These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 4, 2007.
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Islam In The Dutch East Indies
Until after World War II, Islam was held in check, more or less, by the Dutch authorities, who were sensible enough to enlist the intelligent guidance, for a while, of a certain C. Snouck Hurgronje, of the University of Leiden, possibly the greatest Orientalist since Ignaz Goldziher. While not entirely unsympathetic to some Muslims who had been born into Islam and were struggling with it, and with its obvious effect on the exercise of mental freedom, including artistic expression, he was not fooled in the slightest about the doctrines of Islam, and never confused the inability to put into practical effect those doctrines at a time of maximum weakness vis-a-vis the Infidels. And if the Dutch helped create an atmosphere in which the power of Islam was suppressed, the history of Islam in the Dutch East Indies also made for greater syncretism.
After all, it was not outright military conquest, in the 7th and 8th centuries, as in most of the Middle East and North Africa, by Muslims, that caused the East Indies to be populated by Muslims. Rather, five or six centuries later, when the rulers of Java and Sumatra were converted to Islam (the first significant group of Muslims in the East Indies being Hadrami traders in Java, who set up trading entrepots, and then slowly began to send out missionaries, some as part of military incursions, into the hinterland). But the East Indies, originally Hindu and Buddhist, were slow to succumb. The same kind of violence that had been used, or could be threatened, elsewhere was not possible. The Dutch interval, in which Christian missionaries were protected (as, in East Timor, the Portuguese overlords protected the missionaries who could work in conditions that permitted locals to convert without fear of death), also contributed to that "soft" Islam that one associates with Indonesia -- but "soft" only up to a point, and becoming "harder" every day, and in any case it was never quite as "soft" as Westerners seem to think.
But now, the longer from the Dutch period one gets, and the more that Muslims in Indonesia, like Muslims everywhere, are more easily reached by the new means of disseminating the full and dangerous texts of Islam, where before the simple and illiterate villagers might have been Muslims, but knew very little, beyond the Five Pillars, of what that might mean. Now they have thrust in their ears and before their eyes incessant Muslim propaganda, that makes it harder and harder to avoid hearing, and having to take in, and being naturally swayed by, not a false Islam, not an Islam that has been "hijacked by extremists," but the full Islam that was always there, and yet, when Muslims were weak, and lacked the money and technological means to disseminate that full message, was in some places not fully known or understood.
And now, alas, Muslim money and appropriation of Western technology has meant for Muslims in the farthest islands, can now be reached by the campaigners intent on disseminating to sometimes inattentive Muslims the full teachings of Islam, with the deadly results observable in Bali, and the Moluccas, and many other islands in the East Indian archipelago.
Posted on 03/04/2007 7:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Another strange twist in the Litvinenko case
WASHINGTON (AP) - An expert on Russian intelligence was critically injured in a shooting in front of his suburban Washington home, authorities said.
The shooting of Paul Joyal, 53, came days after he accused the Russian government of involvement in the poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. The FBI was assisting in the investigation.
Joyal was shot Thursday by two men in his driveway, police said.
The shooting appeared to be a random robbery and street shooting, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person did not have authority to comment on the case.
In an interview broadcast last Sunday on "Dateline NBC," Joyal also accused the Russian government of trying to silence its critics.
"A message has been communicated to anyone who wants to speak out against the Kremlin: If you do, no matter who you are, where you are, we will find you, and we will silence you _ in the most horrible way possible," Joyal said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian officials have repeatedly denied involvement in the Litvinenko case.
Posted on 03/04/2007 7:58 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Shifting Farm Labor to Prisoners
I wonder if a lot of this kind of work could be mechanized in the future, but for now, this doesn't sound like a bad idea from Tom Tancredo's home state. New Duranty spins in in very dire terms raising the spector of "chain gangs," the fears of farm owners and quoting the "Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition" at length, but since the prisoners volunteer to work, they're "rights" are not violated.
New Duranty: DENVER, March 3 — As migrant laborers flee Colorado because of tough new immigration restrictions, worried farmers are looking to prisoners to fill their places in the fields.
In a pilot program run by the state Corrections Department, supervised teams of low-risk inmates beginning this month will be available to harvest the swaths of sweet corn, peppers and melons that sweep the southeastern portion of the state.
Posted on 03/04/2007 8:16 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Muslims are too sensitive, says Cardinal Pell
Cardinal George Pell and Sheik Mohammed Omran might look relaxed as they drink sage tea (yukerooney!) at Old Parliament House in Canberra but Cardinel Pell has not minced his words.
THE Muslim community is overly sensitive and is the only migrant group to have plotted violence against Australia, Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell has claimed. Dr Pell said Muslim leaders needed to develop more appropriate responses to criticism.
"In a democratic society, every group is criticised - Prime Minister (John) Howard said quite rightly last year that if Catholics rioted in Australia every time they were criticised, there would be regular riots," Dr Pell said. "It's not appropriate that Muslims regularly reply to criticism with insults, denigration and evasions while avoiding the point of issue, and unfortunately we've seen too much of this from some Muslim public personalities."
The comments came during Dr Pell's appearance on a panel about Muslims and non-Muslims in Australia as part of the national deliberative poll.
Dr Pell . . . said . . . “most of the victims of these extreme Muslims are fellow Muslims, So its important to distinguish accurately your real friends from your enemies and from those who only seem to be friends." He seems to be aware of the concept of taqiyya, which is good. "Equal rights however, carry with them equal responsibilities - problems arise when minorities demand special consideration that places them outside the law as it applies to other citizens . . . There seems to be some significant evidence that some of them are planning violence against us here and elsewhere - that doesn't seem to happen in any other migrant group,"
He said Muslims in Australia were offered the same rights as other citizens but he doubted non-Muslim minorities in the Muslim world were afforded the same equality. “I don't think that's the case. I don't think we could be having a meeting like this in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia," he said. "Christians are being harassed, they're being persecuted and even sometimes in the Sudan being sold into slavery. I would like to know where my Muslim friends stand on this issue."
Sheik Mohammed Omran, from Melbourne's Islamic Information and Support Centre, said it was important to consider why Muslims were fighting against the West.
Sheik Omran said Australia had a responsibility to make Muslims feel welcome. "You are the host. When I come to your house as a guest and you welcome me with an open heart, I see your generosity as a human . . ."
And guests who don’t behave can and should be ejected immediately.
Posted on 03/04/2007 8:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Prat Crit crits prats
I now realise that this Practical Criticism exercise was not a trick question, at least not in the sense I thought it was. My mistake, as I admitted in my comment.
Orwell, Peace Be Upon Him, described I. A. Richards’ Practical Criticism as good for a laugh, elaborating as follows:
One ought not to be too superior, and there is no need to be, because the book is so arranged that you can try the experiment on yourself. The poems, unsigned, are all together at the end, and the authors’ names are on a fold-over page which you need not look at till afterwards. I will say at once that I only spotted the authorship of two, one of which I knew already, and though I could date most of the others within a few decades, I made two bad bloomers, in one case attributing to Shelley a poem written in the nineteen-twenties. But still, some of the comments recorded by Dr Richards are startling. They go to show that many people who would describe themselves as lovers of poetry have no more notion of distinguishing between a good poem and a bad one than a dog has of arithmetic.
For example, a piece of completely spurious bombast by Alfred Noyes gets quite a lot of praise. One critic compares it to Keats. A sentimental ballad from Rough Rhymes of a Padre, by ‘Woodbine Willie’, also gets quite a good press. On the other hand, a magnificent sonnet by John Donne gets a distinctly chilly reception. Dr Richards records only three favourable criticisms and about a dozen cold or hostile ones. One writer says contemptuously that the poem ‘would make a good hymn’, while another remarks, ‘I can find no other reaction except disgust.’ Donne was at that time at the top of his reputation and no doubt most of the people taking part in this experiment would have fallen on their faces at his name. D. H. Lawrence’s poem ‘The Piano’ gets many sneers, though it is praised by a minority. So also with a short poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. ‘The worst poem I have ever read,’ declares one writer, while another’s criticism is simply ‘Pish-posh!’
However, before blaming these youthful students for their bad judgement, let it be remembered that when some time ago somebody published a not very convincing fake of an eighteenth-century diary, the aged critic, Sir Edmund Gosse, librarian of the House of Lords, fell for it immediately. And there was also the case of the Parisian art critics, of I forget which ‘school’, who went into rhapsodies over a picture which was afterwards discovered to have been painted by a donkey with a paint-brush tied to its tail.
People can talk themselves into liking a bad poem or novel if they think it is by an established “great” writer. More recently there has been a tendency to like a mediocre work if it is by someone from a favoured victim group. What else explains Zadie Smith?
In his article An Imaginary Scandal, Theodore Dalrymple describes how a short novel, believed to be by a “Rahila Khan” was acclaimed by feminist publishing house Virago. The novel fell suddenly out of favour and was pulped by the angry Viragos when they discovered that Rahila Khan was the Reverend Toby Forward, a Church of England Vicar.
This article is one of my favourite Dalrymples, and it shows Practical Criticism in action:
Humour, fearlessness, seriousness, and honesty: the qualities that are hated with an equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies that are contending for tenure in the humanities departments of our universities. There lies the real literary scandal of our times.
Posted on 03/04/2007 9:05 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Mohammed was a schmegegge
The latest bit of nonsense to come out of New Labour is that we should all learn Mandarin. Every fifth child is Chinese, so they say, and China is going to be the new superpower.
I don’t believe a word of it. For a better future, we should all learn Yiddish.
Imagine, for a moment, Mohammed in Mecca, looking rather ferklempt, kvetching with his nukschleper after one of his revelations: “Oy gevalt. We’ve got to leave these schlemiels and schlep to Medina.” Or later: “Slay the nudnicks wherever you find them!” What kind of mishigas is that? It doesn’t work. Yiddish just can’t be pompous in the way the average warmonger wants to be.
Of course I’d need to learn Yiddish myself. I don’t speak it but spend quite a bit of time with someone who heavily seasons his speech with Yiddish. I can generally work out what it means, because so many words have passed into common use (eg kvetch, schlep, nebbish, mensch, chutzpah). The rest can be understood using three rules:
- It is like, or a bit like, a German word, for example glick, gey schlofen, schvizing, zay gesundt.
- It is obvious from the context, tone of voice or accompanying hand gestures.
- Any word you don’t know probably means “idiot”.
There seem to be so many words for “idiot” or “loser” in this language: putz, pisher, nebbish, nudnick, schlemiel, schmo, schmuck, schmendrick and my all time favourite, schmegegge.
So learn Yiddish now. You don’t even have to get off your tuchis. Just click for glick:
Yiddish with Dick and Jane
Yiddish with George and Laura
Posted on 03/04/2007 10:03 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Bring Back English
My candidate for the most appropriate language for people in England (and in the United States) to learn is English. If possible, an English that is complex, an English that is spoken by an educated (not financial) elite that understands and can rely on its audience, fit though few, but setting the tone again, knowing English words through time and space. It is not enough to use the word "sky." One has to know the word "welkin" and who used it, and when, and when to use it now, and when not to. The play on the Latinate and the anglo-saxon, the awareness that such doublets are there to be played on, is not something that enough possess, enough that is to re-educate, in an age of mass mis-education, the public. But it isn't impossible.
Then we would have English, but an English that would no longer be the bastard result we have, the "universal language" of "sport, entertainment, and finance," not the crappy world language it has become, simplified down to a level that cats and dogs can understand, having acquired a horrible status as a "world language" that, given the state of that world, apparently guarantees a dilution and a simplification (it's a "world language" that is getting closer every day to the Basic English of Ogden and, yet again, I. A. Richards, upon whom there is apparently, at this website, a run on the mental bank).
Not Mandarin. There are quite enough speakers of Mandarin already. And they do it far better than we will ever do it, unless we are Red Diaper babies like Karla Soandso, brought up in Beijing, or sublimely aloof scholars like Arthur Waley, brought up in arthurwaleydom. There are plenty of people who know Chinese very well. Why should Westerners spend years adding a pitiful few to their number, and even then, hardly being capable of the sophistication and play and native allusion that without which it is impossible to raise the level of language above that of merely useful communication.
Bring back English. Separate "English" from "English as a world language." Do not let the latter be mistaken for the former. Coffee made, in wartime desperation, from chicory, is not coffee.
Posted on 03/04/2007 11:16 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Women in Islam and Exculpation By "Context "
According to Shirin Ebadi, apologist for Islam and therefore a false feminist, the mistreatment of women is merely a "cultural thing," and "has nothing to do with Islam." Azam Kamguian, and others who post their articles at the Homa Darabi Foundation website, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and many others, beg to differ. The Qur'an sets out the rules for beating your wife. The Qur'an tells you, and the Hadith and the example of Muhammad confirm, that women may be divorced at will (the man need only say "I divorce you" three times), and now it may conveniently be done even by fax. Women inherit half as much as men, and a muslimah's life, according to the Shari'a, is worth half that of a Muslim man. The practice of polygamy further demeans women. The requirement of certain kinds of dress, cannot continue to be described as merely a reflection of "cultural" rather than religious restraints. And it is absurd to praise the burqa "cultural" matter, just as it is absurd to praise the burqa as something women simply love, a s kind of moveable tent, that can be pitched anywhere they are, that "portagle seclusion" that the so-called Muslim feminist Abu-Lughod un-ironically calls it. For god's sake, if Muslim women love it so much, then why should it not be a voluntary thing, for soon enough those who don't use the burqa or similar garb will realize how much they miss it, and put it right back on. "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue," wrote Mlton in Areopatigica. Islam, however, is thin on Miltons, and long on Al-Qaradawis and Khomeinis.
And in any case, you're missing the point, the apologists splutter. That was all then (they don't dare add: "And this is now"). All that stuff in the Qur'an and Hadith and Suna must be read "in context." Unfortunately, Islam is without context. The Qur'an is uncreated and immutable, and its truths are forever. The sayings and deeds of Muhammad, recorded in those collected and winnowed and authenticated according to a system worked out in the earliest centuries of Islam, provide both an interpretative guide to the meaning of the Qur'an (though themselves no doubt woven out of that Qur'an by imaginative storytellers in the first place) and, for some Muslims, even an equal guide. For such Muslims, and there are many, there can be no Qur'an without the Sunnah.
Did Muhammad become betrothed to little Aisha when she was six, and have sexual intercourse with her when she was nine? Yes. But Muslims, though they believe this, will when confronted with this fact by Infidels, attempt to pretend it is not true. They will say something like "oh, no one really knows how old Aisha was" or "she was nineteen" or, in some cases, will simply start a hysterical stream of invective directed at whomever raises the matter. Still another line of defense is to say: "But it's all taken out of context. That was in the seventh century."
The Infidel needs, at that point, to reply: but Muhammad is not regarded "within his context," not studied as merely of historical interest. He is regarded as uswa hasana, the Model of Right Conduct, for all time. He is al-insan al-kamil, the Perfect Man, for all time. And that is central to Islam, in which the figure of Muhammad looms far larger than that of Allah. When Ayatollah Ozma Khomeini had the Islamic Republic of Iran pass its first legislation, virtually the first law was that which reduced the marriageable age of girls to nine years. Why? Because of little Aisha. Apparently, that event was not, for the leader of the most populous Muslim country in the entire Middle East, merely to be understood only as "in its context" of the seventh century.
Your Muslim interlocutor or debater will splutter, will become furious. But he will have no reply, for you are telling the truth, and he has been lying, hoping to get away with it. It happens all the time.
Posted on 03/04/2007 12:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
The Last of the Mandaeans
The Sabian Mandaeans - one of the oldest religious groups in the world - are facing extinction, according to its leaders.
They claim that Islamic extremists in Iraq are trying to wipe them out through forced conversions, rape and murder.
The Mandaeans are pacifists, followers of Adam, Noah and John the Baptist.
They have lived in what is now Iraq since before Islam and Christianity.
More than 80% have been forced to flee the country and now live as refugees in Syria and Jordan.
Even there they do not feel safe - but they say western governments are unwilling to take them in. --from this news item
The Mandaeans should be invited to resettle in either the United States, where they might be able to teach, like Francis Bok and the Lost Boys, something about the reality of Islam to offset the vast propaganda campaign by the apologists, both Muslim and non-Muslim. That propaganda campaign is well-financed and offers all kinds of support for those who play their cards right (for one example, see p.A9 of today's Sunday Times for the announcement by the sweetly sinister Qatar Foundation of its intention to create a "Data Base" of experts on every aspect of Islam). But every non-Muslim who has fled persecution in the Lands of Islam is a potentially useful witness in the court -- its jury-members and judges still much too impressionable and confused, alas -- of public opinion.
Posted on 03/04/2007 12:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
The Evolution of Religion
The ongoing debate over whether God created man or visa versa has been settled in mutually exclusive camps, but within the "man created God" camp the question then becomes why? Within that argument there are two competing evolutionary theories. One is that there is a survival advantage that comes with religion, but this is only discernible at a group level and group selection in some quarters is heresy itself. The other argument is that religion is a by-product of evolution with no inherent survival value at all.
Robin Marantz Henig has a good summary of the current arguments over why religion evolved in the New Duranty Times today.
The absurdity here lies in the fact that if we're all only material automatons, how could we evaluate ourselves as such let alone argue the point with other automatons? All self-evaluation implies at least some transcendence of self. Or am I missing something?
Posted on 03/04/2007 12:37 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 4 March 2007
PORTO-NOVO, BENIN (BosNewsLife)-- Islamic militants in Benin destroyed a church established by Christ Power Ministries (CPM) in the latest attack against the indigenous evangelical mission group in the African nation, missionaries told BosNewsLife Friday, March 2.
Christian Aid Mission, which supports CPM, confirmed the church was destroyed just three days after it was opened. There were no reports of injuries. About four months earlier militants also destroyed a CPM training center where over 2,000 Christian workers, including 1500 'disciples' and 650 children's ministry workers were educated, missionaries said. --from this news item
Meanwhile, the Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany Klaus Perls (once described to me by someone who did framing for the Metropolitan and many galleries as running "the only completely honest gallery in New York ( but that was a long time ago, and Im sure -- aren't you? -- that things must have improved since) lovingly collected, and preserved, the folk art of Benin, especially those statues and masks which, under Islam, are regarded as haram and to be destroyed. Let's see what happens as the Jihad in West Africa, the Jihad unrecognized in the West that has been going on within Nigeria since just before the Biafra War, and continues, under various guises, in the Ivory Coast (where Christians feel imperilled by Muslims coming in from Burkina Faso and other circumjacent states, in Gambia, in Togo (where a nominally Christian dictator can promote Muslim causes).
Everyone knows about the Jihad in West Africa that began in 1804. But few recognize that for the past forty years, since about 1967, another West African Jihad has been underway. It is not only local; the Muslims of Nigeria were aided by those Egyptian pilots who gleefully strafed Ibo villages, killing tens of thousands of helpless villagers, in a war that had a million victims. Meanwhile, the same Western world that abandoned the Christians fighting against the Jihad waged against them, and for Biafra (only Ghana and Israel recognized Biafra), also appears not to recognize the Muslim origin of much of the unsettlement in conflicts that only seem to be about other things. The Ivory Coast is a good case, and the complete lack of sympathy shown the Christians of the Ivory Coast by the French government, and its behavior toward those Christians (that destruction, in a single attack, of the entire cote-divoirian air force, by the French), tells one a great deal about Western pusillanimity, and failure to see the role of Islam unless it is absolutely obvious, so that even a schoolboy could not deny it.
Posted on 03/04/2007 1:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Converting to Islam
London (CNSNews.com) - As the Anglican Communion continues to fight over homosexuality and as church attendance plummets, experts say that Islam is well on its way to becoming the most dominant religion in Europe. --from this news item
Why do psychically and economically marginal Westerners convert to Islam?
There is no one reason. There are many reasons.
Islam is wrongly perceived as a vehicle for "social justice." The fact that a rich Muslim can stand side by side with a poor one at a mosque is misinterpreted. The fact that Muslims are required to offer zakat to fellow Muslims is also misinterpreted as meaning that there is some kind of "sharing of the wealth."
But one has only to look at the history of Islam, and look at Muslim societies today, to see that the extremes of wealth and power (which in Muslim countries is the only way to get that wealth -- the rulers, and their collaborators, help themselves to the national riches, whether it comes from oil, or smuggling (Syria), or Jizyah from Infidel lands (Egypt, the "Palestinians"). There are no Infidel lands that offer the same kind of gap between rich and poor, the ruler and the ruled, as do Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and other Muslim countries. These great extremes are less obvious in those countries in Dar al-Islam such as Turkey and Tunisia, that have tried to constrain Islam as a social and political force.
But the presentation of Islam as a kind of pseudo-socialism, a "left-wing" doctrine -- when it in fact encourages the habit of submission, submission to Allah, submission to the Ruler, whoever he is, provided he can be seen as an observant Muslim -- is what attracts some, based on their own misinformation, to Islam.
A second, and related reason for some to convert to Islam is that Islam is depicted as the belief-system that most accords with, and furthers the interests of, les damnes de la terre, especially non-whites. It is amazing how carefully campaigns are targetted at certain groups -- say, black prisoners in America and England -- without any countervailing effort by the authorities, or even by Christian groups, or even by black Christian groups, who could and should be funded for such undertakings, to present the evidence about the history of Arab slavers seizing and castrating black African boys, or about the duration of the Arab slave trade, which began long before, and ended long after (where it did end) than the European slave trade, and the continued, indeed permanent, defense of slavery in the texts of Islam, which can never be overcome, and the continued enslavement of blacks by Arabs, in the Sudan, in Mauritania, and elsewhere, far from any Western reporters. There is so much information about this, but so little attempt to sensibly disseminate it.
Still a third reason for Islam's appeal is that it is so simple to become a Muslim. You don't have to learn a thing. You can become a Muslim without knowing a thing about Islam. So eager are Muslims for what are seen as recruits to the army of Islam, that it doesn't matter if those converting or "reverting" know a thing about it, for it is not the saving of their souls that matters. All that matters for most Muslims is to swell further the ranks of Islam. That is why, early on, Islam required only a recital of the Shehada -- a single sentence, a single declaration -- and then one became a Muslim, and found out, later, what it was all about, but by that point one had no way to gracefully, or safely, within lands dominated by Muslims, get out of that faith.
A fourth reason is that not only is Islam a faith simple to join (whereas if you wish to become, say, a Christian or a Jew, you have to study, you have to actually learn something about Christian doctrine or Jewish faith) but it is a simple-minded faith, that appeals to the simple-minded. It is not a faith bent on questioning itself. It is the perfect faith for someone who cannot think, and does not like to think, and prefers to have handed to him a Simple and Total Regulation of Life, and a Complete Explanation of the Universe. For all those who need certainty, who cannot stand individual responsibility or moral choice, who prefer to be slaves of Allah -- well, Islam is just the ticket, it's just the thing for you.
But Islam is not a vehicle for "social justice." It is not the belief-system of non-racists, but the carrier of racism and imperialism: Arab racism, and Arab imperialism. Ask Francis Bok and the Lost Boys, or the black African Muslims in Darfur (400,000 killed, 2.5 million forced to flee their homes) or the 1.8 million black African non-Muslims in the southern Sudan. Or the Ibo and other Christians who vainly resisted the "Jihad" in the Biafra War of 1967-69. Islam inculcates the notion of a permanent division of the world between Believers and Infidels, and the duty of Muslims to pursue, through Jihad, the conquest, not necessarily by military means (Da'wa and demographic conquest will do), the Lands of the Infidels, where all obstacles to the spread of Islam are to be torn down, so that the goal that all Muslims share may be realized. No "diversity" but rather a world where "Islam dominates and is not to be dominated" -- everywhere.
Posted on 03/04/2007 1:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
The Twin Pillars
TEHERAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that his first state visit to Saudi Arabia has been fruitful and the two Islamic states agreed to jointly fight what he called ”conspiracies” against the Islamic world. --from this news item
J. B. Kelly noted in his celebrated Encounter essay ("Of Valuable Oil and Worthless Policies"), written in 1979, that the United States had for decades had a "Twin-Pillar" policy in the Middle East, relying on the assured stability and friendship of those two "staunch allies" Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Three Stooges, Carter and Brzezinski and Gary Sick, aided by others of that uncomprehending ilk (behind every Robert Hunter was a Shirin Hunter -- all of them still going imperturbably strong by the way -- allowed that First Pillar, Iran, sink into the swamp of Khomeini and Islam -- that is, revert to what the short-lived Pahlevi Dynasty, going back to the mid-1920s, had tried to do, in its own way, to limit the power of Islam and certainly managed to mightily improve the treatment of non-Muslims and create, as was never created in any Arab state, a thinking elite that was open to the West, and to taking an interest in, even deliberately cultivating, the pre-Islamic or non-Islamic aspects of Iranian history. Thanks to the Three Stooges, each with his act, Carter the Pious, Carter the Good, Carter the Saintly, Brzezinski the Deep Geopolitical Thinker, the "Strategist" (deeply resenting the fame and money and glory of Henry Kissinger, who was in fact not a great deal further in his comprehension of the Middle East, and Islam, than Brzezinski), and of course the inimitable Gary Sick, who cost taxpayers millions in Congressional investigations of his wild charges (google "Gary Sick" and "Daniel Pipes" for a bit more on the man who, predictably, has ended up as some kind of pooh-bah director of somethingorother at Columbia, in all things middle-eastern the last refuge for scoundrels and dopes).
Iran did not have to be lost. The Shah could have been encouraged to hold on. Even the left in Iran, that had foolishly made its deal with the Islamic devil, might have been assuaged had, early on, the corruption at court been modified, had a Bakhtiar been propped up. But it didn't happen. Carter wrote to Khomeini, hailing him as a "fellow man of faith." It was all there, written in Farsi, what Khomeini's views were, and what he planned to do. Bernard Lewis had read it; he knew what was to come. But no one in the Carter Administration, least of all Brzezinski and Gary Sick, would have figured out that just perhaps, while Khomeini was still in his French exile, but movie theatres with hundreds inside were already being burned to the ground by Muslim militants in Iran, they should have had those texts translated (of course Sick can't read Farsi -- he's only an "Iranian expert" not a "Farsi-reading Iranian expert"), and find out what Khomeini was all about. As for the 1942 statement by Khomeini, the one he adhered to all his life, the one quoted repeatedly at this website, that insists that the essence of Islam is making war and killing the Infidels, that remark never came up. The contents of those cassettes that Khomeini made in Neauphle-le-chateau, after he was kicked out of Iraq by Saddam Hussein (and the government of France so trustingly took him in), were never translated, and never listened to -- not one, I am sure -- by Carter, by Brzezinski, by Sick. They were flying blind, making things up, the way they, and so many others in successive administrations, do whenever the subject of Islam or Muslim peoples and polities, come up.
So the First Pillar of the "Two-Pillar" Strategy fell. That left the Second Pillar -- Saudi Arabia. It was, and for some remains, our "staunch ally." It is nothing of the sort. It is nothing of the sort because the Al-Saud, and those over whom they lord it, are all suffused with Islam, an Islam un-modified or softened by anything else, such as a non-Arab ethnic identity that might tug slightly away from Islam -- and see themselves as the purest Arabs (they are that) and the purest Muslims (they are that), and as such, the Infidels, however much they may need to be used or manipulated for Saudi ends, are and can only be the enemy. It is our "staunch ally" that has spent, over the past several decades, nearly a hundred billion dollars on world-wide campaigns to spread Islam, to build and maintain mosques and madrasas, all over the Western world, to finance campaigns of Da'wa, to spread the worst kind of anti-Infidel propaganda, the kind that Freedom House managed to pick up in Saudi-financed mosques in this country and report on, a report that should be required reading for everyone even remotely connected to policy-making, and to the security services, in this country, and indeed all over the Western world. But because Saudi money has also gone to financing certain "academic" centers, and individual professors, and to buying goodwill through the carefully-targetted largesse (when Clinton becomes President, it is the turn of the University of Arkansas to receive Saudi money), to Presidents and ex-Presidents, to Presidential libraries, to the Baker Center at Rice, to their favorite charities which so often are their private fiefdoms or domains. Yet the Saudi textbooks so recently discovered to contain the most incredible -- and yet entirely predictable -- rantings against Infidels, were not new, but had always been there.
Saudi Arabia has not changed; it always was this way, but only recently have some begun to understand it differently. Yet still there are those who cling to the idea that Saudi Arabia is our friend, because the "good" side -- the corrupt and worldly Prince Bandar and his supposed allies -- will win. But Prince Bandar, for all of his blague, is not and cannot be a friend of the West, or insure that Saudi Arabia will stop being the chief funder of the Jihad, the Jihad whose chief instruments are the "money weapon" and Da'wa and demographic conquest (paying for mosques and madrasas makes the conduct of Muslim life easier, makes it easier to settle deep within the Lands of the Infidels, and to retain a belief-system that is inimical to the well-being of those Infidels). And finally, the buying-up of influence, especially in Washington, by the Saudis, has been the main obstacle to an energy policy that recognizes the need to diminish the use of fossil fuels. When seeking to affix blame for the colossal failure, so far, when it is almost too late, for the changes -- both climatic and climactic -- that, for example, are already causing the world's fish stocks to decline so precipitously, and bringing about what may be called extreme weather, and also the now-recognized precipitous melting of icecaps with consequences for built-up coastal areas of which we have already had a foretaste.
Now, as the article above suggests, the Two Pillars are together again -- but not in a way that bodes well for the United States. One of the Pillars is the Iran of Ahmadinejad, with his support for Hezbollah and his clear determination to efface the Infidel state of Israel from the map (if some Arabs -- "Palestinians" –must die, so what? It doesn’t matter to Iran or to other Muslims, for what counts is the impossibility of tolerating control of the land, no matter how tiny that sliver of land may be, by non-Muslims.
And the Second Pillar is Saudi Arabia, which may seem, but only to those who want to be fooled, temporarily a force for good, for “moderation.” But what motivates the daggers-and-dishdashi rulers of Saudi Arabia ? Not any desire to improve the wellbeing of the United States, or to prevent its conquest, or that of Western Europe, by Islam. Certainly not the wellbeing of any Infidels. That would not make sense. That would be contrary to Islam. They are motivated, in the main, by two desires: to promote Islam, its power and glory, and of course, above all other things, to secure and promote their own well-being, the princes and princelings and princelettes of the Al-Saud. If they can come to some understanding with the Shi’a fanatics now running the Islamic Republic of Iran, that will allow the Sunni fanatics now running Saudi Arabia to avoid having to deal with Shi’a unrest in the oil regions of Al-Hasa, or just outside the confines of Saudi Arabia, in Bahrain and other sheikdoms with smaller Shi’a populations (such as Kuwait), or for that matter with Shi’a tribes in Yemen, a place that has always worried the Al-Saud, and with reason, given its larger population, and the many Yemenis who manage to come across the border for work, but who have historically been a source of Saudi disquiet.
One doubts if the Carter Administration, as it flailed about as the Shah fell, and then during the hostage crisis, ever had compiled a file on Khomeini and his beliefs, or the beliefs of the True Believers in Shi’a Islam. Or, for that matter, one doubts that the Bush Administration today – much less those that preceded it – has ever thought to fully inform the members of that Administration, or rather the thousand most powerful people in the Executive and Congressional branches, by compiling a file marked "Islam: Main Aspects of the Belief-System” and distributing that file. And such a file would have to get beyond, far beyond, the simple-minded business of Islam as a “tolerant” faith, or Islam as a matter of Ramadan and Iftar dinners, but get to the heart of the matter: how, in Islam, are Infidels viewed? How, in the history of Islamic conquest, have Infidels – all kinds of Infidels, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, and others – been treated. No more room for potted apologetics whether from the likes of John Esposito (who during the Clinton Administration was actually consulted by them, apparently – a man who, were things seen correctly, would be disgraced for his deliberate, constant, well-reimbursed dissembling about the nature of Islam) or the others who make up the Fifth Column of MESA Nostra, and who have captured the minds of the impressionable and innocent young.
No, one doubts that there is such a file that circulates in the government today, for fear that it might get out, for fear that it would fall into the hands of those who would report it, and then the government would feel it would have to distance itself, would have to apologize to the world's Muslims for correctly describing the nature of Islam -- as described by every single Western scholar of Islam, and writer on Islam, for centuries. If, for example, the brilliant analysis of Islam written by one of the greatest American statesmen, John Quincy Adams, were to be circulated today by the American government, or put into the Congressional record by a Congressman, it would promptly be denounced by editorialists everywhere. How dare such views be given expression, or even circulated within the government? But until some home truths about Islam – the same home truths that this weekend, in Washington, the most important domestic experts on Islam – Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and other apostates – are expressing, sensible policies which both recognize, and exploit, the natural fissures within Islam, will not be created.
Look again at the article above. It’s about the Shi’a and the Sunni making peace, heading off hostilities. What is your reaction to that meeting? Is it one of pleasure that “instability” in the Middle East may be avoided? Are you glad to see such signs, not so much of reconciliation, but of “peace-making” between Sunni and Shi’a?
If you are commonsensical, of course you are not glad. You hope that such efforts fail. You hope that Ahmadinejad and Abdullah do not really make peace.
But then ask yourself this: who, in this country, apparently wants them to succeed? Who, in this country, is willing to spend the lives of American officers and men, spend another few hundred billion (at least), to ship over still more war matériel – so much that the National Guard has very little left for use here at home, as the “National” Guard – in order to do exactly what Abdullah and Ahmadinejad are attempting to do, that is to prevent “sectarian violence.”
Yes, the United States is apparently back with its old “Twin-Pillar Policy” that J. B. Kelly described in 1979, the policy of pretending that America’s interests could be furthered by relying on Saudi Arabia and Iran as those Twin Pillars. And now we see an Administration that obstinately cannot admit how mistaken it was in its failure to properly label the campaign that Infidels are, or should be engaged in (calling it, idiotically, a “war on terror” which, among other things, does nothing to rally people in Western Europe against the growing menace of islamization in their own lands, as long as the instruments of that islamization do not include “terror” – and why should they, when things are going so swimmingly without terror as one of those instruments?).
So if you are happy with Ahmadinejad and Abdullah attempting to head off sectarian strife, then you should be mightily pleased with the Bush Administration’s effort to do the same in Iraq.
On the other hand, if you share my view that sectarian and ethnic fissures within the Camp of Islam, offered on a platter in Iraq, offer Infidels the very best hope for dividing and demoralizing the Camp of Islam, then you will realize, with a pang, that the Bush Administration’s folly in remaining in Tarbaby Iraq is beyond measure, scarcely beyond comprehension, and it is a folly shared not only by loyalists of the Administration, but by all those who brightly speak or write, so self-assuringly, of “catastrophe” that would follow an American pullout, without ever asking the most obvious next question (“catastrophe for whom?”) or beginning to rethink assumptions about how best to weaken the Camp of Islam, and to arouse Infidels out of their somnolence (there is nothing like a Demonstration Project of Muslim violence, Muslim aggression, especially if it is if the kind where Infidels are nowhere in sight, for their presence so often blocks the view). And it is a folly, the folly of which has not been properly pointed out by those opposed to Bush and his Iraq nonsense, because they do not, themselves, see things accurately, and attack him for the wrong reasons, not for the right and unanswerable reasons that have been presented at this website and JW, for three long and infuriating years
So do you support the attempt to make Iraq a place where the “catastrophe” of sectarian violence can be headed off, and support the use of American troops, and the sacrifice of American lives, to do that? Do you? Then go ahead, support President Bush, and President Ahmadinejad, and King Abdullah, for all three of them agree with you. “Catastrophe” must be avoided.
Posted on 03/04/2007 1:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Orson Scott Card writes at Civilization Watch (h/t LGF):
..the reason I stopped listening to Steve Berry's The Alexandria Link is that this book is evil...
I mean that this book, to the degree that it is read by people ignorant of history (i.e., practically everybody), will move us closer to a future in which our society permits or even approves of the murder of Jews and the destruction of the state of Israel...
At the beginning of the book, we are shown a Palestinian during the 1948 war over the creation of the state of Israel. The scene is about how this Palestinian has been torturing a man he captured in order to find out what he is doing; then he kills him. But the torture is not treated in the fiction as anything other than a regrettable necessity; later, the character does in fact regret his actions that day.
That's not what makes this book evil. No, it's the fact that Berry sets this scene against a background in which Israelis are systematically driving all the Palestinians out of Israel; the Israelis are heavily armed by the British while the Palestinians have no weapons to counter them; and the Israelis have rounded up whole villages of Palestinians and slaughtered them, men and women alike.
These things are not what the scene is about. They are slipped in as background; they are treated as if they were the sort of thing that was really going on in Palestine in 1948.
This is the kind of thing that readers -- especially ones who don't know anything about history -- are likely to assume the writer has researched, so that it can be trusted. The book is fiction, so we know this particular character did not torture and kill the other guy -- that part is obviously made up. But the background is assumed to be real. And readers often come out of books like this thinking they now know something about the real world...
Posted on 03/04/2007 3:13 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Teach Those Sunni Running-Dogs Of Infidels A Lesson
Iran has trained secret networks of agents across the Gulf states to attack Western interests and incite civil unrest in the event of a military strike against its nuclear programme, a former Iranian diplomat has told The Sunday Telegraph. --from this news item
One hopes that Iranian agents will be sure to strike at those corrupt Sunni regimes, the ones that have supposedly been "collaborating" with the Americans (but the use of bases in Qatar and Kuwait is done only because the ruling families believe that the presence of Americans protects them from the bigger neighborhood bullies -- Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and not out of any love for Americans), and that regard the long-suffering Shi'a as "Rafidite dogs." Surely the Shi'a can figure out that what they really need to do is, at long last, to teach those Sunni running-dogs of Infidels a lesson by attacking their infrastructure, their built-up areas, and threatening Sunni Arab interests. Besides, it's the Persian Gulf -- not the "Arabian" Gulf. Got that, boys?
Posted on 03/04/2007 3:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Didn't see it coming
Every now and again, I hear a new joke whose punchline is completely unexpected. I posted one some time ago here.
To my delight, in the comments to this quite funny story, I found one such joke (h/t Alan):
A woman asks her husband if he'd like some breakfast; bacon, eggs, perhaps a slice of toast? Grapefruit with coffee to follow?
He declines. "It's this Viagra," he says, "it's really taken the edge off my appetite."
At lunch time, she asks if he would like something. A bowl of home made soup, maybe, with a cheese sandwich? Perhaps a plate of snacks and a glass of milk?
He declines. "It's this Viagra," he says, "It's really taken the edge off my appetite."
Come tea time, she asks if he wants anything to eat. She'll go to the cafe and buy him a burger. Maybe a steak and cheese pie? Pizza? Or a tasty stir fry that would only take a couple of minutes?
He declines. "It's this Viagra," he says, "it's really taken the edge off my appetite."
"Well," she says, "would you mind getting off me? I'm f***ing starving!"
Posted on 03/04/2007 3:33 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Stolen Rockwell Found in Spielberg Collection
CBC.CA: A Norman Rockwell painting stolen from a gallery in St. Louis, Mo., more than three decades ago was found in Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg's art collection, the FBI announced Friday.
Spielberg purchased the painting, entitled Russian Schoolroom, in 1989 from a legitimate dealer and did not know it was stolen until his staff spotted its image last week on an FBI website listing stolen works of art, the bureau said in a statement...
The oil-on-canvas painting shows children in a classroom with a bust of communist leader Vladimir Lenin.
I had never seen a Rockwell painting of anything other than Americans (which is why I posted this story). He must have travelled to Russia at some point, but I'd never heard of it before now.
Posted on 03/04/2007 4:15 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Shire Network News
Tom Paine takes over this week
because Brian of London has his hands full. He and his wife have just welcomed their first child into the world. Congratulations Brian.
Posted on 03/04/2007 4:40 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Wade-Giles or Pinyin?
brought up in Beijing
If we're going to bring back English, we should start saying Peking again. Beijing is pandering to the Chinese, and is probably no closer to their pronunciation than Peking in any case. --Mary Jackson
Some are born pinyin, apparently, and some have pinyin thrust upon them. I know what you mean about nostalgie de la Wade-Giles, but at a certain point, though fifty million Frenchman can be wrong, I'm afraid that 1.3 billion Chinese can't.
Posted on 03/04/2007 4:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
An Affirmative Duty
This article is good, and strong, but not strong enough. That is, the writer accepts a few lies along the way, including the most successful one, the one that began after the Six Day War, in which local Arabs were transmuted into the "Palestinian people. " Given that most people know nothing, and are at the level of "well, there's a Palestine, and there's this Palestinian people" so I guess "Palestine must belong to those Palestinian people" -- knowing nothing of the history of the area, nothing of its fate under Arab and then Ottoman rule, nothing about the treatment of the Jews under Muslim rule, in "Palestine" and outside (from Morocco to Yemen), have some vague notions that Jews were "well-treated" under Islam -- an idea belied by the fact that 9/10ths of the world's Jews were living outside that supposedly "tolerant" Muslim world by the beginning of the last century, and none are left, save for the tiniest remnant, anywhere in Dar al-Islam, nothing of the cadastral or demographic facts about that area which, if one bothers to find out, make the case even stronger.
But it would be churlish to dwell on any of that. Orson Scott Card deserves praise. He understands, as many Americans do -- far more than do non-Jews in other places -- that it is not enough not to be an antisemite. Given the incredible history of the Jews, and the incredible behavior of so much of the world, and given the stakes now, there is an affirmative duty, as the lawyers say, imposed on all those non-Jews who have managed either to remain unaffected by antisemitism or, by dint of their own efforts, to throw off all bits and pieces of it, and that duty requires them to make a point of pointing out what contributes to, or what reveals, antisemitism wherever it may be. Some think too much is made of this pathological mental condition, a condition that has nothing to do with Jews but with mental states of the possessors. On the contrary. Not enough is made of it, and it is not recognized often enough as the explanation for attitudes and a quickness to accept the most absurd of lies, big and little. Orson Scott Card belongs to the Camp of Those Who Won't Have It, Won't Have Any Of It. And that is the only Camp to belong to, for intelligent and decent non-Jews everywhere. It is not enough for them to be non-carriers of the mental virus. They have a duty to help to diagnose, and then inoculate, others.
Posted on 03/04/2007 5:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Lenin In The Krasniy Ugol'
In many official Soviet rooms, there would hang a little picture of Lenin on the wall, or even in the krasniy ugol', the place where, once upon a time, True Believers in another and gentler faith than Communism might have put the icon. As a non-Soviet student in Russia, and a devout iconoclast itching (but not daring) to smash the damn thing, I would every chance I got, when alone with the picture of Lenin, in its krasnij ugol', to turn the thing on its alopecic head. This used to infuriate the authorities, and I know they suspected me. But I'm not sure that busts in schoolrooms were a common Soviet practice, as the painting implies. I'll ask around.
Nonetheless, no need to criticize Rockwell on this detail. We get his point. And it's a good one. Rockwell can be Rockwell. Da, pust budet' Rockwell.
Posted on 03/04/2007 5:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald