These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 11, 2006.
Tuesday, 11 April 2006
The hypocritical Mr Livingstone, I presume
Mary beat me to getting the story of the loathsome Ken Livingstone in Tiananmen Square onto the Iconoclast. The BBC were very late in reporting it, for some reason. Perhaps they thought if they kept quiet no one would notice yet another sinister incident.
Whatever, this is Martin Samuel's comment in The Times today. He says what needs to be said much better than I can.
The London mayor has kept quiet about human rights abuses perpetrated by his Chinese hosts. I wonder why
KEN LIVINGSTONE would like to install a countdown clock for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but is uncertain where to put it. I know, I know, but try to keep it clean, will you? Ken’s suggestion is Trafalgar Square. His fear is that it will be opposed by the conservatism of Westminster council, a body he bravely denounced on a fact-finding trip to the host city for the 2008 Games, Beijing. If only all leaders could be as enlightened as the Chinese, eh, Ken? If only the men and women of Westminster could be as foursquarely behind progress as our dear friend Wen Jiabao. Oh, come on folks, you’d pay good money for comedy like this over the West End.
Despite the combined skills of three PR companies and the British Embassy, Mr Livingstone has been unable to go 24 hours in Beijing without putting his foot in it. Not with the Chinese, of course. God forbid an eastward-bound British politician should upset his hosts with all that lovely money waiting to be invested by the world’s fastest-growing big economy. No, Ken is far too shrewd a cookie to blunder in with talk of human rights and freedom of the press if there is a few quid in it. He might find America’s ambassador a chiselling little crook for not paying the congestion charge, but he is opening two offices in China, where, two years ago, 811,102 people were arrested for “endangering the State”.
No, where Ken went wrong was on the steps of the National Museum of Revolutionary History. Asked his feelings as he surveyed the site of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Livingstone uttered some guff about it being a big place, and then compared the event to London’s poll tax riots…..
….. While it would be nice to think that when the doors close Mr Livingstone will begin laying into the Chinese Government with the venom he traditionally reserves for his former employers at Associated Newspapers, don’t hold your breath. He will follow the money, just like Mr Prescott, just like Tony Blair, just like grasping politicians who see not brutality and corruption in modern China, but cash and contracts.
Speaking at a function hosted by David Brewer, the Lord Mayor of London, on January 12 this year, Mr Livingstone said: “If China sees London as its base in the West, then this city’s future will be secure.”
Go on, Ken. Tell it like it is, mate. That is why we love him, you know. He’s such a maverick.
The man is of course beyond being a maverick, and this current statement is beyond gaffe. The only good thing about it is that at least China (more accurately the current regime) is capable of reform, and reforming more easily than a certain other ideology dear to the Newt King. Actually that's not fair, I like newts, they are endearing and endangered creatures. They don't deserve that insult.
Posted on 04/11/2006 2:57 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 11 April 2006
It's Dad's fault, says the DDIY generation
From The Telegraph
Basic domestic skills that were commonplace a generation ago are vanishing, with one in four people under the age of 30 now unable to change a plug.
Blaming a lack of time and poor training from their parents, half of all young people who responded to a survey would also struggle to bleed a radiator, while 27 per cent could not sew a hem.
The DDIY (or Don't Do It Yourself) generation is exposed in a YouGov poll of 2,294 people commissioned by the insurer, Direct Line.
"Many blame their parents for their failings," said Carmel McCarthy, of Direct Line.
"Almost one in five under 30s said their parents didn't teach them basic household skills, while 10 per cent said they were simply too busy to worry about such tasks."
When the same questions were asked to the over-50s, just six per cent could not wire a plug, 10 per cent could not bleed a radiator and 14 per cent could not sew a hem.
However, there are some jobs where the young excel. When it comes to programming a video recorder, setting up a computer or assembling flat-pack furniture, the older generation lags behind.
This business with plugs has often puzzled me. My late father was an electrician and so did all the electrical jobs about the house. It would no more have occurred to him to give me a plug to change than it would have occurred to me to throw him my tights to mend. A week before he died he realised that perhaps I should know how to change a plug. So he drew me a very wobbly diagram on paper torn from a nurse’s notebook which I still have pinned inside a kitchen cupboard 20 years later. Completely out of date since EU regulations changed.
Except I never quite got the hang of it. My oldest friend is the same. She is a teacher, a capable woman who is also an accomplished potter. We are not lazy, our fingers are deft, she paints and pots, I knit and sew (I can sew not just a hem, I can make the whole blooming dress, including for a wedding with train and veil if I have to), we both cook and mend, we are both over 50. So why do our fingers struggle with screw, wire and screwdriver, when they fly across fabric with needles and pins?
Posted on 04/11/2006 4:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 11 April 2006
TALKING POINTS ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
News coverage of the illegal-immigrant demos was awash with happy-clappy clichés on the subject, every one of which has a straightforward answer. Samples.
---"They're just coming here for a better life." Well, that's also the reason people rob banks. If you rob a bank and get away with it, you'll have a MUCH better life than you had before. Should we legalize bank robbery?
---"Many of them have sons & daughters in the military, fighting in Iraq." On general grounds, I think hiring illegal immigrants into the armed forces is a lousy idea. When the Romans ran out of citizens willing to fight, they hired Germans, and look what happened. Still, any illegal who has served in combat on this country's behalf ought to be given citizenship, though I'd make his relatives go through proper channels. At least we'd find out how many is that "many."
---"Deporting illegals would mean splitting up families." Only if they chose to split up. If a man is illegal, his wife legal, and their child a citizen, I'd deport the man. They'd have to decide among themselves whether to split up the family or not. The wife and child could go with the man, if they didn't want to be split up.
You may as well start practicing these ripostes. You'll be needing them.
And concerning yesterday's TV coverage of these demonstrations:
From The Situation Room on CNN yesterday:
WOLF BLITZER: A lot of these demonstrators, you know, Jack, are legal. And many of them are citizens of the United States. They're not all illegal immigrants, the people protesting.
JACK CAFFERTY: How do you know?
BLITZER: Because I was out on the streets. I saw.
CAFFERTY: Well, where's the immigration service? Why don't they pull the buses up and start asking these people to show their green cards? And the ones that don't have them, put them on the buses and send them home.
BLITZER: There's a -- well, that's an expensive proposition, as you know -- 12 million -- 12 million of them.
CAFFERTY: As opposed to the cost we're enduring by having 12 million of these people running around the country?
[Derb] Surfing the cable news channels yesterday while the illegal immigrants were demonstrating, I would have to say that CNN came out on top. They have Lou Dobbs, of course, who's been pounding on the issue of illegals for years (Mark Krikorian's outfit gave Dobbs an award for his efforts last year). Even the Situation Room was getting to the point, though, as the above exchanges show. Fox News wasn't half as good; even O'Reilly seemed muted on the issue. Perhaps someone's explained to him what a horrible idea is the "guest worker" program he's been pushing. MSNBC I didn't watch much, but what I saw was feeble. Larry Kudlow did his best for the open-borders side, but for once his heart didn't seem to be in it.
On this one, Lou Dobbs is THE MAN. He's particularly good at picking pro-illegal advocates who self-detonate on-screen. Prize exhibit yesterday was a character who shrieked in outrage when Lou said "illegal immigrant." The guy went on to explain that this phrase is just as offensive and just as inadmissible as [taboo epithet for Jews], [taboo epithet for Hispanics], [taboo epithet for Italian Americans], and [taboo epithet for African Americans]. He said all the taboo words.
Dismaying to then watch the ten o'clock news on one of our big networks, where these demonstrations by foreigners against our laws were treated as a public-spirited demand for civil rights. The demonstrators were, said the anchor on my local Channel 11, "upholding America's immigrant tradition."
Posted on 04/11/2006 8:02 AM by John Derbyshire
Tuesday, 11 April 2006
CONVERTS FROM ISLAM - FREE TO CHOOSE?
This is a article by Dr Patrick Sookhdeo the International Director of the Barnabas Fund which I have just received as a subscriber to the Fund's electronic newsletter. It is a longer version of an article published a few days ago in the Church of England Newspaper. As such it provides an interesting contrast to the latest bright idea from our Bishops and reported there today. Which is that churches should invite Muslims to share their faith with congregations in a bid to foster a better understanding of Islam. Meanwhile senior prelates suggest the Abdul Rahman case could harm attempts to strengthen relations between the faiths.
Dr Sookhdeo's article is long, and there is no direct link to it, but I think it merits a wider readership so I am taking the liberty of reproducing it here.
CONVERTS FROM ISLAM - FREE TO CHOOSE?
The case of Abdul Rahman, on trial last month in the Afghan capital Kabul for converting from Islam to Christianity, made the international headlines for some days. Both judge and prosecutor stated that, if found guilty, he would face the death sentence in line with the teachings of shari'a [Islamic law]. Many Western leaders urged that he should be released and the Afghan authorities duly found a pretext for doing so.
The response of other Muslims was more mixed. Senior clerics in Afghanistan said that if the state failed to execute him they would incite the people to murder him - a people who by and large appear to agree that
death is appropriate for those who leave Islam. But a number of Muslims in the West have denied the existence of the classic Islamic teaching on apostasy. For example, London-based Mufti Abdul Barkatullah said that the Shafi'i school of Islamic law eschews the death penalty for apostasy. This assertion is so easily refuted from the Shafi'i texts that one can only think the mufti assumes that no non-Muslim would ever bother to check his words.
The classical Shafi'i manual of law, "'Umdat al-Salik" [The Reliance of the Traveller] by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (died 1368) is unambiguous on this point. I quote from an English translation by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, published in the USA in 1997:
"8.1 When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatises from Islam, he deserves to be killed.
8.2 In such a case, it is obligatory for the caliph to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does, it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed."
Anwar Ahmad Qadri, a Pakistani lawyer, published "A Sunni Shafi'i Law Code" in Pakistan in 1984. This work is a translation of "Mukhtasar fil Risalah" by the classical Shafi'i jurist Abu Shuja al-Isfahani (died 1106), and states, including footnotes:
"Art. 113 Rules for Apostates. It is obligatory to ask the person apostatising from the religion of Islam, or on irtidad, (1) to offer taubah three times; then it is good if he did it, otherwise, he shall be killed (2); then, he will neither be given a bath, nor any funeral prayer, and so also, he will not be buried in the graveyard of Muslims.
¹ May be a male or a female, as he or she refuses to accept Allah, or falsifies any of the Prophets or holds as legal the things held haram by consensus or ijma'.
² If a free man, the imam will kill him but not by burning; if anyone kills him except the imam, he will be punished by ta'zir; if the apostate is a slave, the master will kill him."
Another Muslim response to the Abdul Rahman case was published in the "New Zealand Herald" by an Australian Muslim lawyer, Irfan Yusuf, who is an occasional lecturer in the School of Politics at Macquarie University. Mr Yusuf's article is a masterpiece of propaganda, blending fact and fiction, passing off exceptions as the rule. He states rather curiously that "the alleged law of apostasy doesn't exist in sharia. And if it does, there is little consensus on its application among Muslim legal experts." His confusion about the existence or not of an apostasy law in shari'a could easily be solved if he were to check some Islamic texts both ancient and modern, for example, those I have cited above. He would discover that all four schools of Sunni law as well as Shi'a law agree on the death sentence for sane, adult, male apostates. This is hardly the "minority of medieval Muslim scholars" which Yusuf claims were the only ones who supported the death sentence for apostasy.
Yusuf's short article is worth examining in some detail because it incorporates a number of spurious arguments which are often used by Muslims seeking to present this aspect of their faith in an acceptable light to Westerners. First he repeats the familiar adage that the Qur'an says that "there is no compulsion in religion" and suggests that everyone is free to choose their own faith. The quote is accurate (from sura 2, verse 256) but the interpretation is a special one for Westerners. The normal Muslim interpretation of this verse is that Muslims will not be forced to fulfil all their religious duties, it is up to them whether they do so or not. This verse has nothing to say about freedom of conscience. In any case, it is a verse that was "revealed" relatively early to Muhammad and therefore many Muslims would consider that it has been abrogated [cancelled] by less tolerant-sounding verses which were revealed to Muhammad in later years.
Yusuf goes on to consider the death sentence for treason, which he believes to be mandatory today "even in the most civilised Western countries". (Presumably he does not consider to be very civilised the UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Norway, Canada and the many other Western countries who do not have the death penalty.) He states that Islam's death sentence for apostasy is actually a death sentence for treason because any Muslim who left their faith and yet wanted to remain in the Islamic
city-state of early Islam was "effectively committing treason". But why should it be considered treasonable to stay in one's homeland after changing one's religion? Yusuf's argument is nothing but a re-statement of
the classical Islamic position that a convert from Islam is by definition a traitor. He does not require any evidence of treacherous activity against the Islamic state; simply to have left Islam without going into self-imposed exile is treachery enough.
Yusuf attempts to support his case by a further selection of examples. He says that "it isn't the practice in the overwhelming majority of Muslim countries to kill people who leave Islam." I thank God this is true, with
only five modern states to my knowledge including the death sentence for apostasy in their legislation (possibly plus Afghanistan whose legal position remains unknown following Abdul Rahman's release) and none of them putting it into practice very often. Even taking into account murders by family and community, and illegal assassinations by the security forces, the vast majority of Muslim converts to Christianity today do not lose their lives. But why should there be a death penalty even in theory?
Yusuf cites the Swiss Muslim Tarik Ramadan as arguing against capital punishment in Muslim countries because the corrupt police and judiciaries "will make sharia an instrument of injustice". In other words, it is not that shari'a is unjust but that bribe-taking officials might not apply it impartially. This is not an argument against the rightness of the death sentence for apostasy, but a counsel of despair from one who thinks
corruption can never be rooted out.
Yusuf then gives the example of Indonesia where Muslims can convert freely to Christianity without being imprisoned. Although he does not say so, Indonesian converts are unlikely to face much prejudice or discrimination of any kind (except in Aceh). But there are some fifty Muslim-majority countries, and Indonesia is the only one of which this is true. Indonesia has for many years been a byword amongst Muslims for its lax attitude to Christian evangelism and conversion from Islam, an attitude which many
other Muslim nations roundly condemn.
Yusuf's crowning argument concerns the high rate of illiteracy in Afghanistan, which he says accounts for their ignorance of Islamic law. Again he is determined to disbelieve in the existence of the abundance of
Islamic texts which endorse the death sentence for apostasy.
In fact it is Irfan Yusuf's readers who are likely to be ignorant of Islamic law, not the Afghan people. If he were not so certain of the ignorance of most New Zealanders, indeed of most Westerners, he surely would not have dared to write such an article.
It is better for Muslims to be completely honest about their faith. The late Dr Zaki Badawi, who was president of the Muslim College in London, wrote a paper on "Freedom of Religion in Islam" tracing the history of the development of the apostasy law. He stated that "earlier jurists, with a few exceptions, supported the death penalty for the apostate and this remains the case to the present day". Muslims can claim that the death sentence for apostasy was never intended by their founder (and this may well be true), but to claim that it was not taught by his followers as a basic doctrine for the next fourteen centuries is ludicrous.
It is only when Muslims have admitted the true situation that there is the possibility of change. A number of scholars of Sunni Islam's leading Al-Azhar University in Cairo have in recent decades suggested that the
apostasy law should be abandoned and genuine religious freedom allowed. We non-Muslims must do all we can to encourage this move within Islam. It was at Al-Azhar on 21st March that the Prince of Wales gave an outstanding speech urging mutual respect between the faiths, indicating in particular the need for reciprocity of treatment of each other's minorities.
Muslims are rightly permitted to share their faith freely in the West and to win converts who rightly suffer no penalty. But this religious freedom must be reciprocated. Afghanistan is far from being the only Muslim
country which has signed up to international agreements guaranteeing freedom of religion (such as Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and has also asserted the supremacy of shari'a (complete with apostasy law), thus creating a serious ambiguity over issues such as freedom of conscience.
Al-Azhar has begun to grapple with the subject of religious freedom in Islam. What can be done to help them with this ground-breaking task, which is sure to face tremendous opposition from certain sections of the Muslim community? Could the Prince of Wales, Jack Straw and the Archbishop of Canterbury jointly urge Al-Azhar to issue a fatwa condemning the execution of apostates? Could the Lambeth-Al-Azhar initiative issue a joint statement ? Now is the time to act, while the example of Abdul Rahman, who was willing to die for his faith, is fresh in our minds. For although he may now be safe in exile, the plight of other converts is, if anything, even more acute as Muslim governments may decide it is better to let them be quietly murdered than for them to become an international cause.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
International Director of Barnabas Fund
Prince of Wales, Jack Straw and the Archbishop of Canterbury , did you hear that?
Posted on 04/11/2006 11:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 11 April 2006
Islam Targets Pretty Much Everybody I've Ever Known
Not that there’s anything wrong that.
Two items snatched from today’s blogosphere:
Captain’s Quarters reports
A United Nations study reveals that 25% of all married Syrian women have been beaten by their husbands, the New York Times reports this morning:
Syria's first comprehensive field study of violence against women has concluded that nearly one married woman in four surveyed had been beaten. The study was released last week as part of a report on Syria by the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
The findings have been published in local news media, helping to draw attention to topics, like domestic abuse and honor killings, that have long been considered taboo in this conservative society.
The study was carried out under the supervision of the quasi-governmental General Union of Women, which oversees the welfare of Syria's women. The study included nearly 1,900 families, selected as a random sample, including a broad range of income levels and all regions. The men and women in each family were questioned separately.
Syria is one of the more secular of the Arab nations, and Syrian women do have more latitude than their sisters did in Afghanistan under the Taliban and in Saudi Arabia now. However, the chattel culture remains strong throughout Arabic nations, and this demonstrates one of the predictable results. I'm surprised it wasn't higher, and it's possible that the nature of the study led to underrepresentation.
Little Green Footballs notes this:
Instead of the bogus scare word “Islamophobia,” perhaps we need to start talking about “Infidelophobia.” Case in point, Saudi author “Dr.” Muhammad Al-’Arifi (they’re always “doctors” for some reason) in a completely unhinged interview on Saudi Arabia’s Al-Risala TV. (Courtesy of MEMRI TV.)
Dr. Muhammad Al-’Arifi: One of the most important things that distinguish Man from beast is the ability to control one’s desires. Allah said about some of the infidels: “They are like cattle; nay, they stray farther off the path.” If you look at them, you will see that when they want to go to sleep - they go to sleep, with complete disregard for the times of the five prayers. If he feels like committing adultery - he does. If he feels like having any type of sexual relations - he does, regardless of whether it is permitted or prohibited.
Therefore, as I said on previous shows, they have organizations for homosexuals, organizations for people who marry animals - she marries a dog, a donkey, and so on... The organizations exist, and strangely enough, they are official. They have websites, and they publish magazines with pictures.
According to statistics from Denmark, 54% of the births in Denmark are illegitimate. In this case, the term “illegitimate” does not mean a girl getting pregnant by her boyfriend. It refers to a woman, who gives birth in a hospital, and when the doctor asks her under whose name to register the baby - who’s the father - she says: “I don’t know. It might be the doorman... No, no, it might be the company director... It might be the clerk, or the taxi driver... I don’t know.” They end up registering the child in her own name. That’s an “illegitimate” birth. But when she says that the child is from her boyfriend, that’s fine...
Script: Produced by the Ministry of Religious Endowments, Daw’a, and Guidance.
I read these posts, I’m thinking Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Camels.” I’m visualizing hilarious arguments over which type of camel gives worse saddle sores. I see George Clooney in several roles. I’m asking: Can scriptwriters not miss this motherlode? Is there a living writer left in Hollywood?
Posted on 04/11/2006 3:50 PM by Robert Bove
Tuesday, 11 April 2006
The refusal to discuss Jihad, and the varied instruments that are employed to further Jihad, has led to the use of the phrase "war on terror" which diverts attention from all the other instruments -- oil revenues, Da'wa unchecked world-wide, demographic conquest within the Lands of the Infidels - and thereby continues to mislead unwary Infidels, whose attention becomes fixed on this "war on terror."
This error is compounded, from lack of intelligent interest, by focusing attention not on the hundreds of terrorist groups whose names are known, but on one particular one -- Al-Qaeda. This is foolish. This, from the standpoint of those promoting the world-wide Jihad through their own local expressions of it, with here Hamas, there Hezbollah, over there Laskar Jihad, and even further on Jemaah Islamiya (fill up the website with another few hundred names).
One example of the resulting confusion in the silly discussion, by those in the Bush Administration, and those attacking the Bush Administration, about whether or not Saddam Hussein's regime had close, not-so-close, nonexistent ties with Al Qaeda. The Bush Administration, having started this whole "war on terror" and "Al Qaeda" business, cannot, apparently, tell the truth and answer its critics: Why does it matter? Was not Saddam Hussein an aggressive Arab and Muslim leader, who had spent the last decade re-establishing himself as a good Muslim, putting Qur'anic verses on the Iraqi flag, building the largest mosque in the world, using his own blood for a specially-calligraphed Qur'an, and so on and so predictably forth. Did he not contribute to Arab terrorists, by giving $25,000 to the families of each suicide bomber involved in the Lesser Jihad against Israel? Does anyone doubt that the weaponry he might have acquired could have been used against the Infidels, either by his regime, or by one that followed it, or by elements in Iraq that might be able to divert such weaponry at some point? The fear of Saddam Hussein's acquisition of such weaponry can be justified without any reference to Al Qaeda. His country is Muslim; Muslims are taught to expand the territory where Islam will dominate and to permit local Infidels to live, but only if they submit to certain onerous and, for many over the centuries, utterly intolerable conditions.
When you hear someone talk about the "war on terror" you know that someone is limited, is simply not very intelligent, has not thought things through. I just received a note from someone, a visitor to this site, who attended a debate last night at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, on the topic of "Should the Americans withdraw from Iraq." My appalled informant noted the use of that phrase "war on terror" and all that it implies, by both William Kristol (who also said "we are winning" and "we can win" without explaining what that "winning" would do to promote Infidel interests, as opposed to letting sectarian and ethnic tensions take their natural course), and by John Deutch (who for a year was head of the CIA, and the display he offered yesterday was on the level of another former CIA head, James Woolsey (himself an enthusiast for the Light Unto the Muslim Nations Project) in his failure to understand Islam, or to get beyond Iraq to the world-wide problem which is most acute in Western Europe. Kristol is merely one more Bright Young Conservative. But Deutch is a University Professor at MIT and a former head of the CIA. He has all the time in the world to read widely in the history of Jihad-conquest and subjugation of non-Muslims, all the time in the world to read Bat Ye'or and a hundred others -- and obviously, judging by the dozen telling snippets from his "debate" interventions, he has not. Not a hint that the best reason for leaving Iraq is to exploit the sectarian and ethnic fissures, to force both Iran and Saudi Arabia to expend men, materiel, and money in backing their side in a proxy war in Iraq, to hope that Shi'a unrest and Sunni counter-pressure develop in Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Lebanon, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia -- no, that was not even conceivable to either of these "debaters" who hardly scratched the surface at that grand thing, the Kennedy School of Government.
The Yiddish dismissive reduplicative has entered the language. Dennis Potter titled one of his television plays for the old BBC "Oedipus Shmoedipus," a phrase alluding to the Jewish mother who, upon being told that someone suffers from an "oedipus complex," says "Oedipus Shmoedipus, so long as he loves his mother."
Al-Qaeda, Al-Shmaeda -- so long as he hates the Infidels.
Posted on 04/11/2006 4:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald