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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
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Karimi Hotel
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The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
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The New Vichy Syndrome:
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Jihad and Genocide
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
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These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 14, 2007.
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Four months jail for mosque raider
A Muslim estate agent who burgled his own mosque to get money to feed his drug habit has been sentenced to four months imprisonment yesterday.
Oves Bham, 25, now of Harrow, Middlesex, was spared jail in April this year after he admitted breaking into a safe at the Majid e-Noor mosque on two separate occasions and took nearly £1,000 to buy crack cocaine.
He was given an 18-month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work after admitting raiding the Ryecroft Street mosque, between September 12 and 13 last year.
"I remember this case well," Judge Tabor said. "You burgled your own holy place because of your ferocious Class A drug habit.  It's not been a great success but at least you look better than you did last time."
Posted on 10/14/2007 3:25 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Australian Government said to be considering hijab and veil ban at airports
THE Federal Government believes wearing Islamic scarves should be banned at Australian airports, senior government sources have revealed.
Under the radical security proposal, even the most inoffensive Muslim scarf, the hijab, which covers a woman's hair and neck, would be banned, along with several other types.
Security officials are especially concerned by two other very concealing types of scarf, the niqab and the burka.
The niqab covers the face, but leaves the eyes exposed, while the burka covers the entire face, with only a mesh screen for the eyes
The scarf policy is under active consideration in Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews' office, which is consulting with airport security officials over the policy.
Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald claims that The federal government says it has no plans to ban the wearing of Islamic scarfs at Australian airports. "I can say that the minister's office is absolutely not considering any such plan," a spokeswoman for Mr Andrews said.
She said she did not believe the proposal was being considered by any federal government minister.
Posted on 10/14/2007 3:36 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Muslim Aid appeal for Darfur
Mary and I continue to watch out for Islam is Peace posters on London Transport. Tally so far, nil poins.
What I did spot on Friday was this poster inside a tube carriage.
Muslim Aid, keep hope alive in Darfur.
Unfortunately the script does not enlarge well but as I recall, the poster urges people to contribute for the poor and displaced of Darfur, to help them become self sufficient and not dependent on other outside aid.   
Muslim Aid is based in east London (A PO Box in E1 which is Bethnal Green), quotes The Koran at 5:32 Whoever saved a life, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind"and has 17 trustees, all male and all "respected members of the Muslim community" including Iqbal Sacranie. Unlike the Christian charities which operate in any country in need Muslim Aid seems to concentrate on Muslim countries, in particular Iraq, Pakistan and the Palestinians.
I hate to be so cynical but as the suffering in the Sudan has been caused entirely by the Northern Muslims and their Janjaweed militia terrorising southern Christians and black Muslims who are not considered “proper” Muslims, something about this charity campaign jars.
Posted on 10/14/2007 4:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Rowan Williams hits out at atheist Dawkins

For once, the Archbishop of Canterbury is standing up for Christianity. Not against Islam, unfortunately - that would be too much to ask. From The Telegraph:

The Archbishop of Canterbury launched a fierce attack yesterday on the modern cult of atheism and singled out the eminent scientist Richard Dawkins.

Dr Rowan Williams responded to critics of religion by arguing that atheists had missed the point and failed to understand what Christians really believe in.

In a fierce attack on the Oxford professor and other leading atheists, he said: "There are specific areas of mismatch between what Richard Dawkins may write about and what religious people think they are doing."
 [...]

Prof Dawkins has been scathing in his assessment of Christian theology, which he has described as vacuous. In a Channel 4 programme, The Enemies of Reason, in August he said: "There are two ways of looking at the world — through faith and superstition, or through the rigours of logic, observation and evidence, through reason."

This rings a little hollow, coming from a man who believes in one of the oldest conspiracy theories around: Jews rule the world. Talking of which, a Jewish friend just reminded me of this joke, so old it's new:

Two Jews are sitting on a train in 1930's Germany. One of them is reading a Nazi newspaper.

His friend asks "How can you bear to read such a paper?"

"Simple," his friend replies "whenever I read a Jewish newspaper, all I get is 'Jews are emigrating, Jews are assimilating, Jews are persecuted.' It makes me so sad. But when I read this newspaper, I get 'Jews own all the banks, Jews own all the press, Jews are going to take over the world'. This makes me feel happy again!"

Posted on 10/14/2007 5:53 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Pseudsday Psunday

The posts here about Doris's crack - sorry, Shibboleth - have been somewhat flippant. We should take it more seriously. None of us has been to see it. Perhaps if we did, we would feel as we ought, or at least as directed by the leaflet handed out to visitors, which, according to Mick Hartley, says:

First, and most obviously, the contemplative nature of such a venue allows the gesture to resonate in its widest sense [widest sense of what? M.J.]. Walking down Salcedo's incised line, particularly if you know about her previous work, might well prompt a broader consideration of power's divisive operations as encoded in the brutal narrative of colonialism, their unhappy aftermaths in postcolonial nations, and in the stand-off between rich and poor, northern and southern hemispheres.

If Shibboleth speaks openly to our moment, it is also concerned with an archaeological sense of history. Indeed, Salcedo infers that the two are fundamentally connected [implies, not infers, you moron - M.J.] . Look down into the crack, and you see not Tate Modern's foundations, but a carefully constructed concrete cast formation, embedded with chain-link wire fence. For Salcedo, the crack reveals a "colonial and imperial history [that] has been disregarded, marginalised or simply obliterated...the history of racism, running parallel to the history of modernity and ...it's [sic] untold dark side."

Marginalised? Obliterated? Hardly. We in the West are bombarded with tales of our colonial past. We don't need reminding. Mick Hartley comments:

It's complete nonsense smugly preening itself on its importance. I hate it. I'd like to take whoever wrote it, stuff them inside the bloody crack, and jump up and down on them. That's how much I hate it.

And what's their main message in all this? - you know, with all this racism, postcolonialism, difference stuff. It's that we're meant to feel bad about ourselves. Bad because we're Westerners, bad because our history is all about being colonialist bullies. Bad bad bad, guilty guilty guilty. That's what it's all about now: the purpose of great art is to make you feel bad. Also, it encourages you not to live in the moment, not to study what's in front of you, not to think and feel for yourself. It encourages you not to trust your senses, but to believe what you're told: to trust those voices in your earpiece as you wander zombie-like round the gallery, telling you where to look, how to react, what to think.

He has a point. But sometimes modern art has an effect on me that all my mother's nagging never managed to achieve: it makes me want to have a good tidy up.

Posted on 10/14/2007 6:15 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 14 October 2007
When Prayer Is Akin To Drill Practice
Posted on 10/14/2007 7:22 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Turkey, Genocide and the Kurds

If the administration had guaranteed a separate Kurdish autonomous polity in Iraq on the condition that it relinquish territorial claims on Turkey, as has been advocated by Hugh Fitzgerald, this wouldn't be happening.

WaPo: ISTANBUL, Oct. 13 -- U.S. officials began an intense lobbying effort Saturday to defuse Turkish threats to launch a cross-border military attack against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and to limit access to critical air and land routes that have become a lifeline for U.S. troops in Iraq.

"The Turkish government and public are seriously weighing all of their options," Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said after meetings with Turkish officials in Ankara, the capital. "We need to focus with Turkey on our long-term mutual interests."

But even as the U.S. official appealed for restraint, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a political rally in Istanbul on Saturday, urged the parliament to vote unanimously next week to "declare a mobilization" against Kurdish rebels and their "terrorist organization," the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Fears of a new frontier of instability in the troubled Middle East sent oil prices soaring Friday to a record high of $84 a barrel. U.S. military officials predicted disastrous consequences if Turkey carries out a threat to strike northern Iraq, and they warned of serious repercussions for the safety of American troops if Turkey reduces supply lines in response to a congressional vote last week on the killing of Armenians nine decades ago.

The confluence of two seemingly unrelated events could not have come at a worse time. Thirteen soldiers killed last weekend in Turkey in the most deadly attack by Kurdish separatists in more than a decade had barely been buried when the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington approved a resolution labeling as genocide the mass killings of Armenians during the final decades of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey does not deny the deaths but argues that they occurred as part of a war in which Turks were also killed.

"This is not only about a resolution," said Egemen Bagis, a member of the Turkish parliament and a foreign policy adviser to Erdogan. "We're fed up with the PKK -- it is a clear and present danger for us. This insult over the genocide claims is the last straw."

Contrast this attitude with that of the Australian intellectuals who seem to want their country to be guilty of genocide against the Tasmanians.

Posted on 10/14/2007 8:06 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Drugs in America

Tim Wu has an interesting article on how prescription drugs are taking the place of illegal drugs in America at Slate:

...Since 1970 and the beginning of Nixon's war on drugs, the Justice Department has regulated drugs likely to be abused under the Controlled Substances Act, which categorizes such drugs into five "Schedules." Those in Schedule I—the most tightly controlled—are supposed to have a "high potential for abuse," and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment." These drugs cannot be prescribed by a doctor. Those in Schedules II through V can be prescribed, and that is what makes all the difference.

Since the beginning of the war on drugs, the "formal" drug decriminalization movement has focused on trying to change the status of marijuana, often through state referendums. While in the late 1970s and late 1990s advocates were quite hopeful, the extent of real legal change they've achieved must be described as relatively minor. Certainly, several states have passed medical marijuana laws, which provide doctors and patients with an immunity when the drug is used for medical purposes. And some cities, like Seattle, do not arrest people for possessing small amounts. But there's been no significant change in federal drug laws, or in the political conversation surrounding them, in decades. A leading presidential candidate from either party endorsing a "free weed" movement seems unimaginable. And beyond marijuana, the drug legalization moment barely even makes an effort.

That's why drug legalization is happening in a wholly different way. Over the last two decades, the FDA has become increasingly open to drugs designed for the treatment of depression, pain, and anxiety—drugs that are, by their nature, likely to mimic the banned Schedule I narcotics. Part of this is the product of a well-documented relaxation of FDA practice that began under Clinton and has increased under Bush. But another part is the widespread public acceptance of the idea that the effects drug users have always been seeking in their illicit drugs—calmness, lack of pain, and bliss—are now "treatments" as opposed to recreation. We have reached a point at which it's commonly understood that when people snort cocaine because they're depressed or want to function better at work, that's drug trafficking; but taking antidepressants for similar purposes is practicing medicine.

This other drug legalization movement is an example of what theorists call legal avoision. As described by theorist Leon Katz, the idea is to reach "a forbidden outcome … as a by-product of a permitted act." In a classic tax shelter, for instance, you do something perfectly legal (like investing in a business guaranteed to lose money) in order to reach a result that would otherwise be illegal (evading taxes). In the drug context, asking Congress to legalize cocaine or repeal the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is a fool's errand. But it's far easier to invent a new drug, X, with similar effects to cocaine, and ask the FDA to approve it as a new antidepressant or anxiety treatment. That's avoision in practice...

Posted on 10/14/2007 8:53 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Resonate? Not with me. Not any more

As I have said many times, it is difficult to be objective about language change. Whether we accept or reject a new usage is very often conditioned by our attitude to the speaker or writer, or to his type. Thus I recognise reluctantly that “debate”, used as a transitive verb to refer to one's opponent  rather than the subject, will become acceptable. It is used by good writers such as Robert Spencer - and, to my surprise and delight, Hugh Fitzgerald - and I dislike it only because I am not used to it. In time I will get used to it, and will use it unthinkingly.

Even a word used in the the way you like may become unpleasant if it is used by unpleasant or silly people. I used to like the word “innovation”. I still quite like it, and use it, and “innovative” fairly regularly. But I am coming to dislike it. “Innovation” is used more and more by jargon-spouting management consultants, and it now has connotations of useless gadgetry – until recently a company called Innovations produced a catalogue advertising gismos you could not possibly want, such as waterproof alarm clocks or ionising kettles – and self-conscious “wackiness”.

The latest word to earn my displeasure is "resonate". I used to quite like the expression, "this resonates with me," but I now think it has outstayed its welcome. And having read this execrable sentence in the Tate Modern leaflet handed out to crack visitors, I am falling out of love with it:

First, and most obviously, the contemplative nature of such a venue allows the gesture to resonate in its widest sense.

Can a gesture resonate? Is a crack a gesture? Whose widest sense? The crack's? Widest sense of what? And how can a venue have a contemplative nature? And why is it most obvious?

When I read stuff like this I wonder if it was a good idea for idiots to learn to write. Let's not be too harsh, though. Some words are used correctly: "and", "the", "of", "such", "in" and "its". This would get the writer an A-grade at A-level.

Posted on 10/14/2007 8:39 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Islam & Iraq

"His [Sheik Ali Bapir's] bestselling memoir has gone into a second printing and has been translated into Arabic. He leads a large political movement with its own satellite channel, news publications, six seats in the Kurdistan regional parliament and a plush compound on the outskirts of this predominantly Kurdish city.....

"'I took the occasion to study Islam with my fellow prisoners,' he says during a rambling chat with a reporter he first met before the Iraq war."
-- from this news article 

Meanwhile, the American soldiers who removed Saddam Hussein, thus making possible Ali Bapir's "bestselling memoir" to be published, and his "political movement with its own satellite channel" and "news publications" and "six seats in the Kurdistan regional parliament" and a "plush compound" on the outskirts of Irbil, do not, in Iraq, or before they go to Iraq, learn a thing of use about Islam. Oh, now, a few years into the Iraq war, they are being told that there are "Sunnis" and "Shi'a." And they are taught a little of what is called demurely "cultural sensitivity" having to do with knocking down doors when there are women inside, and what hand to eat with when you are with Arabs, and so on. But that's it.

No real understanding of what it is that suffuses the societies of the people they will meet, but that they cannot see. No discussion of what fills the minds of men, in the country they will remain in for so long, risking their lives for a goal which, if they actually were taught about Islam, taught what the unshakeable Muslim view of Infidels is, and that any expressions of friendship or loyalty are purely temporary, alliances of very limited convenience, designed --by the Anbar sheiks, for example, to win American money and above all, weaponry, and mean nothing about a long-term alliance, which is impossible.

The biggest failure of the Iraq War was and remains a failure of intelligence. A failure to intelligently understand the need for those making policy, and for those soldiers who have been asked to execute without questioning that policy, to learn about Islam, the threat of Jihad, the instruments of Jihad (that go far beyond acts of terror), to also learn -- more than a million have been in Iraq, and the chance to educate them was heaven-sent, and completely miffed.

Ossas of idiocy piled on Pelions of ignorance. That's the story, the continuing story, of the Iraq war.

And its opponents? They have yet to offer the deadliest criticism, the unanswerable criticism, the criticism offered here. And because they cannot formulate a criticism that attacks the declared goals not only as unattainable, but as making no sense, for we have no stake in the future stability of Iraq or of the area, but can profit most by the nightmare, for both Iran and Saudi Arabia, of continuous Sunni-Shi'a hostility and even warfare.

If the Americans leave, will the Shi'a give the Sunnis what they want (and what they have no right to demand, given the long record of Sunni discrimination, persecution, and murder?)? No. Will the Sunnis be able to take back Iraq? No. But they can try to preserve their presence in, and take back, fabled Baghdad, the loss of which will stick in Sunni Arab craws, for it was, for 500 years, the most important city of Islam (and for 400 of those years the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate). Money, men, and war matériel should come from both Sunni neighbors, and from Iran, and be a permanent source of unsettlement and expense. Is that a bad thing? Is it bad because Gates and Rice and others in the government are told, by Saudi and U.A.E. and Egyptian and Jordanian diplomats and rulers, that there will be "chaos" and "catastrophe" and they apparently believe what the people who tell them this say, without analyzing what lies behind those words, what those words mean?

Posted on 10/14/2007 9:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Maybe It Was Memphis...

...but, I'm afraid Pam Tillis wouldn't recognize it.

Waving a traditional jambiya knife, Omar Aldhufri (right) joins in on a dance from his native Yemen outside the DeSoto Civic Center on Friday morning. Muslims from around the Mid-South joined in the celebration Eid ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.

Story here.

Posted on 10/14/2007 9:23 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Respect

ASADABAD, Afghanistan, 14 October 2007 — Hundreds of angry villagers demonstrated in eastern Afghanistan yesterday alleging that US troops had burned the Holy Qur’an, a charge the US-led coalition rejected. Residents of Kunar province blocked a road for several hours before parliamentarians, in their home districts for the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, were able to calm the crowd, an AFP reporter said...

“The coalition force involved in this incident didn’t desecrate any religious articles,” said coalition spokesman Army Maj. Chris Belcher. “We respect all religions and treat the holy articles with the respect they deserve.”  --from this news article

Errata:

For “We respect all religions and treat the holy articles with the respect they deserve.” read

"We make sure that we treat the holy articles of all religions with respect."

Posted on 10/14/2007 9:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Errata Sheet

"I'm not 'getting' Hugh's Errata."
-- from a reader

There is a difference between "respecting all religions" and "treating with respect" certain "holy articles" of this, or that, religion. The first describes a mental state; the second describes behavior.

Errata Sheet:

For "errata" read "moesta et errabunda."

 


I've always wanted to do that.

Posted on 10/14/2007 9:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 14 October 2007
William Dalrymple on Western values

William Dalrymple spoke on the losing side in the recent debate on Western values. While Tariq Ramadan was plain incoherent, William Dalrymple's contradictions were plain to hear. And now they are plain to read, here in his piece in The Sunday Times. He ties himself in knots in order to see the West as constantly in the wrong. Western values are really from the East and therefore good but not Western, but  if the West asserts that these values are good, they become bad and not Eastern. Confused? You will be after reading the nonsense of this self-styled historian:

Muslim rulers are not usually thought of in the West as standard-bearers of freedom of thought; but Akbar was obsessed with exploring the issues of religious truth, and with as open a mind as possible, declaring: “No man should be interfered with on account of religion, and anyone is to be allowed to go over to any religion that pleases him.” He also argued for what he called “the pursuit of reason” rather than “reliance on the marshy land of tradition”.

All this took place when in London, Jesuits were being hung, drawn and quartered outside Tyburn, in Spain and Portu-gal the Inquisition was torturing anyone who defied the dogmas of the Catholic church, and in Rome Giordano Bruno was being burnt at the stake in Campo de’Fiori.

It is worth emphasising Akbar, for he – the greatest ruler of the most populous of all Muslim states – represented in one man so many of the values that we in the West are often apt to claim for ourselves.

[...]

Last week, the Islamic world showed us the sort of gesture that is needed at this time. In a letter addressed to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders, 138 prominent Muslim scholars from every sect of Islam urged Christian leaders “to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions.” It will be interesting to see if any western leaders now reciprocate.

We have much to be proud of in the West; but it is in the arrogant and forceful assertion of the superiority of western values that we have consistently undermined not only all that is most precious in our civilisation, but also our own foreign policies and standing in the world. Another value, much admired in both East and West, might be a simple solution here: a little old-fashioned humility.

Humility? Yes, let's pay the jizya with willing submission and feel ourselves subdued.

Posted on 10/14/2007 10:48 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Indefinitely, But Not Infinitely

Speaking of blather, here is Fouad Ajami as reported by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times:

Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami said yesterday the political reality in Iraq is that the Sunni minority has been defeated, resulting in a "massive" Shi'ite victory in the country.

Additionally, the U.S. military presence has created a "pax Americana" in the region that is forcing all states, even those like Syria and Iran, to seek an accommodation with U.S. power, Mr. Ajami, who recently returned from Iraq, said at a luncheon meeting hosted by the Hoover Institution.

Quaking in their shoes, or, laughing up their sleeves? My bet's on the latter.

"The American expedition is proving itself," he said. "We've drawn a line in the region against radicalism. ... The American security umbrella is everywhere in the region."

Everywhere? And whose security is our umbrella protecting anyway?

Mr. Ajami said that Iraq's new regime needs to prevail and that Sunni states in the region eventually will accept it. "When the Iraqis show that they are here to stay, I think they [neighboring states] will come to terms with it," he said.

The U.S. needs to "cushion" the Sunni defeat, which is not reversible, and to help Iraq's government gain support of moderate Sunnis, Mr. Ajami said.

In the coming years, the role for U.S. military forces in Iraq will be to train and support Iraqi forces. Regardless of who wins the White House in 2008, Mr. Ajami noted that U.S. forces will be in the country for years to come. "We are in Iraq indefinitely, but not infinitely," he said.

What?

Posted on 10/14/2007 12:31 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Kurdish Muslims

"I thought Kurds were our friends. I have read that the Kurds along with Berbers could be made to realize that they were being Arabized by Islamic supremacism and they would see the light and know that Islam was destroying their culture, assuming they even want to preserve their culture."
-- from a reader

I never wrote that "the Kurds" are "our friends." I wrote that the Kurds of Iraq (and whenever one uses such coarse terms as "the Arabs" or "the Kurds" one begs forgiveness from the gods, requesting special dispensation because what is being discussed -- politics, geopolitics, large masses of men -- forces that coarseness and that necessary grouping and generalizing that, in any other circumstances, would be intolerable) are genuinely grateful for the American protection they received, from 1991 to 2003, from Saddam Hussein's air force, and that they recognize that the Americans are the only ones who have allowed them autonomy and might be persuaded to allow them to move to full independence. They also understand that Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq are not likely to tolerate such independence unless the Americans back the Kurds, running diplomatic interference with Turkey, and supporting the Kurds not for sentimental reasons, but because a Kurdish state would unsettle both Iran and Syria, could pay for itself (if the Kurds are allowed to reassert control over the oil in the north, which belongs not just to them, by the way, but to the Assyrian Christians who lived in the north, and were partly displaced by the movement of Kurds southward after World War I). And a Kurdish state, having thrown off the Arab yoke, could inspire and at least would raise in the consciousness of non-Arab Muslims the fact of their being non-Arab (other non-Arabs such as the Berbers to demand much greater rights from their Arab masters), and a halt, or even a reversal, of the cultural and linguistic imperialism that everywhere the Arabs, who constitute only 20% of the world's Muslims, impose or attempt to impose on the non-Arab Muslims.

Posted on 10/14/2007 12:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 14 October 2007
William Dalrymple, The West, and "A Little Old-Fashioned Humility"
“but it is in the arrogant and forceful assertion of the superiority of western values that we have consistently undermined not only all that is most precious in our civilisation, but also our own foreign policies and standing in the world. Another value, much admired in both East and West, might be a simple solution here: a little old-fashioned humility.”
 
William Dalrymple, whose amazing performance last week should be engraved on his tombstone in lieu of ci-gît, for the edification of generations, has now written a piece in The Times. He repeats his presentation, a flat-out wrong presentation, of Akbar -- the later Akbar – as an example of a “Muslim” ruler. Akbar was sui generis as a Mughal ruler; his syncretistic enthusiasms caused him to become a non-Muslim, and to think and behave as a non-Muslim; he lifted, for example, the Jizyah tax that after his death was promptly reimposed by Aurangzeb. Yet Dalrymple, who was informed directly by Ibn Warraq on the spot and again, later, in private encounter, that Akbar was no Muslim, ignored this, as if he didn’t quite take it in or thought he had no need to change his bizarre misrepresentation (has he read the “Akbarnamah” of Fazl or hasn’t he? Has he read V. A. West or hasn’t he?) and in his Times article still presents Akbar the Muslim, or still worse, Akbar the (Impliedly) Representative Muslim.
 
Dalrymple ends on that treacly note, that pious nonsense put here to malevolent use, that we – we the inhabitants of the Western world --  should practice “humility.” If he thinks that is the proper course to suggest at a time of mortal peril from Islam, and when the entire Western world for decades been exhibiting both confusion and embarrassment about its own achievements and about where those achievements come from, and has been unable to muster the common sense and courage to demonstrate both a sufficient appreciation for its own civilizational legacy and, what should naturally follow, a willingness to defend it and the conditions that made it possible, he is wrong.
 
And if Dr. William Hamilton-Dalrymple prescribes as his panacea “a little old-fashioned humility” – at this point his faccia da schiaffi presents itself to my imagination, and I can hardly hold back --  is in short supply in the Western world – and by “humility” he means accommodation and appeasement and surrender, and a refusal to recognize the superiority of Western “values,” as if the entire West  hasn’t been falling all over itself exhibiting far too much of that “humility” for the past fifty years, and at an accelerated pace of self-abasement and self-destruction, one has to laugh.  For just check the link he wrote, the one that describes him as as “William Dalrymple, internationally acclaimed author.” And takes you to a website – www.williamdalrymple.com, that overflows with self-promotion and self-congratulation. The person who created such a website, who allows it to be shown,  is not exactly in a position to lecture anyone on the nature of “a little old-fashioned humility.”
 
There is one thing about Dalrymple’s article in The Times of London that does, however, make that  piece not quite as embarrassing as his performance at the debate held hard by Kensington Gore last week.. For in the debate we can clearly hear William Hamilton-Dalrymple’s Received Pronunciation of the word “Occident.” He pronounces it as  “Okkident.” Fortunately for Dalrymple, his absurd article in The Times could not be heard, only read.  
Posted on 10/14/2007 12:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 14 October 2007
A Literary Interlude: Moesta Et Errabunda

Dis-moi ton coeur parfois s'envole-t-il, Agathe,
Loin du noir océan de l'immonde cité
Vers un autre océan où la splendeur éclate,
Bleu, clair, profond, ainsi que la virginité?
Dis-moi, ton coeur parfois s'envole-t-il, Agathe?

La mer la vaste mer, console nos labeurs!
Quel démon a doté la mer, rauque chanteuse
Qu'accompagne l'immense orgue des vents grondeurs,
De cette fonction sublime de berceuse?
La mer, la vaste mer, console nos labeurs!

Emporte-moi wagon! enlève-moi, frégate!
Loin! loin! ici la boue est faite de nos pleurs!
- Est-il vrai que parfois le triste coeur d'Agathe
Dise: Loin des remords, des crimes, des douleurs,
Emporte-moi, wagon, enlève-moi, frégate?

Comme vous êtes loin, paradis parfumé,
Où sous un clair azur tout n'est qu'amour et joie,
Où tout ce que l'on aime est digne d'être aimé,
Où dans la volupté pure le coeur se noie!
Comme vous êtes loin, paradis parfumé!

Mais le vert paradis des amours enfantines,
Les courses, les chansons, les baisers, les bouquets,
Les violons vibrant derrière les collines,
Avec les brocs de vin, le soir, dans les bosquets,
- Mais le vert paradis des amours enfantines,

L'innocent paradis, plein de plaisirs furtifs,
Est-il déjà plus loin que l'Inde et que la Chine?
Peut-on le rappeler avec des cris plaintifs,
Et l'animer encor d'une voix argentine,
L'innocent paradis plein de plaisirs furtifs?

Les Fleurs du mal, Charles Baudelaire
Posted on 10/14/2007 1:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Conkering Kings Their Titles Take

Great news from my natal county: The World Conker Championship is to go ahead in Ashton, Northamptonshire (hang a left at Stoke Bruerne). There had been fears that the kid-safety fascists might shut the championship down, or force competitors to wear full body armor.

After years of zealously clamping down on anything more bracing than a game of ludo, the ... Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has decided to sponsor the annual world conker championships ... "When it comes to conkers, let's have an outbreak of common sense," one of the men from the institute has said.

If the welfare state busybodies could take away an Englishman's conkers, what would be left of England? I used to steep mine in rubbing alcohol—much more efficacious than the traditional vinegar.

Posted on 10/14/2007 1:06 PM by John Derbyshire
Sunday, 14 October 2007
William Dalrymple, Received Pronunciation, and "Okkident"

If you click on this link to the debate (Ibn Warraq, Aronovitch, Murray vs. Glass, Ramadan, Dalrymple) you can hear William Dalrymple quoting, and misunderstanding, and misapplying, a statement by the historian of the Crusades Stephen Runciman. Fifty minutes and 31 seconds (51:31) into the debate,  Dalrymple quotes Runciman on the interaction and fusion and so on "between Okkident and Orient." You heard right. Okkident.

As the Italians say: Accidenti.

Posted on 10/14/2007 1:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Conkers?

This is a Conch as in The Conk Republic (Key West, Florida). They're delicious, especially as fritters. I don't know what you English people are talking about. Throw one of these babies and you're sure to conk somebody right out.  And you certainly wouldn't want to steep it in vinegar.

Posted on 10/14/2007 1:24 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Re: conkering kings

I thought it was kinkering kongs.

The French have entered the contest, with their odds-on favourite William the Conkerer. Well, they have to be good at something, since they LOST THE RUGBY. And Agincourt. And Trafalgar. And Waterloo. And the moral high ground. I feel their pain - every centimetre of it:

The French woke today to the ghastly memory of a night in which their well-rehearsed plans for a triumphant World Cup final were once again brought to nothing by the wiles of perfidious Albion.

"The English smash the dreams of an entire people," Le Parisien newspaper mourned in its Sunday edition, reminding readers that it was defeat by England at another semi-final in 2003 that ousted France from the last World Cup in Australia.

"Maddening!" shouted the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) on its front page, above a picture of a haggard, panting Sebastian Chabal.

The bearded "Caveman" has become a celebrity in France in the last month, credited with the power to turn a match with a single charge down the touchline, but here he was "like the rest of the team, powerless against the English," the paper said.

"Infinite frustration," headlined the sporting daily L'Equipe in its World Cup special edition.

"This four year adventure, with a level of preparation unequalled in the history of French sport, has ended in a patent failure of which no-one should be spared the consequences - even ministers," said JDD's Joly.

What's French for Schadenfreude?

Posted on 10/14/2007 1:29 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Re: Conkers

Conker is the name used in Britain, Ireland and some former British colonies for the nuts of the Common Horse-chestnut tree, when used in a game traditionally played by children, Conkers. The name comes from the nineteenth-century dialectal word conker meaning snail-shell (related to French conque meaning a conch), as the game was originally played using snail shells. The name may also be influenced by the verb conquer, as the game was also called conquerors. Conkers are also known regionally as "obblyonkers", "cheggies" or "cheesers". In America they are simply known as chestnuts or as buckeyes.

  1. Take a large, hard conker and drill a hole through it using a nail, gimlet, or small screwdriver. (This may be done by an adult on behalf of the contestant.) Thread a piece of string through it about 25 cm long. Often a shoelace is used. Tie a large knot at one or both ends of the string, so that the conker will not slide off when swung hard.
  2. Find an opponent. It is to your advantage if you can find an opponent with a conker smaller and softer than yours.
  3. Take it in turns to hit each other's conker using your own. If you break your opponent's conker, you gain a point. To do this one player lets the conker dangle on the full length of the string while the other player hits. To hit, hold the string in one hand with the conker held above it in the other hand, then swipe at the opponent's conker, letting go of your own nut but keeping hold of the string.
Posted on 10/14/2007 1:44 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Dalrymple on Dalrymple - revisited

William Dalrymple has form. I posted about this last December, but forgot having done so until Google reminded me. Here it is again.

The Madness of William Dalrymple, discussed below, was pointed out in no uncertain terms a couple of years ago by NER’s Theodore Dalrymple, God’s gift to Dalrymples and discerning readers everywhere. Note that Dalrymple T describes Dalrymple W as a "travel writer":

The idea that if someone is prepared to do something truly horrible, he must have a worthy cause remains attractive to liberal intellectuals, who perhaps envy those who take up arms against the sea of troubles that is human existence.

Last week’s New Statesman, the British left-wing weekly (for which I also write), provided a fine example of this way of thinking in an article about Islamophobia by travel writer William Dalrymple (no relation). He pointed out that the kidnapper of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter abducted, tortured, and then murdered in Pakistan in early 2002, was a British Muslim who had attended public school (public in this context meaning private) and the London School of Economics.

Dalrymple wrote: “The man who kidnapped Pearl in Karachi was a highly educated British Pakistani, Ahmed Omar Sheikh. Sheikh attended the same public school as the film-maker Peter Greenaway and later studied at the London School of Economics. Yet such was the racism he suffered, that he was drawn towards extreme jehadi groups and eventually came to be associated with both Harkat ul-Mujahideen and al-Qaeda.”

Now Sheikh’s father must have spent at least $20,000 a year, and probably more, on his son’s education for five years or more: surely a sign of reasonable economic success in his adopted country. Moreover, Sheikh was then admitted to an elite institution of higher education. Was this nothing to set against the insults that he no doubt sometimes suffered? Surely only a man bent on evil would not take these advantages into account in assessing his own situation. Is suffering insults a reason to torture a stranger to death (the video of the torture, by the way, is being distributed in certain circles)? Dalrymple comes perilously close to condoning what he is trying to explain.

He goes on: “If intelligent, successful and well-educated British Muslims such as Omar Sheikh can be so readily drawn to the world of the jehadis, we are in trouble.” Indeed, we are. The fact is, the kind of success that British society offered Sheikh, evidence of its comparative openness despite instances of insult and discrimination, did not satisfy him. He was in the grip of a utopian ideology, just as many successful people in Britain and elsewhere—all of whom no doubt had some reason or other for despising and hating the way in which they had been brought up, because that is the nature of human existence—were once attracted to communism, another ideology that would have destroyed their own freedom.

The article continues: “The combination of widespread hostility to the Muslims in our midst, pervasive discrimination against them and huge ignorance is a potentially lethal cocktail.” The only ingredient that seems to be missing from this cocktail is Islam.

Posted on 10/14/2007 3:00 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 14 October 2007
World Conker Championship
A good friend of mine was intending to be in Ashton for the championships today.  With a bit of luck I can bring you a report in the morning.
Posted on 10/14/2007 3:06 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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