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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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The Impact of Islam
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Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
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Karimi Hotel
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The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
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Jihad and Genocide
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
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These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 4, 2008.
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Man beheads nephew, 1, in Saudi Arabia store
A man beheaded his 15-month-old nephew in front of his mother in a supermarket because he wanted to "get back at her", it was reported.
The 25-year-old picked up a knife and severed the boy's head in the fruit and vegetable section of the shop in Jeddah.
The man, a Syrian who was the boy's maternal uncle, killed the child following a dispute with his sister and brother-in-law, Saudi police said.
The murder was committed during the busy early-morning period, the Arab News reported. The mother was taken to hospital for treatment for shock.
"It happened so quickly. Before people could intervene, the man had cut more than half way through the child's neck," said Abu Muhammad, a witness.
I’m not suggesting this is in anyway an Islamicly cultured “honour” killing or anything other than a murder by either a madman or a sadistic and wicked criminal. The original Arab News report makes the shock of a small child’s murder clear. In some societies such a bad or madman would have shot the child, in other bludgeoned him with the furniture. In that culture the natural skill for killing is with the knife for throat slitting and beheading. As is shown by this report from the same paper of a second murder by the same method.
Posted on 03/04/2008 1:21 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Berlin art exhibit facing Islamic threats reopens
COPENHAGEN (AFP) — An exhibition by Danish artists in Berlin that closed last week after receiving threats over a photo deemed to be offensive to Muslims will reopen its doors on Tuesday, organisers said.
"We have been informed by the authorities in Distrikt Mitte that the exhibition is reopening until March 29," organiser Jan Egesborg told Danish news agency Ritzau on Monday.
The show by Danish collective Surrend is aimed at depicting what they say is the absurdity of extremism in all religions.
One of the 21 photos is of the Kaaba -- the cube-shaped building inside the Great Mosque in Mecca -- with the inscription describing the stone as "stupid". 
There are also apparently photographs mocking Judaism about which the Jewish Community have not issued death threats. I don’t doubt that Christianity will also be mocked somewhere but that Christians have not issued threats either.
Surrend condemned the closure of their exhibit as a "scandal" Monday, and warned the authorities' indecision on the issue gave out a "terrible sign" about the freedom of artists.
Posted on 03/04/2008 2:33 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Muslim Weekly apologises to Daniel Pipes for repeating Tariq Ramadan's incorrect allegations.
The Muslim Weekly has apologised to Daniel Pipes for repeating a false allegation made by Tariq Ramadan that Daniel Pipes had lied to us at the Clash of Civilisations conference last year.
I have taken the details from Kevin Williamson’s report for the National Review as the Muslim Weekly is subscription access on line.
Upon receipt of a libel complaint from Mr. Pipes, the Muslim Weekly accepted that Mr. Pipes spoke accurately at the conference and that he did not lie. The Muslim Weekly apologized to Mr. Pipes for the distress caused by the article. The Muslim Weekly's retraction, published both in print and online in the Feb. 29, 2008 issue, reads in full as follows:
On February 9, 2007, the Muslim Weekly published an article, "World civilisation conference: Professor Tariq Ramadan on Islamic Threat," under the byline of Dr. Mozammel Haque, concerning a speech given by Professor Ramadan on 20 January 2007. We reported that he accused Professor Daniel Pipes, an American specialist on the Middle East, of lying in his speech to the same conference about the religion of an Egyptian Muslim. We now understand that Professor Pipes spoke accurately and that he did not lie. We retract what we wrote about him and apologise to Professor Pipes for any distress caused by our article.
Reacting to this apology, Mr. Pipes said: "I am delighted that Muslim Weekly recognizes there is no truth whatsoever in Tariq Ramadan's allegations concerning my statement at the World Civilization Conference, and that it has forthrightly set the record straight."
In short, at the conference Daniel Pipes spoke of Magdi Allam the Egyptian born Italian journalist as one of a number of Muslim reformists alongside whom he wishes to stand. Later that day at one of the seminars Tariq Ramadan claimed that Daniel Pipes had lied and that Magdi Allam is a Christian Copt, albeit with an Arab name.
In fact it is Tariq Ramadan who lied, or at the very best was negligently mistaken as Magdi Allam describes himself in his autobiography as born a Muslim, raised a Muslim and identifies himself as a secular Muslim.
As to the damage that Ramadan’s wrong statement could cause Daniel Pipes says
At minimum, casting Allam as a Copt blunts his important anti-Islamist voice. Maximally, identifying him as an apostate from Islam endangers his life. It is no secret that Allam makes no move without his multiple, around-the-clock, state-supplied bodyguards by his side. Ramadan, to his permanent shame, is party to this endangerment of a brave and creative Muslim thinker.
Tariq Ramadan is a very nasty piece of work.
Posted on 03/04/2008 4:01 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
We women are such silly little creatures

"We scream, we swoon, how dumb can we get?" simpers Charlotte Allen:

Women 'Falling for Obama,' " the story's headline read. Elsewhere around the country, women were falling for the presidential candidate literally. Connecticut radio talk show host Jim Vicevich has counted five separate instances in which women fainted at Obama rallies since last September. And I thought that fainting was supposed to be a relic of the sexist past, when patriarchs forced their wives and daughters to lace themselves into corsets that cut off their oxygen.

I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women -- I should say "we women," of course -- aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial. Women "are only children of a larger growth," wrote the 18th-century Earl of Chesterfield. Could he have been right?

I'm not the only woman who's dumbfounded (as it were) by our sex, or rather, as we prefer to put it, by other members of our sex besides us. It's a frequent topic of lunch, phone and water-cooler conversations; even some feminists can't believe that there's this thing called "The Oprah Winfrey Show" or that Celine Dion actually sells CDs. A female friend of mine plans to write a horror novel titled "Office of Women," in which nothing ever gets done and everyone spends the day talking about Botox.

[...]

What is it about us women? Why do we always fall for the hysterical, the superficial and the gooily sentimental?

[...]

I am perfectly willing to admit that I myself am a classic case of female mental deficiencies. I can't add 2 and 2 (well, I can, but then what?). I don't even know how many pairs of shoes I own. I have coasted through life and academia on the basis of an excellent memory and superior verbal skills, two areas where, researchers agree, women consistently outpace men.

[...]

So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home ...Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we can be . . . kind of dim.

Who is this "we"? Speak for yourself. I'm not like this. None of my female friends or colleagues is like this. Some women are like this, but so what?

The author's faux self-deprecating, fluffy bunny act - does she dot her "i"s with little hearts? - is clearly aimed, not at women, but at men, who want their comforting stereotypes confirmed. Men, that is, who are threatened by strong women. This is the journalistic equivalent of running your hands through your hair, opening your eyes wide and saying to a man, "Ooh, you're so clever. How do you do it?"

I think it was Jane Austen who described a character as "one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing their own". Nothing has changed.

Posted on 03/04/2008 4:48 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Bleep off, you're driving me mad

Jeremy Clarkson on things that go beep in the night. And in the day:

I have just bought a dishwasher. And now I am thinking of smashing it into small pieces because when it’s finished washing the pots and pans it makes a beeping noise. And if I don’t empty it immediately it beeps again. And then again.

How stupid is that? It means you’re sitting by the fire, nodding off in front of the television, when you hear the electronic summons and, because you know it will go on until the end of time, you haul yourself out of your chair, pad into the kitchen, open the door and discover, as jets of superheated steam gush into your face, that the beeping was not, in fact, coming from the dishwasher at all.

So now you’re standing there, looking like Niki Lauda, wondering what on earth had been making the infernal noise. It could be anything, because these days everything beeps. Mobile phones beep when they are dying. Microwaves beep when your food is ready. Freezers beep when they get too warm. Cars beep if you don’t put your seatbelt on. Captains beep before they make an in-flight announcement. Airport golf buggies beep when they move. Children’s toys beep when they don’t. Lorries beep when they reverse. Parking meters beep when you put money into them. Phones beep when there’s a message. Shop doors beep when you open them. Actors beep when they swear before the watershed. There’s even a beep in the Radio 2 traffic jingle.

So you creep about the house, with your melted face, hoping that you’ll be near the source of the noise when it strikes again. Then, suddenly, you think: “Jesus. It’s a smoke alarm warning us that its battery is dead and that unless I do something about it – right now – everyone will be burnt to a crisp.”

Quickly you get a stepladder and replace the battery and just as the cover snaps shut you hear the beep again. This time, of course, you know it really is the dishwasher. So you open the door and it steam-strips the bits of your face that weren’t burnt off the first time. Because actually the noise was coming from the freezer, which has got a bit too warm.

I hate to quibble, but actors don't "beep" when they swear. They "bleep", or rather the swear words get "bleeped out". Clarkson says "bleep" in the title of this piece, but after that it's "beep" all the way. What is the difference between a "beep" and a "bleep"? A bloody 'ell, that's what. Ooops! Bleeep!

Clarkson's list is only the tip of the bleeping iceberg. Other beeping things include answer-phones, keypads, printers that have run out of paper, photocopiers that have jammed or on which you have left your original, supermarket scanners and life support machines (beep beep beep beep beeeeeeeep). My cat beeps, too, if you wake her suddenly, but animal noises are never as irritating as machine noises.

Clarkson makes a plea for silence:

I appreciate that some things have to make a noise. Heathrow airport, for example. And the Heckler & Koch sub-machinegun. But most things do not and I urge people to think about that when designing products and services.

Did you know, for instance, that Microsoft employed Brian Eno to write the four-note welcome chime when you turned on a Windows 95 computer?

Why? I know when the sodding thing comes on because when I push the buttons on the keyboard, words appear on the screen. I do not need an audible alert. Nor do I need a car to chirp when I lock it. Oh, and publicans. If you have a jukebox on the premises, here’s an idea. Why not allow customers to buy three minutes of silence?

He could always make up a tape of bits of silence, like Dr Murke.

Posted on 03/04/2008 5:27 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
The Downfall of the Netherlands
Excerpts from Land of the Naive Fools (De Ondergang van Nederlands) by Mohammed Rasoel (a Pakistani immigrant to the Netherlands) are available here.
Posted on 03/04/2008 7:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
WaPo Editor: We Need More Muslims Shaping The News

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who presume to lecture others about Islam, but know absolutely nothing about it themselves.

The Daily Pilot: The managing editor of one of the country’s biggest newspapers thinks news organizations ought to hire more Muslim reporters.

Philip Bennett, the Washington Post’s managing editor, said reporters often struggle with understanding Islam during a speech Monday at UCI about the difficulties of covering the religion.

Bennett’s speech focused on the media’s need to cover issues concerning Islam in an in-depth, long-term manner.

To illustrate this point he drew mainly from quotes of notable colleagues and statistical polls, rarely giving his own opinion directly.

“Six of 10 Americans, according to a 2007 ABC Poll, don’t understand the basic tenets of Islam,” Bennett said.

He attributed this to the lack of Muslims working in American newsrooms.

“At the Post I want more Muslim readers and I want more Muslim journalists,” he said.

Words poorly translated from Arabic to English are a big source of confusion caused by the lack of Muslim voices in the American media, according to Bennett.

Zeyad Maasarani, 22, a Muslim reporter for California’s most circulated Muslim publication, Southern California in Focus, agrees with Bennett that terms like “jihad,” “madrasa” and “hijab” are a big source of the public’s misunderstanding of Islam.

“Jihad means holy war, which is the definition that most Americans know, but it also means struggle, and valiant attempt,” Maasarani said.

One such word that has been contentiously debated in newsrooms is “Islamist,” which generally refers to a political movement governed by Islamic law. Bennett said at the Washington Post editors still have not decided whether to add it to their style book.

Some argue the word is a useful distinction for movements like Hamas and Hezbollah, but others at the Post argue that it is too vague and should be omitted in favor of a more specific description.

Bennett spent most of his time recalling an anecdote about a misunderstood Muslim group in Walkersville, Md., who were trying to purchase a large amount of land for a retreat.

The Ahmadiyya, an Islamic sect considered heretical through much of the Muslim world, did TV interviews, town hall meetings and even door-to-door interviews to try to convince the people of Walkersville that they meant well, according to Bennett, but the county zoning board ultimately denied permission to buy the land.

He cites cursorily researched articles in the local and national newspapers that neglected to figure out who the Ahmadiyya really were as a primary reason that their proposal was met with massive protests.

Bennett said that in the period following 9/11 there was a lot of uninformed writing about Islam, and that “the best journalism fought against the tide of public perception.”...

That parable about the blind leading the blind springs to mind.

Posted on 03/04/2008 8:17 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Cameron Gets Tough

What is it? Is he threatening to deport Muslim felons or polygamists? Unlimited detention for terrorists? No! He's threatening to cut off their grant money.

Daily Express: DAVID Cameron is to call for a ban on public handouts to Muslim extremists.

And the Tory leader wants anyone who “rejects democracy” barred from sitting on public bodies.

Last night he also called on the Government to step up action to keep extremist preachers out of Britain, saying: “Terrorist apologists should be kept out, full stop, period.”

Mr Cameron told a leading Jewish charity that too many fanatical groups were still getting public funding.

He accused Labour ministers of “taking their eye off the ball” in the fight against extremism.

In a speech to the Community Security Trust, which helps protect the Jewish community from anti-semitic attacks, he said: “The Government has allocated hundreds of thousands of pounds to local authorities to improve community cohesion.

“But there are worrying signs that ministers have taken their eyes off the ball.”

He cited examples of councils handing out cash for community projects that ended up going to extremist groups, including Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

“I will be making proposals to isolate extremists and make certain they cannot obtain public grants or get invited to sit on public bodies,” he said. “That won’t just apply to Islamic extremists. We will be equally vigilant in ensuring that groups linked to the BNP or animal rights militants are excluded too.

“The message should be clear – to those who reject democracy, to those who preach hate, to those who encourage violence: You are not part of the mainstream, you will not get public funding.”...

But they will continue to collect welfare, including subsidies for multiple wives.

Posted on 03/04/2008 8:30 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Kramer on Power

Martin Kramer has a good dissection of Samantha Power at the Sand Box:

Samantha Power is the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide, and she has a professorship at Harvard (in something called "Global Leadership and Public Policy"). She is also a senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama. This isn't an honorific: she has worked for Obama in Washington, she has campaigned for him around the country, and she doesn't hesitate to speak for him. This morning, the Washington Post has a piece on Obama's foreign policy team, identifying her (and retired Maj. Gen. Scott Garion) as "closest to Obama, part of a group-within-the-group that he regularly turns to for advice." Power and Garion "retain unlimited access to Obama." This morning's New York Times announces that Power has an "irresistable profile" and "she could very well end up in [Obama's] cabinet." 

She also has a problem: a corpus of critical statements about Israel. These have been parsed by Noah Pollak at Commentary's blog Contentions, by Ed Lasky and Richard Baehr at American Thinker, and by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.

Power made her most problematic statement in 2002, in an interview she gave at Berkeley. The interviewer asked her this question:
Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine-Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?
Power gave an astonishing answer:
What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing—or investing, I think, more than sacrificing—billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.

Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called “Sharafat” [Sharon-Arafat]. I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention.... Any intervention is going to come under fierce criticism. But we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are becoming ever more pronounced.
It isn't too difficult to see all the red flags in this answer. Having placed Israel's leader on par with Yasser Arafat, she called for massive military intervention on behalf of the Palestinians, to impose a solution in defiance of Israel and its American supporters. Billions of dollars would be shifted from Israel's security to the upkeep of a "mammoth protection force" and a Palestinian state—all in the name of our "principles."

This quote has dogged Power, and she has gone to extraordinary lengths to put it behind her. Most notably, she called in the Washington correspondent of the Israeli daily Haaretz, Shmuel Rosner, to whom she disavowed the quote:
Power herself recognizes that the statement is problematic. "Even I don't understand it," she says. And also: "This makes no sense to me." And furthermore: "The quote seems so weird." She thinks that she made this statement in the context of discussing the deployment of international peacekeepers. But this was a very long time ago, circumstances were different, and it's hard for her to reconstruct exactly what she meant. 

It must be awful, at such a young age, to lose track of why you recommended the massive deployment of military force, and not that long ago. So let me help Samantha Power: I can reconstruct exactly what she meant.

Keep reading here.

Posted on 03/04/2008 9:01 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
$30 Billion Down The Pakistani Drain

Given that Joseph Stiglitz is now calling the Iraq fiasco -- there's still time to justify part of the investment, to weaken the Camp of Islam, to extract a victory of it, if only we get out -- the "three-trilliion-dollar war," the $30 billion that has been given (or partly by being a debt forgiven) to Pakistan, since 2001, hardly amounts to a hill of beans, in free-spending, heedless, semi-demented Washington, where the tens of billions are thrown around like confetti, now to this malevolent group or country, and now to that.

Still, it is $30 billion down the Pakistani drain. Why any more? Why not take the measure of Muslims, why not try, for god's sake just try, to sit still for a few months and begin to make sense of this ideology that is so very different, in what it contains, and its effect on the minds of the vast masses of Believers, from any other faith? It is not only a religion. It is a politics. It is a way of life. Study that politics, study that way of life. Begin to understand how deeply it effects its adherents, and how so many of them have become so adept -- apparently, for some of find what they do transparent -- at preventing Infidels from finding out too much about their faith, and continuing instead to be satisfied with interfaith-healing pieties that any defector from Islam, or any non-Muslim who has grown up in a society where Muslims rule, can only regard with amazement, disbelief, and horror.

Posted on 03/04/2008 9:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Pseudsday Tuesday

I distrust the word "community" almost as much as I distrust the words "discourse" and "diversity". The word suggests cosy togetherness, but is, in practice, a euphemism for totalitarianism and tyranny. There must be "diversity" within a "community", we are told, but the "discourse" of the "community" must always be the same.

The Ummah - the community of Muslims - is the most sinister of these communities. Billions of people, of all races, in all times and all places, bow towards Mecca and worship a seventh century Arab warlord. Non-members must be exploited, converted, subjugated or killed. The community comes before art, science, music, humour and love.

Other communities are less threatening, but no less absurd. Dot Wordsworth recently reported hearing of the "information-requesting community" - as if they all lived together and had much in common. The "gay community" is another phrase we hear all too often. What exactly does Matthew Parris have in common with Elton John? The "black community" is even sillier. Membership requirements are very lax - you can join even if you're half white, like Barrack Obama.

Talking of Obama, Rebecca has already drawn attention to Michelle Obama's senior thesis at Princeton University, an institution she attended by virtue of an "affirmative action" programme. As well as biting the hand that fed her, Miss Robinson, as she then was, makes absurd and overly-suffixed play of "The Black Community":

Earlier in my college career, there was no doubt in my mind that as a member of the Black community I was somehow obligated to this community and would utilize all of my present and future resources to benefit this community first and foremost.

I know she can't help saying "obligated" - that's an American thing - but why "utilize", and what is "all of my present and future resources"? Does she mean that's she's going to give all her money away? To the Black Community? All of it, including those who are half white?

Earlier in the thesis Miss Robinson bleats:

I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second.”

That's because she was a black first and a student second - she only got in because she was black.  Had she been seen as "a student first and a black second" she wouldn't have made it.

Predominately white universities like Princeton are socially and academically designed to cater to the needs of the white students comprising the bulk of their enrollments.

What does this mean? What does a black student "need" that a white student doesn't? Black chalk and whiteboards? What colour is mathematics, or science? What colour, for that matter, is French or German?*

I know what colour linguistics is, though. It's colourless, green, angry and dormant, all at the same time.

* (Actually, mathematics is blue and brown, science is grey and white, French is green and German is white and yellow, but that's another story.)  

Posted on 03/04/2008 8:52 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Lonely hearts ad

They say that if you're unlucky at cards you'll be lucky in love. I wonder if the chap in this advert, who put his cards on the table, found love:

Absolute rotter seeks naive and gullible young maiden for shallow and rather meaningless relationship. Nice girls only.

I hope so.

Posted on 03/04/2008 10:09 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Self-esteem studies

If you haven't time - and who has? - to read all of Michelle Obama's Senior Thesis: "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community", just read the dedication:

To my Mom, Dad, Craig and all of my special friends:

Thank-you [sic] for loving me and making me feel good about myself

Loving parents and friends do not always make you "feel good about yourself". Nor do good teachers, bosses and colleagues. Nor should they. My parents often made me feel bad about myself, and I deserved it.

Princeton University made Michelle Obama "feel good about herself" by giving her a place she did not deserve under an "affirmative action" programme. That place could have gone to someone more intelligent, too intelligent to write drivel about "utilising present and future resources to benefit the Black Community". And now people are voting for her husband for "redemptive" purposes: to atone for America's racist past and, yes, to feel good about themselves.

Self-esteem is too high. I think more people should feel bad about themselves. Loving parents and special friends - teachers especially - get on the case and do your worst.

Love is...making someone feel like a total sh*t.

Posted on 03/04/2008 10:27 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Pseudsday Tuesday continued

What is the secret of happiness? Being happy now, according to Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth. At least, I think that's what it means.

Being at peace and being who you are, that is, being yourself, are one. The ego says: Maybe at some point in the future, I can be at peace -- if this, that, or the other happens, or I obtain this or become that... The ego doesn't know that your only opportunity for being at peace is now. Or maybe it does know, and it is afraid that you may find this out. Peace, after all, is the end of the ego.

Money doesn't buy happiness, of course. Any delight at the four million copies sold this month is purely coincidental. I must clear my mind of cynical thoughts about how much money is made by those who say money doesn't matter. How to clear my mind? By feeling my inner body. Talk to the hand, 'cos the mind ain't listening:

If you are not familiar with "inner body" awareness, close your eyes and find out if there is life in your hands. Don't ask your mind. It will say: "I can't feel anything." Go to the hands directly, become aware of the subtle feeling of aliveness in them. It is there. You just have to notice it. You may get a slight tingling sensation at first, then a feeling of energy or aliveness.

Er... nope. Not a sausage. Bugger all. Dead as a doornail. Wait a minute - I hear the sound of cash registers. Ker-ching.

Update: According to Greenmamba, "ker-ching" is American, and I should say "ka-ching". My ass arse. What about ker-boom?

Posted on 03/04/2008 11:22 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
MWMM Seeks SW In Teheran

Almost a year ago I discovered an unusual item in the Personals Column at the Teheran Times. It can now also be found at www.craigslist.com -- first click on "Iran,"  and then on that  red-faced rubric "Men Seeking Women."

"MWMM, financially secure, seeks SW aged 9 to 19, for fun and fourth wifedom, to make my family life complete. Friends tell me I have smoldering come-hither looks, and am incredibly handsome; wives unanimously insist I am Ghassan Massoud look-alike. Piercing brown eyes, nicely-trimmed beard, athletic and fit. Very careful about watching what I eat. South Teheran sincerity, North Teheran income. Widely-travelled (chiefly European capitals, including Vienna and Paris, but also within Middle East) in the past, but really prefer to stay at home with a good book (last book read: Qur’an). Enjoy halal cooking. Wives 1, 2, and 3 have all won pistachio-and-honey pastry bakeoffs. Hobby: haggling for bargains with the bazaaris and haunting old bookshops (last purchase: leather-bound Qur’an with silver metalwork from Meshed). Collect old tapes of Qur’anic recitation, also examples of Qur’anic calligraphy from Qom. Secret dream: being put in charge of redecorating Andalucia as long-term project on popular television series This Old Dar-Al-Islam. Outgoing, solid citizen, long-time member of Oversight Council for the Guardians of Virtue. Much-decorated Revolutionary Guard and Basij veteran. Accomplished hands-on former mayor of major metropolitan area, not a thinker but a doer. Proven track record of following through on special projects, from earliest planning stage to final execution.

Unpretentious, good father, history buff (special interest: 7th century Arabia). Solid Mideastern values. Grew up on a farm outside Teheran, like to think I retain that basic rural outlook. Still passionate about most large animals (Ayatollah Khomeini’s “How to Treat Your Barnyard Animals” was favorite bedtime reading during teenage years). Famous for my irreverent humor (jokes about the weather a specialty). Adventurous in spirit, yet thoughtful and quiet in manner, with a truly global approach to the world’s problems. Strong proponent of nuclear program as environmentally-friendly alternative source of power for Iran. Believe that family, tribe, and Umma come before all else. Successful, strongly motivated, never satisfied until all goals completely achieved no matter what the sacrifices.

Hoping to find that special someone of similar background, submissive and quiet, content to be good cook and house-cleaner, happy in her chador, who cannot drive and understands that for women, even more than for men, thinking is greatly overrated.

Pet peeves: sculpture, painting, music, wine, dogs, Infidels.

Marriage first, then possibly getting to know each other, just a little bit, later.

If interested, please send picture (eye-slit only), and contact information (if under the age of 11, please include parents’ contact information) to: Office of the President, Big White Palace With The Gold Leaf Domes and Carpets and Vases and Other Stuff Inside, Islamic Republic of Iran, Teheran, Iran."

Posted on 03/04/2008 11:59 AM by Hugh Fitzerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
The Sudan, American Power, And Samantha Power

Samantha Power is one of the two people (the other is Nicholas Kristof) whose careers have benefited from their deep expressed concern over the situation in Darfur (out of the mass-murder of non-Muslims in southern Sudan, now about to be put back into full gear, no one in particular made a career out of it, or seemed as deeply concerned over the deaths of about 2 million non-Muslims as they do about a tenth or a fifth that number of Muslims in Darfur)-- possibly because they can present the Darfur business, incorrectly of course (google "Islam as a vehicle of Arab supremacism"), as having "nothing to do with Islam" because, you see, both murderers and victims are Muslims it is only Arab Muslims killing non-Arab Muslims.

One wonders if Samantha Power has given any thought to what motivates the Arabs in Khartoum, who have supported the Janjaweed to the hilt, and to the other Arabs, behind the Arabs in Khartoum, in Cairo and elsewhere, who have been running diplomatic interference for the Sudanese Arabs -- Egypt and the Arab League in particular -- and never dropped a tear as they contemplated what was going on in Darfur, but are quite pleased with themselves at having prevented, or at least greatly delayed, the only thing that might stop the continued massacres in Darfur, and the renewal of massacres in the southern Sudan -- that is, intervention by a few thousand American troops, who could seize both Darfur, and the southern Sudan, and hold that territory until the inhabitants could express their desires in a referendum on independence. For there is no way -- none -- that the Arab Muslims will ever stop (in 1900 the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was 90% black African) in their goal of killing or pushing out or reducing to a state of helplessness the black Africans, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

If she cares to figure out as to how what has been happening in the Sudan is prompted by Islam, is explained, both in the south, by the murderous hatred for Infidels that Islam inculcates and that the primitive masses of Muslims so fixedly believe, and in Darfur, by the Arab supremacism that is part of Islam, that would represent a geopolitical, and in the end a moral, advance.

And if she wishes to go even farther, and promote the idea of an American intervention, and wishes to understand that the way to win political support for such humanitarian intervention is to present it, truthfully, as a way to limit the downward march of Islam through east Africa (Ethiopia is the next target, one that the Egyptians are most interested in because they want an islamized, and submissive-to-Egypt Ethiopia give up plans to divert, for the purposes of irrigation, part of the headwaters of the Nile) that too would be an advance.

But it will require her to start to look steadily, and whole, at Islam. Can she do it?

If she chooses to do so, she can start by googling "Sudan" and "Darfur" and "American troops" and "Jihad Watch" and "posted by Hugh." It's all there. Nothing remains to be done -- except to get those in power, or those close to those in power, to listen. Starting with Power, Samantha.

Posted on 03/04/2008 12:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Exactly The Wrong Way To Learn About Islam
"The managing editor of one of the country’s biggest newspapers thinks news organizations ought to hire more Muslim reporters.

Philip Bennett, the Washington Post’s managing editor, said reporters often struggle with understanding Islam during a speech Monday at UCI about the difficulties of covering the religion.”
--from the article linked below
Bennett’s speech focused on the media’s need to cover issues concerning Islam in an in-depth, long-term manner. Americans certainly need to know more about Islam. But the worst way for them to come to "know about Islam" is for more Muslims -- who are keen, out of a variety of motives, to keep Infidels from acquiring a true and deep knowledge of Islam, and eager to use their inhibiting presence, and their personal charm (or should that fail, then the implied threat of their mere presence), and the need not to offend that so often takes precedence, in newsrooms as in university departments and government offices everywhere, over the task at hand, or the standards -- academic standards, remember them! -- to be maintained.
Posted on 03/04/2008 1:07 PM by Hugh Fitzerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
A Cinematic Interlude: Lipstick On Your Collar
Posted on 03/04/2008 1:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
"It Won't Eliminate Jihad From Our Hearts"
Maybe Joseph Shahda's arguments are finally making an impact. At least this website, hosted in the U.S., was forced to remove some jihadist material according to MEMRI.
Posted on 03/04/2008 1:45 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Yes We Can We Said Yes We Can Yes We Will Yes
This whole Obama madness will someday -- when that someday comes is the big question -- -- be recognized for the national embarrassment it is. It demonstrates a popular confusion between the aims of politics, and the pastime of self-improvement and self-validation. The degradation of the democratic dogma is, in the current case,  explained in part by a sense of desperation, fed by both the colossal fiasco of the war in Iraq (and that in turn has been prompted by the continuing inability to come to grips with the meaning, and menace, of Islam), and what is now rightly sensed as almost a  third-worldish maldistribution of wealth. Furthermore, while there is no doubt that the spectacle of the insensate money-making by the grasping Bill Clinton, with his Kazakhstan contacts, and his assorted Burkles, and his self-aggrandizing "charity" that only provides an excuse for him to piously rope still more billionaires into his orbit for his own purposes, has disgusted, that is not sufficient reason to prefer, if one prefers Democrats, someone who has been in national office for exactly two years, has no legislation to his credit, and at the state level was similarly undistinguished in what he accomplished (though good at claiming credit), and has seen fit to remain the member of a church whose pastor, his good friend, thinks Louis Farrakhan is a great man. And there are other signs that worry. There is that case of blatant plagiarism, that too-easily laughed-off plagiarism from a friend named Deval Patrick, who was elected to high hopes as governor of Massachusetts, with a candidacy similar in the vague uplift of its promises, and which has resulted in a governorship noted for all the state money Patrick attempted to lavish on his wife (and her full-time assistant), even though she remained a partner at a big law firm, and for his plan to build three casinos as a way to handle state revenue shortfalls. There are those dealings with an obviously louche character like Rezko. There is the unbelievable reliance on such a person as Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who helped Jimmy Carter lose Iran, and who has not shown, in the decades since, the slightest desire to learn a thing about Islam. There are all those other foreign policy advisers whose records offer every conceivable warning signal of their, and therefore Obama's, being unable to come to grips with Islam. For Obama's personal encounter with Islam -- as a boy, in Indonesia -- weirdly echoes the personal encounter of someone else who never understood Islam, because of his own atypical encounter, with atypical Muslims, in that same Indonesia -- that is, Paul Wolfowitz.  And then there is Samantha Power, who failing to recognize that Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacism, as in Darfur, fails at the same time to be able to make the strongest, most attractive, self-interested case for American intervention in Darfur and the Southern Sudan: that of putting a brake on the steady march of Islam through sub-Saharan Africa. Nor do any of those named as foreign policy advisers show an understanding of the real position of Israel, the permanent siege it is under, and always will be under (a manageable siege, if there are no further surrenders forced upon the Israelis either by their mediocre leaders or by outside, unsympathetic and uncomprehending powers, but a siege nonetheless), a recognition that what it faces is a permanent Jihad, with enemies among the immediate, local Arabs -- those "Palestinians" -- divided, as the Fast Jihadists of Hamas, and the Slow Jihadists of Fatah, as to tactics and timing, not as to the ultimate, permanent, demanded-by-Islam goal: an end to the Infidel nation-state of Israel.

The comical  and hollow talk about "change" and "Yes We Can" should, by this point, embarrass all but the most ardent supporters of Citizen Obama. But apparently things are too far gone for that. It's a Tent Rally, it's a Revival Meeting in Oak Bluffs, it's  George Whitefield's Great Awakening. Yes We Can. Yes We Can. Yes We Can. It means nothing, it promises -- nothing. If you are not offended by, but delight in, la psychologie des foules as described by Gustave Le Bon, and regard with equanimity in what was once an advanced and sober Western democracy, the possibility of a mass-movement of hero-worshippers and true believers, and think it amusing to notice all those women who at Obama rock-star rallies get the vapors and need those smelling salts, then this candidacy is certainly the one for you.
Posted on 03/04/2008 2:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali speaks to Civil Servants at St Margaret's Westminster
This lunchtime I had the privilege of hearing The Rt Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester (who you will know by now I admire) speak to an audience of mainly Civil Servants at St Margaret’s Church Westminster.
These are my impressions of the lecture and what the Bishop said, to the best of my recollection. I do not have shorthand so this is not to be treated as a verbatim and faithful transcript.
First we were welcomed by the Rector of St Margaret’s to what is to be the first in a series of lectures by theologians on topics of interest to government.
He introduced the Bishop to speak on Faith and the State.
Bishop Michael opened by saying that it was good to be here and that these lectures are a wonderful initiative. He joked about the Speaker’s Pew (Speaker of the House of Commons) to his left in which by tradition no one is to sit without the Speaker’s written permission. He said that he knew that the Speakers perks were in the news, but that particular one had never been mentioned.
He spoke briefly of his situation, being Bishop of Rochester a diocese which covers much of Kent and South East London, and also his work “over the road” in the House of Lords where he will be later this afternoon.
He said that he had some observations to make on how faith is “popping up all over the place”. This is an important question for people in daily life.
He believes that the spiritual dimension in life is innate, part of our human nature. But faith also has a social dimension, which we could call religion, which binds people together.
Every society across the world has, or until very recently had, a belief system.
In the House of Lords they have been considering matters affecting the beginning and end of life, mental health and mental capacity. These problems cannot be resolved solely by appeal to public opinion. We have to apply moral and ethical considerations.
Faith also has a prophetic dimension, about challenging society on matters such as freedom from oppression.
He said that the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have always had a lively attitude to this. But that it does exist in the other religions, and that for an example Buddhism and Sikhism were founded in part as a result of challenging caste.
However this prophetic dimension is not always benign. He must admit it now, religion can and does go wrong. It is not unique in this. Many things can go wrong, patriotism can go wrong. It can become chauvinism based on ethnicity as well as religion.
The charge is often made that religion causes conflict. 
Yes it can, but it is not unique in this. If we look at the big conflicts of the 20th century they were secular, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot even Sadamm Hussein harked back to a form of 20s/30s fascism which was secular.
We live in a world where our faiths have to be accountable, hence the need for dialogue with each other. But dialogue not just to make us feel nice about each other. Faiths have to be accountable to one another and at the bar of world opinion.
Islam and Christianity come to mind as both are missionary faiths, expanding across the world such that we now live cheek by jowl. This brings great opportunities for friendship and for conflict.
He spoke of a trip to Kaduna in Nigeria where he was taken to a bridge and shown that this side is the Christian area and that side was the Muslim area and that should a crisis occur he was told do not cross the bridge. Thus Christians and Muslims have to be particularly concerned to talk to each other.
Turning to the question of the relationship of faith to the state, what should it be? The UK is formed by Christianity.
He mentioned a judge he had known in the Pakistan Court, Mr Justice Cornelius who was a Roman Catholic but who referred to himself as a Constitutional Muslim because he knew that if law was to develop in Pakistan the influence of Islam had to be understood. His own notion of an Islamic state was one where people are enabled to be good Muslims but not coerced.
Both Christians and Muslims have been tempted into the direction of theocracy. He wonders why anyone would think that human rule can be identified with that of God. We are not God!
In Christian state there have been intermediary institutions, the medieval guilds, the universities, even the monarchy.
In Islam there has been the Caliphate or the Muftis who issued fatwas, and not every fatwa has been negative, also the Sufi orders.
He considered the question of the relationship of faith to what he called “government by consent” as the term “democracy” is often misunderstood in some parts of the world.
It is a matter of contributing to politics. There is an Afghan institution where the Pashto elders come together, and he believes this can be extended to include women and younger people to make contributory consensual decisions. There are similar institutions in the Arab world which can be used to facilitate participation.
 
The relationship of Faith and Law.
Law must have moral force if it is not to be tyranny. Many people without faith can be very moral, more so than some believers.
He considered Sharica law, where the relationship to law is different in different countries. In some countries of North Africa it is an inspiration for their law. In some countries it is the only law.
He said in his view the question the question of Sharica should be raised in the context of religious conscience. Lawmaking can take into consideration that believers have to follow their conscience. Beyond that, in the way that Sharica law is constituted it can go no further without tremendous conflicts. We cannot have bigamy as a crime for one, but not for another. Likewise law about divorce, children, inheritance and evidence are in conflict. Believers may bring the moral code behind their faith but this is not the same as accommodation in another legal system.
 
Faith and Conflict
Christianity has a place for pacifism and also for the concept of the Just War which has to re-thought within the context of current unconventional conflicts. In Islam they have the concept of jihad.
It is one of his dreams that one day Christians and Muslims will discuss Just War and jihad and explore circumstances when military intervention can be justified.
 
There was time for some questions from the floor.
 
Q How did you come to faith?
A My family were mostly Muslim but my father was Christian. In Pakistan when I reached tertiary education there were three options, to be a Muslim, to ne a Marxist or to be a Christian. But my main influence, in so far as it was my decision and not God speaking, my main human influence was a university chaplain. At the University of Karachi at that time religious chaplains were not permitted on campus, not through prejudice against Christians but to keep fundamentalists out. This man was very resourceful, he enrolled as a post graduate student. They couldn’t keep him out. He made Jesus come alive for me and showed me a vocation to the ministry.
 
Q On the position of Biblical principles and how they relate to what he has just said.
A We should be guided by Christian principles, human dignity, equality cannot be settled when we appeal solely to utilitarian principles. We are all made in God’s image.
Justice should be rooted in a spiritual tradition, and not rely merely on the use of punishment as a deterrent.
 
Q On the subject of a decline in morals and an increase in street crime.
A He referred to the wonderful work of Street pastors. He said “I couldn’t do it”. And that we must make efforts to strengthen the family.
He spoke of seeing a near Dickensian scene in Rochester, which is a Dickensian city, one cold winters Sunday evening, of young people gathered round a lamppost.  They had a curfew in reverse, they were not welcome at home until after 11pm, for reasons such as not being welcomed by their Mother's new partner.  Hence his firm belief in the need for solid families.
 
There was an opportunity for tea and conversation afterwards.
I was in a group where we were able to discuss with the Bishop the possibility of reform of Islam and some of the effort being made in that direction which may or may not have a chance of success. The current Turkish initiative to work on the ahadith came up as did the alternative interpretations of jihad. It can genuinely mean “spiritual struggle” which was a Sufi interpretation. There was a school of thought in the 19th century which took it to mean a struggle to improve social conditions. There is also the school which believes that, as an armed conflict jihad is only appropriate when Islam is under threat and I got the impression that Bishop Michael thinks that work on that theme might prove worthwhile.

He is quietly impressive, a good sense of humour, approachable and interested in people. I have heard someone special. Pray for his wellbeing and safety and that of his family.
Posted on 03/04/2008 2:34 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Double standard

Heather MacDonald shows her true colours on the "Campus Rape Myth" when she writes, in a recent note:

Campus rape researchers and advocates...say that they believe that a whopping one-fifth to one-quarter of college women are raped by their fellow students. Virtually all of these alleged rapes could be avoided if the girls took certain steps: don’t get into bed with a guy when you are very drunk, don’t take off your clothes, don’t get involved in oral sex, and so on. Such advice is fully consistent with female empowerment. It recognizes that girls have the power to stop “campus rape.” It treats them as moral agents able to control their fates.

The glaring omission from this self-righteous little diatribe is the behaviour of men. Perhaps men should not go to bed with a girl when very drunk, take off their clothes and so forth. Then rapes wouldn't happen. But no, MacDonald thinks men should be able to carry on exactly as they please. They can't help themselves, poor dears.

MacDonald strikes me as another woman who, in Jane Austen's words, "seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing their own". I could go on to say that the world is full of women like this, but I'd better not.

Posted on 03/04/2008 2:14 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
A Musical Interlude: Ain't Cha (Annette Hanshaw)
Posted on 03/04/2008 2:40 PM by Hugh Fitzerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Because I Love Her, That's Why
Posted on 03/04/2008 8:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Muslims Plotted Terror Attacks At Convention

AP:TOLEDO, Ohio - Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of three men charged with plotting to recruit and train terrorists to attack U.S. and allied troops overseas.

Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi and Wassim I. Mazloum are accused of conspiring to kill or maim people outside the United States, including military personnel in Iraq. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Federal prosecutors say the men, who live in Ohio, attended a Muslim convention in Cleveland during the summer of 2004 where they talked about training in explosives, guns and sniper tactics.

The men were there with a former U.S. military man who worked undercover and helped foil the plot, said Gregg Sofer, a justice department attorney.

At the convention, the men discussed a five-year plan to carry out their mission, Sofer said during a bond hearing last April.

Two Chicago-area cousins who also are accused of taking part are scheduled to face trial next year. All are U.S. citizens except Mazloum, who came to the U.S. legally from Lebanon.

The five allegedly sought recruits and sites for training in firearms, hand-to-hand combat and the use of explosives, according to a federal indictment.

Here is how the conference was reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Organizers of the three-day meeting said they expect to highlight the presidential race, the handover of sovereignty in Iraq, the Patriot Act and the plight of Cleveland Imam Fawaz Damra, who was recently convicted on an immigration charge that could cost him his citizenship.

At a news conference Thursday, convention organizers said Damra will address a leadership conference of 100 to 150 imams Saturday afternoon.

“He is a well-respected imam in the Muslim community,” explained Naeem Baig, the general secretary of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), one of two groups holding the convention at the Cleveland Convention Center. “We respect his scholarship and we invited him to the program and we would like to listen to him and what he has to say.”

Damra’s lawyers yesterday filed a motion asking that his conviction be thrown out, arguing that the evidence was insufficient.

Cleveland Imam F. Qasim Khan, who helped bring the conference to Cleveland, said earlier in the week that Damra’s case is emblematic of “how Muslims have been profiled throughout the country,” adding that there is deep sympathy for Damra in the larger Muslim community.

Khan said the scrutiny of Muslims is so outrageous that he himself has been targeted. He said the FBI recently interviewed him about his travels to Muslim fund-raisers, and agents told him they had been watching him for 30 years...

Outrageous.

Posted on 03/04/2008 8:28 PM by Rebecca Bynum

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