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





















Thursday, 31 May 2012
A Musical Interlude: Little White Lies (Elsie Carlisle)
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Listen here.
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Posted on 05/31/2012 4:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
In Afghanistan, Unmet Expectations Help Taliban
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One more reason not to give Afghans such absurd expectations, one more reason to stop building schools and lavishing money, and  "educating" Muslims in Afghanistan, or elsewhere,  who cannot, and do not, leave Islam behind. And when they do not get the jobs and money they now think, with their degrees, they deserve, they will take out their resentment on the world, and the Infidels (who are always to be blamed no matter what), by taking Islam even more to heart, and that may make them join the Taliban, or some other group or groupuscule, or perhaps merely to secretly harbor their rage against the Infidels until, one day, they can act on it. The American belief that building schools and colleges will lead to a diminishment of the Muslim threat is absurd. Don't pay for educating the enemy, unless there is evidence that in receiving that education, the Muslim students will become disenchanted with Islam. There is no such evidence.

From The Journal of Turkish Weekly:

System Tests Afghan Graduates' Resistance to Radicalism

by Frud Bezhan and Homayoon Shinwary, RFE/RL

The Afghan government has lauded its progress in restoring the country's education system as one of its preeminent achievements over the past decade.

But despite some visible inroads, there are warning signs.

At best, the effort to open opportunities through education has failed to meet expectations; at worst, the system has essentially become a breeding ground for extremists.

The Afghan government, from the onset, earmarked education as key to eliminating poverty and thwarting radicalism. It devised a plan to send all Afghan children to school, to construct universities and technical schools to address a skills shortage, and, above all, to create job opportunities.

Those who pass through the system find the going tough upon graduation, however, with jobs and university slots scarce.

Wadir Safi, an Afghan law professor, says this leaves young graduates with few options.

The Afghan National Army and National Police Force are expanding, but the work is low-paid and hazardous. Some choose instead to eke out a living on the streets, which can descend into a life of drug abuse. In the end, joining the ranks of militant groups can begin to look appealing for some.


Following 'Power'

Safi says it is unsurprising that disillusioned students would join the Taliban, insisting that in most cases the students feel safer, more empowered, are given a sense of purpose, and receive salaries that match or better those of the army. He adds that new Taliban recruits can receive several hundred dollars a month, as well as clothing, food, and shelter.

"Youths who become unemployed and fail to enter university have little choice," Safi says. "The government doesn't have any initiatives to create jobs. Angry as a result of this, they're purposely joining the insurgency. They see that the government is unable to help them and see the other side [insurgency] as where the power [and money] is."

Najib Mahmoud, a political science professor at Kabul University, says millions of children have enrolled in thousands of newly built schools in the last decade but that advancements were hindered by shortsightedness.

Mahmoud says that while the government has made progress in primary and secondary education, they have neglected the question of what those students will do once they complete school.

He adds that in the past decade, only a few universities and semi-higher education institutions, which provide technical and skills training, have been built. None have been built in underdeveloped and insurgent-hit regions -- where Mahmoud says they are particularly needed.

"In the last 10 years, the Afghan government should not only have worked on increasing the quality and quantity of education, but in every province they should have built universities, especially in underdeveloped areas," Mahmoud says. "If we had done this, we could have increased the number of professionals and prevented our kids and students from joining the Taliban."

No Rhyme Or Reason?

Within the education system, the perception of widespread government corruption has become a major factor for students deciding what direction they will take.

Locals in the country's volatile and conservative south, where insurgents exert significant influence, say many students feel the government has abandoned them. In some cases, that disillusionment has given way to anger amid claims of injustice and discrimination.

Abdul Wali, a high-school graduate from southeastern Zabul Province, says the result of this year's university entry exams, which were marred by widespread allegations of corruption, is a case in point.

Wali says many of his friends earned sufficient marks to enter university but were unjustly denied a place. Others, he claims, insist that their test scores were higher than some students in urban centers who were admitted -- leading to claims of fraud and favoritism.

"This time, many students participated in university entry exams. Only some got in and many others failed," Wali says. "Those that failed didn't have any other options so they joined the Taliban. They were my good friends and now they're standing alongside the Taliban and fighting against the government."

Daunting Obstacles

According to statistics from the Afghan Education Ministry, only around 40,000 of the 147,000 students who took part in the national exams were granted university slots, with only a handful of them hailing from the volatile south of the country.

Mohammad Omar, a student from southeastern Ghazni Province, says students in the region already face huge hurdles in receiving an education -- notably militants burning schools down, poisoning students, and assassinating teachers and education officials.

He says the controversy surrounding the exam results, for some, was the last straw, claiming scores of his male relatives and friends have joined the Taliban in the aftermath of the results.

"I have a lot of close friends that had to face this misfortune and went to support the Taliban," Omar says. "Some of them carry out ambushes on the roads, not looking whether it’s a civilian vehicle or one that’s carrying supplies to foreign forces. They're burning these valuable supplies with only matches."

*Written and reported by Frud Bezhan, with additional reporting by RFE/RL Afghan Service correspondent Homayoon Shinwary

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Posted on 05/31/2012 4:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Sunnis Demand That Hezbollah's Nasrallah Apologize
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From Reuters:

Syria rebels demand Hezbollah apology to free Lebanese

May 31, 20122

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels said they were holding a group of kidnapped Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims, and accused some of the hostages of opposing their revolution against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, news channel Al Jazeera reported on Thursday.

The insurgents added they would not start negotiations for the release of the hostages until the leader of Lebanese guerilla group Hezbollah, an ally of Assad's, apologized for a recent speech.

The rebel Revolutionary Council in Aleppo did not give any more details on their plans for the captives, or spell out what had offended them in the speech by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

The group of about a dozen Lebanese men was on a bus that was stopped by gunmen in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo earlier this month.

"During questioning it emerged that a group of them had a hand in (oppressing the revolt) so it was decided to keep them for a while," rebel group spokesman Abo Abdullah al-Halabi told Al Jazeera. The men were all in good health, he added.

Syria's president Assad, who belongs to an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, has been trying to crush a 14-month revolt led by fighters from the country's Sunni Muslim majority.

There have been fears of the turmoil spilling over the border into neighboring Lebanon, also driven by sectarian tensions and divided between foes and friends of the revolt in Syria.

Upon hearing the news of their capture residents of the southern suburb of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold where the hostages live, took to the streets in anger, burned tires and blocked roads.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah appealed for calm and in a speech said the kidnapping would not affect his group's allegiances in Syria.

Syrian rebels have accused Hezbollah of sending fighters to help Assad, a charge dismissed by Hezbollah.

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Posted on 05/31/2012 4:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Reading For Rush Hour
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by Thomas Ország Land (June 2012)


I

 

Rational thinkers, what can you make

out of a nightmare seen fully awake?  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 2:50 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Remembering Richard Holbrooke from High School and College
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by Richard Kostelanetz (June 2012)


Be respectful of the dead unless they were important enough to warrant criticism, which then implicitly becomes posthumous flattery.


I knew the late sometime assistant secretary of state and “special envoy to Afghanistan” in high school more than fifty years ago, and he was also in my class at Brown University from 1958 to 1962. I can’t say I counted him as a friend; he didn’t sign my copy of our class’s yearbook at Scarsdale (NY) High. I had only one reason to count him as an enemy. My skeptical thoughts about him are more miscellaneous than coherent.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 2:44 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
The Quality of Portia
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by David P. Gontar (June 2012)


Tell me where is Portia bred,  
Or in her heart or in her head?  
How begot, how nourished?
Reply! Reply!   
She's engender'd in our eyes,   
With gazes fed while lovers cry. 
'Neath the counterpane her treasures lie.  
Let us all ring Portia's bell;  
I'll begin it, -- Ding Dong Dell,  
And welcome thee to Belmont Hell.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 2:32 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Rally Against the Forces of Decadence
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by David Hamilton (June 2012)


High Culture is often attacked as upper-class entertainment or a way the ruling elites achieve hegemony over the masses. The elitist argument is ideological rather than factual because working-class people are not barred from attending concerts. Politeness and good manners are essential but anyone who pays the fee is entitled to watch a concert.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 2:25 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
The Case for Cliché
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by G. Murphy Donovan (June 2012)


“Well over 80 percent of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought.”  -  H. L. Mencken

 
Beginning an essay or chapter with an adage or aphorism is an antique convention based on several considerations, not the least of which are; humility, prudence, and caution.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 2:16 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
How I Got Into College
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Or, Gongs, Tamburas and Gambas I Have Known

b
y Geoffrey Clarfield
(June 2012)



Sitting in the bush in central Tanzania I once managed to get hold of a grade B American film called "How I Got Into College". It is a comedy about a guy who gets into college on the basis of his complete and utter unconventionality. Although I cannot say that is how I got into "college" (we call it "university") it reminded me of how I got into the Music Program at York University, and how the Music Program got into me. more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 2:00 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
An Introduction (and Advanced Course) to Danish Culture
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Talk by Norman Berdichevsky to the Danish Free Press Society, Grundtvig Hall, Vartov, Copenhagen, May 15, 2012
(an edited and abridged translation of the Danish transcript)


With my apologies to Rudyard Kipling for paraphrasing his famous quote about England, “What do they know of England who only England know?” I was only convinced of the validity of his remark upon being invited by the Danish Free Press Society to deliver an address on May 15, 2012. The subject of my talk was my recently published book “An Introduction to Danish Culture” (Why I Wrote These Two Books NER, June, 2011) and why the book is also relevant to a Danish readership and not just an orientation for foreigners. The audience agreed with the conclusion of my talk that knowing and appreciating one’s one culture and history enables one to understand how and why its uniqueness deserves to be preserved and the loss that would ensue if it were gone.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:55 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Will There Be Room for Kurds and Other Minorities in a Post-Assad Syria?
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by Jerry Gordon (June 2012)


Sixteen months of bloody repression by the Assad minority Alawite government in Damascus has inflicted more than 15,000 deaths and countless injuries across the troubled country. The latest excess was the reported deaths of 49 children in an artillery assault on the city of Houla in late May that may caused over 100 deaths in what the UN observers called a massacre.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:48 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Peter Arno Of The Old New Yorker
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1938

read the full text...   1959
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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Guiltless in Guantánamo
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by Nidra Poller (June 2012)


It’s been years since I last bought a copy of the International Herald Tribune (New York Times abroad) and I don’t bother commenting anymore on its stylized bias, but I got a free copy the other day and, not being wasteful, tried to read it. Now here I am dissecting an article. Not just any article: a template “guiltless in Guantánamo” piece, featured four-columns wide on page two of the print edition.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:41 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Keeping Anti-Obama Jews from the Temple
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by Abraham H. Miller (June 2012)


In Florida, Jews witnessed an unprecedented and shameless event. Jews were barred by other Jews and law enforcement personnel from entering a synagogue. And when the stigmatized Jews sought to make their grievances known by peacefully demonstrating on the grounds of the synagogue, they were told to get off the property.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:36 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Does Muslim Blasphemy Trump Free Speech in America?
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by Jerry Gordon (June 2012)


In late April 2012, a Tennessee legislator held a meeting with aides to Gov. Bill Haslam. It concerned unauthorized and apparently unconstitutional moves by Bill Gibbons, Tennessee State Commissioner of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), establishing a partnership with a religious NGO, the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) which has ties to local Muslim Brotherhood leaders via the American Center for Outreach (ACO). Gibbons was the long term District Attorney General in Memphis’ Shelby County and previously served as an aide to two former GOP Governors, Lamar Alexander and Don Sundquist.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:30 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Jerusalem or al-Quds? The European Union’s Choice
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by Bat Ye'or (June 2012)

Originally appeared in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism vol.3 #2, 2011


The overwhelming effect of the international campaign of defamation and delegitimization of Israel does not easily allow identifying where the blows come from, nor its original source. Yet the operations and strategic center of this widespread war that seeks to replace Jerusalem with al-Quds is the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC, formally called Islamic Conference), which brings together Muslim countries and those with a Muslim majority.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:23 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Children of the Land
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by Moshe Dann (June 2012)


The bus station in Afula was packed with local Arabs, Russians and young IDF soldiers on their way to or from their bases, rifles slung casually next to heavy backpacks, the smell of roasted nuts, diesel exhaust and cigarette smoke.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:16 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Misreading "On the Road"
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by Terry Dunford (June 2012)


On the Road was published in 1957.  Now, a half-century later, Hollywood is about to release a movie version of Jack Kerouac's famous novel, and with it we can expect a renewed interest in Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation. Regardless of the literary value of On the Road, the contribution to American culture provided by On the Road is indisputable. According to popular opinion, On the Road not only celebrated the Beat Generation, it arrived just in time to cheer on the Sixties youth revolution, nicely illustrated by a 1975 photograph of Bob Dylan with Beat impresario Allen Ginsberg visiting the grave of Jack Kerouac.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:10 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
In Praise of an Older Word, Alas
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by G. Kim Blank (June 2012)


Too many: an abundance, a multitude, a myriad, a legion, a slew; stacks, scads, scores, hordes, loads, droves, masses, oodles; a plethora, a profusion, an excess, an oversupply, a superabundance, a surfeit, a glut; more than you can shake a stick at.

Too many English words, that is—with many of them capable of saying the same thing differently. Our language at times seems synonym-obsessive—or compulsive—or both.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 1:03 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
The Colonization of Old Books
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by Bryce Rogers (June 2012)


Marginalia are, on occasion, interesting. In the campus novel Pnin, Nabokov writes of “earnest freshmen” who adorn the pages of their books with “such helpful glosses as ‘Description of nature’ or ‘Irony’.” When not utterly banal, however, marginalia can provide a roadmap into the reader’s subjectivity through the symbols that litter the empty margins like street signs—exclamation points, question marks, stars. Stop here, turn there, go on.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 12:58 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Religion and Inspiration
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by Rebecca Bynum (June 2012)


To me, it seems there are two types of religious leaders in the world: those who desire their disciples to emulate their every thought and deed as life’s greatest ideal and those who desire to inspire others to find God in their own way by giving them guidance, but not orders. Those who aspire to be the model for righteous conduct for all time doom their latter day followers to copy customs of another time and place, making them a curiosity (in the case of the Amish or Fundamentalist Mormons) or a serious threat to human progress (in the case of Muslims). Sadly, they must live within their own closed systems to which the wider world is ever a threat not a challenge.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 12:52 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Experimenters in Sentences and Selves
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by David Wemyss (June 2012)


I had the misfortune recently to be caught in a most uncongenial conversation in a coffee house. All those present were in superficial agreement that a controversial new development in the city centre was a folly, and I offered the view that political opposition to the plan looked impossible now, and that it would only be stopped if the funding fell apart. Someone wondered if a rare wildlife discovery could impede it. I replied that the political will to go ahead was so strong that a rare wildlife discovery would be dismissed in terms of “green fanatics getting in the way of progress, and putting jobs and prosperity at risk”. The reaction was striking. Just momentarily, some of them clearly thought that this was my opinion.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 12:49 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Strictly for the Birds
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by Theodore Dalrymple (June 2012)


From the window in my study I can see the bird table in our small garden. Although I am no ornithologist, I can tell a hawk from a handsaw, or rather a thrush from a jackdaw, and the behaviour of the birds amuses me greatly. It sometimes distracts, or perhaps I should say diverts, me from what I should be doing.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 12:43 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Mona Eltahawy Can't Bring Herself To Identify Islam As The Source Of The Mistreatment Of Muslim Women And Leila Ahmad Doesn't Want Her To Even Raise The Issue
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Watch, and listen, here.

Note how careful Mona Eltahawy, when she discusses the young girls forced into "marriages" in Islam, not to mention the example of Muhammad with little Aisha. And when she says that it's a mix of things -- "religion, culture, law" -- that explain such things as clitoridectomy, she doesn't appear to realize that the "culture" is the one that is formed over centuries in a society suffused with Islam, and the "law" in question is that which takes as its guide, its model, the Sharia or Holy Law of Islam.

And note how grey-haired, thoughtful, half-Turkish Leila Ahmed, of whom one might expect better, keeps talking about the "liberals" (who are not quite as liberal as Western enthusiasts assume when it comes to Islam-prompted attitudes toward the West and Israel) of the "Arab Spring" without recognizing that it doesn't matter who starts a revolution, but who inherits it, and right now the Ikhwan rules the Egyptian Parliament and may take the Presidency as well.

Both are determined -- Ahmed more so, I think -- to protect Islam. And to the discerning and well-informed, their desire to protect Islam, its teachings and tenets and the attitudes that naturally are produced in societies suffused with Islam, vitiates their timid attempts to be, as Leila Ahmed is so often described, as a "feminist" student of Islam. She's a Defender of Islam, more deliberately so than the slightly more excitable Eltahawy who wants to Make A Splash (Eltahawy may remind some of Irshad Manji), but for her too, despite her claim that "for me my gender comes first" is determined to deflect analysis of the role of Islam -- the central role -- in what she calls "misogyny in the Middle East."

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Posted on 05/31/2012 9:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
In Egypt, With Collapse Of Security, Grave-Robbers Having A Field Day (In Italian)
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Watch, and listen, here.

The story has not yet appeared in the English-language press. When it does, it will be posted.

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Posted on 05/31/2012 8:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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