These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 2, 2010.
Sunday, 2 May 2010
The Quilty Man
When guilt and quilt are gendered, can men and women ever patch things up? David Thompson has found another delightfully dotty taker of umbrage:
Sharra Vostral is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and History at the University of Illinois. According to her website, “her research centres upon the history of technology in relation to gender and women’s bodies and the ways in which material artifacts function in individual’s everyday lives.” Among the professor’s areas of expertise are “gendered design issues,” such as shaving, and,
The social and technological history of sanitary napkins. [More on this in another post - M.J.]
However, Professor Vostral’s most recent public comments involve the political ramifications of patchwork quilts:
This use of patchwork as an insult really struck me, because it is such a gendered insult. [Atlantic politics editor, Marc] Ambinder deploys the metaphor because it assumes that no thought goes into a quilt (like policy), and it’s just a hodgepodge. In reality quilting is a predominantly woman-based art form, that had roots in resourcefulness, community, and skilled sewing hands. To debase something by calling it patchwork is based in gendered and derogatory understandings of the quilt.
Note the professor’s confidence as she rushes to the podium on Mount Grievance. She is righteous and wise, and apparently telepathic. Non-literal uses of the term “patchwork” must assume whatever sequence of ideas suits Professor Vostral’s worldview. Used metaphorically, the word “patchwork” must signal disdain for quilt making, quilt makers and, by implication, an entire gender too. There can be no doubt about it. “Patchwork” simply is a “gendered insult”- one “based in derogatory understandings” of a “woman-based art form.” It’s “embedded,” apparently. Why? Because,
The way a patchwork metaphor works is, in part, due to its origins in women’s circles, and many things labeled as “female” are used as put downs.
The metaphoric use of “patchwork” isn’t meant as a value judgment of patchwork quilts, but rather as a way of visualizing the concept of something made up of existing leftover pieces, rather than pieces fabricated for a given purpose. It’s a great way to make use of scraps of fabric, but not the best approach to government policy.
Typical man, using gendered logic as a tool of oppression. Notice the mixing of literal and abstract in "a woman-based art form that has its roots in resourcefulness, community and skilled sewing hands". How can hands, skilled or otherwise, have roots in them? She's a woolly thinker, and should perhaps leave the patchwork quilt and stick to the knitting.
Update: I have just remembered that Humbert Humbert's nemesis in Lolita is one Clare Quilty. This is a man with a woman's name and a surname that appropriates a "woman-based art form". Behold - the crushing patriarchy intrudes once more on the woman's space.
When Prince Charles, in the famous Camillagate tapes, expressed a desire to be a tampon, I assumed he just wanted to raise his IQ by a couple of points. Little did I know that it was a bid for patriarchal domination. But everything is gendered if you are Sharra Vostral. Even the mistral - or should that be ms-tral? Sharra Vostral, as noted in this post, is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois, and wouldn't take kindly to a man usurping "feminist technologies". David Thompson again:
Professor Vostral’s published work includes a contribution to Feminist Technology, a collection of essays that asks the question,
Is there such a thing as a “feminist technology”?
And then answers it.
This volume explores ways of actively intervening to develop better tools for designing, promoting, and evaluating feminist technologies.
Reviews of Feminist Technology are, alas, thin on the ground, though students are directed to a brief endorsement by Barbara Katz Rothman, author of Recreating Motherhood: Ideology and Technology In A Patriarchal Society. (Sample chapter heading: Motherhood Under Capitalism.) An earlier volume by Professor Vostral, Under Wraps: A History of Menstrual Hygiene Technology, is helpfully summarised:
These ubiquitous yet invisible technologies provide women with the means to hide their periods, but the history of embedded politics in menstrual technologies reveals that they can be used both as artefacts of control and empowering tools of change.
Quite why the humble tampon should be construed as an “artefact of control” isn’t entirely clear to me. However, the less obvious benefits of this absorbent device are outlined at some length. Among them, the fact that, “technologies of menstrual hygiene allow women to pass as their non-menstrual selves in a society where fluctuating and messy female bodies are not preferred”:
An examination of the history of menstrual hygiene technologies provides a provocative means to view this relationship of gender identity, technology and passing in recent United States history. Menstrual hygiene products are hidden artefacts that have enabled women to pass, to overcome prejudice levelled against a bleeding body. At certain moments the technologies helped women pass as healthy. In others, they helped them to pass as non-bleeders. Because women have relied on the pass, their exposure is felt more keenly in moments in which menstrual blood seeps through clothing, for instance.
Though menstrual hygiene technologies have been used and construed as personal and private, and even at times secretive, these hidden artefacts function in a similar way as visible artefacts because they help to represent the body as something else: not bleeding. The importance of this is that the representation is both outward and inward. The act of technological passing presents an altered external identity, but also requires the technological user to agree to a sort of temporal amnesia.
At this point, readers may also wonder how it can be that an estimated 98% of humanities scholarship goes uncited or unread.
Florida’s Attorney General Bill McCollum had campaign stops in North West Florida this past week. I met him at one of them; an early morning breakfast at Lisa’s Café on Garden street in the heart of downtown Pensacola. McCollum had put Pensacola on the map when he and 12 other state Attorney Generals filed a constitutional matter here in the Federal District Court seeking to overturn the recently enacted national health care reform legislation.
McCollum has an impressive track record on both the national and state level on a wide variety of issues, as a Congressman and as Florida’s Attorney General. He also served our country as an active duty Navy JAG officer from 1969 to 1972, retiring in 1992 with the rank of Commander in the Naval Reserve after serving over 23 years. While a Member of Congress McCollum represented a central Florida district. McCollum served on several US House Committees, including the House Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee on Crime, as well as the House Intelligence Committee.
It was his leadership in 1989 that led to the founding of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare which made him an expert on Islamic terrorism. McCollum and his dynamic Task Force research director, Israeli-born Yossef Bodansky were prescient about what would morph from the US-Saudi backed Secret War in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda. Bodansky’s 2001 New York Times bestselling book,Bin Laden: the Man Who Declared War on America, had, according to McCollum, been ready in 1999 as a result of the House Task Force investigations.
In December 2007, Attorney General Bill McCollum had taken up the issue of free speech in academia, when he and Florida State House majority leader Adam Hasner blasted the University of Florida (UF) for stifling the free speech rights of a student group which had sponsored the showing of the film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. The group had circulated a flier for the film saying: “radical Islam wants you dead’. It was objected to by a Student Muslim group on the Gainesville, Florida Campus. UF officials had demanded an apology from the student group that sponsored the showing of the film Obsession.
Note what the Gainesville Sun wrote about McCollum’s actions and the University’s reaction:
State Attorney General Bill McCollum claims UF officials stifled free speech by asking the students who posted the fliers to apologize for offending Muslims.
In a Dec. 3 letter, McCollum accused Patricia Telles-Irvin, UF’s vice president for student affairs, of creating a “chilling effect on the free speech rights of students.” McCollum's office said as late as Tuesday that he was still unsatisfied with UF’s response to his concerns, and he has asked his staff to research any actions that he should take to ensure the UF students’ constitutional rights are protected, according to his letter.
The students who made the fliers were promoting a film about Islamic terrorism called “Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West.”
Under pressure from McCollum and others, Telles-Irvin issued a clarification last week meant to address the “misunderstanding” that UF sought to silence students. The e-mail, sent to some 50,000 UF students, went on to affirm that UF condemns terror—Islamic or otherwise.
“The university condemns terrorists’ acts and those who perpetrate them, regardless of who they are,” Telles-Irvin wrote. “And we clearly recognize there are people who use Islam to support violence.”
Telles-Irvin’s initial e-mail criticizing the fliers was attacked by pundits in the national media who argued that UF was silencing important discussion about terrorists’ threats to Americans.
Then Muslim advocacy group leaders across the US and in Florida were further inflamed in the wake of McCollum’s showing the film to his staff. In February, 2008, national and state leaders from Muslim Brotherhood front groups CAIR, MPAC, Muslim Bar Association and the Florida ACLU met with McCollum at the State capitol in Tallahassee.
Ahmed Bedier, controversial ex-Tampa CAIR chapter leader and founder of new Muslim Brotherhood front group, United Voices for America, thanked him for the meeting:
We commend Attorney General McCollum for taking the time to meet with us and to address our concerns by creating a Muslim advisory group.
That State Capitol session led to the launch of Florida Muslim Capitol Days in 2009 and 2010 that were protested by an Anti-Terror coalition led by Tom Trento and Dr. Richard Swier of the Florida Security Council (FSC)
On March 11th, several of us involved with the protest against Florida Muslim Capitol Day found ourselves in a meeting with representatives of McCollum’s office in the State Capitol building discussing information about event organizer Bedier and the objectives of the new group UVA. Investigative journalist Joe Kaufman, and videographer J. Mark Campbell who had been present at the meeting with the Attorney General’s staff were assaulted in an unprovoked attack by a Muslim professor from Florida Atlantic University. He was an associate of convicted felon, former University of South Florida computer science professor, Sami al-Arian, who pled guilty to a federal charge of funneling funds to Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, a designated foreign terrorist group. Both Kaufman and Campbell subsequently filed charges against the Muslim assailant.
Which brings me back to Lisa’s Garden Street Café and Bill McCollum’s gubernatorial campaign stop in Pensacola.
During the Question and Answer period, I asked him, given his considerable background and experience, what he might do to combat terrorism and radical Islam here in Florida.
McCollum noted the ideology of radical Islam that denies our Judeo Christian values and seeks to supplant our Constitution with Muslim Sharia law imperiling human and civil rights. He discussed state and local law enforcement counterterrorism training and intelligence programs, initiated in cooperation with national law enforcement agencies like the FBI, US Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, to monitor home grown and foreign radical Islamic groups. Interestingly, he drew attention to the lurking possible terrorist threat from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez via his close association with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. McCollum pointed to possible insertion of weapons of mass destruction, including missiles that might be launched from sea-borne commercial shipping. He was demonstrably concerned about security for the more than 11 ports in the Sunshine State. McCollum noted that given the widening of the Panama Canal the danger of sea borne terrorist attacks using sophisticated missiles with non-conventional capabilities could become an increasing threat to Floridians and the nation.
McCollum commented that given his Congressional and State Attorney General experience with counterterrorism programs, Floridians could expect that he would be ever vigilant in protecting them from harm given possible Islamic terrorism threats.
While he commented that he was ahead in the polls - 15 points in front of his Democratic challenger Ms. Alex Sink, Florida State Financial officer - he gave the distinct indication that he would take no comfort from that. Instead we were given the impression that McCollum would persevere by reaching out to voters to assure them of protection from extremist Islamic terror threats, both at home and abroad.
When not disparaging their community-rooted women-based quilts, men are committing "femicide". More on the Crushing Patriarchy from David Thompson, who links to someone called Bidisha
The establishment, patriarchy, the mainstream, whatever you want to call it, just doesn’t find women interesting. It makes sure that women are heavily outnumbered from the very beginning by offering us only a fraction of available opportunities, slots, placements, commissions, trips, panel places, star jobs, reviews... It talks down women’s work. It is supported by a false mythology about the weakness, inconsistency, subjectivity and inconsequentiality of women’s creation, experience and perspective.
It isn't clear whether "Bidisha" thinks the lack of a surname makes her sound more like an artist or whether she thinks that surnames are a tool of "the establishment, patriarchy, the mainstream, whatever". Nor has it occurred to her that perhaps the latter does not find women like her interesting because she isn't. David Thompson continues:
Readers will no doubt recognise Bidisha’s trademark rigour and understatement. Our favourite “non-white angry political female” has been counting posters in the underground and has deduced that something nefarious is afoot.
It’s all part of my investigation into cultural femicide - the erasure of women from public life. Who are the perpetrators? Events organisers, editors in broadcasting and the media, radio and TV producers, commissioners and jurors. They are male and female, they probably don’t realise they’re doing it, but they don’t mind. They’re fine with a virtually woman-free world.
Yes, I know. Do help yourself to refreshments. A stiff one seems in order.
To witness femicide in action, go to the town of Hay this May. At the same time as the annual book festival is an unrelated philosophy festival called How The Light Gets In. There are 25 debates covering broad themes such as evolution, the urban space, creativity, violence and privacy. All but two of these events are male-dominated... The discrimination is obvious. All you have to do is count.
Because anything but exact gender parity in any given sphere must, simply must, be proof of “cultural femicide” and “the erasure of women from public life.” It’s obvious, see? Thank goodness we can count on Bidisha to fight back.
I used to power my way through every token-woman appearance on panels in the hope that the shining example of my contribution would change the paradigm through sheer force of presence.
It didn’t happen.
Oh, it gets worse.
I can no longer give my time and attention - and implicitly, my support - to any event, such as the debates at How The Light Gets In, that gives space to five times as many men as women.
The festival’s organiser, Hilary Lawson, responds.
Women feature throughout the programme but men are dominant in the philosophy discussions.
Dominant, eh? Why, that’s practically a confession. Denounce the patriarch!
Virtually all of the men we approached agreed to speak. Only one in six of the women did.
However, as this is the Guardian, and as Mr Lawson has dutifully internalised the obligatory ideological ticks, there’s also quite a bit of this:
We have an editorial policy that clearly stipulates our dedication to pursuing gender balance.
Why do we find it easier to achieve gender balance in our musical events but struggle to do so in philosophy? Is it that philosophy embeds a male mode of thinking, a phallogocentrism, that discourages women? Is it that the cultural framework frightens women from being involved? Is it that women are put off by male bullishness in debates? Or are academic institutions themselves guilty of inbuilt and defiant sexism? These are important questions some of which we hope to raise in our festival.
Note the assumption that “gender balance” is the natural default in all spheres of activity and thus any deviation from gender parity is evidence of systemic discrimination or some other injustice to be corrected. One wonders, then, what Mr Lawson and Bidisha make of other areas of endeavour, such as elite chess tournaments, where criteria and performance are sharply defined and where men outnumber women by about 100:1. Now it’s possible that unfair discrimination may be a factor among any number of variables, but the existence of such can’t be determined just from the ratio of male and female players. Whether or not meritocratic selection has been achieved can’t be deduced from whether gender parity results, since we have no basis, except ideology, on which to say that gender parity should be the meritocratic outcome. The assumption of a ‘natural’ 1:1 gender ratio in all occupations is itself a prejudice, albeit a modish one. On what basis do we determine that there ought to be a particular ratio of male and female philosophers, or mathematicians, or engineers? At what point and on what basis do we determine that a particular gender is sufficiently “represented” in a given vocation? Perhaps these are also questions a philosopher might ponder.
The winner of our April crossword puzzle contest is George MCallum of Georgia. Congratulations George! Since you are registered to attend our conference, you can collect your copy of Jihad and Genocide there and Richard Rubenstein will be glad to autograph it for you.
"Thanks be to Allah!” declared Simon Hughes, the then president of the Liberal Democrats, as he addressed a London conference in 2008, before going on to quote from the Koran: “Then [Allah] will assemble you on the Day of Resurrection…” He added: “Friends, it is our job to teach those who do not have faith of the deep truths of the faith of God’s justice and God’s presence.”
This YouTube clip shows the whole of Hughes’s speech; it’s worth watching it all just to see him pressing one button after the other. Go to 3:30 and relish the following segue: “To Allah belongs the kingdoms of the heaven and the earth, and you will see each other humbled to their knees,” he says, quoting the Koran – which is why it’s so great that Barack Obama is standing for President of the United States, because if elected there’ll be “a new attitude from America towards the Islamic world”.
Then he calls for Christians and Muslims to “collaborate across this continent” to end “nationalism”. That goes down well – hardly surprising, since there are no nations at all in Dar al-Islam, the future worldwide caliphate envisaged by the hardliners at GPU.
Hughes exhibits deep, deep reverence when he mentions “the Prophet Mohammed”. I wouldn’t have thought that, as a Christian, he would recognise Mohammed as a prophet. Surely all he has in common with the founder of Islam is a complicated private life – but, hey, Muslims have votes, and Simon wants his “sisters and brothers” to cast them. “Every country of the world is your country,” he tells them (this they do not need to know, I suspect – that’s what Dar al-Islam means) and one day “we want you to be the leaders … to be the Prime Minister”.
All the main parties (and Respect, natch) were trawling for votes at GPU. They will be doing so again when the next event is held this autumn. But for a masterclass in political opportunism you really can’t beat a Lib Dem, can you?
For anyone trying to follow the journey begun by Abraham, conversion to Islam should recommend itself with compulsive force. It’s the most plausible of the three religions that look back to him. Near the root of Judaism is the conviction that a single people are chosen by God. At the core of Christianity is the belief that a man was God and rose from the dead. Both claims seem to spit in the face of reason. Nonetheless, the suggestion that Islam might be preferable to either is objectionable to modern Western minds. It provokes visions of frenzy: failing states, suicide bombers, fanatical mullahs, shrouded women, burning books, oppressed minorities. But it should also conjure images of tranquillity: serene mosques, the circles of dhikr, a certain detachment from the claims of politics, distaste for the extremism within its own ranks of which the Prophet Mohammed warned, and — until fairly recently — better treatment of religious minorities than Europe’s.
For most of its history Islam has been the most relaxed of the three faiths. It neither aches for the coming of a Messiah nor announces that outside the church there is no salvation. It offers monotheism for all. The path to paradise isn’t closed by original sin. Rather, it remains open, but man strays from it in heedlessness and forgetfulness. I converted from Judaism to Catholicism in my mid-20s. Changing one’s religion once is enough to be going on with. Perhaps this thought has inhibited me to date from doing so a second time, and accepting Jesus of Nazareth as a great prophet rather than as the saviour of the world. If I’m remembered for taking up any cause in the Commons, it may be for fencing at Islamism and its fellow-travellers in Britain. But Islamism is a polluted tributary of the great river of Islam, and my allergy to a politicised version of the religion hasn’t deterred me from sitting at the feet, from time to time, of its traditional, classical form.
Islam has three advantages over modern Christianity. First, it has better preserved its liturgy. A Muslim prays five times a day in much the same way as his ancestors did at the time of Mohammed, perhaps because there’s no single source of authority in Islam to drive through liturgical change. There are no guitars, inexact translations of Arabic into English and imams that face the people rather than Mecca. Pope Benedict, who understands the centrality of liturgy to religion, might see a connection between Islam’s soaring numbers and its immutable worship.
Second, it has better preserved its spiritual inheritance, and kept polished the chains of spiritual transmission. The silsilah is a chain — the pupil receiving authority from a master who received it from his own master, and so on all the way back to Mohammed. Christianity has its apostolic succession. But this is the preserve of the bishops, not the laity, and in Islam everyone is a layman. This may help to prove that flat structures protect tradition more effectively than hierarchical ones. For better and worse, Islam has experienced no Reformation or Enlightenment — no questioning of the transmission of the Quran to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel himself. There is a gimmicklessness about the practice of its spirituality.
Third, it has Sufism — the sum of that spiritual inheritance. I’m not dewy-eyed about Sufis, but the tradition they follow is one of the world’s great religious movements, balancing the Quran’s proclamation of the transcendence of God — “Who begetteth not, nor is begotten, and none is like Him” — with its persistent whisperings of immanence, of a God who “is nearer to him than his jugular vein”. I’ve ploughed my way through 61 of the 62 discourses in Jilani of Baghdad’s Al-Fath Al-Rabbani — literally “the Revelations of the Lord”.
Each discourse is supported by verses from the Quran. The first chapter quotes the following: “Surely, God is with those who are patient”. It’s a theme of Jilani’s, and seems to be one of Islam’s as a whole. The religion appears to lack that Western word, angst. Perhaps the ox-like endurance of suffering is a feature of less developed societies. But for whatever reason, a sense of Jacob wrestling with the angel is never long absent from either Christianity or Judaism. Why suffering happens is one of the greatest human mysteries. In Christianity, God plunges into the depths of suffering and transforms it through the Resurrection. The good old story may not make suffering bearable, but it may at least make it comprehensible. Once it’s accepted, the Trinity becomes a partner rather than a stranger to reason.
The vision of Islam — of actualising the divine names as Mohammed did, thereby restoring man’s original nature — has, as all great religions do, its own romance. But some calls must be questioned, however imperiously they’re couched. There’s cause for the eye of faith to pass on from the black stone of the Kaaba, and rest upon the white cloths that lay folded, on that first Easter morning, inside an empty tomb.
- Paul Goodman is Conservative MP for Wycombe and shadow minister for communities and local government
Just as the Bush supporters eventually petered out as the Iraqi war dragged on, you don't hear many supporters any more of the war in Afghanistan. We've been patient, we've stayed the course, we've tried to win hearts and minds, we've firmly established our commitment, and nine years later ... we're still at square one. By Sebastian Abbot for AP:
HUTAL, Afghanistan – In the U.S. Army, Casey Thoreen is just a 30-year-old captain. Around here, he's known as the "King of Maiwand" district — testimony to the fact that without the young captain and a fat international wallet, local government here as in much of the insurgency-ravaged south could not function at all.
"We are putting a big gamble on this," Thoreen said. "Any of this stuff we're doing here, not just at our level but the $800 billion we have spent so far in the country, is contingent on the government being effective."
For now, Thoreen and Maiwand's district governor, Obaidullah Bawari, are working with what they have — which isn't much.
The 49-year-old Bawari, who has occupied the post for a year, has no staff except his personal assistant and no government budget except for the roughly $400 monthly salary that he receives from Kabul. He is responsible for civilian government operations in the district, including water, power and schools, and he mediates disputes.
We've spent $800 billion so far in Afghanistan, yet there is no money even for running the government, let alone money for the government to spend on improving the lives of the people. There are plenty of narcodollars and funding for jihad flowing into Afghanistan, but the Afghan government is broke. If you're not a F.O.K.'er (Friend of Karzai), the money is M.I.A. and you're S.O.L.
There are about 150 Afghan police deployed in Maiwand, but they report to both the chief of police in Kandahar City as well as the provincial governor.
"Everything you see here is from the coalition forces," said Bawari, sweeping his hand toward the center of the district capital, Hutal, where the [U.S.] Army has paid for a new government headquarters, an agricultural center and various other projects.
It's a picture repeated across the country, including in the ethnic Pashtun heartland of southern Afghanistan, where opposition to the government and support for the Taliban run deep.
The Afghan government recently launched a new program backed by the U.S. to increase support to 80 key districts in the country, many of them in the south and east.
But Kandahar's provincial governor, Tooryalai Wesa, visited Maiwand for the first time recently and said he didn't have any additional resources to offer the district.
"That kind of blew my mind," said Thoreen, a West Point graduate from Seattle, Washington. "After nine years in Afghanistan we're still at this point."
When the troops from 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment first arrived in Hutal in September, Bawari basically had no authority within the district because he doesn't come from a powerful family and isn't well-educated.
"He was very intimidated, very helpless and had no sense of his responsibilities," Thoreen said.
He may be a very intimidated, helpless, and powerless governor, but he's OUR very intimidated, helpless, and powerless governor.
Just as we play "make believe" that Islam is The Religion of Peace, the solution here is to play "make believe" that Bawari is an actual governor:
The troops, who live in a small base in the middle of Hutal, have tried to boost Bawari's standing by encouraging him to take credit for development projects the U.S. military funded. They have also set up a series of traditional meetings, known as shuras, with tribal elders in an attempt to enlist their support.
"Through the district leader and us, the elders are involved in laying out the ideas for these projects and actually implementing them," Thoreen said. "All that has enhanced and empowered the district leader as well."
But the dynamic gets more complicated when Thoreen and the district governor disagree on an issue. That presents the captain with the difficult choice: either overrule Bawari and damage his authority or give in and accept a decision he believes is bad for the mission.
Such a situation arose at a recent shura when 25 farmers showed up to demand the return of more than 300 pounds (135 kilograms) of opium that Special Forces had seized from a car.
Thoreen refused to return the opium or compensate them for it, saying U.S. forces have been clear that while they will not seize drugs from individual farmers, they will target smugglers. He sidelined Bawari during the debate because he knew the district governor disagreed with him and wanted to return the opium.
"I knew he would go that way in the shura if I opened it up to him, so I intentionally did not ask his opinion on it," said Thoreen.
Afterward, Bawari complained that the captain's decision damaged his credibility.
"The coalition forces didn't give the farmers a good answer and they walked away angry with us," he said.
But Thoreen said there have been other times when he has caved to the district governor's wishes, including agreeing to release three insurgents who had been caught with weapons just before they were about to attack a NATO supply convoy. He freed them after significant pressure from Bawari and a large number of tribal elders, who promised to prevent the men from engaging in future insurgent activity.
"It may not have been the greatest thing to do since we arrested one of the guys again doing something similar, but we created value in the district leader for the people through that decision," Thoreen said.
The jihadis were captured in the act of preparing to kill Coalition soldiers, the tribal elders got them released with no punishment in a classic Treaty of Hudabiyyah "negotiation", and the jihadis of course went on to try to kill other Coalition soldiers; but let's pretend this is a victory, since "we created value in the district leader".
Paki Taliban connection to NYC bomb plot rejected by NYPD
New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg hustled back from the annual White House Correspondents dinner with President Obama and host Comedian Jay Leno to deal with a non funny event in Gotham: a suspected terrorist bomb plot near Times Square.
"We are very lucky. Thanks to alert New Yorkers and professional police officers, we avoided what could have been a very deadly event. The bomb squad confirmed that the suspicious vehicle did contain an explosive device. We have no idea who did this or why."
He added: "Terrorists who want to take our freedoms away from us focus on the symbol of those freedoms, and that's New York City."
The bomb was left inside a dark green Nissan Pathfinder, left with its engine running and hazard lights flashing near the junction of 45th Street and Broadway.
A T-shirt vendor, who was a Vietnam veteran, alerted police when he noticed smoke coming out of it. Police hurriedly evacuated thousands of tourists and theatre-goers, including women in evening gowns, from the area on Broadway's busiest night of the week.
Heavily armed police and FBI agents were deployed on the empty streets as bomb disposal experts used a robot to break the windows on the vehicle and remove explosive material. The car contained three propane tanks, fireworks, two five gallon gasoline containers, two clocks with batteries, electrical wires and a 4ft by 2ft metal box.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said: "I think the intent was to cause a significant ball of fire."
Today, the Pakistani Taliban released a video claiming that they were behind the bomb plot. The SUV parked near 45th Street and Broadway close to the Viacom headquarters. Viacom owns the Comedy Channel that produces South Park, which inflamed American Jihadis with its Mohammed in a bear suit episode. NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly promptly held a press conference to reject the Pakistani-Taliban claim for the Times Square bombing attempt.
Channel 5 MyFoxNY reported this on the Pakistani/Taliban claim of responsibility:
New York City's police commissioner says there's no evidence of a Taliban link to a failed bomb found in an SUV parked in Times Square but said he couldn't rule them out.
Fox 5 reported Sunday that the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the bomb plot.
According to Fox News, in a 1 minute video allegedly released by the Pakistani Taliban, the group says the attack is revenge for the death of its leader Baitullah Mehsud and the recent killings of the top leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq.
Images of the slain militants are shown as an unidentified voice recites the message. English subtitles are at the bottom of the screen.
According to the AP, an unidentified speaker on the tape also says the attack comes in response to American "interference and terrorism in Muslim Countries, especially in Pakistan."
The claim could not be immediately confirmed and the tape makes no specific reference to the attack nor does it mention that it was a car bomb or that it took place in New York City.
A text in gold letters on a black background at the start of the video congratulates Muslims for the "jaw-breaking blow to Satan's USA." As the speaker recites the message, images of the slain militants referred to flash across the screen. English subtitles are provided at the bottom of the screen.
The video was uncovered Sunday by SITE, which monitors militant websites.
Muslims obviously don’t take easily to satire of the Prophet Mohammed, even when undisclosed in the South Park episode. Their way of getting back at infidels is to terrorize us with car and suicide bombings on our home turf as the preferred form of retribution. We hope the Viacom owners have more guts than to succumb to this intimidation. Based on what we saw during the South Park episode, their response is to bleep the segment, effectively apologizing to the insulted extremists in the Muslim ummah. Should Viacom cancel the irreverent Comedy Channel program created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone then the Islamic terrorists will have won. That would be one giant step towards Sharia compliance in America and one major defeat for free speech under our Constitution.
What follows is the kernel, the beginning, or the false start of an article that will be developed in the coming days. But I wanted it to exist right now in its imperfect state. The creation of a JStreet look alike in Europe might be a ho-hum ripple in a long saga, but it comes as a last straw at a time when the noose is tightening around our necks. This JCall, one more frivolous example of how much we love Israel but just give the Palestinians what they want, whatever they want, is going to be presented to the EU Parliament on May 3rd and meanwhile back at the UN, Ahmadinejad will present his plan for nuclear disarmament… of Israel. With the blessings of Barack Hussein Obama. The JCall Appeal, at a time like this, is so infuriating, that it immediately provoked a vigorous response here in France. A genuine intellectual debate is underway, and I take it upon myself to report it with the fullness it deserves. We are good at this kind of debate in France.
The debate goes to the heart of a conflict that has been brewing in our societies, communities, and families in the first decade of the 21st century. I cannot approach it with any pretense to distance and objectivity. It is the dilemma that occupies my thoughts from morning to night. How do I reconcile my respect for freedom of thought and expression with my conviction that this kind of thinking—call it leftist, progressive, peace nowish—is so harmful that I must combat it? In a fair fight! That’s what I’ll try to explain.
JCall: the European echo to JStreet / Part 1
Let me begin with a prediction before I even explain the tune that JCall is calling: it won’t get anywhere. It’s no JStreet because it has no Obama in the wings, no AIPAC to snipe at, no Soros or Saudi money, and because European Jews are too close to the bone to heed this call.
Friday, April 30, Strasbourg. David Pariente, age 41 and wearing a kippa, was brutally attacked in the center of town at 12:30 in the afternoon as he got off the tramway in a square aptly named “l’Homme de Fer” [Iron man]. A vivid account of the incident by Maylis a 16 year-old lycée student is reported in the local paper--Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace: The victim was attacked by “ …two men in djellaba. One hit him in the back with an iron bar and knocked him down. Then he gave him a terrible kick in the face. I saw his head flung back.” Maylis called for an ambulance, the assailants ran off. One was caught shortly afterward, the other was arrested at his home where police found the iron bar—actually part of a weight lifting apparatus--and the knife. One of the aggressors is allegedly deranged. He said he attacked a Jew because a Jewish doctor sent him to a mental hospital.
JCall will solemnly present its “Call to Reason” to the European Parliament in Brussels on May 3rd. The Belgian government has fallen apart, the small French-Flemish nation is on the verge of splitting, and the population of Brussels is 1/3rd Muslim. What could be a more reasonable venue? EU parliamentarians flustered by the Greek economic tragedy might find it relaxing to lend an ear to reasonable European Jews who know on what side their peace is buttered. The two state solution by jove! If it works for Israel-Palestine it might work for Belgium. If those intelligent European Jews can impose law and order on their unruly Israeli brethren maybe they know how to get the enraged Greek populace off the streets and back to work.
What then is the reasonable call to be soon heard ‘round the world?
[A full English version of the Appeal is posted at www.jcall.eu]
The JCallers, speaking as pro-Israel Jewish citizens of Europe, fully aware that Israel is in danger from outside enemies, believe it is also endangered by “the occupation and the uninterrupted pursuit of settlements in the West Bank and in the Arab quarters of East Jerusalem.” Occupation and settlements, they declare, are “a political mistake and a moral transgression.”
The four-point program of the Appeal can be summarized as follows:
1.Israel’s future depends on the two-state solution. The alternative would be a single state with a Jewish minority or a dishonorable regime that will lead to civil war.
2.The EU and the US should put pressure on both parties for a rapid reasonable settlement.
3.The final decision is up to the sovereign state of Israel but Diaspora Jews demand they make the right decision. “Systematic alignment [of Diaspora Jews] with the policy of the Israeli government is dangerous because it is against Israel’s true interests.
4.We want to create a European movement that will be able to make the voice of reason heard by everyone. Our ambition is to work for the survival of Israel, which depends on the creation of a “viable sovereign Palestinian state.”
To date the Appeal to Reason has garnered 3361 signatures.
Authorities have moved quickly on the Strasbourg incident. An Algerian, age 38, who unashamedly declares that the Jews are the cause of all that’s wrong with the world, has been charged with attempted murder aggravated by anti-Semitism and incarcerated. The man who accompanied him but did not participate in the attack was released.
Much remains to be learned about the genesis of JCall, its connection with JStreet, the EU, and other groups, parties, and backers. It was reportedly hatched in the Centre Communitaire Juif Laïque [Secular Jewish Community Center] in Brussels, under the guidance of Elie Barnavi, historian, and former Israeli ambassador to France. Teasingly called the “playboy intellectual,” Barnavi is the kind of Israeli French leftists love to appreciate. He is joined in the Appeal by star philosopher Bernard Henri-Lévy and Euro-greenie Daniel Cohn-Bendit, hero of the 1968 Revolution, who dug deep in his pockets and found his Jewish credentials for the sake of Reason. But the most surprising signature is that of Alain Finkielkraut, the brilliant philosopher and writer who, in the first five years after the outbreak of the “Al Aqsa Intifada,” was cherished by the Jewish community for his perceptive, articulate, profound analysis of the situation. Like a secular rabbi, he spoke from his conscience to ours.
At the first notes of JCall two esteemed Jewish intellectuals—Raphaël Draï and Shmuel Trigano—swiftly drafted a response, “Raison Garder / Be Reasonable.” [Posted in both English and French versions at www.dialexis.org ] To date their petition has garnered 4027 signatures, 666 more than JCall. The JCallers who blithely criticize Israel are terribly offended by criticism of their movement. This is understandable. If your manifesto is a heartfelt expression of an opinion you are not surprised when others opinion back at you. But JCall is presented as Reason with a capital R. There can’t be another reason more reasonable.
“Be Reasonable” is far more precise, detailed, and forthright than the JCall Appeal. It seems as if JCall deliberately attempted to hide its game behind vague evasive excessively bare statements. When those who have signed the Appeal speak out to defend it, they are far more loquacious and harsh.
Dialexis, the non-sectarian organization hat launched “Be Reasonable,” rejects the pretentions of intellectuals and personalities who use a Jewish label as proof of objectivity. Their Appeal is the opposite neither democratic, moral, nor an expression of Diaspora solidarity with Israel.