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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
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
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 2, 2009.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Perhaps I'm being unfair - it's early days, and this is just a gut reaction.

From Mary's post here.
There is a popular British tabloid newspaper which I persist, because I am an old f**t, in calling the Daily Mirror. For over 50 years it has featured a cartoon about the adventures of Andy Capp, an unreconstructed working class man, his long suffering wife Florrie and their friends in Hartlepool. One cartoon I particularly liked showed Andy asking Flo what she thought of a newcomer to the district.
"How do I know what I think of a chap, until I've met his missus", was the reply.
It may not be modern, it may not be feminist, but there is more than a grain of truth in it.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of George Bush and George W Bush as presidents their wives (and of course Mrs Barbara Bush is George W's mother as well) are ladies. And I know that is an old fashioned concept, although it means much more than etiquette and the right coloured stockings, but I have already declared myself as a dinosaur.
And my gut reaction is that Michelle Obama is not a lady. Not because she stood in front of Prince Phillip with her back to him at Buckingham Palace when the official photograph was being taken yesterday.  President Ford was always banging his head and breaking door handles; some people are just accident prone.
Not because she turned up at the door of 10 Downing Street for the dinner last night in her vest, when every other woman was wearing a blouse with a coat over it. It is just my gut reaction that she is Cherie Blair rather than Eleanor Roosevelt.
As a bitchy aside (I do do bitchy, when I can't resist any longer) at the World leader spouse dinner which Sarah Brown (a lady, shame about her husband) hosted in No 11 Downing Street Mrs Obama was to be seated inbetween JK Rowling and Dame Kelly Holmes.
JK Rowling writes fantasy that is much more readable than Mrs Obama's university thesis.
Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic gold medal winner, former sergeant in the British Army, and one of the "100 Great Black Britons" has muscles that make Mrs Obama (who boasted to Oprah Winfrey recently how hard she works on hers) look like Wee Georgie Wood.
Nice one Mrs Brown!

Posted on 04/02/2009 1:32 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Italy MP Gets Death Threats From Muslim Radicals

This is from a Croatian news site, Javno.
Souad Sbai spent years in Italy defending battered women in the Moroccan immigrant community before the death threats started coming.
Now that she's a member of parliament, she wonders if they'll ever stop.
So far three men originally from North Africa face trial accused of making death threats against her, she said in an interview. But Sbai, a 48-year-old from a Moroccan family, is still receiving threatening phone calls and emails.
The last note in March said she would go to hell.
"They threaten me, they scream. They make fatwas," said Sbai, who was elected to parliament last year as part of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative coalition.
Sbai has lived in Italy for 30 years and is the head of the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy, which campaigns for women's rights and gives legal advice to victims of abuse.
Since entering politics, the threats have increased dramatically, she says, blaming radical imams who she believes are telling their followers, wrongly, that she insults Islam.
"I've never talked about Islam," she said. "I've spoken about Muslims who treat women badly. And this is a crime?"
But Sbai, who describes herself as a moderate who favours dialogue between religions, has taken public stands that could put her at odds with some members of Italy's Muslim community.
She made headlines in January for criticising Muslims who staged an outdoor prayer during a protest march against Israel's war in Gaza. She also has opposed the use of veils and burkas.
In one of the threatening messages, Sbai was accused of being an opportunist who used immigrant women to advance her career and was criticised for not covering her face in public.
"The woman who does not cover her head will be hung by her hair ... Allah will punish you for the evil you have done to people," the message read.
Sbai says she is not a practising Muslim but is proud of her Islamic heritage, and doesn't need to wear a veil to prove it.
"I didn't wear a veil in Morocco. My mother didn't and my grandmother didn't. I'm in the West and I should wear a veil? Are they crazy?"
While Sbai acknowledges having police escorts on trips, she says she doesn't fear for her own life. Still, she can't help but worry about her two children and close friends, who have also received threatening messages.

Posted on 04/02/2009 4:43 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Crime and pun-ishment

Joseph Tartakovsky, who has no heartakovsky, is po-faced about puns. From the New York Times:

THE inglorious pun! Dryden called it the “lowest and most groveling kind of wit.” To Ambrose Bierce it was a “form of wit to which wise men stoop and fools aspire.” Universal experience confirms the adage that puns don’t make us laugh, but groan. It is said that Caligula ordered an actor to be roasted alive for a bad pun. (Some believe he was inclined to extremes.)

Addison defined the pun as a “conceit arising from the use of two words that agree in the sound, but differ in the sense.” “Energizer Bunny Arrested! Charged with Battery.” No laugh? Q.E.D.

Puns are the feeblest species of humor because they are ephemeral: whatever comic force they possess never outlasts the split second it takes to resolve the semantic confusion.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m still sniggering at “Infamy, infamy – they’ve all got it in for me,” twenty-five years after I first heard it. A good pun should take a moment to produce and a lifetime to savour.

Most resemble mathematical formulas: clever, perhaps, but hardly occasion for knee-slapping. The worst smack of tawdriness, even indecency, which is why puns, like off-color jokes, are often followed by apologies. Odds are that a restaurant with a punning name — Snacks Fifth Avenue, General Custard’s Last Stand — hasn’t acquired its first Michelin star.

How have the great comic writers regarded puns? Jane Austen puns once, in “Mansfield Park,” and it serves to impeach the moral character of the offender. Mark Twain’s first book, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” enamored reviewers with its punlessness. There are “no contortions of words,” said a London paper. “His fun is entirely dependent upon the inherent humor in his writings.” The 20th century’s finest humorist, P. G. Wodehouse, doesn’t use them.

Shakespeare, however, does. Many are bawdy: puns operate, after all, on double entendre. Yet the poet is guilty less of punning than wordplay, which Elizabethan taste considered more a sign of literary refinement than humor; hence “puns” in seemingly inappropriate places, like a dying Mercutio’s “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.”

The true punster’s mind cycles through homophones in search of a quip the way small children delight in rhymes or experiment babblingly with language. Accordingly, the least intolerable puns are those that avoid the pun’s essential puerility.

Quite right, but sometimes it pops up of its own accord. If that happens you should whip it out straightaway.

Why do puns offend? Charles Lamb, a notorious punster, explained that the pun is “a pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect.” Surely puns silence conversation before they animate it. Some stricken with pun-lust sink so far into their infirmity that their minds become trained to lie in wait for words on which to work their wickedness. They are the scourge of dinner tables and the despised prolongers of office meetings, some letting fly as instinctively as dogs bark and frogs croak, no longer concerned even with drawing applause; they simply can’t help themselves.

Wrong again. It is the words that lie in wait and pounce on the punster.

But low as puns may be, they have been known to appeal to the loftiest minds. Samuel Johnson hated puns, but his friend Edmund Burke, whose intellectual powers daunted even Johnson, was notorious for pun-making (e.g., “What is [m]ajest[y], when stripped of its externals, but a jest?”)

That isn’t a pun; it’s a crossword clue. Having sniffed at puns for a page and a half, Tartakovsky steps up to the plate with one of his own:

I confess that in a Thai restaurant not long ago, following my company’s attempt to order three curry dishes, I suggested that we not get “curried away.”

Did they see it cumin?

Posted on 04/02/2009 6:32 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 2 April 2009
The Detroit Dinosaurs Head for Extinction

Last Sunday, the White House sent out press releases announcing that GM Chairman Rick Wagoner was asked to leave leave his post.  Monday morning in a nationally televised White House press conference, President Obama announced that two of the Detroit three, GM and Chrysler were on a short string of less than 60 days to come up with more effective plans for restructuring their companies.  He indicated that American taxpayers could only go so far with bolstering the hemorrhaging cash flows without seeing a viable exit on the horizon.  GM got a 60 day extension, Chrysler a 30 day one with the proviso that the latter cut a deal with Italian-government backed FIAT.  Obama also dropped the shoe that bankruptcy for each may be the ultimate solution.

The Detroit three GM, Ford  and Chrysler, have been ossified for decades. GM and Chrysler are teetering on the brink of the bankruptcy I suggested in my New English review NER article last November: “Death Knell for the Detroit Dinosaurs.’  Here’s what I wrote then:
 
Americans evince little support for a bailout of the 'iron men' of Detroit. They have no solidarity with an industry that needs to be re-organized because allegedly it can't make a profit selling fuel efficient cars and has a very rich noncompetitive labor cost structure. This is after the decade long joy ride of gas guzzling SUVs for soccer moms produced a cash hoard estimated at over $100 billion, only to be squandered because Detroit didn't listen to consumers.  On top of that there is the lush UAW legacy contracts for retirees who outnumber active union workers. The UAW legacy contracts for retiree health and retirement amount to additional cost of $3,500 per vehicle manufactured by the Big Three. To add insult to injury, UAW members are at the top of the blue collar wage scale.
 
Nationalizing Detroit would cost us a pretty big penny and would entail putting in a czar to 'order' restructuring and cost savings.  Doesn't work. Look at what the Brits did when they nationalized British Leyland. Most of the fabled British brands no longer exist and even luxury brands Bentley and Rolls Royce were bought by Volkswagen A.G. in 1998.
 
I found that out up close and personal in the late 1970’s. I was part of a consulting team that did a special assignment for Chrysler's ad agency back then, Y&R International, to develop an independent car line for Mitsubishi Motor Car Company (MMC). Chrysler had been cherry-picking MMC’s product line up for a decade producing significant profits. That was under Lee ‘Lido’ Iacocca. Iacocca had a existing K-car development program that enabled Chrysler to pay back the US loan guarantees pretty rapidly.  During the consulting assignment we learned that Detroit was simply stuffing unwanted product down the gullets of feckless car dealers and US consumers.  The irony is that when President Reagan created the voluntary imports restraint program in the early 1980’s to tackle the spike in Japanese car imports, that  led Japanese auto makers to set up US manufacturing facilities. That has been an important development in enhancing competition leading to the death of the Detroit dinos. 
 
Ford among the Detroit three had seen the train wreck coming and sold off its luxe brands acquired by former CEO Jac Nasser to build up a war chest for development of new models and technology. Witness the glowing reviews of the hybrid Ford Fusion and the Euro-designed and built Fiesta to arrive in the 2010 model year. Hiring, Alan Mullaly, the ex-Boeing guy as CEO was a smart move by young Chairman Bill Ford. Mullaly changed the corporate culture and may yet succeed without a government bailout. The jury is still out as demand for cars has been crushed from a towering level of over 16, million vehicles less than two years ago to perhaps 9 to 10 million in 2009.
 
GM will have to eliminate brands and products, ‘grease’ the GM and GMAC debt and saw off Opel in Europe. That later disposition presents a major problem for any GM bankruptcy as the corporate Epsilon platform originally engineered by Opel in Germany has been the basis for several car models including SAAB-now about to go into Swedish version of bankruptcy - Pontiac and Saturn. GM will shrink to possibly three brands (Chevy, Buick and Cadillac) and GMC trucks. Pontiac and Saturn will be shut down, as was Oldsmobile a few years ago. We'll see if the German government and labor unions demand Opel's salvation - a big if. 
 
Chrysler is most likely a candidate for Chapter 7 liquidation. Several of the Chrysler brand assets could be sold off to a number of interested foreign parties. Magna International, the largest car parts manufacturer in Canada, which has a partnership with Steyr in Austria, could pick up the C-300 and new baby C-200, Magna already manufactures a diesel powered AWD SUV version of the C-300 as a MB competitor. I suspect that Carlos Ghosn at Renault Nissan would scoop up Jeep, VW which is already badge engineering the Chrysler mini-vans, might pick up that niche product. That leaves Dodge with its Ram trucks, Challenger, Journey, product lineup (the fabled Viper I suspect will bite the dust, unless a Euro specialty producer buys the assets).

I'm not unhappy about this result, because it means that Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Schumpeter's concept of dynamic capitalism -'creative destruction' - will be realized. There will be more competition in the US with perhaps upwards of 8 to 9 foreign owned brands, a salutary 'corporate culture' and an efficient low cost manufacturing base to employ many of those former UAW workers who ironically may have to move back to their ancestral homes in the South. Note, for example, the spike in sales for specialty Japanese and Korean manufacturers, Subaru and Hyundai with plants in Indiana and Alabama (then we have BMW, Mercedes Benz, Toyota, Nissan, Honda in a number of other locations in the Midwest, California and the South).  All of these domestic plants use US and Canadian parts suppliers. Down on the Gulf Coast, we have the large German steel manufacturer, Thyssen Krupp, building a $2 billion plant in Mobile, Alabama that will furnish cold rolled steel for foreign owned car manufacturers with plants throughout the Southeast and Mid West.  Note how in the midst of this recession that  Hyundai created the very savvy vehicle assurance program in which if you loose your job the Korean car manufacturer will take back the vehicle which creates an inventory of program cars for resale. I understand that Ford is thinking of copying that slick marketing ploy. Floundering GM will follow along when it is probably too late.  
 
What all this beneficial turmoil in the US auto industry portends is that an ossified oligopoly, including the dying Detroit duo GM and Chrysler, may be consigned to the dustbin of industrial history. What the US has to avoid is pouring billions more into saving GM, even after a pre-packaged Chapter 11 modeled what the Labor party did in the 1970's in the U.K. with British Leyland. The title of my article of  last November now might be changed to   "The Death Throes of the Detroit Dinosaurs.”
Posted on 04/02/2009 7:11 AM by Jerry Gordon
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Yuri Bezmenov On How The KGB Works (With The Obvious Parallel)

In place of the KGB, think of the program of the world's Muslims, as reflected in the machinations of the OIC, the Arab League, assorted Muslim groups of every kind inside the West itself, to  demoralize, and to brainwash, and to keep from recognizing its own reality, the world's imperilled Infidels.  OIC, think the forces of Islam.

 

Listen, and watch, here.

Posted on 04/02/2009 8:31 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Crime Forces The Creation Of A Separate Bus-Line For Immigrants In Italy

Bus, una «linea» solo per gli immigrati

Decisione dell’azienda dei trasporti: residenti e immigrati viaggeranno su automezzi differenti

FOGGIA — Immigrati del centro di accoglienza e resi­denti a Borgo Mezzanone non viaggeranno sugli stessi autobus e non attenderanno i mezzi alle stesse fermate. Do­po mesi di difficile conviven­za spesso degenerata in risse l’Ataf ha deciso di potenziare i collegamenti da Foggia ver­so la borgata della linea 24 di­versificando però le fermate. Una decisione assunta an­che dopo alcuni incontri in prefettura. Il nuovo servizio entrerà in vigore da lunedì contemporaneamente alle va­riazioni di orari e percorsi su altre quattro linee: la 10, 11, 14 e la 31. Borgo Mezzanone è servita dalla linea di auto­bus 24 suburbana con capoli­nea alla stazione. Già da tempo la società di trasporto aveva potenziato il servizio con una seconda li­nea che dal centro di perma­nenza per gli extracomunitari di Mezzanone, raggiungeva il centro cittadino.

Ma il fatto che gli autobus partissero en­trambi dal capolinea della sta­zione ha creato non pochi problemi tra residenti e immi­grati. Soprattutto nelle ore se­rali. Mesi fa, dopo un inciden­te che coinvolse anche un au­tista malmenato alla fermata, l’Ataf chiese una maggiore presenza delle forze dell’ordi­ne alla stazione. Mentre per gli immigrati da lunedì non cambierà nulla, arriveranno e ripartiranno dalla fermata che c’è al capolinea della sta­zione; per i residenti di Borgo Mezzanone la fermata sarà in via Galliani. «E’ stato necessa­rio potenziare ancor di più queste linee su ri­chiesta degli abi­tanti della borga­ta e anche, dopo un confronto con la prefettura, di­stinguere le due fermate del capo­linea per evitare ogni possibile problema».

Posted on 04/02/2009 10:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 2 April 2009
A Musical Interlude: There's Something In The Air (Ray Noble Orch., voc. Al Bowlly)

Listen here.

 

Posted on 04/02/2009 11:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 2 April 2009
A Literary Interlude: Victor Hugo

L'EXPIATION

I

Il neigeait. On était vaincu par sa conquête.
Pour la première fois l'aigle baissait la tête.
Sombres jours ! l'empereur revenait lentement,
Laissant derrière lui brûler Moscou fumant.
Il neigeait. L'âpre hiver fondait en avalanche.
Après la plaine blanche une autre plaine blanche.
On ne connaissait plus les chefs ni le drapeau.
Hier la grande armée, et maintenant troupeau.
On ne distinguait plus les ailes ni le centre.
Il neigeait. Les blessés s'abritaient dans le ventre
Des chevaux morts ; au seuil des bivouacs désolés
On voyait des clairons à leur poste gelés,
Restés debout, en selle et muets, blancs de givre,
Collant leur bouche en pierre aux trompettes de cuivre.
Boulets, mitraille, obus, mêlés aux flocons blancs,
Pleuvaient ; les grenadiers, surpris d'être tremblants,
Marchaient pensifs, la glace à leur moustache grise.
Il neigeait, il neigeait toujours ! La froide bise
Sifflait ; sur le verglas, dans des lieux inconnus,
On n'avait pas de pain et l'on allait pieds nus.
Ce n'étaient plus des coeurs vivants, des gens de guerre :
C'était un rêve errant dans la brume, un mystère,
Une procession d'ombres sous le ciel noir.
La solitude vaste, épouvantable à voir,
Partout apparaissait, muette vengeresse.
Le ciel faisait sans bruit avec la neige épaisse
Pour cette immense armée un immense linceul.
Et chacun se sentant mourir, on était seul.
- Sortira-t-on jamais de ce funeste empire ?
Deux ennemis ! le czar, le nord. Le nord est pire.
On jetait les canons pour brûler les affûts.
Qui se couchait, mourait. Groupe morne et confus,
Ils fuyaient ; le désert dévorait le cortège.
On pouvait, à des plis qui soulevaient la neige,
Voir que des régiments s'étaient endormis là.
O chutes d'Annibal ! lendemains d'Attila !
Fuyards, blessés, mourants, caissons, brancards, civières,
On s'écrasait aux ponts pour passer les rivières,
On s'endormait dix mille, on se réveillait cent.
Ney, que suivait naguère une armée, à présent
S'évadait, disputant sa montre à trois cosaques.
Toutes les nuits, qui vive ! alerte, assauts ! attaques !
Ces fantômes prenaient leur fusil, et sur eux
Ils voyaient se ruer, effrayants, ténébreux,
Avec des cris pareils aux voix des vautours chauves,
D'horribles escadrons, tourbillons d'hommes fauves.
Toute une armée ainsi dans la nuit se perdait.
L'empereur était là, debout, qui regardait.
Il était comme un arbre en proie à la cognée.
Sur ce géant, grandeur jusqu'alors épargnée,
Le malheur, bûcheron sinistre, était monté ;
Et lui, chêne vivant, par la hache insulté,
Tressaillant sous le spectre aux lugubres revanches,
Il regardait tomber autour de lui ses branches.
Chefs, soldats, tous mouraient. Chacun avait son tour.
Tandis qu'environnant sa tente avec amour,
Voyant son ombre aller et venir sur la toile,
Ceux qui restaient, croyant toujours à son étoile,
Accusaient le destin de lèse-majesté,
Lui se sentit soudain dans l'âme épouvanté.
Stupéfait du désastre et ne sachant que croire,
L'empereur se tourna vers Dieu ; l'homme de gloire
Trembla ; Napoléon comprit qu'il expiait
Quelque chose peut-être, et, livide, inquiet,
Devant ses légions sur la neige semées :
« Est-ce le châtiment, dit-il, Dieu des armées ? »
Alors il s'entendit appeler par son nom
Et quelqu'un qui parlait dans l'ombre lui dit : Non.

Posted on 04/02/2009 11:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Video: radicals beat girl, 17, in Islamic stronghold of Swat, Pakistan

Watch all these big strong men, such brave manly types, standing round as three of their number hold a little burka clad girl down and beat her with a stick.  You will have to click the link to The Times here.
This grainy footage appears to show a 17-year-old girl being beaten by Islamic radicals in Pakistan’s northwestern region of Swat, where Sharia law was introduced after the government reached a truce with the Taleban in February.
A local Taleban commander in the militant stronghold of Matta, 25 miles from the regional capital, Mingora, ordered the girl to be flogged a week ago after accusing her of adultery, according to local reporters.
But some residents of Matta have accused the commander of ordering the beating to get revenge after the girl refused to accept his proposal of marriage, the reporters told The Times.
“Please! Enough! Enough!” the girl is heard crying in Pashtu, the language of the tribes who dominate northwestern Pakistan – now the main hub of Taleban and al-Qaeda activity.
At another point, she cries: “I am repenting, my father is repenting what I have done, my grandmother is repenting what I have done...”
The man flogging her is also heard abusing his colleague as he struggles to hold her down and stop her covering her backside with her hands.
“You should hold her tightly so she doesn’t move,” he is heard saying.
Pakistani officials argue that many residents of the Swat Valley, which only became part of Pakistan in 1969, have long demanded Sharia law because of the weakness of the secular state judicial system.
However, this footage appears to back up reports from many local residents that the men who have over-run Swat are no more moderate than the Taleban government that ruled Afghanistan until 2001.
It is also likely to reinforce fears that the militants are now using Swat, which is just 100 miles from the Pakistani capital, as a base to spread their ideology and launch terrorist attacks deeper within Pakistan.
The headline is wrong - there is nothing "radical" about this. This is sharia and I won't have it near my family.
According to the Guardian one of the men holding the girl is her brother.
Reached by phone, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan claimed responsibility for the flogging. "She came out of her house with another guy who was not her husband, so we must punish her. There are boundaries you cannot cross," he said. He defended the Taliban's right to thrash women shoppers who were inappropriately dressed, saying it was permitted under Islamic law.
The woman in the video, named as Chaand and believed to be aged 17, was punished in Matta, a district further up the Swat Valley.
Minallah (Samar Minallah, a Pashtun documentary maker and anthropologist who lived in Swat for two years) and other sources said the girl was punished on suspicion of having had an illicit relationship with a married man. She did not receive a trial. "The whole case is based on the suspicions of one neighbour," said Minallah.
The woman's brother is among the men pinning her down, she added. "It's symbolic that he does it with his own hands. It gives him honour in local society, that he has done it for the sake of religion."

Posted on 04/02/2009 12:36 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Muslims seeking greater influence in Obama administration.

From The Chicago Tribune, via The Christian Post.
In a bid to get more Muslim Americans working in the Obama administration, a book with resumes of 45 of the nation's most qualified—Ivy League grads, Fortune 500 executives and public servants, all carefully vetted—has been submitted to the White House.
The effort, driven by community leaders and others, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), was bumped up two weeks ahead of schedule because White House officials heard about the venture, said J. Saleh Williams, program coordinator for the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association who sifted through more than 300 names.
"It was mostly under the radar," Williams said. "We thought it would put [the president] in a precarious position. We didn't know how closely he wanted to appear to be working with the Muslim American community."
Now, Muslim Americans—who according to a recent study overwhelmingly backed Obama in the November election—have been carefully watching the administration's every step.
Most expressed disappointment with Obama's initial silence during Israel's offensive in Gaza. They've been encouraged by the video message the president issued recently to the Iranian people on the eve of the Persian holiday of Nowruz, and they want more diplomacy with Syria and Iran.
Community leaders hope the White House will consider Muslim Americans for posts in the administration. They say this is not just a chance for Muslim Americans to show their patriotism but also a chance for the country to engage the community and recognize its importance. There are an estimated 7 million to 8 million Muslims in America, but there have not been any Muslims appointed to key positions, as yet. I understand that even including members of the Nation of islam the true figure is much lower.
Many Muslims, such as Rami Nashashibi, executive director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network in Chicago's Marquette Park area, are ready to serve.  He said he wants the administration to listen to activists on domestic issues such as housing or helping ex-offenders re-enter communities.
Obama is off to a good start, said Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress—the second being Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.).  "He's done a lot, and I believe he will do more," Ellison said, adding that "I identify with the impatience. I want to see things happen faster."
Some hope Atty. Gen. Eric Holder will reverse Bush administration actions such as the FBI's decision to break formal ties with CAIR because it was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case involving the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation.
"We're hoping that once Eric Holder puts the department in order and places people in different positions, we can re-establish what were very positive relations [with the FBI] in our 15-year history," said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

Posted on 04/02/2009 3:07 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

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