According to the New York Times, Secretary of State John Kerry is hoping for a cease-fire to "open the door to Israeli and Palestinian negotiations for a long-term solution." President Obama has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have an "immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire" -- again, with the idea of pursuing some long-lasting agreement.
If this was the first outbreak of violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis, such hopes might make sense. But where have the U.N., Kerry and Obama been during all these decades of endlessly repeated Middle East carnage?
The Middle East must lead the world in cease-fires. If cease-fires were the road to peace, the Middle East would easily be the most peaceful place on the planet.
"Cease-fire" and "negotiations" are magic words to "the international community." But just what do cease-fires actually accomplish?
In the short run, they save some lives. But in the long run they cost far more lives, by lowering the cost of aggression.
At one time, launching a military attack on another nation risked not only retaliation but annihilation. When Carthage attacked Rome, that was the end of Carthage.
But when Hamas or some other terrorist group launches an attack on Israel, they know in advance that whatever Israel does in response will be limited by calls for a cease-fire, backed by political and economic pressures from the United States.
It is not at all clear what Israel's critics can rationally expect the Israelis to do when they are attacked. Suffer in silence? Surrender? Flee the Middle East?
Or -- most unrealistic of al -- fight a "nice" war, with no civilian casualties? General William T. Sherman said it all, 150 years ago: "War is hell."
If you want to minimize civilian casualties, then minimize the dangers of war, by no longer coming to the rescue of those who start wars.
Israel was attacked, not only by vast numbers of rockets but was also invaded -- underground -- by mazes of tunnels.
There is something grotesque about people living thousands of miles away, in safety and comfort, loftily second-guessing and trying to micro-manage what the Israelis are doing in a matter of life and death.
Such self-indulgences are a danger, not simply to Israel, but to the whole Western world, for it betrays a lack of realism that shows in everything from the current disastrous consequences of our policies in Egypt, Libya and Iraq to future catastrophes from a nuclear-armed Iran.
Those who say that we can contain a nuclear Iran, as we contained a nuclear Soviet Union, are acting as if they are discussing abstract people in an abstract world. Whatever the Soviets were, they were not suicidal fanatics, ready to see their own cities destroyed in order to destroy ours.
As for the ever-elusive "solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflicts in the Middle East, there is nothing faintly resembling a solution anywhere on the horizon. Nor is it hard to see why.
Even if the Israelis were all saints -- and sainthood is not common in any branch of the human race -- the cold fact is that they are far more advanced than their neighbors, and groups that cannot tolerate even subordinate Christian minorities can hardly be expected to tolerate an independent, and more advanced, Jewish state that is a daily rebuke to their egos.
A penetrating article by William Kilpatrick. The following comparison of Islamism and Communism is very good. Liberals ought to study it unless they wish to remain enclosed in their dangerous, and possibly terminal, ignorance. Emphasis added.
Let’s draw an analogy to another globe-spanning ideology—communism. Take the case of Soviet-bloc communism. Should we have wanted it to succeed or fail? Considering the oppressive nature of communism, it’s surprising how many in the West had mixed feelings about the question. Many Western elites had the same attitude toward Soviet-bloc communism as they do today toward Islam. Like Islam, Soviet communism also seemed permanent—an inevitable force of history with which, it seemed, we had to come to terms. Western apologists for communism were willing to grant that Soviet communism had its faults, but that was because it was a misinterpretation of true communism. It needed reform, yes, but the basic model was sound. Yet, for all its Western cheerleaders, Soviet communism did fail, and it failed in large part because Western leaders stopped making accommodations with communist ideology (as they had during the Carter administration) and began to challenge it instead.
The analogy to Soviet communism limps, however, in one crucial respect. Soviet communism was not a religion. In fact, many attributed the evils of communism to its godless nature. As with the Nazi threat which preceded it, communism was perceived to be a political, not a religious, movement. Although Hitler tried to revive pagan-Teutonic mythology and although Stalin encouraged a religious-like cult of personality around himself, no one in the West thought of Nazism or communism as legitimate expressions of religion.
It’s a different story with Islam. Islam is looking more and more like a world-threatening ideology, but it is more immune to criticism than either Nazism or communism because it is a recognized and long-established religion. To challenge it is to court charges of anti-religious bigotry. In addition, something in our conscience makes us reluctant to reprove a fellow religion.
We are conditioned to have a favorable view of religion—especially other people’s religion. It somehow doesn’t seem right to contemplate Islam’s failure. To get around this difficulty, some critics of Islam contend that it is nothing but a political ideology and ought to be labeled as such. But this rebranding effort is a difficult sell because, by most standard definitions of the term, Islam does qualify as a religion. To most people, moreover, it certainly looks like a religion. The pagan-like symbols and ceremonies of the Nazis were clearly ersatz, but the same can’t be said of the centuries-old observances of Muslims. When people prostrate themselves in prayer five times a day, it’s hard to make the case that what they’re doing is nothing more than a power play.
The truth of the matter is that Islam is a hybrid: it’s both a political ideology and a religion. And although the political side of Islam may turn out to be every bit as dangerous as Nazism or communism, the religious side provides considerable protection from criticism. Because of its religious nature, it seems improper to engage Islam in the kind of ideological warfare the West waged against fascism and communism.
Yet the threat to the West and to the rest of the world is, by all appearances, increasing. Egyptians, Nigerians, Kenyans, Pakistanis, Filipinos, and others are finding it difficult to arrest the spread of radical Islam within their borders. In Europe, Islamization moves on apace, and no one has found the formula for resisting it. In Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has proclaimed the creation of a new caliphate state, declared himself caliph, and has called on Muslims worldwide to join him in waging war against infidels. We hear a lot about all the different forms of Islam, but the idea of the caliphate is that there should be only one unified Islam. Like communism, the caliphate is intended to be a borderless community—a trans-national and ever-expanding empire of true believers. That’s because, like communism, Islam aspires to be a universal belief system.
Unlike communism, however, Islam has the advantage of conducting its proselytizing activities under the banner of religion. During the Cold War, communists did not have the benefit of being able to set up recruitment and indoctrination centers all over the free world. Yet, in effect, Islam does. Mosques are not just places of worship; they are often centers of political activity and, not infrequently, of jihad activity. As a popular Muslim poem puts it, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.” That may seem like a bit of poetic exaggeration, but it is taken seriously in the Muslim world. Recep Erdogan went to jail for quoting those lines when Turkey was still a secular state. That he is now the leader of that country provides a good indication of which way the wind is blowing.
Of course, for a non-Muslim to even hint at the possibility that mosques might serve such purposes is to invite accusations of Islamophobia and bigotry. Likewise, to suggest that there are similarities between Islam and communism or between Islam and Nazism puts one on the fringe of acceptable discourse. Which goes to prove the point: Islam’s religious status puts it beyond criticism. You can criticize very radical Islamic radicals and very extreme Islamic extremists—just as long as you add that, of course, their activities have nothing to do with the religion of Islam.
As usual, the mainstream media is all wrong about Islam. In FrontPage Magazine, Daniel Greenfield points out that “looting was the core of Muhammad’s conquests.” And it came with Allah’s seal of approval. Numerous passages in the Koran and in the biography of Muhammad attest to the legitimacy of booty as the proper reward of fighting. Islam has no trouble with looting, says Greenfield, because it is “innately a gang religion”:
The gang … finds meaning in the ethos of the fight and in the comradeship of fellow gang members. That is why jihad is so central to Islam … Jihad is the gang culture of Islam. Its bonding rituals are central to Islam, whose original elements derive mainly from the raids of Mohammed and his companions…
Young men don’t join gangs just for the booty, but also for the sense of brotherhood the gang confers, and, perhaps primarily, for proof of masculinity. Psychologists and sociologists have known for a long time that gangs are particularly appealing to fatherless boys because boys who lack the guidance of fathers are most likely to feel insecure about their masculine identity, and thus most likely to seek confirmation of it in the ultra-masculine activities of gangs. Social scientists were hardly the first to discover this basic fact of male psychology. From the earliest times, almost all societies developed special rites of initiation for males to assist them in the passage from boyhood to manhood, and to channel them away from anti-social activities.
When boys grow up in communities without the guidance of fathers and elders and without established rites of initiation and confirmation, they tend to create their own initiation groups and rituals of passage. This is why modern urban areas with high concentrations of fatherless boys are the places where gang formation is highest.
The epidemic of fatherless boys is a worldwide phenomenon and it spells more recruits for the Islamic jihad. The reason the jihad doesn’t have a recruitment problem is that it appeals to basic masculine psychology. It promises action, male bonding, legitimate looting, a cause to fight for, subservient females in this world, and dozens more in the next. It’s the reason Muslims have been extremely successful in recruiting prisoners to Islam both in Europe and America. As I noted in Christianity, Islam, and Atheism:
In the United States, roughly 80 percent of inmates who find faith during their incarceration choose Islam. Many of these men are in prison in the first place because they were attracted to the masculine world of gangs. Now they’re being offered the chance to join the biggest, most powerful “gang” in the world. We’re seeing the beginning of a trend in the West: fatherless boys joining gangs, then ending up in prison, then coming out of prison as converts to Islam and the jihad. (p. 169)
There seems to be no shortage of young men willing to join up with the warrior culture of Islamic jihad. How about our own warrior culture—the U.S. military? The military still produces warriors, but the military culture is changing in ways that may make it less attractive to potential future warriors. Traditionally, the military has served, among other things, as an initiation into manhood. Past Marine recruiting campaigns, for example, were built around themes such as “The Marines Make Men” or “A Few Good Men.”
I don't believe I have ever read a column by Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club that is more penetrating, thought-provoking, or chilling than his Seven Gambit. Excerpts:
Just as soon as Israel accepted an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire Hamas fired 47 rockets killing one Israeli citizen. Anyone who has followed the conflict could have predicted this with certainty; the point of a ceasefire — for a terrorist organization — is to break it for exactly the same reason it purposely attacks women and children.
Dr. Anna Geifman tried to explain that the reason why innocents are selected as terror targets is because “children are the last consecrated absolute”. That is just why they must be killed in the cruelest way possible. For “militant nihilism strives to ruin first and foremost what their contemporaries hold sacred”.
Nihilism isn’t the absence of a belief. It is something subtly different: it is the belief in nothing. The most powerful weapon of terrorism is therefore the unyielding No. “No I will not give up. No I will not tell the truth. No I will not play fair. No I will not spare children. No I will not stop even if you surrender to me; I will not cease even if you give me everything you have, up to and including your children’s lives. Nothing short of destroying me absolutely can make me stop. And therefore I will defeat you even if you kill me. Because I will make you pay the price in guilt for annihilating me.”
It’s an extremely powerful weapon. The Absolute No is a devastating attack on the self-image and esteem of civilization. Hamas will demonstrate the No, the Nothing. It will show that deep down inside Israelis — and Americans — are animals like them.
[. . .]
The power of Hamas lies in that they will never stop hating. No ceasefire, concession, negotiation or entreaty will move them. That is their inhuman strength. The Jews can even exterminate them, but only at the cost of destroying all the ideals they hold dear. If the last Hamas activist could speak he would say this:
“Shoot! I am the last. Carry out your ethnic cleansing, just as the Nazis tried with you. You will never be able to look yourself in the mirror again. The price of victory is to win on our terms. Nothing will remain of your precious Jewish self-esteem, of the illusion that you are a civilization dedicated to morality. What will you do after you kill me? Go to your synagogue and a hymn of praise to your God?
“At that moment your faith will desert you. For you claim your God does not desire blood, that yours is a God of love and I say therefore He is false. The only real Gods are those of Hate. A God that does not live by blood does not exist as my God who lives by blood exists; and when you pull the trigger you will be worshipping at my altar! I have won at last. Come to prayer. Come to Islam.”
[. . .]
Wars through history have exacted an irreparable spiritual price from its [their] combatants.
[. . .]
It’s not an original thought. William Tecumseh Sherman knew before Collins that War is Hell; that the only excuse for it was the belief that you could in the subsequent peace, chain up the devils. He wrote in his letters, “you cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it … If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war.”
Nor has its character changed much. Curtis LeMay, during what we remember as the Good War, shared his formula for defeating the enemy. “If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.”
Human beings are remarkably good at calling up the devil in their fellow human beings. They start out Christian enough, but give them time. In the first Christmas of the Great War, when fighting was but a few months old, there enough fellow-feeling among the combatants remained to spontaneously create what is now remembered as the Christmas Truce.
Through the week leading up to Christmas, parties of German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches; on occasion, the tension was reduced to the point that individuals would walk across to talk to their opposite numbers bearing gifts. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, many soldiers from both sides—as well as, to a lesser degree, from French units—independently ventured into “no man’s land”, where they mingled, exchanging food and souvenirs. As well as joint burial ceremonies, several meetings ended in carol-singing. Troops from both sides were also friendly enough to play games of football with one another.
By the next year they were modifying their bayonets so it would hurt more when you stabbed the enemy. When we look at Hamas we are looking at some[thing] very old and ancient. Does the devil win in Seven? For that matter does he win on earth?
Say no if you can. For Hamas is determined to prove that you too are like them. Just like them.
To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance, and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.
In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, Hamas’ depravity begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera — both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years which nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.
It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.
What follows is an old post from about ten years ago worth dusting off in the light of current events. If 'true' admits of degrees, what I say below is truer now than it was then. Just two of several current examples. Barack Obama, the most Left-leaning president in U. S. history, traded Bowe Bergdahl for five of the worst Gitmo terrorists. Was that a prudent thing to do? Only someone who is blind to a clear and present danger could do something so utterly irresponsible. The second example is the Iraq pullout, the effect of which, whether intended or not, is to make the whole region safe for ISIS. Anyone with his head screwed on right would have seen that coming. But not a leftist insensitive to danger. I could go on, the Southern border . . . .
Conservatives take a sober view of human nature. They admit and celebrate the human capacity for good, but cannot bring themselves to ignore the practically limitless human capacity for evil. They cannot dismiss the lessons of history, especially the awful lessons of the 20th century, the lessons of Gulag and Vernichtungslager. They know that evil is not a contingent blemish that can be isolated and removed, but has ineradicable roots reaching deep into human nature. The fantasies of Rousseau and Marx get no grip on them. Conservatives know that it is not the state, or society, or institutions that corrupt human beings, but that it is the logically antecedent corruption of human nature that makes necessary state, social, and institutional controls. The timber of humanity is inherently and irremediably crooked; it was not first warped by state, social, or institutional forces, and cannot be straightened by any modification or elimination of these forces.
I used the word 'know' a couple of times, which may sound tendentious. How do conservatives know that evil is not a contingent blemish, or that human beings are so fundamentally flawed that no human effort can usher in utopia?
They know this from experience. But although experience teaches us what is the case, and what has been the case, does it teach what must be the case? Here the lefties may have wiggle room. They can argue that failure to achieve a perfect society does not conclusively show that a perfect society cannot be achieved. This is true. But repeated failures add up to a strong inductive case. And these failures have been costly indeed. The Communists murdered an estimated 100 million in their social experiments. They did not hesitate to break eggs on a massive scale in quest of an omelet that never materialized. They threw out 'bourgeois' morality, but this did not lead to some higher morality but to utter barbarity.
I would also argue that experience can sometimes teach us what must be the case. We have a posteriori knowledge of the essential (as opposed to accidental) properties of some things. These are tough epistemological questions that I mention here only to set aside.
The main point I want to make is that the Left is insensitive to danger because of its Pollyannish view of human beings as intrinsically good. Leftists tend to downplay serious threats. They are blind to the radical evil in human nature. This attitude is betrayed by their obfuscatory use of the phrase 'Red Scare'to the very real menace the USSR posed to the USA in the 1950's and beyond. It wasn't that conservatives were scared, but that the Soviets were making threats. This is now particularly clear from the Venona decrypts, the Mitrokhin archives, and other sources. I especially recommend reading Ronald Radosh on the Rosenberg case.
The Left's insensitivity to danger is also betrayed by their attitude toward the present Islamo-terrorist threat. They just can't seem to take it seriously, as witness their incessant complaining about the dangers to civil liberties after the 9/11/01 attacks. There is something deeply perverse about their attitude. They must realize that a liberty worth wanting requires security as a precondition. See my Liberty and Security for an exfoliation of this idea. But if they grasp this, why the unreasonable and excessive harping on individual liberties in a time of national peril? Don't they understand that theliberties we all cherish are worthless to one who is being crushed beneath a pile of burning rubble? How could Katrina van den Heuvel on C-Span the other day refer to Bush's playing of the 'terror card'? Such talk is border-line delusional.
It is as if they think that conservatives want to curtail civil liberties, and have seized upon the 9/11 attacks to have an excuse to do so. In the lunatic world of the leftist a conservative is a 'fascist' -- to use their favorite term of abuse. This is absurd: it is precisely conservatives who aim to conserve civil liberties, including the politically incorrect ones such as gun rights.
Terrorists and the rogue states that sponsor them pose a very real threat to our security, and this threat must be faced and countered even if it requires a temporary abridgement of certain liberties. Thatis what happens in war time. Leftists ought to admit that it is precisely their insensitivity to the threat posed by such Islamo-terrorists as Osama bin Laden that led to the 9/11 attacks in the first place. If a proper response had been made to the 1993 World Trade Tower attack, the 2001 attack might never have occurred. We were attacked because we were perceived as weak and decadent, and we were perceived as weak and decadent because leftists in the government failed to take seriously the terrorist threat.
It must be realized that liberty without security is worthless. Genuine liberty is liberty within a stable social and political order. I may have the liberty to leave my house any time of the day or night, but such a liberty is meaningless if I get mugged the minute I step out my door. So if the Left were really serious about liberty, it would demand adequate security measures.
A question: Do you remember the title of your blog post in which you argued, if I recall correctly, that the Taliban damage to the Buddha statues would be evil -- or ought not to take place -- even if nobody ever got to know about it? I also recall dimly that the post was a reply to Peter Lupu. Is the post still online, somewhere?
Vlasta, I believe you are referring to this post. It was a response, not to Peter Lupu, but to Mike Valle. (I had the pleasure of their company at Sunday breakfast yesterday.)
Here is how the post begins:
This by e-mail from a doctoral student in Canada:
I am writing to you because I have a couple of questions . . . about your recent (May 12) blog post, and I was curious to hear a bit more about your views. [. . .] My questions concern your assertion that "I also agree that if one is going to violate people's beliefs in the manner of that 'artist' Andres Serrano then one ought to do it on one's own time and with one's own dime, as the saying goes." I assume that you're referring to "Piss Christ" and the controversy that surrounded it.
1. Why do you feel that "Piss Christ" (or Serrano's other works--again, I assume you're referring here mostly to the religious icons and bodily fluids) is (are) a "[violation] of people's beliefs"? The claim that it "violates beliefs" is much stronger than simply saying that it is distasteful, since it ascribes an active quality to the work.
Of course, it is more than distasteful or disgusting, although it is that; it shows profound disrespect and contempt for Christianity. And it is not the work itself that violates the beliefs and sensibilities of Christians and plenty of non-Christians as well, but the work in the context of its production and public display. It should be offensive to any decent person, just as "Piss-Buddha," if there were such an 'art work,' would be offensive to me and other non-Buddhists. Buddha was a great teacher of humanity and should be honored as such. (That is why decent people were offended when the Taliban destroyed the ancient Buddhist statuary.) The same goes for Jesus and Socrates and so many others. Christians of course believe that Jesus was much more than a great teacher of humanity, but whether he was or not is immaterial to the point at issue. Or imagine "Piss-King" in which a figurine of Martin Luther King, Jr. is supended in urine. Everyone would take that, and rightly so, as expressive of contempt for the black American civil rights leader, as offensive as Southern racists' references to King back in the '60s as Martin Luther Coon.
The decadent art of the 20th century reflects not only the corruption of aesthetic sensibility but also a moral corruption. So my objection to Serrano is not merely aesthetic but moral. The purpose of art is not to debase but to elevate, refine, ennoble.
Here is a review of this new book by Robert Reilly. (HT: Monterey Tom) Excerpt:
Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Lecture is simply the most famous of the many examples of Christian outreach in the midst of an era in which conflict and misunderstanding seem insoluble by being inevitable. As Mr. Reilly points out, the pope’s particular approach to credo ut intelligam was an example of charity, which makes the violent reaction of many Muslims to his remarks “all the more ironic.”
I would say instead that the violent reaction shows just what crazy fanatics Islamists are.
The trouble with the Islamic world is that nothing occurred in it comparable to our Enlightenment. In the West, Christianity was chastened and its tendency towards fanaticism held in check by the philosophers. Athens disciplined Jerusalem. (And of course this began long before the Enlightenment.) Nothing similar happened in the Islamic world. They have no Athens. (Yes, I know all about al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, et al. -- that doesn't alter the main point.) Their world is rife with unreasoning fanatics bent on destroying 'infidels' -- whether they be Christians, Jews, Buddhists, or other Muslims. We had better wake up to this threat, or one day soon we will wake up to a nuclear 'event' in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles which kills not 3,000 but 300,000. People who think this is 'inconceivable' or 'unimaginable' have lousy imaginations. Militant Muslims and their leftist enablers need to be opposed now, and vigorously, before it too late.
There are four new philosophical-political posts at Mike Valle's infrequently updated weblog that I recommend. Start with Marxism-Leninism and Islamism and scroll up. Excerpts with some comments of mine:
One thing that people got wrong with the communists, and they get wrong with the Islamists, is that they think that people can’t really believe this stuff. They think these people think that they are acting from these ideas, but they are really reacting to oppressive conditions, and these crazy ideological ideas are only an indirect way of expressing their frustration with their conditions.
What Bochenski argues for communism, I also argue for Islamism: Yes, they really do believe this stuff, and we insult not only reality but those very people themselves by suggesting that we know more than they do about their own motivations. Yes, an Islamist does, in fact, believe that Allah will reward him for his violent martyrdom. He believes it in the marrow of his bones. Not only that—he will believe it even if he is no longer oppressed, lives in a big house, has a great job, has a university education, and the rest of it. Throwing money at Islamists does not kill ideology. Ideology is more powerful than wealth. Just as with communist terrorists, the Islamist terrorists are quite frequently well-educated and, by the standards of history, not particularly oppressed. They are ideologues.
Mike is on the money. What's the best test for belief? Action! By their fruits shall ye know them. What people believe is manifested by their actions in the context of their verbal avowals. People who think that Communists and Islamists don't really believe what they say they believe are probably just engaging in psychological projection: "I can't believe this stuff, so you can't either."
But the fact that I can't bring myself to believe in, or even entertain with hospitality, any such nonsense as a classless society or the dictatorship of the proletariat or post-mortem dalliance with 72 black-eyed virgins as recompense for piloting jumbo jets into trade towers, or that the USA is permeated with 'institutionalized racism' -- cuts no ice. People believe the damndest things and they prove it by their behavior, and the fact that other people can't 'process' this at face value means nothing. People really do believe this crap.
We all seek a transcendental meaning to our lives, except for those few of us who live as animals. National Socialism, Communism, and Islamism give people that meaning, and having such a meaning is, for many people, far more important than material comforts and wealth. I think this is fine, as long as one’s transcendental purpose isn’t murderously evil, of course.
Mike here touches upon the problem of misplaced idealism.
It is not enough to have ideals, one must have the right ideals. This is why being idealistic, contrary to common opinion, is not always good. Idealism ran high among the members of the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the Schuetzstaffel (SS). The same is true of countless millions who became Communists in the 20th century: they sacrificed their 'bourgeois' careers and selfish interests to serve the Party. (See Whittaker Chambers, Witness, required reading for anyone who would understand Communism.) But it would have been better had the members of these organizations been cynics and slackers. It is arguably better to have no ideals than to have the wrong ones. Nazism and Communism brought unprecedented amounts of evil into the world on the backs of idealistic motives and good intentions. Connected with this is the point that wanting to do good is not good enough: one must know what the good is and what one morally may and may not do to attain it.
It is therefore a grotesque error, one that libs and lefties have a soft spot for, to suppose that being idealistic is good in and of itself. The question must follow: idealistic in respect of which ideals? No doubt John Lennon in his silly ditty "Imagine" expressed lofty ideals; but his ideals are the utopian ideals of the Left, and we know where they lead. It is not good to be idealistic sans phrase; one must be idealistic in respect of the right ideals. Only then can we say that being idealistic is better than being a common schlep who serves only his own interests.
Bochenski was right about communism. Too many are still in denial or ignorance of the destructive and evil nature of communism (as were so many of my professors), just as too many are hopelessly naïve about the power of Islamist ideology (as are so many “intellectuals”).
I would add the following. Communism is not dead. it lives on in those leftist seminaries called colleges and universities. To understand the Left and its political correctness, you must study the history of Communism. As I have said more than once: PC comes from the CP!
A related point is that Islamism is shaping up to be the Communism of the 21st century. Which is another reason to study Communism.
The outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins was involved in an online Twitter row on Thursday after tweeting: "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."
If it is true, it is true. And if it is true, then it is legitimate to ask why it is true, and to inquire whether the influence of Islamic beliefs makes for a cultural climate in which science is less likely to flourish.
There is no bigotry here, and certainly no racism: Islam is not a race, but a religion.
Are all religions equally conducive to human flourishing? No critical thinker would just assume that. It is an appropriate topic of investigation. And if you investigate it honestly, then I think you will come to the conclusion that Islam is an inferior religion when it comes to its contribution to human flourishing, inferior to the other two Abrahamic faiths, and to the great Asian faiths.
Besides the inanition of scientific progress in Muslim lands, there is the following consideration.
Terrorism is inimical to human flourishing. (Can we all agree on that?) Now consider terrorism whose source is religion (as opposed to terrorism whose source is a non-religious ideology such as communism) and ask yourself this question: which of the great religions at the present time is chiefly responsible for the terrorism whose source is religious belief? The answer, obviously, is Islam. Therefore, Islam is an inferior religion when it comes to its contribution to human flourishing.
So, on this point, Richards Dawkins 1; his critics 0.
According to Atran, people who decapitate journalists, filmmakers, and aid workers to cries of “Alahu akbar!” or blow themselves up in crowds of innocents are led to misbehave this way not because of their deeply held beliefs about jihad and martyrdom but because of their experience of male bonding in soccer clubs and barbershops. (Really.) So I asked Atran directly:
“Are you saying that no Muslim suicide bomber has ever blown himself up with the expectation of getting into Paradise?”
“Yes,” he said, “that’s what I’m saying. No one believes in Paradise.”
This post assumes that Harris has fairly and accurately reported Atran's view. If you think he hasn't then substitute 'Atran*' for 'Atran' below. Atran* holds by definition the view I will be criticizing.
If we are to be as charitable to Atran as possible, we would have to say that he holds his strange view because he himself does not believe in the Muslim paradise and he cannot imagine anyone else really believing in it either. So Muslims who profess to believe in Paradise with its black-eyed virgins, etc. are merely mouthing phrases. What makes this preposterous is that Atran ignores the best evidence one could have as to what a person believes, namely, the person's overt behavior taken in the context of his verbal avowals. Belief is linked to action. If I believe I have a flat tire, I will pull over and investigate. If I say 'We have a flat tire" but keep on driving, then you know that I don't really believe that we have a flat tire.
Same with the Muslim terrorist. If he invokes the greatness of his god while decapitating someone, then that is the best possible evidence that he believes in the existence of his god and what that god guarantees to the faithful, namely, an endless supply of post-mortem carnal delights. This is particularly clear in the case of jihadis such as suicide bombers. The verbal avowals indicate the content of the belief while the action indicates that the content is believed.
Now compare this very strong evidence with the evidence Atran has for the proposition that "No one believes in Paradise." His only evidence is astonishingly flimsy: that he and his ilk cannot imagine anyone believing what Muslims believe. But that involves both a failure of imagination and a projection into the Other of one's own attitudes.
The problem here is a general one.
"I don't believe that, and you don't either!"
"But I do!"
"No you don't, you merely think you believe it or are feigning belief."
"Look at what I do, and how I live. The evidence of my actions, which costs me something, in the context of what I say, is solid evidence that I do believe what I claim to believe."
Example. Years ago I heard Mario Cuomo say at a Democratic National Convention that the life of the politician was the noblest and best life. I was incredulous and thought to myself: Cuomo cannot possibly believe what he just said! But then I realized that he most likely does believe it and that I was making the mistake of assuming that others share my values and assumptions and attitudes.
It is a bad mistake to project one's own values, beliefs, attitudes , assumptions and whatnot into others.
Most of the definitions of psychological projection I have read imply that it is only undesirable attitudes, beliefs and the like that are the contents of acts of projection. But it seems to me that the notion of projection should be widened to include desirable ones as well. The desire for peace and social harmony, for example, is obviously good. But it too can be the content of an act of psychological projection. A pacifist, for example, may assume that others deep down are really like he is: peace-loving to such an extent as to avoid war at all costs. A pacifist might reason as follows: since everyone deep down wants peace, and abhors war, if I throw down my weapon, my adversary will do likewise. By unilaterally disarming, I show my good will, and he will reciprocate. But if you throw down your weapon before Hitler, he will take that precisely as justification for killing you: since might makes right on his neo-Thrasymachian scheme, you have shown by your pacific deed that you are unfit for the struggle for existence and therefore deserve to die, and indeed must die to keep from polluting the gene pool.
Projection in cases like these can be dangerous. One oftens hears the sentiment expressed that we human beings are at bottom all the same and all want the same things. Not so! You and I may want "harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding" but others have belligerence and bellicosity as it were hard-wired into them. They like fighting and dominating and they only come alive when they are bashing your skull in either literally or figuratively. People are not the same and it is a big mistake to think otherwise and project your decency into them.
I said that the psychologists classify projection as a defense mechanism. But how could the projection of good traits count as a defense mechanism? Well, I suppose that by engaging in such projections one defends oneself against the painful realization that the people in the world are much worse than one would have liked to believe. Many of us have a strong psychological need to see good in other people, and that can give rise to illusions. There is good and evil in each person, and one must train oneself to accurately discern how much of each is present in each person one encounters.
I heard there was a beheading in London. At first I thought the perpetrator had to have been a Catholic nun or maybe a Buddhist monk. Imagine my shock when I learned that a practitioner of the Religion of Peace did the dastardly deed!
But of course only an Islamophobe would conclude that the U.K. needs to examine its immigration policy. Concern over incidents like these is surely irrational and motivated only by nativism, bigotry, racism, and xenophobia, not to mention the superciliousness and arrogance the English are known for.
What is to be done about the threat of radical Islam? After explaining the problem, Pat Buchanan gives his answer:
How do we deal with this irreconcilable conflict between a secular West and a resurgent Islam?
First, as it is our presence in their world that enrages so many, we should end our interventions, shut down the empire and let Muslim rulers deal with Muslim radicals.
Second, we need a moratorium on immigration from the Islamic world. Inevitably, some of the young we bring in, like the Tsarnaevs, will yield to radicalization and seek to strike a blow for Islam against us.
What benefit do we derive as a people to justify the risks we take by opening up America to mass migration from a world aflame with hatred and hostility over race, ethnicity, culture, history and faith?
Why are we bringing all of the world's quarrelsome minorities, and all the world's quarrels with them, into our home?
What we saw in Boston was the dark side of diversity.
Buchanan is right. We will never be able to teach the backward denizens of these God-forsaken regions how to live. And certainly not by invasion and bombing. Besides, what moral authority do we have at this point? We are a country in dangerous fiscal, political, and moral decline. The owl of Minerva is about to spread her wings. We will have our hands full keeping ourselves afloat for a few more years. Until we wise up and shape up, a moratorium on immigration from Muslim lands is only common sense.
Common sense, however, is precisely what liberals lack. So I fear things will have to get much worse before they get better.
. . . but most terrorists are Muslims. Everyone on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist list is a Muslim male except for two, a woman and an animal rights extremist.
Is the FBI run by 'Islamophobes'? Is the NRA run by 'hoplophobes'?
This is why subjecting a Mormon matron from Salt Lake City to the same scrutiny at an airport as a twenty-something Muslim male from Cairo makes no sense. Profiling, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. Is that why liberals oppose it?
Anecdote: I have been shown special attention at airports because of my intense and somewhat Middle Eastern mien. This happened most recently at Heathrow in London. I have no objection to being 'profiled' as long as they stay away from my 'junk.'
In the nine years I have been blogging I have been careful to distinguish between Islam and radical Islam (militant Islam, Islamism, Islamofascism, etc.) I can't say I have had any really good reason for this charitableness on my part. Perhaps it is that I just didn't want to believe that 'moderate Muslim' is as much an oxymoron as 'moderate Nazi.'
In "Calling Islam 'Islam'," Bosch Fawstin argues against distinguishing between Islam and radical Islam (militant Islam, fundamentalist Islam, etc.) But if one doesn't make this distinction, and radical Islam is the enemy, then Islam is the enemy. This seems to have the unpalatable consequence that 1.5 billion Muslims are the enemy. Surely that is false. As I understand Fawstin, he avoids this inference by distinguishing between Muslims who take Islam seriously and those who don't. Actually, he makes a tripartite distinction among Muslims who take Islam seriously, and are a grave existential threat to us; Muslims who do not take Islam seriously and are a threat to us only insofar as they refuse to condemn the radicals; and Muslims who, unlike the second group, practice Islam, but an 'enlightened' Islam. This third group, however, is empty. According to Fawstin, "There’s no separate ideology apart from Islam that’s being practiced by these Muslims in name only, there’s no such thing as 'Western Islam'."
If Fawstin is right, then to speak of Islam having being 'hijacked' by radicals makes as little sense as to speak of National Socialism as having been hijacked by radicals. Islam and Nazism are radical and militant and murderous by their very nature: there are no moderate forms. If you are Muslim or a Nazi then you are a radical since these ideologies admit of no moderate forms; if you are not a radical Muslim or Nazi, then you are not a Muslim or a Nazi at all.
Whether or not you agree with Fawstin's parsing of the terminology, the radicals do pose a real threat both 'explosive' (as in the Boston Marathon bombing) and 'subversive' (as in the building of the ground zero mosque). Curiously, in the case of GZM, the site of the subversion is the same as the site of one of the main 'explosions.'
In Terrorism and Other Religions, Cole argues that "Contrary to what is alleged by bigots like Bill Maher, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions." Although we conservatives don't think all that highly of Bill Maher, we cheered when he pointed out the obvious, namely, that Islam, and Islam alone at the present time, is the faith whose doctrines drive most of the world's terrorism, and that the Left's moral equivalency 'argument' is "bullshit" to employ Maher's terminus technicus. Why should pointing out what is plainly true get Maher labeled a bigot by Cole?
So I thought I must be missing something and that I needed to be set straight by Professor Cole. So I read his piece carefully numerous times. Cole's main argument is that, while people of "European Christian heritage" killed over 100 million people in the 20th century, Muslims have killed only about two million during that same period. But what does this show? Does it show that Islamic doctrine does not drive most of the world's terrorism at the present time? Of course not.
That is precisely the issue given that Cole is contesting what "the bigot" Maher claimed. What Cole has given us is a text-book example of ignoratio elenchi. This is an informal fallacy of reasoning committed by a person who launches into the refutation of some thesis that is other than the one being forwarded by the dialectical opponent. If the thesis is that Muslims who take Islam seriously are the cause of most of the world's terrorism at the present time, this thesis cannot be refuted by pointing out that people of "European Christian heritage" have killed more people than Muslims. For this is simply irrelevant to the issue in dispute. (I note en passant that this is why ignoratio elenchi is classifed as a fallacy of relevance.)
Someone born and raised in a Christian land can be called a Christian. But it doesn't follow that such a person is a Christian in anything more than a sociological sense. In this loose and external sense the author of The Anti-Christ was a Christian. Nietzsche was raised in a Christian home in a Christian land by a father, Karl Ludwig Nietzsche, who was a Lutheran pastor. Similarly, Hitler was a Christian. And Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, was a Muslim. But were Ataturk's actions guided and inspired by Islamic doctrine? As little as Hitler's actions were guided and inspired by the Sermon on the Mount. Here is a list of some of Ataturk's anti-Islamic actions.
Having exposed the fundamental fallacy in Cole's article, there is no need to go through the rest of his distortions such as the one about the Zionist terrorists during the time of the British Mandate.
Why do leftists deny reality? A good part of the answer is that they deny it because reality does not fit their scheme. Leftists confuse the world with their view of the world. In their view of the world, people are all equal and religions are all equal -- equally good or equally bad depending on the stripe of the leftist. They want it to be that way and so they fool themselves into thinking that it is that way. Moral equivalency reigns. If you point out that Muhammad Atta was an Islamic terrorist, they shoot back that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian terrorist -- willfully ignoring the crucial difference that the murderous actions of the former derive from Islamic/Islamist doctrine whereas the actions of the latter do not derive from Christian doctrine.
And then these leftists like Cole compound their willful ignorance of reality by denouncing those who speak the truth as 'Islamophobes.'
That would have been like hurling the epithet 'Nazi-phobe' at a person who, in 1938, warned of the National Socialist threat to civilized values.
This had to be said and Judge Pirro does a wonderful job of it. What I love about the Fox ladies: beauty, brains, and balls -- or the female equivalent thereof.
"We should not be required to breathe the same air as you, we should not be required to share the indignity of your presence" says Judge Jeanine Pirro in her opening statement to the Jihadi mother of the Boston bomber, as she exposes the facts that are being brought to light behind the terrorist attack in the Boston Marathon.
Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, tr. E. F. J. Payne, vol. II (Dover, 1966), p. 162. This is from Chapter XVII, "On Man's Need for Metaphysics" (emphases added and a paragraph break):
Temples and churches, pagodas and mosques, in all countries and ages, in their splendour and spaciousness, testify to man's need for metaphysics, a need strong and ineradicable, which follows close on the physical. The man of a satirical frame of mind could of course add that this need for metaphysics is a modest fellow content with meagre fare. Sometimes it lets itself be satisfied with clumsy fables and absurd fairy-tales. If only they are imprinted early enough, they are for man adequate explanations of his existence and supports for his morality.
Consider the Koran, for example; this wretched book was sufficient to start a world-religion, to satisfy the metaphysical need for countless millions for twelve hundred years, to become the basis of their morality and of a remarkable contempt for death, and also to inspire them to bloody wars and the most extensive conquests. In this book we find the saddest and poorest form of theism. Much may be lost in translation, but I have not been able to discover in it one single idea of value. Such things show that the capacity for metaphysics does not go hand in hand with the need for it . . . .
Learn Ralph Peters' lessons of Boston, or there may be a pressure cooker in your future.
As for the moral equivalency of Christianity and Islam, Bill Maher, certainly no friend of religion, achieves the right tone, "That's liberal bullshit." When some academic leftist says something that is plainly false, his pronouncement should not be treated with respect as if worthy of calm consideration. Call it what it is.
Are all Muslims terrorists? Of course not, and no one said so. Most are not. But most terrorists are Muslims. That is the point.
There an important distinction that ought to be observed. Someone who is a 'Christian' in a merely sociological sense of the term might commit a terrorist act such as blowing up a federal building, it being quite clear that no support for such a deed is forthcoming from Christian doctrine. But your typical Muslim terrorist is not just a punk from a Muslim land; he is someone whose actions flow from Islamist doctrine.
I have been told that there are a few 'Buddhists' who are also terrorists. But if you know anything about Buddhism, you know that there is no support for terrorism in the Buddhist sutras and shastras. So a 'Buddhist' who is also a terrorist is only a Buddhist in some loose and accidental sense of the term -- he happens to be a native of a Buddhist land or has acquired some Buddhist acculturation -- but there is no connection between his terrorist activities and Buddhist teaching.
Islam is unique among the great faiths in that it is as much a political ideology as it is a religion. In respect of the former, it is like communism, and, like communism, bent on world domination. Islam is the communism of the 21st century.
In this fine piece, Marilyn Penn takes Thomas Friedman to task. Her article begins thusly (emphasis added):
In Thomas Friedman’s op ed on the Boston marathon massacre (Bring On the Next Marathon, NYT 4/17), the boldface caption insists “We’re just not afraid anymore.” Perhaps this is true for a traveling journalist who doesn’t use the subway daily or who isn’t forced to spend all his days in the 9/11 city of New York, but for most thinking people who work and live here, there is a great deal to fear. We live in a porous society where criminals roam free yet politicians complain about the “discriminatory” stop and frisk policies of the police, even though they have successfully reduced crime precisely in the neighborhoods that most affect the complaining minorities and their liberal champions. If you ride the subways, you know how many passengers wear enormous back-packs, large enough to conceal an arsenal of weapons. These are allowed to be carried into movie theaters, playgrounds, parks, sports arenas, shopping centers, department stores and restaurants with no security checks whatsoever. On the national front, immigration policies are more concerned with politically correct equality than with the reality of which groups are fomenting most of the terror around the world today. Our northern and southern borders are infiltrated daily by undocumented people slipping in beyond the government’s surveillance or control.
I agree with her entire piece. Read it.
It has been a week since the Boston Marathon bombing. There was a moment of silence today in remembrance of the victims. But let's keep things in perspective. Only three people were killed. I know you are supposed to gush over these relatively minor events and the undoubtedly horrendous suffering of the victims, but most of the gushing is the false and foolish response of feel-good liberals who have no intention of doing what is necessary to protect against the threat of radical Islam. The Patriot's Day event was nothing compared to what could happen. How about half of Manhattan being rendered uninhabitable by dirty bombs?
When that or something similar happens, will you liberals start yammering about how 'unimaginable' it was? Look, I'm imagining it right now. Liberals can imagine the utopian nonsense imagined by John Lennon in his asinine "Imagine." Is their imagination 'selective'? They can imagine the impossible but not the likely. It is worth recalling that Teddy Kennedy's favorite song was Impossible Dream.
In the off-chance that you haven't had an occasion to bust your gut over Jeff Dunham's ventriloquy, check this out.
Mockery and derision are important weapons in the culture war. It is not enough to argue rigorously and patiently against the liberal-left enablers and apologists of radical Islam. Also needed is to make them and their clients look stupid. The young are more impressed by the cool than the cogent.
The AP [Associated Press] Stylebook has opened a new chapter on the non-"offensive" Engllsh-language lexicon to parse the war on the world waged by Islam. The wire service bible (can I say that?) has decreed that "Islamist" is out as a "a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals."
Well, if you are 'Islamophobic,' then, given that a phobia is an irrational fear, you have an irrational fear of Islam or of certain Muslims. Is that really what you want to say? Do you really want to announce to the world that you are proud to have a phobia? I should think that fear of radical Islam and of those who promote radical Islam, whether Muslims or non-Muslim leftists, is entirely rational.
But I know what you mean. My suggestion is that you say what you mean.
'Islamophobic,' like 'homophobic,' is a coinage of liberals/leftists. It is their word. It is foolish for a conservative to use it. If you are a conservative, why are you talking like a liberal? Why are you allowing them to frame the debate in terms they have invented for their own advantage? Is that not foolish? You should insist on standard, ideologically-neutral language.
Compare 'social justice.' That is leftist code. Why then does Bill O'Reilly use it? Because, like too many conservatives, he is not good at properly articulating and properly defending conservative positions.
Here is an important interview with Lars Hedegaard, Denmark's Salman Rushdie, whose life is in danger because he speaks the truth as he sees it. Hedegaard is a man of the Left, but do they come to his defense? Excerpt:
DP: Where are the attacks on you being racist coming from? What part of the ideological spectrum?
LH: I would say almost exclusively from the left. (Of course, also from Muslims. Not all Muslims, but some.) I seem to be very unpopular with my old friends. I think the problem is that I know what it's all about to be left-wing; I used to be a leading Marxist in this country. But I've held to the opinion that we first of all have to fight for free speech and freedom and equality between the sexes and the rule of law; and also, that we should not bow before religious fanatics of any type, regardless of where they come from. This seems to me what was the essence of being left-wing back in the days. No longer.
The left now seems to have reverence for fanatics -- as long as they are Muslim. Of course, they can criticize Christianity all they want. But when somebody threatens with violence -- if you criticize me, I'll come and kill you -- then all of a sudden they become soft. They become understanding. They talk about tolerance; we have to show respect. I don't want to show respect for people who say that men are worth more than women, that women can be killed if they are adulterers; that apostates from Islam should be killed; that people should be stoned, etc. I mean, I don't like that. I want to fight that. I want to describe it. And I don't think the left does.
For too many Catholics and other Christians, their leftism is their real 'religion.' This from The Thinking Housewife:
ANNY YENNY reports at the website Politichicks that her eighth-grade son was given extra credit by his Catholic school religion teacher for fasting on the first day of Ramadan. When the mother complained, the teacher objected and “lectured [her] on the superiority of Muslims to Christians.”
The principles of ecumenism put forth at Vatican II lead with irrevocable logic to teaching Catholics how to be good Muslims.
I agree with something in the vicinity of the point the Housewife makes here. But her last sentence illustrates the slippery slope fallacy. If the logic is "irrevocable," then it is deductively valid; but slippery slope argumentation, if intended to be deductive, is always invalid. What should she have said? Something like this: 'The ecumenism of Vatican II set the stage for, and made likely, the sort of absurdities that Anny Yenny complains of."
Surely there was no logical necessity that the principles of Vatican II eventuate in the absurdity in question.
What follows is a slightly redacted post from three years ago whose message bears repeating, especially since Barack the Appeaser, Barack the Bower-and-Scraper, has been reelected.
Should we tolerate the intolerant? Should we, in the words of Leszek Kolakowski,
. . . tolerate political or religious movements which are hostile to tolerance and seek to destroy all the mechanisms which protect it, totalitarian movements which aim to impose their own despotic regime? Such movements may not be dangerous as long as they are small; then they can be tolerated. But when they expand and increase in strength, they must be tolerated, for by then they are invincible, and in the end an entire society can fall victim to the worst sort of tyranny. Thus it is that unlimited tolerance turns against itself and destroys the conditions of its own existence. (Freedom, Fame, Lying, and Betrayal, p. 39.)
Read that final sentence again, and again.
Kolakowski concludes that "movements which aim to destroy freedom should not be tolerated or granted the protection of law . . . " (Ibid.) and surely he is right about this. Toleration has limits. It does not enjoin suicide. The U. S. Constitution is not a suicide pact.
And just as we ought not tolerate intolerance, especially the murderous intolerance of radical Muslims, we ought not try to appease the intolerant. Appeasement is never the way to genuine peace. The New York Time's call for Benedict XVI to apologize for quoting the remarks of a Byzantine emperor is a particularly abject example of appeasement.
One should not miss the double-standard in play. The Pope is held to a very high standard: he must not employ any words, not even in oratio obliqua, that could be perceived as offensive by any Muslim who might be hanging around a theology conference in Germany, words uttered in a talk that is only tangentially about Islam, but Muslims can say anything they want about Jews and Christians no matter how vile. The tolerant must tiptoe around the rabidly intolerant lest they give offense.
Has there been a NYT editorial censuring Ahmadinejad for his repeated calls for the destruction of the sovereign state of Israel?
The attitude of liberals towards Muslims is similar to their attitude toward blacks and other minorities: they don't demand much of them. For example, liberals expect that blacks in significant numbers will lack photo ID and will therefore be 'disenfranchised' if asked to present such at the polling place as common sense requires. Such a low opinion do liberals have of blacks!
Let us confess it: Many of the things that are bothersome in the world today originate in the Middle East. Billions of air passengers each year take off their belts and shoes at the airport, not because of fears of terrorism from the slums of Johannesburg or because the grandsons of displaced East Prussians are blowing up Polish diplomats. We put up with such burdens because a Saudi multimillionaire, Osama bin Laden, and his unhinged band of Arab religious extremists began ramming airliners into buildings and murdering thousands.
The Olympics have become an armed camp, not because the Cold War Soviets once stormed Montreal or the Chinese have threatened Australia, but largely because Palestinian terrorists butchered Israelis in Munich 40 years ago and established the precedent that international arenas were ideal occasions for political mass murder.
There is no corn or wheat cartel. There are no cell-phone monopolies. Coal prices are not controlled by global price-fixers. Yet OPEC adjusts the supply of oil in the Middle East to ensure high prices, mostly for the benefit of Gulf sheikhdoms and assorted other authoritarian governments.
Catholics don’t assassinate movie directors or artists who treat Jesus Christ with contempt. Jewish mobs will not murder cartoonists should they ridicule the Torah. Buddhists are not calling for global blasphemy laws. But radical Muslims, mostly in the Middle East, have warned the world that Islam alone is not to be caricatured — or else. Right-wing fascists and red Communists have not done as much damage to the First Amendment as have the threats from the Arab Street.
Mike Liccione's name came up over dinner with John Farrell, who has met Mike. Small world. (It also turns out that John now lives on the same street only a few doors down from where I lived for part of my time in Boston. Small world again.) Mention of Mike put me in mind of an old post from 6 November 2009 in which I link to him, a post that is particularly relevant in the light of recent events. The post follows.
Something that has long puzzled me also puzzles Michael Liccione. Mike puts it like this:
Shouldn't liberals be the most concerned about Islamic fundamentalism, given that the things they profess to value are the first things they would lose under Islamist pressure? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this sort of liberal hates political conservatives and orthodox Christians more than he loves his own liberty. And he wishes to cling desperately to his own self-image as a defender of the poor, oppressed minorities, even when some of those poor, oppressed minorities would just as soon see him and his kind swinging from the gallows.
Substantially correct. But if I may quibble, 'Islamic fundamentalism' may not be the right term. Better would be 'militant Islam' or 'radical Islam' or 'Islamism.' A fundamentalist, as I understand the word, is one who interprets the scriptures of his religion literally, as God's own inerrant word. Thus Islam, if I am not mistaken, holds that the Koran was literally dictated by God to Muhammad in Arabic. Whatever one thinks of fundamentalists in this sense, it seems obvious that they should not be confused with militants or terrorists. Although fundamentalists and terrorists are sets with a non-null intersection, there are fundamentalists who are not terrorists and terrorists who are not fundamentalists.
It is important to try to think as clearly and precisely as one can about these issues, distinguishing the different, and forging one's terminology in the the teeth of these differences. And the more 'hot-button' the issue, the more necessary is clear and precise thinking.
Addendum 19 September 2012: I have always been careful to speak of 'militant Islam' or 'radical Islam' or 'Islamism' as opposed to 'Islam.' But now I am wondering whether this distinction is not perhaps a snare and a delusion. The problem may well be with Islam itself and its basic values or lack of values. See Diana West's post to which I linked yesterday.
It is becoming painfully obvious that the values of Muslims qua Muslims are simply incompatible with our Western values, and that to allow them to immigrate is a recipe for suicide. Islamic culture is inferior to ours, the proof being the sad state of the countries Muslims come from -- which is of course why they don't stay in their own countries.
Liberals of course support wide-open immigration, legal and illegal, along the lines of 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend.' These liberal fools hate Christians and conservatives more than they hate the enemies of their own liberal values. I call that contemptible stupidity, stupidity that is morally censurable.
Bill K. comments:
I think it is far more pathological than simply the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I believe the kind of liberal that wants the government to control everything (as opposed to the fuzzy-headed do-gooders that simply want problems to go away and people to be happy) actually admires and approves of Islam, because of its program of total control. They also fail to understand that they will be the first to go when the Umma arrives. They are so used to talking their way into what they want, that they won’t understand the use of force even when they face the beheading sword. Look at our foreign policy. BO actually thought he could talk the Muslims into world peace.
I suspect that our delusional leftist pals think that they can use Islamism to beat back conservatism and Christianity and then dismiss the Islamists once the job is done. But they are pussies compared to the Islamists and they may be in for a big surprise.
It's important to realize sharia's prohibition of criticism of Islam is basic Islam: There is nothing "radical" about it. Indeed, it is this basic Islamic censorship that is at the crux of why Islam itself -- not "Islamism," not "radical Islam," not "Islamists," but Islam -- is an existential threat to the survival of any free society. It is why free societies, once penetrated by a Muslim demographic over 1 percent, begin to lose their liberties as a means of "accommodating" -- appeasing -- their new Islamic populations.
Did the Soviet Union in its 70 years ever deploy a suicide bomber? For Iran, as for other jihadists, suicide bombingis routine. Hence the trail of self-immolation, from the 1983 Marine barracks attack in Beirut to the Bulgaria bombing of July 2012. Iran’s clerical regime rules in the name of a fundamentalist religion for whom the hereafter offers the ultimate rewards. For Soviet communists — thoroughly, militantly atheistic — such thinking was an opiate-laced fairy tale.
For all its global aspirations, the Soviet Union was intensely nationalist. The Islamic Republic sees itself as an instrument of its own brand of Shiite millenarianism — the messianic return of the “hidden Imam.”
It’s one thing to live in a state of mutual assured destruction with Stalin or Brezhnev, leaders of a philosophically materialist, historically grounded, deeply here-and-now regime. It’s quite another to be in a situation of mutual destruction with apocalyptic clerics who believe in the imminent advent of the Mahdi, the supremacy of the afterlife and holy war as the ultimate avenue to achieving it.
The classic formulation comes from Tehran’s fellow (and rival Sunni) jihadist al-Qaeda: “You love life and we love death.” Try deterring that.
(2) The nature of the grievance.
The Soviet quarrel with America was ideological. Iran’s quarrel with Israel is existential. The Soviets never proclaimed a desire to annihilate the American people. For Iran, the very existence of a Jewish state on Muslim land is a crime, an abomination, a cancer with which no negotiation, no coexistence, no accommodation is possible.
(3) The nature of the target.
America is a nation of 300 million; Israel, 8 million. America is a continental nation; Israel, a speck on the map, at one point eight miles wide. Israel is a “one-bomb country.” Its territory is so tiny, its population so concentrated that, as Iran’s former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has famously said, “Application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.” A tiny nuclear arsenal would do the job.
In U.S.-Soviet deterrence, both sides knew that a nuclear war would destroy them mutually. The mullahs have thought the unthinkable to a different conclusion. They know about the Israeli arsenal. They also know, as Rafsanjani said, that in any exchange Israel would be destroyed instantly and forever, whereas the ummah — the Muslim world of 1.8 billion people whose redemption is the ultimate purpose of the Iranian revolution — would survive damaged but almost entirely intact.
This is one of the statues of Buddha that the Taliban dynamited in 2001:
Will the Pyramids of Egypt meet the same fate at the hands of similar miscreants? See Victor Davis Hanson, Blowing Up History.
Of the world religions, "the religion of peace" is uniquely violent.
Having said that, I must be an 'Islamophobe' right?
Wrong. My fear of radical Islam is entirely rational.
A phobia is by definition an irrational fear. Leftists introduced 'Islamophobia' as a semantic bludgeon to silence their opponents and prevent honest debate. That is why it is utterly stupid for any conservative to use this word. If you are a conservative, don't talk like a liberal! Language matters.
Behold what is perhaps the most advanced state of dhimmitude. Here we see the dhimmi -- Jan Kubis and the UN hierarchy -- mimic perfectly the perpetual aggrievement of Islam. Islam's aggrievement becomes their own aggrievement, indeed, becomes even more important than any by now atavistic concept of Western justice and reason,as they draw power from the obviously more kinetic Islamic position. Because this whole affair is, and must be understood as, a barely concealed power play. It is a power play thinly disguised by the Islamic pose of victimhood. Such feigned victimhood becomes a trap for the " perpetrator" of the perceived aggrievement -- in this case, the US military. Falling for the trap, as we in the West do time and time again, means accepting these intemperate, immoral and murderous manifestations of Islamic dementia in the same way that a "co-dependent" family member accepts and accommodates a mentally sick relative's manifestations of dementia in the home in order to create or preserve some measure of family peace or quiet; in order to stop the outburst, to tamp down the rage and violence, to make it all better -- even if "better" is always just a lull before the next demented power play.
Perhaps you have heard of taqiyya, the Muslim doctrine that allows lying in certain circumstances, primarily when Muslim minorities live under infidel authority. Now meet tawriya, a doctrine that allows lying in virtually all circumstances—including to fellow Muslims and by swearing to Allah—provided the liar is creative enough to articulate his deceit in a way that is true to him.
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As a doctrine, "double-entendre" best describes tawriya's function. According to past and present Muslim scholars (several documented below), tawriya is when a speaker says something that means one thing to the listener, though the speaker means something else, and his words technically support this alternate meaning.
For example, if someone declares "I don't have a penny in my pocket," most listeners will assume the speaker has no money on him—though he might have dollar bills, just literally no pennies. Likewise, say a friend asks you, "Do you know where Mike is?" You do, but prefer not to divulge. So you say "No, I don't know"—but you keep in mind another Mike, whose whereabouts you really do not know.
An excellent column by Dennis Prager. We conservatives need to 'make jihad' (in a manner of speaking) against the religion-bashing shysters of the ACLU. Ever wonder about the etymology of 'shyster'? I have an answer for you. No, I don't think that every lawyer is a shyster.
This is good news: "SAN'A, Yemen—Al Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the most wanted terrorists on a U.S. target list, has been killed in Yemen, according to a statement issued by the country's defense ministry."
There is a sleazy singer who calls herself 'Madonna.' That moniker is offensive to many. But we in the West are tolerant, perhaps excessively so, and we tolerate the singer, her name, and her antics. Muslims need to understand the premium we place on toleration if they want to live among us.
A San Juan Capistrano councilman named his dog 'Muhammad' and mentioned the fact in public. Certain Muslim groups took offense and demanded an apology. The councilman should stand firm. One owes no apology to the hypersensitive and inappropriately sensitive. We must exercise our free speech rights if we want to keep them. Use 'em or lose 'em.
The notion that dogs are 'unclean' is a silly one. So if some Muslims are offended by some guy's naming his dog 'Muhammad,' their being offended is not something we should validate. Their being offended is their problem.
Am I saying that we should act in ways that we know are offensive to others? Of course not. We should be kind to our fellow mortals whenever possible. But sometimes principles are at stake and they must be defended. Truth and principle trump feelings. Free speech is one such principle. I exercised it when I wrote that the notion that dogs are 'unclean' is a silly one.
Some will be offended by that. I say their being offended is their problem. What I said is true. They are free to explain why dogs are 'unclean' and I wish them the best of luck. But equally, I am free to label them fools.
With some people being conciliatory is a mistake. They interpret your conciliation and willingness to compromise as weakness. These people need to be opposed vigorously. For the councilman to apologize would be foolish.
Mr. Pipes thinks the main challenge for America today is militant Islam. "This is difficult to fight with because it is not a direct threat. A direct threat you can stand up to. It is also different because you are dealing with fanatics," he points out.
"The communists were not fanatics. They were vicious people, but you could reason with them . . . and when the going got tough, they retreated." For instance, he says, "You had the Cuban missile crisis: Castro wanted the Russians to actually launch a nuclear attack on the United States, and he said 'OK, Cuba will be destroyed but socialism will triumph in the world.' And Khrushchev said no, nothing doing."
The communists "were never suicidal," either, Mr. Pipes adds, "and the ordinary Russians . . . they wanted to live. So this is a different danger. It's not as bad as the communist danger was because they don't [control] the arsenals of power, of military power. But they are fanatical, and they are irrational. We have to stand up to them and not be frightened of them. But we may be in for decades of the Muslim threat."
A serious faith, a vital faith, is one that battles with doubt. Otherwise the believer sinks into complacency and his faith becomes a convenience. Doubt is a good thing. For doubt is the engine of inquiry, the motor of Athens. Jerusalem needs Athens to keep her honest, to chasten her excesses, to round her out, to humanize her. There is not much Athens in the Muslim world, which helps explains why Islam breeds fanaticism, murder, and anti-Enlightenment.
Here. July 9th was the 50th anniversary of the death of Whittaker Chambers. His Witness, a book of high literary merit, is a key document for understanding the politics of the 20th century. But now it is the 21st century and radical Islam is the new Communism.