How to Beat Your Wife, Or, Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar
by Hugh Fitzgerald
The popular Moroccan singer Adil El Miloudi recently said: “Whoever doesn’t beat his wife is not a man. In Morocco, this is normal, anyone can do what he wants with his wife, hit her, kill her.”
El Miloudi’s candor was unusual. One Qur’anic verse that gives Muslim apologists in the West great grief is 4:34, where a Muslim husband is told that he may “beat” a wife whose disobedience he fears. There is no adverb modifying the verb “beat,” yet some apologists insist that the beating should only be done “lightly,” as if with a small toothbrush known as a “miswak.”
A video by a Qatari sociologist, Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khazraj Al-Ansari, provides a televised lesson on the proper way for a Muslim husband to administer a “beating” to one of his wives. Because the Qur’anic verse that gives legitimacy to this “beating” does not explain how hard or soft such a beating can or should be, Al-Ansari believes there is a need to explain, and to show Muslim men, exactly what kind of “beating” is permissible.
His Qatari television performance can be found here:
“First, we must understand that the man is the leader of the house. A leader has authorities, just like a company manager.
Al-Ansari unembarassedly insists on male superiority: the man “is leader of the house.” No dissent is allowed. He is “just like a company manager” — not a romantic image, but one entirely fitting for the rich little statelet of Qatar, which is all business. In Qur’an 4:34, a Muslim husband is given license to “beat” his wife, without offering parameters to the punishment. The same verse also declares men to be the guardians of their women, for they are “superior” to them: “Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely Allah is high, supreme.”
The superiority of men over woman in Islam is not to be found only in 4:34, but is reflected both in the inheritance laws, by which a daughter receives only half that of a son, and in considering the testimony by a woman as being worth only half that of a man, which Muhammad explains in a hadith is because of the “deficiency of her intelligence.”
The leader of the house may decide to discipline the wife so life can move on.
How does a husband beat his wife? He gives her a disciplinary beating out of love. He loves her. The beating should be light, and must make the wife feel her femininity and her husband’s masculinity. Now, let’s see how Islam teaches how to beat your wife. Let’s imagine that Nayef here… How are you, Nayef? Nayef is obviously a boy, but let’s imagine that he is the wife. How should a husband beat his wife? First, he must “admonish her” – in other words, he should advise her. Then, he should refrain from sharing a bed with her. If all of this doesn’t help, we start the beating as a last resort.
What is beating in Islam? Beating in Islam… Wait, don’t move… The husband must make his wife feel his strength. Why aren’t you listening to me?! How many times do I have to tell you?! How many times do I have to tell you so you’ll listen?! Didn’t I tell you not to leave the house without my permission?! You see how? A little bit of rebuke… Obviously, she’s starting to talk back… I told you not to leave the house! How many times do I have to tell you? See how the beating is done? I told you not to leave the house! The beating is light, brothers. Don’t leave the house again! Do you understand?! Yes or no?! You see, brothers? This is beating in Islam. But some people punch her or slap her on the face… That’s not allowed. The Prophet Muhammad… Look how merciful Islam is. The Prophet forbade striking the face. He forbade men from beating their wives on the face. Slapping the face, hitting the head, punching the nose – all of this is prohibited. The beating is for discipline. Let’s see how it’s done. Don’t leave the house again! Listen to what I tell you! This is a painless beating that does not leave bruises or cause bleeding.
Al-Ansari acts out the ‘beating” on Nayef, a teenaged boy he presents as his assistant. He grabs him, shakes him by the shoulders, then hits those shoulders, but as he says, he leaves the face alone. He claims that it was Muhammad himself who proscribed beating wives on the face, head, nose. But in giving his televised lesson in beating, he finds nothing wrong with the husband who yells at his wife for daring to disobey him when she has been told “not to leave the house.” He takes for granted that in Islam,”men are the rulers of the household.”
The beating I just gave Nayef is the true gentle beating in Islam.
Brothers, why do husbands beat their wives? Because some wives like domineering and authoritative husbands. By nature, they like violent and powerful husbands.
So is the “beating” that is prescribed in Qur’an 4:34 done to discipline wives, or is it done because some wives are masochists who “by nature like violent and powerful husbands”? Clearly, that Qur’anic verse says nothing about a wife liking either a “domineering and authoritative” husband or a “violent and powerful” one. These claims are pulled out of thin air by Al-Ansari, who would like to make his audience believe that women actually like to be beaten; it’s another way to justify the Qur’anic license to beat your wife: first, because the beating should be administered “lightly” (the adverb is not found in the verse itself); secondly, a husband shouldn’t worry overmuch about beating his wife, because according to Al-Ansari, many women actually like domineering, authoritative, violent, and powerful husbands. Al-Ansari fails to see the contradiction: either a husband “beats” his wife, however lightly, to make her obey, or a husband beats her “because she wants it,” and if so, why would beating her cause her to obey? It makes no sense.
With some women, admonishing them and refraining from sharing their beds won’t help. The only thing that helps with such women is beating. She needs to feel that you are a real man. That’s her nature. Dear brothers, I hope you understood the right to discipline a wife in Islam. We must not start asking questions about whether our religion is cruel. No, our religion is a religion of mercy and kindness.
Of course Islam is both those things. Don’t for a minute, dear brothers, think otherwise. Either you beat your wife, but only lightly, or you beat her, less lightly if you wish, because — let’s face it — she wants it, she’s asking for it, she wants you to be violent and domineering, as so many women do. Even the filthy kuffar would have a hard time denying Muslim mercy and Qur’anic kindness as shown in just that one part of Qur’an 4:34. It’s no wonder that for the 1,390th year running, Islam has been ranked #1 in the Mercy and Kindness categories. Why mess with success?
FDR in 1936, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Richard Nixon in 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1984, all won by over 20 points. Trump will gain a victory on that scale next year, and he will have earned it
by Conrad Black
Just as I was pulling my chair up to my desk and preparing to pounce clumsily upon my keyboard and pound out something about the current Canadian election campaign, an email from an old and valued friend popped up enclosing the dumbest column from the Globe and Mail I have seen in 65 years as a frequent reader of that newspaper. By Lawrence Martin, it is entitled: “Donald Trump’s Luck Has Run Out.” I will not engage in another effort to invite Canadian readers to contemplate the fact that just because Trump repels most Canadians as a caricature of a boorish and boastful and loutish American, that does not mean that he is unlikely to be successful. A great many Canadians want the United States, if it doesn’t have a leftish and diffident president like Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama, to have in the White House someone they can disparage like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, or George W. Bush (though Reagan, retroactively, has enjoyed grudging admiration). My problem isn’t what Canadians think of Trump, it is the stupefying purblindness of current Canadian journalistic political comment on the United States.
My problem … is the stupefying purblindness of current Canadian journalistic political comment on the United States
With only public spiritedness as my motive, and in total impartiality, for these purposes, about American political events and people, I remind readers of a few fundamental facts about the politics of our neighbour. The United States is not really the country of the American Revolutionary mythos. It became an independent country when Benjamin Franklin helped persuade the British to evict the French from Canada in the Seven Years’ War (which was started, in this continent, by an unauthorized attack by 21-year-old adjutant George Washington on the French near what is now Pittsburgh in 1753), and then persuaded the French to help the Americans evict the British from America in 1778. It was never a war for the rights of man, and Americans had no more rights after the Revolution than before, nor more than the British or several other countries, but they were a sovereign country. Unlike almost all other sovereign countries in the late 18th century, they didn’t have a language of their own, but as the opening turn in what has been a durable genius for the spectacle and for matters of image and propaganda, they claimed to be the national cradle of human liberty. America was, indeed, a land of opportunity and comparative absence of class prejudices, but the chief author of the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson) who held “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” was a slave-holder, and the Constitution, when it was promulgated in 1789, entrenched slavery.
A century after the U.S. Civil War, which at the cost of 750,000 dead in a population of 31 million suppressed the southern insurrection and emancipated the slaves, the majority of African-Americans were still segregated and could not vote. The U.S. justice system, though it has had many brilliant legislators, jurists and barristers, is an immense exploitive cartel of lawyers, very many of whom regularly engage in practices that would lead to disbarment in this country (and the Canadian legal system is nothing to write home about either). The U.S. criminal justice system, because of the corruption of the plea bargain system that facilitates the prosecutors’ extortion of perjured inculpatory evidence with impunity, is just an immense kangaroo court. Federal prosecutors win over 95 per cent of their cases, and over 95 per cent of those without a trial, so stacked is the deck. Whenever you hear any American talking about the rule of law or the law of the land or asserting that no one is above the law, it is time to get into your night attire and turn out the lights.
The U.S. criminal justice system, because of the corruption of the plea bargain system that facilitates the prosecutors’ extortion of perjured inculpatory evidence with impunity, is just an immense kangaroo court
Beneath the façade of Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney and most of Hollywood’s production before it was taken over by the limousine left, the United States is a jungle, and that is its strength and its weakness. It assures an immensely competitive Darwinian society in constant fermentation with high levels of achievement in practically every field, but it also causes inordinately large numbers of people to be ground to powder. The land of opportunity is the place where anyone can accomplish almost anything, but there is a threadbare safety net and more than 30 million people live in poverty. It has six to 12 times as many incarcerated people as other large, prosperous democracies, including Canada. And like all jungles, it is run, even if from a little behind the scenes, by the human equivalent of 30-foot constricting snakes and 700-pound cats. Trump’s offence, and his strength, is that he doesn’t make much effort to disguise the fact that he is a fierce, tough and often ruthless alumnus of the very tough schools of American capitalism, entertainment and politics.
The Globe and Mail headline implies that he has ridden his luck to where he is now. In fact, in making billions of dollars in (principally) Manhattan real estate, inventing a television concept and pulling in 25 million viewers every week for 14 seasons, devising a concept of levering celebrity, through being a boxing and wrestling impresario, a tabloid star and a reality TV icon, and then changing party affiliations seven times in 13 years and using social media to end-run the national press, seizing control of one of the great political parties and gaming the electoral system into the White House, he achieved more prior to his inauguration than any of the 43 preceding U.S. presidents except Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Grant, Eisenhower, and possibly Hoover. He is the only person elected president of the U.S. who never sought or held a public office or high military command and only the sixth to win the office with fewer votes than his chief opponent. This wasn’t luck; it was ambitious calculation and flawless execution.
Canadians liked Obama because he was non-white, fluent and suave, leftish and undemanding of “allies.” But GDP growth per capita in the U.S. declined from 4.5 per cent under Reagan to 3.9 per cent under Clinton, to two per cent under George W. Bush, to one per cent under Obama, and the Americans were not going to stand for what they feared (instinctively) would happen next under the Democrats. They were right. With Trump, working and lower-middle class earnings have risen 3.4 per cent annually, average income for female-led, single-parent homes rose 7.6 per cent, defined poverty in such households among African-American and Hispanics fell by 3.5 per cent, and the number of defined poor people declined by over five million. Illegal immigration has been reduced by 60 per cent; oil imports, which were five million barrels a day four years ago, are zero (on a net basis), and in absolute terms, China has ceased to gain in GDP on the United States, and the concept of nuclear non-proliferation has been revived in respect of Iran and North Korea (who swindled Trump’s predecessors). The United States worships success, and practices it, rather than being envious of it. The United States, by the standards of most other advanced countries, is garish and corrupt; it’s not what many Americans and most Canadians want, but it is a democracy and Americans can run their country as they please. There has never in human history been anything like the rise of America from three million colonists to overwhelming pre-eminence in the whole world in two long lifetimes (1783-1945).
Successful American presidents are never Mr. Nice Guy, though it’s a bonus when, like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, they act the part. This Ukraine nonsense is a fraudulent desperation shot by the Democrats and will blow up in their faces. Donald Trump is probably the most successful and powerful person in the world and he will steamroller this rag-tag of kooks and retreads desultorily arrayed against him. The U.S. system periodically crushes one of its parties like a waffle. FDR in 1936, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Richard Nixon in 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1984, all won by over 20 points. The Globe and Mail can dream on like Johnny Cash’s Teenage Queen, but Trump will gain a victory on that scale next year, and like the presidents just mentioned, he will have earned it. Those who resurrect the fortunes of great nations are not groomed and sent out by casting studios, or subject to confirmation by foreign newspapers.
On July 16, 1995, the French President Jacques Chirac spoke at the commemoration of the event in 1942 at the Vel d ’Hiv, the cycle track and sports stadium in Paris, the event when 450 French police agents and gendarmes acting under the authority of their leaders responded to the demands of the Nazi occupiers and arrested 13,000 Jews, men, women and children, held them in terrible conditions, sent them to a staging camp, and then deported them to Auschwitz.
In September 1994, President Francois Mitterand declared that “The Republic had nothing to do with the round up of Jews, I do not believe France is responsible.” After decades of denials, such as that by Mitterand, and equivocations of the role played by French citizens and the French state in facilitating the Holocaust during World War II, for the first time a French political leader spoke of the “dark hours” that forever soil French history. It is necessary, Chirac said, to recognize the errors of the past and the errors committed by the state and not to hide them. The criminal insanity of the occupiers was assisted by the French, by the French state. France, the land of the Enlightenment and of human rights, a land of hospitality and asylum, on that day, July 16, 1942, committed an irreparable action. It delivered those who were under its protection to their executioners.
Few will consider Chirac, who died on September 26, 2019 at age 86, who will lie in state for a few days at the Invalides , and who was honored by a minute’s silence in the French National Assembly, as one the great presidents of France, but his lifting in 1995 of the veil of official silence about the fate of Jews in France can be considered the hallmark of his career. Chirac was a political seducer, a charmer known for his extra-marital affairs, (Mr. Three Minutes, Shower included), a beer-drinking, cigarette smoking, man of the people whose endless handshaking with citizens needed a bucket of ice at the end of day for his hand to recover. He was a likable person who looked like a president, a good guy , “un bon gars.”
Tributes to him, the embodiment of moderate French conservatism, have been generous. President Emmanuel Macron said Chirac “embodied” France; former prime minister Tony Blair said, “whatever our difference from time he was unfailingly kind, generous, and personally supportive;” Russian President Vladimir Putin called him a wise and farsighted statesman, and praised him for his intellect and huge knowledge. Chirac was one of the world leaders he most admired.
One of the nicknames by which he was known was the “weathervane,” the agility to shift policies when it was political desirable. This true of his attitude to the EU as well as on free markets. From being a skeptic of the EU in the 1970s he became a supporter ten years later.
Chirac was a political animal who spent his whole life, his long political career, mostly elected, in public office a charming, articulate diplomat, proud of being French. Born in Paris to wealthy parent, he was educated at Ecole Nationale d’Administration, ENA, and, for a short time, at summer school at Harvard. During that time, he worked at Howard Johnson’s in Boston. In his early years he was attracted to communism and pacifism. He took part in the Algerian War where he was wounded, the last president to have direct experience of combat. He started political life as an adviser to prime minister George Pompidou, who called him “the bulldozer” because of his determination and ambition. .
Chirac became mayor of Paris, (1977-1995) using it as a platform for entrance into national politics, then became a member of Parliament, and then a government minister, He founded a political party , the Gaullist Rally for the Republic, became prime minister twice, and finally president in 1995, defeating socialist Lionel Jospin. He was reelected, wining the second round run-off against Jean-Marie le Pen, with 82% of the vote.
Chirac’s political record is at best mixed with no clear or consistent political objectives. His policies were adjustable depending on the political climate. One example of this was on nuclear issues. Becoming president, Chirac in 1995 resumed nuclear testing in French Polynesia in the South Pacific. But a year later he announced that France was ending nuclear testing, and agreed to abide by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
His electoral promises were never fulfilled. In internal issues he avoided confrontation, often giving way to protests. He called for social unity, for reduced unemployment, and inequalities, in the nation he understood was diverse and complex. But attempts at change, his pension reform, and austerity package, led to strikes. France was riddled with debt and unemployment, but Chirac failed to change the French economy or defuse tensions between police and minority youths in the urban riots in housing estates, the banlieues in 2005.
His decision to call parliamentary elections in 1997 was a political miscalculation, since it led to a left-wing government, with which as president he was forced to share power. He also failed to convince the electorate to approve the proposed the EU constitution. He left France as divided as when he started. Chirac was particularly offensive in his speech of June 19, 1991 in Orleans when he was critical of immigrants, who live in council houses, and spoke of French people being disturbed, among other things, by their “noise and smell,” le bruit et l’odeur. The French worker, he said without being a racist, is bound to become mad about them.
To his credit, Chirac did improve road safety, ended compulsory military service, and reduced the term of president from seven to five years. He also became a champion of activity regarding climate change, one of the first leaders to draw attention to it. In September 2002, in a speech in Johannesburg he declared that “our house is burning while we look elsewhere. The earth and humankind are in danger and we are all responsible. Humanity has a rendezvous with destiny.”
Chirac’s most prominent international moment for which he is most remembered is his opposition to the war in Iraq. He was the leading figure in the opposition to President George W. Bush and PM Tony Blair who were deploying forces to remove Saddam Hussein. Chirac remarked on March 18, 2003 that Iraq did not represent an immediate threat that justified an immediate war. War is always, he said, a last resort, it is always proof of failure. It is always the worst of solutions because it brings death and misery.” Chirac refused to join the invasion without a UN mandate, arguing that military action must be approved by the UN Security Council. Chirac led the alliance of France, Germany, and Russia against the war involving the U.S. and UK. His action soured relations with the two countries. However, a new surprising comment of September 28, 2019 by Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, was that there were “strong indications,” that Chirac received L 5 million to oppose the war. Dearlove indicated there was “a long relationship between Chirac and Saddam which was “personal.”
Chirac was said to be a connoisseur of Japanese ceramics, and appreciative of Chinse poetry. In his regard he left a monument. He opened in 2006 the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum to display art from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. It contains about 1.2 million objects, a kind of immigration museum. For Chirac, it is dedicated to people who have “too often suffered violence at the hands of history throughout the ages.”
His career ended sadly when convicted for using city funds while Mayor of Paris 1977-1995 for his political party RPR, he was found guilty and given a suspended sentence of two years. Cynics remarked this was the first time he had a conviction.
Yet the legacy of Chirac is clear. He never did heal the social fracture in France, nor introduce any significant change but one. As shown by a ceremony of the Shoah memorial in Paris. because of what Jacques Chirac said about French participation in the Holocaust, Jews of France were reconciled with their country.
In a way, I should not be paying attention to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl who is now a world-known climate activist after she came to America and appeared before the UN and the US House of Representatives with her angry "How dare you" speech. Since she has been put on the world stage by her parents and other adult activists, she should be discussed, however..
My initial reaction to watching her ugly speeches was to compare her to the fictional Swedish children's book character, Pippi Långstrump-or Pippi Longstocking in English. Pippi, a creation of Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, is an impish and rebellious teenage girl, who ignores adult conventions and shows scant respect for her elders-a bit more cheerful than Greta, perhaps, but outrageous nonetheless. At least Pippi can smile and have fun.
Maybe it was a bad comparison. Greta is a sad figure. She reportedly has some psychological issues (according to her mother), and they appear to be on full display in her angry public appearances. One should dread the future of this girl. She and her parents have been photographed wearing black Antifa t-shirts. That should give you a clue.
It is easy to not like Greta or make fun of her, but the tragedy and the crime, if you will, is that adults have thrust her on this stage - a stage she is not equipped to handle. And she is not the only one. In the US this past week, she shared the spotlight with other teenagers who have been prepped and indoctrinated into believing that certain adults have stolen their future from them, and only they can save the world from Climate Change.
In truth, in Greta's case, that is partly true. In her native Sweden, everyone's future is being stolen by its national leaders who have imported hundreds of thousands of so-called asylum-seekers, almost all Islamic, who are turning the country into a dangerous hellhole. It is already the rape capital of Europe, and I hope Greta will not soon become just another statistic.
But I guess we won't see Greta complain about that problem any time soon because she is obviously surrounded both in and out of her home by leftist activists. But more to the point, it is dangerous to put adolescent children in the public spotlight. Hollywood's history is littered with examples of child actors who couldn't handle the fame and became wrecks in their adulthood. Now some are talking about giving this girl a Nobel prize. I hope it doesn't happen, not only because it would make a joke out of the Nobel prize itself (Oh wait! It already is), but it would be one more weight that Greta would have to carry on her shoulders the rest of her life. The best thing that can happen for Greta Thunberg is to go back to school, get treatment for whatever ails her, and be forgotten - if the leftist adults and Climate Change crazies will let her.
Event At Michigan Church Cancelled Quite Unnecessarily
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Pastor Dr. Donald McKay.
Under pressure, a pastor in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan cancelled what some have billed as an “anti-Muslim event” that was scheduled to take place on 9/11. The story is here:
A Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church is canceling [i.e. cancelled] an anti-Muslim event scheduled for the 9/11 anniversary after facing condemnation from Michigan representatives and organizations.
Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church announced in a one-sentence email that it will cancel [cancelled] the two-day “9/11 forgotten? Is Michigan surrendering to Islam?” event that was originally scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
The event was slated to host two speakers, who would address topics like “How the interfaith movement is sabotaging America and the church” and “How Islam is destroying America from within.”
The church’s pastor, Donald McKay, defended the event to Fox 2 last week, telling the station that “Islam is a growing threat in the United States of America,” and that while he couldn’t speak for his church, “we don’t hate Muslims, we hate the ideology they are identified with.”
“I am an Islamophobe, I wear that badge proudly,” said McKay, who told Fox 2 at the time that he did not plan on canceling.
The event quickly gained attention from political leaders and organizations in Michigan, who condemned the discussion and called for its cancellation.
In a joint statement on the issue, U.S. Democratic Reps. Andy Levin and Debbie Dingell said there is “no place for hate in metro Detroit, in Michigan or anywhere in the United States.”
“We implore the Bloomfield Baptist Church to forgo the anti-Muslim events planned for next week and instead recognize America’s rich cultural and religious diversity as we reflect on one of the most painful days in our country’s history and heal from recent acts of white supremacist violence,” Levin and Dingell said. “As people of faith, we ask Michiganders to unify in peace and celebrate our shared humanity to help prevent future acts of hatred.”
Do Andy Levin and Debbie Dingell have any idea that this notion of a “shared humanity” is not to be found in Islam? How can there be a “shared humanity” when Muslims are described in the Qur’an as “the best of peoples” and non-Muslims as “the most vile of created beings”? How can there be a “shared humanity” when Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an not to take Jews and Christians as friends, for “they are friends only with each other”? How can there be a “shared humanity” when 109 Qur’anic verses command Muslims to “fight” and to “kill” and to “smite at the necks of” and “strike terror in the hearts of” Unbelievers?
Dawud Walid, executive director of Michigan’s Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) chapter, said the anti-Islam rhetoric the church was promoting was “troubling,” especially in light of the frequency of hate crimes against Muslims.
Dawud Walid, a director at unindicted co-conspirator CAIR, finds “troubling” the “anti-Islam rhetoric” promoted by the Baptist church in Bloomfield Hills. Will any reporter dare to ask him the obvious? To wit, do you, Dawud Walid, find anything “troubling” about those Qur’anic verses that command violent Jihad against the Unbelievers as, for example, 2:191-193, 4:89, 8:12, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4? Are you in the least bit “troubled” by the description of all non-Muslims as “the most vile of created beings”? Are you at all troubled by Muhammad’s claims in the Hadith that “war is deceit” and “I have been made victorious through terror”?
“Though we believe that houses of worship have the right to preach their doctrine, we find it incredibly irresponsible for a church to invite someone who has the objective of spewing clear anti-Muslim bigotry,” Walid told the Free Press.
Thus did the event in question, which might have contributed to an understanding of Islam, instead become an occasion for a craven surrender to those who wish to shut down all criticism of Islam, and Pastor Donald McKay ends up having been painted as a bigot.
Pastor McKay left himself quite unnecessarily open to criticism when he boastingly described himself as an “Islamophobe.” Instead of accepting that tendentious term, he ought to have held a news conference, where he could have forthrightly refused it, insisting that “I am not an ‘Islamophobe’ as some would have it; I am an islamocritic, who has read and studied the Qur’an. The term ‘Islamophobia’ is used to insinuate that all criticism of Islam must reflect an ‘irrational fear’ rather than a perfectly rational anxiety about the texts and teachings of the faith; it is an attempt to shut down all criticism of Islam, which is surely an illegitimate aim. My anxiety about Islam is not an ‘irrational fear,’ but, I believe, a rational one. I would ask the Representatives – Andy Levin and Debbie Dingell — who want to shut down the discussion of Islam at my church, without knowing what will be said, to come as guests, to listen to what our speakers have to say, and if they disagree, to speak out at the church itself rather than to try to prevent such a discussion from taking place. Of course, I request that they do the same homework beforehand that I and the members of my church have done – that is, read the Qur’an.
“I have prepared a list of the dozen Qur’anic verses on which we will be focusing. This dozen that we will be discussing have also been posted at the website of the church. Any fair-minded reporter should include mention of these in reporting on the so-called ‘Islamophobic’ event at the church. These verses include the following:
“2:191. And kill them [the non-Muslims] wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Haram, unless they fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.
“2:192. But if they cease, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
“2:193. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah and worship is for Allah. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)
“3:110. Ye [Muslims] are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.
“4:89. They [Christians and Jews] wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal. So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah. But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.
“5:51. O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.
“8:12. Your Lord inspired the angels: I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes…
“8:60. And make ready against them [the disbelievers] all you can of power, including steeds of war to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know.
“9:5. Then when the Sacred Months have passed, then kill the Mushrikun [the Idolaters] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform Salat, and give Zakat, then leave their way free.
“9:29. Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
“47:4. Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens…
“98:6. Those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures.
“Cf. 8:55. Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe.”
Pastor McKay could continue:
“These dozen verses will also be delivered to all the reporters expressing an interest covering the event. We hope they will read them, and that some of those reporting might even have the scrupulosity to refer to a few of the verses by sura and ayat or even – which would be most helpful of all — to quote a handful. In their reporting, they can also alert their readers to the fact that these dozen can be easily consulted at the website of the church. Thus they will be better able to judge for themselves whether our own discussion about Islam is unfair in any way.”
Pastor McKay should also take issue with Representatives Levin and Dingell for their remarks addressed directly to him: “We implore the Bloomfield Baptist Church to forgo the anti-Muslim events planned for next week and instead recognize America’s rich cultural and religious diversity as we reflect on one of the most painful days in our country’s history and heal from recent acts of white supremacist violence,” Levin and Dingell said. “As people of faith, we ask Michiganders to unify in peace and celebrate our shared humanity to help prevent future acts of hatred.”
Pastor McKay’s reply could be: “It does no good to present a saccharine view of Islam. In order to ‘help prevent future acts of hatred’ by Muslim terrorists, we need to know what prompts their acts: is it something we non-Muslims have done, or is it simply who we are, that is, non-Muslims, that provokes such violence and hatred? Isn’t it essential that we study the Qur’an, to find out the truth of the matter? Why should anyone object to our reading, studying, examining, discussing that essential text of Islam? Should we shun such knowledge, leaving ourselves unable to comprehend those who wish us no good? Or should we strive to fathom the faith of Islam, wherever that might lead?”
The reports in advance of the event might then have read quite differently:
“Donald McKay, pastor of the Baptist Church in Bloomfield Hills, who describes himself as an “Islamocritic,” has announced that his congregation will be discussing selected verses from the Qur’an on Wednesday and Thursday [September 11-12]. Visitors will be welcome, but seating is limited, so please contact Pastor McKay if you plan to attend. He has posted at the website of the church the dozen verses from the Qur’an that will be the focus of the discussion, and he encourages everyone who intends to participate, including those who will be reporting on the event, to read those dozen verses ahead of time.”
Thus retouched for public consumption, Pastor McKay now comes across not, as previously presented, as a proud bigot (“I am an Islamophobe”), but rather as an inquiring mind, hoping to encourage others to join him in an uninhibited examination of the texts and teachings of Islam. Only those with something to hide — CAIR, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib — could conceivably object to such a program. Turn the tables, put them on the defensive. And never give an inch to those who, whether cunning or terminally naive Defenders of the Faith, persist in misdirecting us.
Prosperity is increasing, and the less well-off are benefiting the most.
by Conrad Black
Four large secrets that most of the American media are afraid to utter are that the American economy is growing in a way that is directly helpful to the most vulnerable segments of society; that the administration’s trade policy is clearly working; that the flow of illegal immigrants is sharply diminishing; and that for the first time in 65 years, the United States has practically ceased to be a net oil importer. These were all promises of the Trump candidacy, and the first three were areas where previous administrations had promised action but failed to deliver. Even now, the Democratic presidential candidates still prattle compulsively about “tax cuts for the rich” before embarking on the ride of the Valkyries to stratospheric taxes, open borders, socialized medicine, the Green Terror, and the dreaded “national conversation” on trillion-dollar block-vote buying through racial reparations.
The census report ten days ago revealed workers’ earnings increasing at 3.4 percent annually, a rate not seen since the best of the Reagan years, and the poverty rate has declined to 11.8 percent, the best figure that has been recorded since the end of the Clinton administration and still resolutely proceeding in the right direction. Unemployment is at its lowest percentage since the Lyndon Johnson administration more than 50 years ago (and the numbers then were helped by having 545,000 conscripts in Vietnam). Minority groups are the principal beneficiaries of the Trump economy; this isn’t trickle-down, it’s surge-up. Average income for female-led single-parent households jumped 7.6 percent last year, well ahead of gains in higher income groups. The poverty rate among female-led households fell 2.7 percent for African Americans, and 4 percent for Hispanics. Industries largely populated by women (and, historically, exploited women), especially hospitality and, to a lesser extent, health care, showed strong earnings gains, even as unemployment rates for African-American and Hispanic women fell to under 4.5 percent. Another partisan Democratic falsehood that is exposed by the census is the myth that the middle class is shrinking. The percentage of total families at the lowest economic levels has fallen by over 1 whole percent and the brackets from $50,000 to $150,000 and above $200,000 have both increased by almost 1 whole percent (several million people in each case). There were sharp increases in the incomes of younger families (up to age 34).
Most growth has been in the lower and middle levels, and the downward effects of reduced benefit and welfare payments, which dampen the income-growth number slightly, are themselves a positive indicator of reduced need for assistance. The plain message from the census figures and accompanying current statistics from the Labor Department show that the administration that puts economic growth (Trump) ahead of direct tax-and-spend transfers to combat inequality (Obama) achieves more for both economic growth and reduction of inequality. There is no sign that the Democrats are assimilating the lessons of this. They endlessly repeat their false mantra that the rich (i.e. the knee-jerk limousine liberals of Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street, almost all of them effulgent Democrats) are the only winners from the Trump economy. The biggest relative winners are the most needy, which they will presumably remember on Election Day.
The usual media take about the trade dispute with China is also changing. The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, acknowledged recently that “growth in industrial production is at its lowest point in 17 and a half years” and blamed the trade dispute with the U.S. This is unusually candid for a senior Chinese official. The premier reaffirmed the goal of 6.5 percent economic growth, but qualified western observers, including the liberal Brookings Institution, believe that China has been inflating its declared rate of economic growth by about 2 percent since 2008. The effect of this is that China has not really had 6 percent growth for about a decade, and the real present size of the Chinese economy is $10.9 trillion, not the claimed $13.4 trillion. This reveals that China’s economy is really half the size of that of the United States, and at current rates of growth, is not gaining on the United States in absolute terms of size at all.
The U.S. tariffs have struck China at a sensitive time. Pork is one of the largest ingredients in the Chinese diet, and part of China’s reprisal against the U.S., to try to strike at the base of President Trump’s agrarian voting constituency, was to raise the tariff on pork by 400 percent, from 12 to 62 per cent. This backed straight onto the grocery bill of the Chinese families at a time when China has suffered the worst attack of African swine fever in its hog industry in many years, possibly leading to the reduction of the country’s pork production by 50 percent this year. The effect has been an almost 50 percent rise in pork prices and a jump in the inflation index. Foreign sources have not been able to make good domestic shortfalls in availability of pork. These developments, more than a general spirit of benignity, probably led to the Chinese exemption on further tariff increases on U.S. agricultural products announced last week. China is also the chief victim in any increase in the world oil price, a fact that may cause it to be more cautious in its Iranian policy. President Trump claims that the United States has collected $68 billion on the new tariffs it has imposed and that it has only cost $16 billion to protect the American farmer. That may be slightly optimistic, but it is clear that the farm states support the president and that the pressure on China to make a comprehensive settlement is practically irresistible, as long as the president doesn’t gratuitously humiliate China. An improved trade deal with China now seems to be imminent.
Readers will recall the howls of derision that went up when candidate Trump said he would “build a wall” on the southern border and that Mexico would pay for it. Some will remember the vulgar expletives of the loud-mouthed former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox. The wall is being built; Mexico will substantially pay for it through the revised terms of the trade deal with Mexico, and the new Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the most leftward leader Mexico has had in many decades, is deploying 27,000 soldiers near the border and has revised the former Mexican practice of passing migrants through Mexico in huge numbers, from Central America to the United States. The nonsense of Democratic politicians such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the border detention centers being like Nazi death camps has ended. Historians of the future will wonder why the United States allowed 20 million into the country illegally in the first place, and the fact that the Democrats wanted the votes and the Republicans wanted the cheap labor is no excuse. President Trump’s tackling of the problem where his predecessors failed is a formidable achievement. The era of the Mexicans’ attracting American factories to Mexico and shipping back illegal migrants and unemployment, but not the profits of relocated American companies, is ending, but Mexico is gaining trade with the U.S. lost by China.
Finally, a bipartisan success. The United States became a net oil importer in the Eisenhower years, and peaked at 15 million barrels a day (over $400 billion annually) with President Clinton. This declined to ten million barrels a day with President George W. Bush, to five million a day under President Obama, and is now almost zero under President Trump. Increased offshore drilling and substitution of natural gas, fracking (horizontal shale drilling), and conservation have all contributed to this benign trend, but it cannot be said that windmills and solar panels had much to do with it.
These are all developments that were promised in the last election, a fact thoroughly disguised by the superficial controversies that regularly enshroud Washington (including the current Ukrainian nonsense).
Here’s that rainy day in UK. People laughed at the thought that political events in the country would turn out this way. Besides the unusual deadly flooding, with a month’s rain in London in one day, that hit the country, the political system has been engulfed by a constitutional crisis, the use of power, and the problems of implementing the “will of the people” in a representative democracy. The immediate problem stemmed from the “advice” given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Queen Elizabeth to prorogue, suspend, Parliament for five weeks. It has involved a reconsideration of executive power, parliamentary sovereignty and political accountability.
Curiously, the U.S. is presently involved in a similar reconsideration of these powers, adopting a concept, the process of impeachment, inherited from Britain. The process of impeachment, involving treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors started in the 14thcentury in the UK to remove government officials for abuse of power. After an intense impeachment of Warren Hastings in 1788, the last one was that of Henry Dundas, Lord Melville, acquitted in 1806. Since then impeachment has been regarded in UK as an obsolete power of Parliament.
Not so in the U.S. where Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives announced on September 24, 2019 the start of a formal impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, and that the House was “moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.” Though there is uncertainty about the exact definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and also about the rules of inquiry, the charge apparently will focus on Trump betraying his oath of office, and the nation’s security.
The U.S. constitution states that the Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. However, political consequences of impeachment remain uncertain. It is wise to remember the words of Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist 65 of March 7, 1788 that an impeachment, which may be denominated political, “will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused, and there is the danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”
It is disturbing that the leaders of the U.S. and UK, the two great democracies, should both be facing opposition for abuse of power. The claim of Speaker Nancy Pelosi is that President Trump asked a foreign leader for a “favor” in relation to a rival American politician. The problem in the UK is more complicated than in the U.S., the result of the existence of prerogative power, of which there is no accepted or official definition, and its scope is notoriously difficult to define.
The Royal Prerogative stems from the history of the monarch in medieval Britain acting as head of the kingdom, and able to make decisions in both internal and external matters. However, as a result of constitutional conventions, government ministers exercise the majority of prerogative powers either in their own right or through the advice they provide to the Queen which by these conventions she is bound to follow. Complexity occurs because the courts have restricted the circumstances in which the prerogative can be used, and also determined when prerogative powers are subject to judicial review.
In a case in 2017, the prerogative was defined as encompassing the exercisable “residue of powers which remain vested in the Crown, and they are exercisable by ministers, provided that the exercise is consistent with parliamentary legislation.” It is accepted that the monarch has the right to advise, encourage, and warn government ministers, and will assent to legislation. Nevertheless, the exact content of the prerogative is controversial. It has also been accepted since the 19thcentury that the advice of the PM or ministers is needed for the prerogative to be exercised. The understanding is that powers that historically resided with the monarch are exercised by government ministers.
In the turmoil over the issue of Brexit, and the sea of troubles it has caused, PM Boris Johnson, while he may not be suffering as did Prometheus having his liver every day pecked away by an eagle, has been inundated by these constitutional as well as political problems. Was his advice to the Queen to progue Parliament lawful? The government held that prorogation was a political issue, and not one for the courts. Yet, courts have long had the power to decide if actions are legal. In 1611, the court proclaimed that the king had “no prerogative but that which the law of the land allows him.” Since then, judges have declared they had the right to determine the limits of prerogative power.
In the present case the Supreme Court found the PM’s action was unlawful and had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional function. The prorogation was void, without reasonable justification, and therefore was of non-effect. All 12 justices agreed that Parliament has not been prorogued, and could meet.
A number of factors were involved. The SC argued it ensured that the executive branch of government carries out its function in accordance with the law. Therefore, people in principle must have unimpeded access to the courts so the SC can do this. The government had not justified its action in proroguing Parliament. The SC declared the suspension is void and effectively ended.
The UK Supreme Court held it could decide whether the PM’s decision to prorogue was lawful. In an precedented ruling, the UK Supreme Court, the top court, ruled unanimously that Johnson was unlawful in advising the Queen to prorogue, suspend, meetings of the House of Commons for five weeks since it was attempt to silence MPs on the issue of Brexit. Johnson had hoped that during the five weeks that Parliament was prorogued, he could renegotiate a deal with the EU. The Court held that he did not have a legal basis or reasonable justification, or indeed any reason, let alone a good reason, for prorogation. It did not accept the government view that the House of Commons refused, twice, its request to reconsider Brexit by holding a general election in October. Prorogation was unlawful because it prevented Parliament from exercising its functions.
Is the UK Supreme Court, created in 2005, moving toward the role of the U.S. Supreme Court? Is the President of the Court, the brilliant Lady Hale, the 74 year old former Justice of the High Court and Lord of Appeal the British equivalent of Ruth Bader Ginsburg? A crucial question is whether the Supreme Court judges, unelected judges, went beyond its appropriate role of applying the law and upholding the right of Parliament not to be prorogued, thus intervening in a political issue. Were the courts involving themselves in the relationship between government and parliament? Did it stage a constitutional coup, or as it said defending democracy? Is this a crucial moment in the nature of the British constitutional system?
The SC, was set up to make clear that the judicial function of the House of Lords, was separate from the legislative function of the House. It replaced the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, and is explicitly separate from both government and Parliament. It is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, and also for criminal cases in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It also hears cases of constitutional importance affecting the whole population.
From its creation, the criticism was that judges might arrogate greater power. The SC cannot overturn primary legislation passed by Parliament, but it can override secondary legislation if that is contrary to the primary legislation , or can declare that the legislation is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
It is premature to argue that the SC decision is a seismic shift in power from the executive to the judiciary though it affirmed an old saying that the government “hath no prerogative but that which the law of the land allows it.”
Finally, the question of public agreement with the SC. Public opinion polls show that 60% thought Parliament had a plenty of time for discussion of Brexit, but a majority agreed that the SCs had right to rule on the issue. The country is divided on the rather arcane constitutional issue, and on the simpler issue whether the PM acted lawfully or attempted to silence Parliament. Did the Supreme Court strike a blow for democracy or was its decision too arbitrary?
Scots Wha Hae Wi’ Wallace Bled, Or, The “Islamic Tartan” Farce
by Hugh Fitzgerald
During the week of September 5-12, sales of what has been called the “Islamic Tartan” in Scotland suddenly soared. And this surge in sales, which lasted all of two weeks before sinking back just as quickly, received a preposterous amount of attention online. It’s a feelgood story about Islam, so naturally the media are eager to dwell on it.
Let’s clear up a few things. The “Islamic tartan” is nothing new; it has been around, to general indifference, for seven years. Then, on September 5, a blogger, one Laura Morlock, described the tartan and showed an example at her website, and for mysterious reasons, Morlock’s message “went viral,” and the rest is — at least for two weeks — history.
The tartan was designed in 2012 by a Scottish Muslim academic, and Arab News columnist, Dr. Azeem Ibrahim, to celebrate the histories of Scotland and Islam, and highlight and promote the dual heritage of the two communities in an attempt “to overcome religious intolerance and cultural discrimination.”
In 2012, Azeem Ibrahim was commissioned by the largest manufacturer of hand-crafted tartans in Scotland, D. C. Dalgliesh, to create an “Islamic tartan.” It was a marketing decision, not some high-minded attempt “to overcome religious intolerance and cultural discrimination.” Some green-eye-shaded employees at Dalgleish recognized an unserved niche in the market, and thought the company could fill it; as it turned out, it took seven years for the “Islamic tartan” to finally increase its sales beyond the “few” that are normally sold weekly of each of Dalgleish’s tartans.
“The sale of most tartans is a steady trickle, generally, and we normally expect a few orders a week,” said Nick Fiddes, managing director of D.C. Dalgleish and CLAN.com, which describes itself as the world’s only hand-crafted tartan mill. “The volume went up by four to six times, perhaps. It was very noticeable and we had no idea why at first. It was quite mysterious.”
If there are a “few orders a week” — a “steady trickle” — for most Dalgleish-milled tartans, and that presumably would include the “Islamic tartan” over the past seven years, it’s not hard to calculate the likely number of requests for “Islamic tartans” during this new “surge.” If ordinarily “a few orders” come in each week for most tartans, that would mean 3 to 4; then, if the volume “went up by four to six times,” as Mr. Fiddes claims, during the week of September 5 to September 12 that would mean that 25 orders came in for “Islamic tartan” kilts, ties, hijabs, and throws. All this excitement, all these “Islamic tartan” stories on the Internet, over what, if we do a little research, turns out to be a matter of 25 orders – in other words, much ado about nothing.
“Scotland has officially created a tartan to honor its Muslim citizens,” she [the blogger Laura Morlock] wrote. Despite coming 12 years after the launch of the fabric, the post was retweeted 13,000 times and liked by more than 50,000 people.
Laura Morlock’s remark is incorrect. Scotland did not “officially create a tartan to honor its Muslims citizens.” The tartan was designed by Ibrahim, the cloth then milled and sold by the firm of Dalgleish. It was not “created” by Scotland, but registered by Dalgleish as the “Scottish Islamic” tartan on the Scottish Register of Tartans. There is a difference.
Morlock said the response to her post suggested that drawing attention to the tartan must have resonated at a time when Muslim communities in the West, and particularly the US, are feeling more isolated.
This is special pleading for Muslims, whom we are supposed to see as victims, deliberately made to feel apart, “isolated,” from the mainstream. But the reason Muslims are not integrating well in the West is that they have shown that they do not desire to do so. They are told in the Qur’an to regard non-Muslims as “the most vile of created beings,” while Muslims are “the best of peoples,” and they are further commanded not to take Christians and Jews as friends, “for they are friends only with each other.” It is Muslims who stay aloof from non-Muslims, not the reverse. Of course there are Muslim attempts to ingratiate themselves with non-Muslims; this is not to be confused with a genuine desire to integrate into the larger society. Non-Muslims have gone out of their way to make Muslims feel welcome, letting them settle in their countries, lavishing every sort of governmental largesse on them, including free or highly subsidized housing, free education, free medical care, unemployment benefits (even without prior employment), and family allowances.
“I think people responded differently to learning about this because it hits a nerve at a time when hate crimes (particularly those against religious communities) are on the rise, and the news is full of federally mandated nationalistic cruelty around the globe,” she wrote in her blog.
Morlock clearly means to suggest that these “hate crimes” are committed against Muslims, but if she took the trouble to look around the world, she would discover that Christians are the most persecuted believers worldwide, and their persecutors are in almost all cases Muslims. It’s hard to know what Morlock means by “federally mandated nationalistic cruelty around the globe,” but I presume this is an allusion mainly to the beyond-the-pale Muslim-banning islamophobic Trump Administration.
The description of the “Islamic tartan” by the blogger Laura Morlock led to a rise in orders that upon inspection isnot nearly as impressive as we have been led to believe.
Fiddes [who directs the tartan manufacturer Dalgleish] said the tartan is part of a Scottish-Islamic venture that aims to bring the two communities closer together.
What could it be that is keeping the Muslim and the Scottish communities from being close together? Why is it that all the other, non-Muslim, groups of immigrants in Scotland – Chinese, Vietnamese, Poles, Hindus, Sikhs – have had no trouble integrating into Scottish society by the second generation? Isn’t the problem with the Muslims, whose holy book tells them not to become friends of non-Muslims, and to regard them as the “most vile of creatures”?
How exactly does an “Islamic” tartan manage to “bring the two communities closer together”? And what significance does it have other than being a clever marketing idea to increase sales of tartans among Muslims living in Scotland?
“This is one thing I love about tartans,” he [Fiddes] said. “It is saying that Muslims are a part of Scotland too, due to cultural significance.”
Fiddes would not, of course, have owned up to the real significance of the Islamic tartan – the filling of a niche to increase profits at Dalgleish – but instead prefers to proffer a more exalted reason: “saying that Muslims are a part of Scotland too, due to cultural significance.” I’m not sure what “due to cultural significance” means – how have Muslims contributed to Scottish culture? — but it sounds appropriately high-minded.
“The Islamic tartan was essentially the Scottish-Muslim identity being weaved together in the same way that the tartan is weaved together through its strands,” said Ibrahim [who designed the tartan], who is director at the Center for Global Policy in Washington.
This remark makes no sense. The Islamic tartan is just a cloth, for god’s sake. It identifies the wearer as the member of a particular clan. It has no metaphysical meaning. It does not create, nor does it reflect, something Ibrahim chooses to call the “Scottish-Muslim identity.”
Muslims have been coming to Scotland since the late 18th century, when sailors from India, Pakistan, Yemen and Malaysia began to arrive in Glasgow on merchant ships. The Muslim population grew substantially after World War II, and a 2001 census indicated that 42,550 Muslims lived in Scotland at that time. Today the figure is estimated to be about 75,000.
Thus we have the usual backdating of a Muslim presence, and a certain amount of calendrical confusion. The handful of Muslim lascars on British ships becomes an unknown number of “sailors” arriving from the late 18th century on, from India, Pakistan (which did not exist until 1947), Yemen, and Malaysia (which did not exist until 1963). The main point that is being made is that the Muslim presence in Scotland goes back to the late 18th century; it was undoubtedly larger than you Infidels think, whatever that number might be; we must all recognize that “Muslims have always been part of Scotland’s history” – and so the pseudo-history of Islam in Scotland is born.
Scots wha hae wi Wallace bled know that sometimes a tartan is just a tartan. This is one of those times.
Concluding Unscientific Postscript On Sinead O’Connor
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sinead O’Connor, as she has informed the whole world, has apologised for her rant last year in which she said she “never wants to spend time with white people again.”
Many will remember the statement the egomaniacal and semi-demented singer tweeted to the world, a few weeks after she – once Sinead and subsequently Shuhada — announced that she had become a Muslim: “What I’m about to say is something so racist I never thought my soul could ever feel it. But truly I never wanna spend time with white people again (if that’s what non-muslims are called). Not for one moment, for any reason. They are disgusting.”
“The singer now says that she was ‘angry and unwell’ when she made the ‘racist’ remark last October.” (It was actually in early November.)
If Sinead O’Connor told everyone in October 2018 how calm and content she felt, ever since she had accepted Islam, or realized that a she had been a Muslim all along, why was it that she was “angry and unwell” just a few weeks later when, in November, she made the remark she now calls “racist” about white people? In her confusion, she conflated “non-Muslims” with “white people,” for she wrote “I never wanna spend time with white people again (if that’s what non-muslims are called).”
Was she “angry and unwell” despite, or could it have been because of Islam? She could have read in the Qur’an that non-Muslims (or “white people,” as she called them) are “the most vile of created beings” (98:6). She could have read the verses about not taking Christians or Jews as friends, “for they are friends only with each other” (5:51). She could have read many verses commanding Muslims to “fight” and to “kill” and to “smite at the necks of” and to “strike terror in the hearts of” non-Muslims, which might well have caused Sinead O’Connor, who had renamed herself as Shuhada Davitt, to regard those objects of so much inculcated Qur’anic hate as “disgusting.”
What should have been her views of Jews, after all, if she formed her opinion based on the Qur’an, where she might have learned about Islamic antisemitism, which as Robert Spencer has written is rooted in Qur’an 5:82, which says Jews are the worst enemies of Muslims; in 2:65, 5:59-60, and 7:166, which has Allah transforming disobedient Jews into apes and pigs; in 9:30, which says Jews are accursed; and many other passages. Spencer has usefully collected them here: “The Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.”
While Christians do not suffer denunciations of the same virulence or frequency in the Qur’an as do Jews, they are regarded, with Jews, as “the most vile of created beings.” They are to be fought, just like Jews, as Qur’an 9:29 commands: “Fight against Unbelievers [Christians and Jews] until they pay the tribute readily [the Jizyah], being brought low.” Quran 9:30 calls for their destruction, just like that for the Jews: “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!” Surely these are the passages where Shuhada Davitt got the idea that non-Muslims – her “white people” – are “disgusting,” and caused her to exclaim that “I never wanna spend time with white people again (if that’s what non-muslims are called.)”
Almost a full year has passed since she made her declaration. And she has apparently discovered – it must have surprised her — that many of those “white people” took umbrage at being described as “disgusting”; on social media she has been raked over the coals. Now that she is about to return to the stage – after being away for five years — for performances in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Wexford, and has even hinted at a new album, she needed to mend fences. No doubt her friends, or even a possible agent, suggested it would be a good idea to apologize for her “I never wanna spend time with white people again” remark and mend fences. So she came up with this on September 8: “As regards to remarks I made while angry and unwell, about white people… they were not true at the time and they are not true now. I was triggered as a result of islamophobia dumped on me. I apologize for hurt caused. That was one of many crazy tweets lord knows…” Excuses, excuses: “I [was] angry and unwell.” And “I was triggered as a result of islamophobia dumped on me.” What is she talking about? What “islamophobia” was “dumped” on her? She still can’t come clean, can’t declare that there are no legitimate excuses for her idiotic and intolerable remarks.
Box-office considerations, not real chagrin or genuine sorrow, are behind this only apparent change of mind.
“Speaking about finding the religion, O’Connor told The Late Late Show‘s host: ”I read chapter two of the Qu’ran and I realised I’m home, and that I’ve been a Muslim all my life. There’s a way of thinking.
“You can be a Muslim without actually being a Muslim as it’s a headset. A Muslim is someone who believes nothing should be worshipped except God.”
If she read Sura 2, Al-Buqarah (“The Heifer”) then she must have read 2:191-2:193:
2:190. And fight in the Way of Allah those who fight you, but transgress not the limits. Truly, Allah likes not the transgressors.
2:191. And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Haram, unless they fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.
2:192. But if they cease, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
2:193. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah and worship is for Allah. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)
Those verses in Sura Two are unambiguous commands to Muslims to fight and to kill the Unbelievers. Yet it was this very Sura, so very unpleasant toward Unbelievers, that Sinead/Shuhada found so attractive, and that was enough for her to feel she had come home: “I read chapter two of the Qu’ran and I realised I’m home, and that I’ve been a Muslim all my life.”
Has she read more of the Qur’an beyond “chapter two,” or was that enough to convince her of the sheer rightness of Islam, and that she has “been a Muslim all her life”?
Someone whose entire adult life has been a sad succession of crazy episodes, failed suicide attempts, drugs, attention-getting bizarreries, has for nearly a year proudly proclaimed that she has at long last found peace as a Muslim, and that “I never wanna spend time with white people again (if that’s what non-muslims are called). Not for one moment, for any reason. They are disgusting.”
I think we should oblige her. Let’s start by none of us white people buying her records, or her videos, and let’s make sure not to attend her concerts in Cork, Galway, Dublin, and Wexford.
I don’t wanna spend time with Shuhada Davitt again (if that’s what she’s now called). Not for any moment, for any reason. She is disgusting. Perhaps you will agree.
Whenever anyone speaks of “our way of life” in contradistinction to all others, I begin to feel uneasy. What is it that defines its uniqueness? What is it that we, whoever we may be, all share that others do not? While most of us know what we mean by “our way of life,” as soon as we try to define it, its meaning disappears like the blush of a grape.
If I speak of the French or German way of life, everyone has an idea what I mean: for example, drinking wine in cafés or bierfests. But of course the majority of the French do not drink wine in cafés (French wine consumption per capita has declined by two thirds in the last sixty years), and most Germans do not go to bierfests. Whatever defining feature we alight upon, then, someone will say either that it is not unique to the country, or that most of the people whose way of life is supposedly constituted by it do not in fact share it. Whole ways of life disappear under this kind of intellectual carping.
We should not attempt, however, to use words more precisely than their subject-matter allows. The fact that it is difficult to say where a cloud begins and ends does not mean that there are no such things as clouds or that we do not know one when we see one.
But there is another objection to the use of the term “our way of life.” There is something inherently self-congratulatory about it, for people very seldom use it to criticise themselves or draw attention to unpleasant national or civilizational characteristics. It contains within it an implicit hostility to other ways of life that may, when looked at dispassionately, have aspects superior to our own. It therefore implies a narrow-minded unwillingness to learn from others. And we are attached to our way of life not only because we think it the best, but because it is our own. For some, the latter feeling represents an affront to Man as a rational being, for rationality in the opinion of much of the intelligentsia, in the opinion of means deciding every question by means of infallible deduction from an indubitable Cartesian point.
The new head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has come under fire for having titled the European Union’s head official for overseeing migration into the continent the Vice-President for the Protection of Our European Way of Life. The title has an unhappy ring to it, and I can well imagine members of certain minorities (I say certain minorities because we are all members of many minorities) feeling uneasy because of it.
An article in the bellwether of enlightened opinion, The Guardian, only too predictably began as follows:
How would you define the “European way of life”? What unique, homogeneous culture is shared by people who live in Bolton, Palermo or Plovdiv—but not those who live outside Europe? And what threatens it so profoundly that the European Union has this week nominated a minister with responsibility for defending it?
What this in effect means is that there is nothing distinct about the European way of life by comparison with that, say Central Asia or the Aztecs, and since the term cannot be defined, what it allegedly describes cannot exist and therefore cannot be defended or preserved or for that matter destroyed. Italy, said Metternich, is a geographical expression; for the author, Europe is a geographical expression—and nothing more.
The corollary of the Guardian’s approach is that it does not really matter how many people enter Europe or from where they enter or what they bring with them: there is nothing for them to destroy. According to research, a third of sub-Saharan Africans would like to move to Europe—a number equal to the entire population of Europe. Were they actually to do so, who could doubt the “European way of life,” however defined, would undergo a change? The same goes, of course, for the lesser numbers who might come to Europe from the Middle East were there no effort to restrict them.
There are few people who would want to prohibit all migration whatever into Europe (though there are no doubt some). But what Ursula von der Leyen’s sinister-sounding job title—one made all the more suspect because she is German—has done is to divert attention from the real and practical problem of how to ensure a controlled migration, to a kind of ideological battle between those who think that cultural identity is important to preserve and those who think that cultural identity, at least in the mouths of the leaders of nations receiving migrants, is but a smokescreen for the worst of passions, for xenophobia, racism and even proto-fascism. The only cultural identities or ways of life that those who think like this wish to preserve are those of the migrants themselves in the happy kaleidoscope of a multicultural society. For them, all cultures are sacrosanct but their own.
There is probably no subject on which verbal circumspection is more advisable or necessary than that of migration. Many aspects of it have to be handled with care, for example the evident fact that migrants have both individual and group characteristics. In discussions of the problem there is often the somewhat complacent or arrogant assumption that all that counts is the conduct of the migrants’ receiving country, and that what ideas, desires, and cultural preconceptions the migrants bring with them are irrelevant. In other words, a migrant is not just a unit of migration, especially where official policy is to permit and even encourage cultural ghettoization in the name of multicultural diversity.
But in addition, no one can claim to know what the exact consequences of migration will be. Yesterday’s burden can become today’s asset. When Idi Amin, the then dictator of Uganda, expelled the Indian traders who had been granted British passports by the departing colonial regime (anti-South-Asian feeling being the antisemitism of East Africa), the British took them in with reluctance and ill-grace. No one predicted that they would soon become the richest identifiable group in the country, or that they might integrate into British society with so little difficulty, though in retrospect the reasons for this are evident.
By the use of a simple but foolish and faintly sinister form of words, Ursula von der Leyen has helped to inhibit serious discussion of a very serious, indeed vitally important, question.
Old Father Israeli President Reuven Rivlin checked so there’d be no doubt, then proudly pronounced on September 23, 2019 ‘tis autumn, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. The falling leaves in Jerusalem were drifting, and all fruit in Israel was being filled with ripeness to the core, but Israeli politics was mingled with pain. The election for the Knesset a few days earlier was not only inconclusive with no obvious winner and continuing political uncertainty, but also heralded developments that may make the formation of a stable government even more uncertain. The political citizenry in Israel does not accept the view that warm days will never cease. Rather, there is the longing for the bright steadfast star to show the way.
Where are the songs of Spring? Do not think of them. Autumn has its own music, exhibiting maturity, ripeness, inevitable change, old age and decay, and the uncertainty of life. That uncertainty was shown once again in Israeli political life as the current results of 4.4 million votes in the Knesset election show. Assuming possible major combinations , there are two: one roughly center-left led by Benny Gantz ( Blue and White which got 1.1 million votes, 25.9%, and 33 seats, Labor-Gesher 212,000 votes,4.8%,and 6 seats, Democratic Union 190,000 votes, 4.3%, and 5 seats) , and the other right of center led by Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu ( Likud 1.1 million votes, 25%, and 31 seats, Shas 330,000 votes, 7.4%, and 9 seats, UTJ 270,000 votes, 6.0%, and 8 seats, Yamina, 260,000 votes , 5.8%, and 7 seats). The stalemate means neither side has enough support to form a government, and the search for allies to join a coalition government that can control at least 61 seats. The search is over the rainbow, for a broad spectrum of parties.
President Rivlin has stated he favors a coalition government including both Blue and White and Likud. People , he declared, will be disgusted by the prospect by a third election in a year.
The search is made even more complicated by a number of new as well as old factors: the possible indictment by the Attorney-General of present and long term prime minister Benjamin, Netanyahu, on fraud and bribery allegations; the uncertain attitude of Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party which got 310,000 votes, 7%, and 8 seats and was once thought to be the kingmaker; the tension over the religious issue and the ultra-Orthodox , Haredi; and the greater assertiveness by the Joint Arab List, which got 470,000 votes, 10.6%, and 13 seats.
The would-be kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman has withheld support for either Netanyahu or Gantz, but remains primarily concerned for a secular system, one excluding ultra-Orthodox and Arabs. His slogan is that “only Lieberman can prevent a theocracy.” In response, the Ultra leaders state they do not intend to impose any religious laws on the general population. But a central factor in this difference of outlook is the insistence of Lieberman on a bill that would make Ultra men eligible to participate in mandatory Israeli military service.
Tension was strong with the introduction and debate on the minimarkets (supermarkets) bill which requires convenience stores and groceries to close on the Sabbath, a bill that passed on January 9, 2018 by 58-57, the margin of one being an indication of growing tension and unresolved differences.
About 75% of the Israeli population is Jewish, compared to 20% Arab.
Though freedom of religion is respected, tensions exist between the Haredi, strict adherents to their interpretation of Jewish law and values, usually referred to as Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox, and non-Haredi Jews. The significant social difference is the Haredi males are full time Talmudic scholars, and are therefore exempt from military service in the IDF. The number of those exempt has been increasing, to the unhappiness of secular Israelis.
The Haredi are mainly represented by two political parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, UTJ.
Shas, Sephardi Guards, was founded in 1984 by former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Rav Ovadiah Yosef with its own Council of Torah Sages. Its adherents were mostly Sephardic Jews drawn from Middle East countries who had not experienced the changes in ritual and behavior in Jewish movements in Western Europe or the U.S. They were viewed by the more secular Ashkenazi Jews as lacking the factors needed for integration into a modern society. The main religious movements, Aguddet Israel and the Mizrachi, later to become the National Religious Party, had few Sephardim in their leadership.
Shas took part in an election for the first time in 1984, winning four seats in the Knesset.
Shas set up its own government-funded educational system, and advocated a state based on halakha, Jewish religious law. At first it took a moderate stance on the conflict with Palestinians, but it opposed any stopping of settlement activity in the West Bank. Shas won 17 seats in 1999, even though its leader Aryeh Deri had been convicted on corruption charges. It did less well in 2003, winning only 11 seats, but after the 2009 election when it won 11 seats, the party joined the coalition formed by Netanyahu and got four positions in the government.
However, Deri rejoined the party for the 2013 election, and Shas won 11 seats, but decided not to enter the government, because of proposals to conscript haredi in national service, and to reduce state funding for haredi families. But it changed its mind and in 2015 Shas won 7 seats and Deri joined the government. In 2019 it appears to have won 9 seats.
United Torah Judaism, UTJ, was formed in 1992, an alliance between two ultra-Orthodox political parties, Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah. Its objectives are clear; no separation of religion and state, and no drafting of ultra-Orthodox men for military service, and maintaining bans on businesses opening on Sabbath and holidays. It has benefited from financial aid, including stipends for large families.
On external affairs, its attitude is more related to religious concerns than to security or diplomatic ones. Yet it is willing to join coalition governments that will engage in peace negotiations, and joined coalitions in 2004 and 2009.
These differences make formation of a coalition difficult though not impossible. However, the after effects of the September 2019 election may be a watershed moment in Israeli politics, and the new kingmaker may be the Arab parties. Traditionally, Arab parties have not endorsed any one to lead the country, but the Joint Arab List on September 22, 2019 decided to “recommend," though not endorse, Benny Gantz to become prime minister, since their major objective was to oust Bibi. Less important for them was criticism of Gantz for his role as military leader of the war in Gaza in 2014.
Israeli Arabs, now number 1.9 million, 20% of the population, and less well off economically than other Israelis. In 2019 a Joint List of four Arab parties was officially reestablished with Ayman Odeh, head of Hadash party, as leader. In the September 2019 election it obtained 13 seats, and, significantly, the Arab turnout was 59 %, 10 point higher than in April 2019, making it arguably the largest opposition group in the Knesset. In that case, the 44 year old Odeh, would then get monthly briefings from Mossad, meet visiting heads of state, voice in government complaints of discrimination, and call for direct negotiations with Palestinians, and a Palestinian state.
Odeh heralds a move of Arab politics from a politics of protest to a politics of influence with the weight of Arab citizens. Arab parties have not recommended a candidate for PM since Yitzhak Rabin in 1992. Odeh recommended Gantz in his concern to remove Bibi from power, and stopping a right wing coalition, although Gantz does not want Odeh in his cabinet. He did not “endorse” Gantz because Gantz has not committed to Arab legitimate political demands. Odeh’s decision was not unanimous since at least 3, members of the Balad party, of the 13 elected did not agree with his recommendation.
Will autumn turn to winter in Israeli politics? The confident declarations by Odeh are messages for changes in policy: full and equal participation of “Arab Palestinians” (sic), an end to demolition of illegally built Arab houses, and softening of regulations against illegal building in Arab areas. Arabs are 20% of the population though only 16% of the electorate, and are younger than other Israelis, and therefore will be a larger part of the electorate in the future. Moreover, the question remains that over 200,000 Arabs live in east Jerusalem, but are not Israeli citizens.
Problems are there in abundance, and the aura of invincibility of Netanyahu may be fading, but the Israeli system is not in ultimate decline, nor concerned with death. But the mainstream parties, and the Trump Administration, should be aware of and be cautious about the declarations of increasing Arab power.
The Saudis are far from admirable, but we need to support them in this escalating conflict.
by Conrad Black
The drone raid on the Saudi oil fields, along with the Israeli elections, opens a new chapter in Middle Eastern relations. Whether the attack on Saudi oil production, which has temporarily stopped more than half of it, was launched by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthis or by the Iranians themselves is beside the point, as the Houthis had no independent ability whatever to acquire and use such weapons. The Iranians are behind the incident. There is room for legitimate debate about the merits of the conflicting sides in the Yemen war, but there can be no doubt that by any standards, the direct attack on Saudi Arabia was an act of war, and as it was entirely dependent on Iranian weapons procurement and instruction, it is an escalation of the war-by-proxy between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Yemen with an outright act of war by Iran against Saudi Arabia. There is no reason to believe, or even to recommend, that Saudi Arabia should turn the other cheek and engage in reactive pacifism. Because the Trump administration has ignored the efforts of American political factions, including recalcitrant Republicans, to ditch the Saudis, Washington retains great influence on the Saudi response to what is a severe provocation. This can be seen as a great opportunity, as it furnishes a justification for administering a heavy blow against the most troublesome regime in the world.
The United States would do well to take the trouble to line up allies. The Western alliance will be even more skittish than usual, given that the aggrieved party is the not entirely presentable Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia has been a joint venture between the House of Saud, an old nomadic desert family favored by Britain and France on the collapse of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire at the end of World War I, and the Wahhabi Islamic leadership. The feudal and absolute monarchy paid extensive Danegeld to the Wahhabis as they spread militant Islam throughout the Eurasian landmass and in Australasia and North Africa, in exchange for a free pass for the Saudi royal family. The Saudi regime has gradually, under steady American influence, modernized the structure of the state, spread the petro-money around the population, and withdrawn from the Faustian bargain with fundamentalist Islam. It has followed the Arab version of the Chinese model: economic and (to some extent) social reform and general distribution of prosperity, without relaxing the authority or capacity of self-assertion of the state. The Saudis avoided the catastrophe of Russia and, briefly, Egypt, of trying to introduce democracy without elevating public standards of prosperity and education.
Saudi Arabia is, in any case, a much more reputable regime than the terrorism-promoting, bigoted theocracy of Iran — an almost friendless nation apart from a few other militant Islamic entities and as a nuisance of convenience that China and Russia and even Turkey encourage to irritate the United States and its Middle Eastern allies and protégés, especially Egypt, the Emirates, the Saudis, and Israel. The struggle that is now escalating is among theocratic and secular Muslim countries, militant Islam, and Middle Eastern minorities — the Jewish state and Arab Christians — and the fairly arcane but often fiercely contested distinction between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, as well as a contest between petroleum-exporting countries, a field where Saudi Arabia has generally been preeminent. These waters have been muddied considerably by the effective elimination by the United States of overseas energy imports as its own production has been sharply boosted from shale-fracking and increased offshore exploration. An incidental but useful clarification from this event has been the revelation of the absurdity and irrelevance of the extreme Green nonsense. The president was correct in announcing that he would release oil as necessary from the U.S. national petroleum reserves to stabilize world supply. Even 50 years from now, no part of the solution to such a problem as this will have anything to do with nostrums about windmills and solar panels.
Apart from the removal of the United States as the world’s chief petroleum importer, the Middle Eastern correlation of forces has also been altered by the disintegration of two prominent Arab countries, Iraq and Syria (formerly two of Israel’s most militant enemies), and the encroachment upon Arab affairs of the ancient foes of the Arabs, the Turks and the Persians (Iran). The European rejection of Turkey has helped persuade that country’s strongman, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to imagine that Turkey has a role to play in Arab affairs, and the general clerical and nationalist belligerency of the Islamic Republic in Iran has assisted the Arabs in focusing on self-protection and shelving their diversionary preoccupation with Israel.
The fixation on Israel was always just an invented distraction of the Arab masses from the misgovernment their leaders inflicted on them, but now, and with Turkey and Iran meddling in Syria and Iraq, the Palestinians, who were generally regarded in the Arab world as sharpers like the Jews and Lebanese, are redundant to the pan-Arab interest, and Israel is a vital ally. Now is the time for the imposition of a solution: The Palestinians can have a modest state, but that’s all they get, and it must be conditioned on formal recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with internationally agreed frontiers. The Israeli election will almost certainly produce a grand coalition between the two main parties that could facilitate an agreement by producing a slightly more flexible government in Jerusalem, i.e. a somewhat more flexible Benjamin Netanyahu (though not one seriously contemplating retirement; the charges against him are nonsense and just part of hardball Israeli politics). Israel would benefit from a government independent of the Arabs, the religious parties, or the far left.
The United Sates must lead an effective coalition response to the Iranian aggression against Saudi Arabia. The NATO states that import oil, especially from Saudi Arabia, should be forcefully invited to join in augmented sanctions, and the United States should require those countries that trade profitably with the U.S. to join an embargo of Iran until it genuinely renounces its sponsorship of terrorist enterprises, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and, as long as the Yemeni civil war is bilaterally deescalated, the Houthi. A serious coalition, including all the countries whose ships ply the Persian Gulf, should, under U.S. leadership, accomplish the internationalization of the Strait of Hormuz, and discourage by force any Iranian attempt to restrict those waters. And the U.S. must (at the expense of the beneficiary countries) install serious air security over Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, and northern Iraq. Foreign drones should never have got anywhere near the Saudi oil refineries and collection points and would not be especially hard to intercept. This attack was planned as meticulously as the 9/11 attacks and, like them, attempted to evade any particular national responsibility. The fact that there was no suicide element may be taken as slight progress for the world’s counterterrorists.
An air assault on Iranian oil facilities and nuclear military sites would be entirely justified, and this measure should be prepared as the next step, with the prior approval of a reasonable range of supportive countries, as the instant response to any further provocations. It would not be a great risk for the United States to lead a punitive air mission that would flatten Iran’s nuclear military program and crush it economically, and such a step would arouse no objections from any civilized country. If the Saudis want to move to this more ambitious phase of retribution now, as long as the administration takes the time necessary to stiffen the backbone of the vocal but often almost invertebrate allies, and as long as it is planned carefully, there is no moral or practical reason to hesitate. Iran is an outlaw regime in chronic need of punishment, and the danger lies not in overreaction but in insufficient retaliation.
In the days, months and years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Professor Muqtedar Khan of the University of Delaware found himself grappling with an unrelenting question of faith and identity: “If al-Qaeda, ISIS, and all the human rights violations committed in the name of Islam are not my faith,” he would ask himself, “then what is?”
The University of Delaware professor of international relations calls his most recent book, Islam and Good Governance, “my much-delayed response.”
“Islam and Good Governance: A Political Philosophy of Ihsan” was published in April 2019.
Simultaneously an endorsement of religious and political freedom and an academic reinterpretation of the Quran, the book seeks to reclaim the beauty, mysticism and virtues of Islamic teaching through a concept Khan said he believes, “Muslims have not yet understood — or simply ignored.”
Where in his book does Khan endorse “religious and political freedom”? Does he believe that Muslims who apostatize should not be punished? Does he think that Muslims should not be proselytizing among the Unbelievers? Does he really think that Islam endorses religious freedom, given that historically, in Muslim-dominated lands, non-Muslims were allowed to remain alive to practice their faith only if they accepted the onerous conditions of the dhimmi status? As for political freedom, what does Muqtedar Khan mean by that? Does he oppose, for example, the ruling families who reign in the Arab Gulf, in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain? In what Muslim country has Western-style democracy ever taken root? Or does Muqtedar Khan not wish to be confronted with too much reality?
That concept is Ihsan, taken from the Quran passage that says, “God is with those who do beautiful deeds.” In Islamic tradition, it also lives in the words of the prophet Muhammad, who was asked by the angel Gabriel to define Ihsan: “To Worship Allah as if you see him; and if you can’t see Him, know that He sees you.”
Rethinking the Muslim religion through this lens will require a fundamental philosophy shift, Khan said. Ihsan goes against how many economies and institutions have evolved over centuries. It stands in opposition to how the Muslim world is perceived and understood.
“An Islamic State is currently one where Islamic Law is enforced — and these are laws that come from the medieval understanding of Islam. Until we change that, we will never have good governance,” he said. “It is unfair of Muslims to demand non-Muslims bypass realities like ISIS and al-Qaeda and discover true Islam. Muslims must manifest what it is. The Prophet has said three times that you’re not a Muslim if your neighbor is afraid of you.”
On what basis does Muqtedar Khan claim that the Islamic Law – Sharia – derives from what he describes as a “medieval understanding of Islam”? There is no “medieval understanding” of Sharia; there is only the understanding that has lasted for 1,400 years, that has not varied over time. The ability or desire of Muslims to impose the rules of Sharia may vary, depending on their circumstances, but the contents of the Sharia itself do not vary.
While Muqtedar Khan insists that Muslims not try to convince non-Muslims to ignore (“bypass realities”) ISIS and al-Qaeda, he nonetheless suggests that both groups distort the “true Islam.” He refuses to admit that the members of such groups differ from other Muslims only in the degree to which they take to heart, and are willing to act upon, the Qur’anic commands to “fight,” to “kill,” to “smite at the necks of,” and to “strike terror in the hearts of” the Unbelievers. He then claims that Muslims must “manifest” what the real Islam is – the reason for his book – a faith that he insists is peaceful and non-threatening. He quotes the Prophet as saying three times that “you’re not a Muslim if your neighbor is afraid of you.” But in what Hadith, of what authority, is Muhammad quoted as saying this? It is in the collection of Bukhari, that most authoritative of Hadith scholars, that one finds Muhammad claiming “I have been made victorious through terror.” Was Muhammad not intent on making his non-Muslim neighbors “afraid”?
But Ihsan could help reframe a global and collective understanding of Islam. Khan said, “The word ‘worship’ in “Arabic literally means, ‘to serve.’ The service of humanity is the purpose of Islam.”
The purpose of Islam is not to “serve humanity” indiscriminately, but to spread the faith until Islam everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule, everywhere. Of course Muqtedar Khan may be thinking to himself that the best way to “serve humanity” is to ensure that everyone convert to Islam, the True Path. It’s unclear what he really believes about his faith, and what is merely taqiyya designed to protect and promote the faith. He has to ignore so much of what is in the Qur’an and the Hadith to make such a claim as “the service of humanity is the purpose of Islam” that deliberate taqiyya, and not mere mental confusion, most likely explains his claims.
His book has already attracted wide interest, from Mennonite Christians to fellow Muslims. The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origins plans to recognize the publication for “excellence in scholarship and interfaith outreach” — an honor that speaks to his very goal.
His book does not display “excellence in scholarship,” given how much of the Qur’an he deliberately overlooks, but certainly it shows a deep interest in “interfaith outreach.”
“Muslims could carve a niche for themselves as the minority that cares, serves and loves everyone,” Khan writes in Islam and Good Governance. “Muslim states and societies can advocate a culture of volunteerism. There are volunteer movements in the Muslim world whose explicit goal is to gain closeness to God by service to humanity. What we need to do is globalize them, make service as valued and desirable as is worship, and make Muslims take pride in service as they do in their ritual devotions, especially in the month of Ramadan. It will require a sea change in attitudes, but the pursuit of Ihsan demands nothing less.”
Should one laugh, or cry, at Khan’s suggestion that Muslims, after 1,400 years of Jihad carried out against the Infidels, can now “carve a niche for themselves as the minority that cares, serves and loves everyone”? In what place, in what time, have Muslims ever showed themselves ready to “care, serve, and love everyone”? They are not even permitted to make non-Muslims the object of their charitable giving, Zakat. Seventeen times a day, in saying their five canonical prayers, they curse the Kuffar – the Christians and the Jews. Will Khan’s book convince Yusuf al-Qaradawi or the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb, or any other Muslim cleric, that Muslims must no longer distinguish between Believers and Unbelievers, but should care, serve, and love everyone equally? Isn’t Muqtedar Khan’s book really aimed at non-Muslims, one more example of that deeply dishonest interfaith outreach that has been such a feature of Muslim writing since 9/11?