American reformers, you may not know of the lyrically gifted Parker, an abolitionist, Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist thinker who foresaw the end of slavery, though he did not live to see emancipation. He died at age 49 in 1860, on the eve of the Civil War.
A century later, during the civil rights movement, King, an admirer of Parker, quoted the Bostonian's lofty prophecy during marches and speeches. Often he'd ask in a refrain, "How long? Not long." He would finish in a flourish: "Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
-- from an article in The Washington Post by Jamie Stiehm on the quotation by Theodore Parker attributed to Martin Luther King
It's amazing, isn't it?
And funny, too.
Here is the Oval Office, redecorated by the same expensive interior decorator who did John Thain's office digs at J. P. Morgan for more than a million dollars, that thick-headed morally obtuse John Thain then had to pay back, and the result was --- well, what you see.
And President Barack Obama selected five quotations to be woven into the bland beige of the rug: four Presidents, quotations that he had lived with, quotations that had inspired him, and that he thought should inspire others too. four of the five quotations were taken from great presidential predecessors, but the fifth, never a president but by near-universal agreement a Great Man, a man so great that apparently Obama and all the others who were in on this project never knew about King's penchant -- or that of his editors and fellow-writers -- to take quotations from others.
It might have helped if everyone had been a bit wary, at least wary enough to check quotes attributed to King, and what would have helped the most would have been had they been familiar with the still little-known results of the investigation undertaken by the authorities at Boston University, some years ago, where King received his doctorate in theology on the basis of a thesis that, the committee charged with investigating the matter reluctantly concluded, was in large part plagiarized work. That is why I and a few others never call King "Doctor King," and find that unctuous and deeply-respectful tone with whiich it is uttered by, say, the likes of Tavis Smiley -- so unintentionally comical.
Jamie Stiehm claims that in the case of the quote from Theodore Parker, King never claimed it as his specifically. Nor did he attribute the quote to Parker. He simply left it as is, possibly using the strategy made famous by an Italian waiter, who hands the visiting Americans the conto, or bill, which lists the antipasti, and the primi, and the secondi, and the dolci, and the caffe, but has inserted, somewhere in the middle of the list of charges, something the man scanning the bill (oh, it is a man, for both the tale and the teller are very old-fashioned) cannot quite make out, and when he asks the waiter "What's this?" the waiter replies, unembarrassedly, "Oh, that reads 'Forse passa'" ("Maybe it will get by"). That was probably King's idea: maybe the Parker quote would get by, but if it didn't, he always had the excuse, or a worshipful posterity would provide it for him, that he never meant to deceive, that he always knew it was by Parker, that he never explicitly claimed he had written it, that he had merely left off the quotation marks out of haste, or because he assumed that the quote was so well-known that he hardly had to attribute it to the great Theodore Parker.
Think of all the people who were in on Obama's selection of the quotations. Think of how many people on the White House staff had endlessly discussed the precise quotations to be used. There was George Axelrod, a figure in some ways reminiscent of Stanley Levison, who among other tasks helped King produce so many of his words. There was Valerie Jarrett. There were so many in on the discussion about these quotations -- couldn't a single person dare to think for himself. Didn't anyone notice how unusually memorable that particular quote was, and had they not, if they were familiar with King's work, noticed how he, or Levison, or others, would drop these quotations from others in -- quotations that didn't sound like King at all, but were clearly from a different, much more eloquent and thoughtful, time and place? And weren't any of the librarians at the Library of Congress asked to check those quotations? Or did someone know, but was afraid to say the obvious -- talk about Speaking Truth to Power -- to Barack Obama, about King's history of plagiarism, in ways large and small?
Then there were those who were in charge of creating this special rug, a rug that will now live in comical infamy and all visitors to the President's room will see the quote attributed to Martin Luther King, which all educated people -- just how many of those are left, do you think, under the New Dispensation? -- know to be by Theodore Parker. No one on that staff thought to check those quotations. No checking at all. No knowledge at all?
I admire Stiehm for his puncturing so beautifully one big balloon -- there are so many -- of complacent ignorance. And he ends with another quote woven into that rug: Lincoln's "of the people, by the people, for the people" and reminds us -- something not everyone knows -- that it originates in a phrase from....Theodore Parker. He ended with that, and so the discussion of what that borrowing means to us is left to us to decide, without Stiehm's own commentary.
Is he implying that King was just another Lincoln, when he borrowed, like the great logsplitter from Illinois, from Theodore Parker? Because that would not be true. Lincoln always maintained that Theodore Parker was of all men the one who had had the single greatest influence on him. Parker's original phrase was scarcely ten years old, and Theodore Parker was one of the half-dozen most famous men in America at the time. There was no attempt by Lincoln to hide anything. And note, too, that Lincoln changed the phrase by removing the three "alls" which slowed the thing down, and so, not only quickened into more vivid life the stately cadence of Parker's three syntactically-identical cola, but in changing -- as the brilliant writer, that is self-editor, that Lincoln was, would -- an already-beautiful phrase of Parker's by his, Lincoln's, great power to add or subtract, elevated it to an O Altitudo! of rhetorical immortality.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — As the United States tries attempts to rally international support for the Syrian rebellion, trying to herd the opposition into a shadow government that it can recognize and assist, on the ground in Syria it faces an entirely different problem: Much of the rebellion is hostile toward America.
Frustration mounted for months as the United States sat on the sidelines, and peaked this week when it blacklisted the Nusra Front, one of the uprising’s most effective fighting forces, calling it a terrorist organization. The move was aimed at isolating the group, which according to Iraqi and American officials has operational ties to Al Qaeda’s franchise in Iraq.
But interviews with a wide range of Syrian rebels and activists show that for now, the blacklisting has appeared to produce the opposite. It has united a broad spectrum of the opposition — from Islamist fighters to liberal and nonviolent activists who fervently oppose them — in anger and exasperation with the United States. The dissatisfaction is over more than just the blacklisting, and raises the possibility that now, just as the United States is stepping up efforts to steer the outcome in Syria, it may already be too late.
More than 100 antigovernment organizations and fighting battalions have called online for demonstrations on Friday under the slogan, “No to American intervention — we are all Jabhet al-Nusra,” a reference to the group’s Arabic name.
Syrians across the political spectrum say the United States allowed more than 40,000 people to die in the 21-month conflict. Supporters of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, call the uprising a creation of the West and its allies. His opponents excoriate the United States for failing to provide arms and leaving them to perish — and have begun to express a growing wariness of American involvement in Syria’s political future.
“Anti-American sentiment is growing, because the Americans are messing up in bigger ways lately,” said Nabil al-Amir, an official spokesman for the rebel military council for Damascus and its suburbs, one of the committees that the United States and its allies are trying to coax into a unified rebel command. With every step to correct earlier mistakes, he said, “they make a bigger mess.”
Liberals activists blame American inaction for giving jihadists a leading role in the conflict. Rival rebel groups have declared solidarity with the Nusra Front, and Islamists have congratulated it on its new distinction. And seemingly everyone accuses the United States of hypocrisy for not putting a terrorist label on Mr. Assad, whose forces have killed far more civilians than any rebel group.
The United States scrambled on Tuesday to contain the damage, issuing a more complete justification for blacklisting the Nusra Front and stressing that the group has killed Syrian civilians in more than 40 suicide bombings. And it announced a new wrinkle: It is also blacklisting pro-government militias accused of killing civilians as part of “the Assad regime’s campaign of terror and violence.”
The militias, a Treasury Department statement said, would include what it called “the Shabiha” and Jaish al-Sha’bi, or the People’s Army, which it said was created with the help of Mr. Assad’s allies Iran and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and was modeled on Iran’s Basij militia.
But it may be hard to define who exactly is blacklisted under the heading of “shabiha,” which is not the name of an organization but a catchall term for pro-government gangs. The People’s Army is a nascent group, an apparent effort to turn those informal militias into a paramilitary organization.
Criticizing America has become a favorite sideline of antigovernment activists. Some have even questioned the sincerity of President Obama’s recent warning that Mr. Assad would be crossing “a red line” if he used chemical weapons on Syrians.
At a recent demonstration, solemn-eyed boys posed for a photograph that spread online with the title “Red line or green light?” They held a poster of a traffic light, emblazoned with an American flag, shining green for Mr. Assad as he drives a truck laden with chemical weapons.
Demonstrators in Kafr Nabl, a northern Syrian town known lately for its witty antigovernment slogans, quickly mocked the blacklisting with a poster that showed a cartoonish Mr. Assad, with jutting ears, a diabolical grimace and a bloody dagger in each hand, standing over a pile of corpses. One of the dead held a black banner with an Islamic slogan as Mr. Obama, his back to the massacre, pointed at the banner and said, “Terrorist!”
One exile opposition leader, Burhan Ghalioun, even suggested that by rushing under American pressure, the newly formed opposition body, the Syrian National Coalition, had undermined its own credibility, promising and then failing so far to form a shadow government ahead of international talks in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Wednesday.
As opposition leaders gathered in Marrakesh on Tuesday, Farouk Tayfour, a senior official of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a powerful force in the coalition, called the United States’ blacklisting move “very wrong and too hasty.”
An activist who declined to give his name for safety reasons said, “All populations resent those who abandon them and then come at the critical moments to steal their victory.” .
An activist in Douma, outside Damascus, said flatly, “America supports the regime.”
The blacklisting of the Nusra Front cost America support in the northern province of Idlib, said Ahmed Kadour, an activist there who opposes Islamist fighting groups. He said the United States was trying ineptly to solve a problem it created.
“If they had intervened and helped us from the very beginning,” Mr. Kadour said, “we wouldn’t have reached this point.”
One of the sorest points for some Syrians is that a unified military command formed last week at American behest includes Islamist battalions that fight alongside the Nusra Front and share much of its ideology.
The distinction, some believe, is that Nusra Front has never offered to come under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, saying it does not need or want Western aid, while the other groups are backed by American allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
A secular civilian activist in Idlib said that one such group, Ansar al-Sham, is responsible for many abuses that have soured some Syrians on the rebels, like the commandeering of bakeries and hospitals, but described the Nusra Front as “professional and meticulous.”
The activist said that Saudi Arabia was the go-between connecting Ansar and the United States. He said he suspected the decision to blacklist the Nusra Front but not Ansar was either “sheer idiocy” or part of “a political deal.”
“The Syrian population now hates America a lot,” said an activist who posts online material for the Damascus military council, part of the American-backed rebel structure, whose nom de guerre is Mosaab Abu Qatada. It was not always that way, the activist added. “When Obama said that Bashar should leave, some people here held American flags and sent him their greetings,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s all lies and hypocrisy.”
The Army's Manual For American Soldiers In Afghanistan
Violent, erratic, meretricious, grasping, oily -- these are some of the adjectives that Americans who have lived in Afghanistan may reach for in attempting to describe the locals. But they can't quite convey, for those who have not been, just how awful so many of those locals turned out to be, nor can they themselves always connect the attitudes and behavior of Afghans with the mental and emotional substrate of Islam.
Here's a good article on one more vain attempt to placate the locals, by strictly regulating, as if in a police-state, what the American soldiers say and do and may even at times allow themselves to think.
From The Wall Street Journal:
Draft Army Handbook Wades Into Divisive Afghan Issue
U.S. troops mourn a comrade killed in October by an Afghan policeman. A draft Army manual blames some attacks on cultural chasms.
WASHINGTON—American soldiers should brace for a "social-cultural shock" when meeting Afghan soldiers and avoid potentially fatal confrontations by steering clear of subjects including women's rights, religion and Taliban misdeeds, according to a controversial draft of a military handbook being prepared for troops heading to the region.
The proposed Army handbook suggests that Western ignorance of Afghan culture, not Taliban infiltration, has helped drive the recent spike in deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces.
Excerpts: 'Do Not Discuss Religion'
Below, read excerpts from "Insider Threats – Afghanistan: Observations, Insights, and Lessons," a draft handbook prepared for U.S. and coalition forces serving in Afghanistan:
Green-on-blue incidents provoke a crisis of confidence and trust among [coalition forces] working with [Afghan troops]. As a means of illuminating this insider threat, those [coalition] personnel working on Security Force Assistance Teams during 2012 that live alongside and mentor [Afghan security forces] have about 200 times the risk of being murdered by an [Afghan security force] member than a U.S. police officer has of being murdered in the line of duty by a perpetrator.
* * *
Understand that they may have poor conflict resolution skills and that insults cause irrational escalation of force.
Do not discuss religion
* * *
Flashpoints/Grievances Some U.S. Troops Have Reported Regarding Afghanistan National Security Forces:
To better prepare [coalition forces] for the psychologically challenging conditions in Afghanistan, familiarize yourself with the following stressors some U.S. troops have reported concerning [Afghan security forces] behavior during previous deployments. Bear in mind that not all [coalition] troops have reported such experiences or beliefs.
Some ANSF are profoundly dishonest and have no personal integrity
ANSF do not buy-into war effort; far too many are gutless in combat
Incompetent, ignorant and basically stupid
Bottom line: Troops may experience social-cultural shock and/or discomfort when interacting with [Afghan security forces]. Better situational awareness/understanding of Afghan culture will help better prepare [coalition forces] to more effectively partner and to avoid cultural conflict that can lead towards green-on-blue violence.
* * *
Etiquette Violations Best Avoided by [coalition forces] Taboo conversation topics include:
Anything related to Islam
Mention of any other religion and/or spirituality
Debating the war
Making derogatory comments about the Taliban
Advocating women's rights and equality
Directing any criticism towards Afghans
Mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct
Bottom line: Try to avoid highly charged and emotional issues.
"Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member," according to the draft handbook prepared by Army researchers.
The 75-page manual, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, is part of a continuing effort by the U.S. military to combat a rise in attacks by Afghan security forces aimed at coalition troops.
But it has drawn criticism from U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan, who aides said hasn't—and wouldn't—endorse the manual as written. Gen. Allen also rejected a proposed foreword that Army officials drafted in his name.
"Gen. Allen did not author, nor does he intend to provide, a foreword," said Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. "He does not approve of its contents."
Gen. Allen hadn't seen the proposed foreword until a portion of the handbook was called to his attention by the Journal, Col. Collins said. Military officials wouldn't spell out his precise objections. But the handbook's conclusion that cultural insensitivity is driving insider attacks goes beyond the view most commonly expressed by U.S. officials.
The version reviewed by the Journal—marked "final coordinating draft" and sent out for review in November—was going through more revisions, said Lt. Gen. David Perkins, commander of the Army's Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., whose Center for Army Lessons Learned wrote the manual.
The proposed foreword was prepared by Army staff for Gen. Allen's eventual consideration, and the general's concerns will be taken into account as the military moves ahead with more revisions, he added.
The proposed handbook embraces a hotly debated theory that American cultural ignorance has sparked many so-called insider attacks—more than three dozen of which have claimed the lives of some 63 members of the U.S.-led coalition this year. The rise in insider attacks has created one of the biggest threats to American plans to end its major combat missions in Afghanistan next year and transfer full security control to Afghan forces in 2014.
Afghan leaders say Taliban infiltrators are responsible for most insider attacks. U.S. officials say the attacks are largely rooted in personal feuds between Afghan and coalition troops, though not necessarily the result of cultural insensitivity.
Last year, the U.S.-led coalition rejected an internal military study that concluded that cultural insensitivity was in part to blame for insider killings, which it called a growing threat that represented "a severe and rapidly metastasizing malignancy" for the coalition in Afghanistan.
The study was reported last year by The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. military at the time said the study was flawed by "unprofessional rhetoric and sensationalism."
The 2011 report—"A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility"—is now a centerpiece of the draft handbook's advice to soldiers heading to Afghanistan, and it is listed under the draft's references and recommended reading. The report's findings also informed the current manual for troops in Afghanistan, which was released in February, according to Gen. Perkins.
U.S. Army officials didn't make the current version of the manual available for review.
The Army officer who headed up the 2011 study, Maj. Jeffrey Bordin, now is serving as the Army center's liaison to Gen. Allen's coalition headquarters in Kabul.
Maj. Bordin's work was included in the manual as part of a broader assessment of the insider threat in Afghanistan, said Gen. Perkins.
"We are very serious in trying to solve this problem, so we are not discounting any insights that we think are useful," he said. "We are pulling out all the stops to do everything we can to gather lessons learned."
Maj. Bordin didn't respond to email requests to comment, and the military didn't make him available for an interview.
The study, based on interviews with 600 members of the Afghan security forces and 200 American soldiers, painted a grim portrait of opposing cultures with simmering disdain for their counterparts.
The draft handbook uses Maj. Bordin's conclusions to psychologically prepare troops for serving in Afghanistan. A summary includes views of some U.S. soldiers that Afghan forces engage in thievery, are "gutless in combat," are "basically stupid," "profoundly dishonest," and engage in "treasonous collusion and alliances with enemy forces."
The draft handbook offers a list of "taboo conversation topics" that soldiers should avoid, including "making derogatory comments about the Taliban," "advocating women's rights," "any criticism of pedophilia," "directing any criticism towards Afghans," "mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct" or "anything related to Islam."
"Bottom line: Troops may experience social-cultural shock and/or discomfort when interacting with" Afghan security forces, the handbook states. "Better situational awareness/understanding of Afghan culture will help better prepare [troops] to more effectively partner and to avoid cultural conflict that can lead toward green-on-blue violence."
Hawke Research Institute Call for Expressions of Interest: ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) and Future Fellowships applications
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