Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Issues with Catholic Magazines

I just got the e-copy of my alumni magazine from Marquette University, and it includes a story about the post-9/11 nature of heroism. The author of  "The Hero Within", Pamela Hill Nettleton, refers to  "the events of 9/11" three times, yet never uses the word "attack", and never mentions the perpetrators.  In fact, she actually says "the enemy can't be identified."  Her story, to be sure, is not about the attacks themselves but about our perceptions of the "heroes" that emerged that day and in the weeks that followed. But her refusal to call 9/11 what it was--a jihadi attack on America--is symptomatic of the way Americans, Catholics in particular, are being trained to talk about our ongoing conflict with belligerent Islam.

One of my pet peeves is seeing or hearing the phrase, "the events of 9/11." Really? My parents where in high school in 1941, but I bet they didn't talk about "the events of December
 7th." I would bet a hundred bucks they actually discussed "the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor."

An "event" is more along the lines of a family reunion or the parade in Downtown Chicago for the Blackhawks when we won the Stanley Cup two years ago. A planned attack in a war that had already been declared, an attack which cost millions of dollars to organize and implement, and which resulted in thousands of actual casualities, is not an "event."

Reducing 9/11 to an "event" makes it sound like it was just something that happened, on a level with a natural disaster or something wholly accidental, like pilot error. The dead are murder victims. They had families and friends. They were deliberately targeted. And their fate was cheered by devout Muslims all over the world, including right here in the American Midwest...because 9/11 was a Muslim victory.

I know that's really awkward to say, but there it is.

Marquette Magazine is not alone in this effort to cleanse our collective memory of any negative information about the Religion of Peace. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 provoked a number of "reflections" on the Events, and the Catholic press was all about changing the narrative and reminding us that the only human being nearly as Christlike as Christ was Mohammad...even though Jesus didn't order hits on his enemies or have sex with children.

U.S. Catholic magazine spent part of the September 2011 issue "reflecting" on the attacks--and at least they do use the word "attacks"--and critically looking at whether our response was appropriate. One suggestion: we should acknowledge our "complicity." (!!!!????!!!) You get the gist.

Another case in point: St. Anthony Messenger devoted the entire Septemter 2011 issue to Catholic-Muslim relations. The hard copy has a bit more impact than the e-version. There's a story about St. Francis's experiences with Muslims during the Crusades, and how he learned so much from them and made such a favorable impression that his impact is still being felt today, etc etc etc etc. I don't know if this was intentionally ironic or not, but sandwiched within that story is a full-page ad  requesting donations for the Church's mission to Catholics in the Middle East who are "Outnumbered. Afraid. Alone." Outnumbered by whom? Afraid of what? This surely can't refer to the compassionate Muslims who are devoted to the well-being of the religious minorities in their midst.

Worse is SAM's "Ten Things to Know About Islam." Info spoiler: the person who consulted with the author is a CAIR member. Oh, so this story isn't biased! There are some relatively accurate generalizations among the "Ten Things," but there are also off-the-wall fundamentalist statements that are presented as facts pertaining to all Muslims (ie, hijab is required). The problem with promoting a narrow version of Islam to non-Muslims who may be curious and well-intentioned is that a huge segment of the Muslim population is ignored. Muslims who don't wear their religion on their sleeve--or their heads--and who have chosen to keep their religion private and non-political are marginalized. CAIR gets to call the tune and everyone marches along, and that undermines "secularized" Muslims who simply want to practice the Religion of Peace in peace. 

Mohammad's wife Kadijah is mentioned in "Ten Things", but not Aisha. This is so typical of CAIR it's sickening. Kadijah, for those of you who don't have the Mohammad's Wives score card, was his first wife. She was 15 years his senior and definitely wore the pants in THAT relationship--he didn't DARE take another wife until Kadijah had gone to her Reward. But after she was gone, he received a number of revelations from the Angel Gabriel that gave him permission to take a number of wives--some of whom were already married to other men, but no matter because the Angel Gabriel also allowed divorce in those cases--and the Angel was also okay with the idea of concubines. (Regular Muslims who do not have Gabriel on speed dial are only allowed four wives....but a lot of concubines.)

His favorite of these was a little six-year -old kid named Aisha. Mohammad was in his forties when he married her, but,  ever the gentleman, waited until she was nine before calling her in (from playing with her friends) to "consensually" consummate the marriage.

Aisha was not mentioned in the SAM article because Muslims HATE it when non-Muslims bring up Aisha. One Muslima told a friend of mine, "You people are not supposed to know about this!" (Well, boohoo, because we've all been studying Islam since The Events of 9/11, so that cat's out of the bag.) The most common Muslim response is, "So what? A lot of child marriages took place in the 7th Century!!"

EXCEPT that today, laws in Islamic countries, like Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iran, are based on the "exemplary" life of Mohammad, and so sanction child marriages to much older men. (This would be "shariah," which we are told repeatedly is no big deal because it only affects bank transactions.) Not only are official ages of consent mandated by the Qur'an, but unofficially, such marriages take place in "modern" Muslim countries with the blessing of so-called Islamic scholars.

St. Anthony Messenger probably didn't want to stir up bad feelings by mentioning Aisha, but in effect they gave a sly little wink to pedophiles everywhere by omitting her story. That seems counterintuitive for a Catholic magazine, given all the bad press with sexually predatory priests. I mean, you would think that SAM would go out of its way to point out that this sort of behavior is wrong, unless it's only wrong if you're caught. (And I bet a lot of bishops would love to say to outraged and disappointed Catholics, regarding the sex abuse scandal, "You people are not supposed to know about this!")

There are some brave exceptions to this trend in Catholic media, which I will address in my next blog entry, but it is important to recognize that this bias exists.

Leaving out inconvenient or negative information about Islam is politically correct. But deliberately not telling the truth is still a lie--even if "only" by omission.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Will Catholic University Submit?

The Catholic University of America has just been slapped with two lawsuits. A professor at George Washington University, John Banzhaf III, has formally accused CUA of discrimination against Muslims and women. That's kind of like suing to protect the rights of cats AND the rights of mice, but whatever. So far, it sounds like CUA President John H. Garvey is standing firm, but we'll see if legal muscle, and the threat of millions of dollars in fines, will change his mind.

The campus newspaper, The Tower, covers the issue here. Banzhaf's sex discrimination gripe rests on the University having same-sex dorms. Back in MY day, co-ed dorms were still sort of controversial at my Catholic college. Times change. Unfortunately, not always for the best, and a lot more partying goes on in co-ed dorms. I'm not saying kids in co-ed dorms are out-of-control binge drinkers who spend more time engaging in casual sex than studying Western Civ,  or that no one in a same-sex dorm smokes pot. But research supports the fact that the atomsphere in same-sex residence halls is more conducive to academic success, precisely because there's less socializing.

But Banzhaf's other lawsuit concerns Muslim students who enrolled at Catholic University and are now apparently surprised that it's a CATHOLIC university.

CUA does not have a designated Muslim prayer room, so Muslims have been allowed to use vacant classrooms for prayer. But: they're "uncomfortable" that each room has a crucifix on the wall.

Also, CUA does not have a university Muslim student club. They have an Arab club, but several members are non-Muslims. There's currently no charter for the Muslim Students Association.

The MSA is a presence on most campuses, except really small schools or places that have such a strong identity as being non-Muslim that there's reallly no one who would join. The MSA, though, has chapters at many Catholic campuses. Part of that is because they're mandated to form Muslim groups wherever possible, and part of that is because Catholic schools are loathe to appear intolerant.

MSA is, though, connected with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has never retracted or revised its stated objective: to impose Islam (and shariah law) on the entire world. That's not exactly tolerant, but Muslims can't be expected to behave in a way that they demand of everyone else. I don't know if CUA has declined to acknowledge the Muslim Students Association for this reason, or if there are other issues with the group, but MSA doesn't belong on ANY American campus, let alone at a university that does not espouse Islamist teachings.

(Going back to the same-sex dorm problem: if that lawsuit succeeds, what would Professor Banzhaf do if Muslim students then complained about the LACK of same sex dorms? That would put him between a rock and a hard place.)

As for the lack of comfortable prayer space, this tactic has been popping up everywhere. A few weeks ago, Hertz car rental company fired a couple dozen Muslim employees for failing to observe prayer-break times. Hertz actually accomodated the Muslims who wanted to pray, and they built prayer times into each shift, but employees refused to observe time limits and simply made themselves unavailable for work. Hertz did NOT fire Muslim employees who followed prayer-break rules, but the disgruntled fired employees are trying to create some bad press for Hertz's "islamophobia."

Last week, a teacher from the Chicago suburbs won several thousand dollars in a case she brought against her school district because they did not approve a two-week vacation--in the middle of the school year--so that she could go on the hajj. Well, it's true that teachers get barely any vacation time to begin with, but Muslims follow a lunar calendar, which means hajj month changes a little every year. In a few years, it would have fallen during the teacher's summer break. But she didn't want to wait, and she couldn't understand why the school balked at granting her request. Uh, maybe because the school is concerned about kids not meeting state standards and that having subs for two weeks might put those kids behind their peers?

And consider Benedictine University, in Lisle IL, which I believe now has a Muslim prayer room. It did not have one several years ago, so Muslim students were allowed--encouraged!--to use the Catholic school's chapel. The Chicago Tribune  carried a story called "Different faiths, same spirit," which described how Muslim students "draw curtains to cover the wooden altar, the pulpit and stained-glass images of St. Benedict and Jesus carrying the cross." One wonders what is done with the Eucharist if the Host is at all present in the chapel.

The fact the Muslim students dismiss, and disrespect, Catholic tradition and iconography is bad enough. It's even worse when they actually agitate to alter the school environment to accomodate a belief system which is in many ways antithetical to Catholic doctrine.

Neither Professor Banzhaf nor any Muslim student has spoken up to tell the truth about prayer: that is is permissable to say one's prayers silently, to oneself, if one is not in a position to enact the entire ritual. Moreover, it goes against "Muslim social custom" to cause discomfort or discord, which such demands have already done.

The reason no credible Muslim has come forward to put the matter to rest is because this is NOT about religion, spirituality, brotherhood, etc. It is about political domination.

Another element should be mentioned, which is that Catholics have bent over backwards to accomodate Muslims. Interreligious dialogue initiatives have become a staple of dioceses all over the world, and proponents are highly vocal here in the US. I have not come across any Catholic high school religion textbook in the past 40 years that has said anything remotely negative about Islam--nothing controversial is discussed, and the overall view of the religion is very touchy-feely, even though Catholicism often comes under scrutiny. (I am getting really sick of hearing about Galileo. Can we move on?)  Catholic media is overwhelmingly in the camp of fighting Islamophobia, even when it means defending a very narrow and radicalized version of Islam. If anyone tries to point out that the emperor has no clothes and that there are some serious concerns about political Islam, that person is silenced. 

CUA President Garvey certainly has my support and my prayers. He seems like a decent man who would not discriminate against any CUA student's religion or deliberately offend them.

But will Muslim students persist in discriminating against non-Muslims...particularly Catholics?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I HAPPEN to want CAIR illegalized

One of the most infuriating soundbites to emerge from 9/11 discussions has been when people justify the attacks by saying, "the hijackers HAPPENED to be Muslim."

This is nonsense.

They "happen" to be Muslim the same way Catholic priests "happen" to be men and people seeking abortions "happen" to be women. Or car accidents "happen" to involve automobiles, high school graduates "happen"  to have completed 12th grade, cats "happen" to be carnivores and China "happens" to be in Asia. You get my drift.

The way "happen" is being used regarding 9/11 is to mean "to occur by chance." There is nothing in any of the above examples that involves chance--they all involve defining the term.

The hijackers did not HAPPEN to be Muslims. That statement implies that other, non-Muslim members of al-Qaida were, by sheer luck, not given the assignment that day, and that only by coincidence were all 19 men followers of the Prophet on a mission to martyr themselves. 

But al Qaida is a Muslim organization and the attacks were part of a religious war prosecuted by a very devout element within Islam.

Ahmad "the flower of Islam" Rehab

CAIR's Ahmad Rehab is only the latest idiot to make this pronouncement, as if little old ladies from the Iowa Lutheran Children's Charities were vying for the opportunity to hijack those planes but they then drew the short straw.

And why do I say that this is part of the 9/11 attack's justification? Because by saying that the hijackers HAPPEN to be Muslim, the speaker is stating that the attacks were inevitable--they would have occurred anyway, sooner or later. And why? Let's remove the religiopolitical Islamic element from this argument: BECAUSE ALL THOSE PEOPLE DESERVED TO BE IMMOLATED.  They were in buildings that stood for Big Bad American power.

Hey, Reverend Jeremiah Wright explained it that way to his congregation (which at the time included Barack and Michelle Obama).

I don't know if people who buy into this statement are actually aware of how offensive it is, or if this is more on a subconscious level--maybe they're trying to project, and say that other non-Muslim individuals have carried out other, but also devastating, terrorist attacks.

Yes, and so what?

I notice that there aren't a whole lot of people out there rallying support for Tim McVeigh or Anders Breivik's ideology, the way CAIR has been regarding the 9/11 killers.

CAIR currently enjoys freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, but I think they edge very close to treason with a lot of their rhetoric.  This is actually a very tame example, but it highlights their creepy, hostile attitude.

Worse, they're courted unceasingly by the American media, which has allowed CAIR and similar entities to silence discussion of their ideology.

I happen to be really sick of it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 + 10 = Elephant in the room

The State Department is commemorating the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 by encouraging Americans to participate in an "interfaith day of service." Unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton (who views herself as a modern-day Gertrude Bell) has decided to continue her focus on the Muslim community, which has been brought front and center for this occasion.

It is true that most Muslims worldwide were horrified by the attacks, and it is also true that a number of Muslims died that day. Moreover, the overwhelming number of victims of the thousands of jihadi attacks SINCE 9/11 have been Muslims.

But it is also true that the 19 hijackers who successfully murdered more than 3,000 people in one day were carrying out only one phase of a religious mission, one that was celebrated in Muslims countries, cities and neighborhoods all over the world. And that mission continues.

Here in Chicago, the Southwest Side was the scene of euphoric demonstrations of solidarity by Muslims honoring the 19 martyrs, as Palestinian flags were unfurled from balconies and waved from the windows of cars driven by giddy youth. I was teaching at a community college at the time, and some of my Muslim students did take pains to express their sympathy to me, and my fellow Americans. But some also seized the opportunity to lecture me on why America deserved to be attacked and why the victims were considered the Enemy. (While bizarrely maintaining that, although the 19 Martyrs were being lionized, it was really Mossad and the Jewish banking industry that had carried out the attacks.)

War had clearly been declared against the US.

But by whom?

Our government has insisted, again and again, that this is not a war against Islam ("the religion of peace") but against a tiny fraction of Muslims who embrace a twisted and corrupt version of their faith. "Real" Muslims eschew violence and practice tolerance toward all, following the example of the Prophet Mohammad.

(Actually, Mohammad led his armies into vicious battles of conquest and allowed the vanquished to choose between conversion and death. So it could be argued that the "real" Muslims who reject this model are actually apostates. But that's another discussion.) 

But while our government has made this point over and over again, saying that a few rogue organizations are the ones fomenting violence all over the world, we have at the same time chosen to treat Islam as a sovereign that deserves to have the same diplomatic status as actual countries.

If it's true that our conflict is with al-Qaeda and all its offshoots and peer organizations, then why are we treating all of Islam as a separate entity? President Obama has repeatedly discussed the necessity of working with "the Muslim World" (Muslims like this because their word for it is "caliphate," which they believe will eventually govern everyone.)

If, on the other hand, the government on some level recognizes that al Qaeda et al REPRESENT  Islam, then it makes sense to talk about the Muslim World.

I think it is a huge mistake for the US, particularly under this administration, to imbue global Islam with all sorts of political privileges. Who cares what "the Muslim world" thinks? Why are we pandering to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, who have a very anti-Western/anti-American charter which has never changed and which has historically supported known terrorist organizations? Why are we not telling Egypt, "Dismantle the MoBro or US money will dry up."? (And it's a lot of money. Everyone complains about all the foreign aid that goes to Israel, but Recipient Number Two is Egypt.) Why have we not held Pakistan's feet to the fire?

This foreign policy is empowering groups like the Muslim Brotherhood because we are allowing them to be one of the voices of "the Muslim World."

But what about our domestic policy toward Islam?

Here, we're treating the "Muslim community" as if it has a politcal and cultural identity completely separate from "the rest of America." We (the public and the media) are also giving a lot of credence to MoBro/Hamas brothers-in-arms like CAIR.

Of course, in the US, we currently have three main religions. (The Jews are marginalized in the public consciousness as a quasi-secular group because they aren't out hounding people to convert.) The Big Three are: beleagured, perpetually victimized Muslims; illiterate gun-toting evangelical Christians, and the Catholics, who mindlessly obey sexually perverted priests.

But the latter two groups don't merit their own government outreach programs. Of course, you could cite examples of islamophobia as forcing special mitigating treatment, but then what about the Jews? They have always been on the receiving end of much worse mistreatment, and at disproportionately high numbers.

The idea of an "interfaith" day of service never would have come up if the 9/11 attacks had been carried out by North Korean communists, or any other non-religious group.  This is just another opportunity for the government to indoctrinate us with their biased assessment of Islam.

And speaking of "interfaith," what about Americans who don't identify with a particular religion--those who consider themselves "spiritual," but don't have any affiliation to a formal faith community? What about atheists and agnostics? Are they not part of this volunteer/social outreach plan?

But okay: there's really nothing terrible about a "day of service," unless it involves letting blind people get into taxis with their seeing-eye dogs, which Minneapolis Muslim cabbies won't do because dogs are unclean. Making this "interfaith" is a little cloying. But even if the State Department wants to play it that way, why the emphasis on Muslims? Why not treat Islam as one of many religious expressions in the US?

An analogous situation would be if the government decided to address the issue of child sexual abuse, and they didn't merely include religious leaders from all different faiths, but gave special attention to the the Catholic clergy and let them set the tone for the entire effort....instead of deferring to the input of the victims or their families. Would the families of Catholic clergy's victims be upset?

Just like the "Islam and terrorism" issue, the vast majority of Catholic priests are not child molesters, and moreover, child molesters are also found in all walks of life (a la Loughner and McVeigh) but I am sure--again, like the Islam/terrorism connection--that a lot of non-molesting clergy knew about pedophiles within their ranks and did little or nothing about it. Some even moved to protect them, even while trying to neutralize their effects by assigning them to positions that were not child related.

The biggest mistake the Church made was trying to handle this internally, which crippled trust within the Church but which also destroyed its credibility among all people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. I think this is what Muslims are trying to do now, and it's having the same effect. CAIR's media campaign to pressure Muslims NOT to cooperate with law enforcement is a perfect example. But they'll learn the hard way, just like a lot of bishops did all over the US and Europe: covering up for criminals, whether they're sex offenders or jihadists, makes you an accessory to whatever crime they commit....or plan to.

Still, I think most Americans would be uncomfortable with, if not openly hostile to, the State Department negotiating with the Catholic World or the Bahai World or the Neo-Pagan World. And whether or not a horrible tragedy like 9/11 inspires the government to "reach out" to any particular group, I think it's an unhealthy mistake to pretend a violent event with specific targets happened in a vacuum.

That is what we are doing with 9/11.

I don't necessarilly see the purpose in obsessing about it, beyond an appropriately sober memorial service, and incorporating the 9/11 narrative into our nation's history.

But I do think we should be honest enough to call it what it was: a Muslim attack on the United States.

Silencing that discussion and instead saying that Muslims had nothing to do with 9/11 and were, in fact, the real victims of American aggression is insulting.  Islam can exist, and even thrive, in our country if we treat it like any other religion. No special treatment (positive or negative), no special privileges. It is not a nation-within-a-nation and does not merit that consideration.

President Obama and his administration should be smart and honest enough to lead the way on this.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CAIR is NOT the amusement park !!!

Yesterday, there was a Muslim riot at Playland in Rye, New York. Who was behind it? Two radicalized, pro-shariah organizations--CAIR and the Muslim American Society (MAS)--which orchestrated the confrontation and is now busily generating publicity that casts their members as victims.

It seems that Muslims converged on the park to celebrate the end of Ramadan, and then a few Muslim women got into an argument with ride operators over a safety rule. This escalated into what CAIR is calling a blatant example of discrimination and abuse of power.

It actually involved Muslims punching and spitting on park employees and cops, and it resulted in two injured park rangers and 15 arrests (including two felony charges).

Some of the rides (and this is standard at amusement parks) have restrictions in place to ensure passenger safety.

Often, roller coasters have height requirements, and these aren't suspended when the Little People Club of North America goes to Six Flags.

If you wear glasses, you're also supposed to remove them on a lot of rides. Is that fair to the near-sighted? Or: does the person sitting in the car behind a myopic passenger have the "right" to enjoy the ride without getting whacked in the face when bifocals become projectiles?

According to the parks director, "parks officials “painstakingly” told the organizer about the headgear ban, said (Peter)Tartaglia. But he said that the rules might not have been communicated by the organizer to some attendees."

I doubt that.  I would bet a thousand dollars that when Mr. Tartaglia's staff went over these rules with MAS organizers, their ears pricked up: A gift from God! Another opportunity to force a non-Muslim entity to comply with shariah ! How sweet is that?

Further, I bet another thousand dollars that MAS conveyed this information to their members and told them how to find opportunities to exploit this.

Here's why this is NOT an example of bias: Muslim men not wearing headgear WERE allowed on the ride. So were Muslim women who were not wearing hijab. So obviously this is not about Muslims.

The majority of Muslim women in the US do NOT wear hijab. You never think about that because they blend in with everyone else. Hijab is, as I've stated before, a political tool and is not mandated by the Qur'an.

As for the idea that Muslimas wear hijab out of modesty and because they want to be appreciated for their "minds" and not their physical appearance, what's with the trend of the fancy hijabs with all the bling? How are you not calling attention to yourself by calling attention to yourself? Take a look at the video of the park incident....these fancy-schmancy hijabs are not about keeping a low profile, they're about proclaiming an affiliation with militant Islam, demanding special treatment, and then, when told they have to follow the same rules as everyone else, screaming BIAS !!!!!

Examples of so-called "islamophobia" are so difficult to find, they have to be fabricated. This is one of those times. This was a set-up from the beginning, and the police responded the way they were expected to, which just "proved" that Muslims were being picked on.

This is significant: "A park cashier told a Journal News reporter that a woman wearing a hijab either pushed or hit a ride operator who forbade her from going on the ride. She said a police officer tried to restrain the woman and the woman’s husband took offense, at which point a multiple-person fight broke out."

Note that even though the aggressor, according to the witness, was a hijab-wearing woman, the husband took offense at a response from a cop, who was more than likely male. This is also part of CAIR's shariah-in-the-public sector initiative: they say so on their own website, where you can download "guides" for law enforcement, healthcare workers, school personnel, and employers.

All of those entities are supposed to be educated about Islam so that they don't cause offense, which means they have to comply with, for instance, gender-segregation rules. A male cop is NEVER supposed to touch a Muslim female, and a female cop is NEVER supposed to lay a finger on a male Muslim. That's ridiculous--police are never supposed to detain a person of the opposite sex if they might be Muslim?

In this case, MAS and CAIR knew that hijab-wearing women would be the perfect test of park policy: when the park enforced the rules, the women would become victims, even if this meant they had to physically assault park employees in order to force a confrontation. And then, no matter how the employee responded, it would be WRONG. The employee could either allow him/herself to be punched, the employee could fight back (anti-Muslim battery),the employee could rely on the cops (who would respond inappropriately by violating shariah and restraining a woman)....or the park could modify its rules to say, "No headgear allowed on rides, except for Muslim women who are to be treated with kid gloves and allowed to do anything they want."

Discrimination, whether it's FOR or AGAINST a group, is still discrimination.

I really hate that CAIR is always the spokes-organization for Muslims. The media, without fail, seeks their input whenever any Muslim-related story appears in the news. But even someone who is not schooled in Islamic culture, or who only has a general understanding of Muslim beliefs, should be able to recognize CAIR for what it is: radical, fundamentalist, political, and extreme.

This is as if the mainstream news organizations, like the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times, only solicited opinions involving black social issues from the Black Panthers. Never the NAACP, never leaders of more specific organizations that actually do have insight into whatever issue comes up. If the American public were told, over and over again, that the Black Panthers is the only group that represents black Americans, and that their opinion is the only opinion that counts, that would convey a very narrow and subjective view of black concerns.

Yet that's what the media does with CAIR.  They imbue CAIR with all this fake authority, and then CAIR gets to make up the rules. And no one questions this!

Or, actually, I have tried to point this out in Letters to the Editor, but then the paper prints rebuttals from--you guessed it, CAIR !! And they never call me out on the facts, they resort to name-calling.

CAIR's leadership has been in bed with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other nefarious groups since its inception. They've received money from questionable sources. Again and again, they've made a big deal out of "Islamohpobia" incidents which then turn out to have been perpetrated by Muslims.

And, as I said above, they issue "guides" for training non-Muslims how to observe shariah. That's what happened at the amusement park, and it's happening all over the country.

A number of years ago, long before 9/11, the local paper carried a story about the park district's emerging problem with Muslim women at the swimming pool.  The park had a rule that insisted on swimwear for anyone at the pool, and it also required anyone entering the pool area to shower and walk through a foot bath. This is standard. It's a public health issue. You can't march in off the street and jump into a swimming pool, and you can't walk around poolside wearing street shoes that have just tromped through who knows what.

Several Muslim women banded together and pressured the park supervisor to suspend these rules for them because they thought it was unfair to deny them access on the basis of their religion...they wanted to enter the pool area fully clothed. But the rules weren't religiously-based. They had no intention of swimming--they had children who were in the pool--and they wanted to hang out and socialize with each other while their kids swam. 

Adults are supposed to accompany children at pools, but they're supposed to be supervising their kids IN the pool, not observing them from the general area.

If this sort of rule is so unimportant, why have any restriction around the pool at all? Why not let dogs hop in and swim with their owners--a lot of Newfoundlands would love it. 

I wrote a letter to the paper defending the park supervisor, and I got hate mail accusing me of bigotry. I also got a phone call from the supervisor thanking me for sticking up for him. 

He told me that the paper had reported on only the tip of the iceburg. In fact, this group of women had bullied their way into the pool area and had taken it upon themselves to openly criticize women who, in their opinion, were NOT appropriately attired. In other words, women who were in swimming suits. Women who came to the pool to swim felt intimidated and harrassed, but when they complained about non-swimmers making their day at the pool an ordeal, they, too, were called "bigots." 

That's probably the way this incident will play out, too.  The amusement park will probably be forced to back down, otherwise they'll be perceived as being mean and intolerant.

It will take an accident or an injury to change that, but it probably won't result in rteinstating the no-headgear rule. It will probably result in a bug lawsuit and shuttering the park for good.

And that will be a victory for CAIR, too--because, like the Ayatollah Khomeini said, "There is no fun in Islam!"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Anders Breivik's Religion: Fundamentalist Christian Secular Agnosticism

Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik is the new poster boy for Christian terrorism.  Thus far our generation has had to pretty much make do with agnostic-but-had-a-Catholic-family Tim McVeigh. But in the post-9/11 world, the balance was so unfair to Islamic terrorists, who struck more than 17,000 times. 

LUCKILY, Breivik issued a manifesto in which he described himself as "Christian". What a relief! Now we can talk about the Norway attacks every time a jihadi makes an attempt on civilian lives.

[In fact, within a week of Breivik's heinous killing spree, a young Muslim soldier who had gone AWOL was arrested near Fort Hood before he could carry out a murderous rampage. Naser Jason Abdo's plan was to detonate explosions at area restaurants frequented by soldiers and their families, and then to machinegun anyone who survived the blasts.

Abdo had won the right to be a conscientious objector because he refused to fight against Muslims. In all the publicity surrounding that campaign last year, he even said, "I just want Americans to know we're not all terrorists." Famous last words!

This, following the more successful "statement" of Fort Hood jihadi and US Army major Nidal Hasan, as well as two other jihadi attacks involving American military personnel, should probably alert the military to the possibility that Muslim soldiers, by definition, are more of a threat than any other enlistees with any other ideologies.]

But now we have Breivik, who calls himself a Crusader. You can't get more Christian than that!

Well, you can.  Because it turns out the Breivik, unlike most of the fundamentalists I know who are often found singing in the choir on Sunday and who can quote Scripture for practically any occasion, Breivik's definition of Christianity DOES NOT INVOLVE A BELIEF IN GOD OR A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. 

He states, several times, that belief in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is unnecessary. (Although he does admit that some people may find such beliefs a comforting "emotional crutch.") He says he personally has no raltionship with Jesus Christ and no belief in the Trinity.

He believes that science ALWAYS trumps faith, and that the Bible isn't all that big a deal--it's just another crutch.  

He does, however, love getting Christmas presents and sees nothing wrong with that. 

He goes on to explain the difference between a benign "cultural Christianity" which would allow Easter dinner, Christmas gifts and carols, and lighting Christmas trees, versus actual belief in the Trinity and any sort of practice (attending church, for instance). The former is fun, the latter is not important, but as long as its influence is limited, probably not harmful. 

Western Europe has been going down this road for years. Most Europeans identify as either Catholic or Protestant, but they don't practice except when they're christened, married and buried. Central/Eastern Europeans tend to be more observant, partly because the Church was  persecuted for generations and this intensified the determination of the faithful.

In the US, Christmas has become largely secular, and we have had this debate in my own house. My sons maintain that exchanging gifts and lighting the tree is fun and an important tradition, but they reject Catholicism. They don't think our traditions have any connection to our beliefs. This despite the fact that the traditions as we've practiced them--lighting the advent candles, attending mass, setting up the manger, reading the birth narrative of Jesus, and the non-meat Polish Christmas Eve feast with my in-laws--have all been distinctly focused on Christ.

I think "secular" Christians who light the tree and exchange gifts without any context may continue to do so for any number of years, but I also think they will one day stop and say, "Wait--WHY are we doing this?" I don't think they'll sustain those traditions if they're totally meaningless. To say that everyone else on the block is doing it won't cut it.

So Breivik was one of those guys--an agnostic who nonetheless did not want to be cut out of all the holiday cheer.

In other words, an agnostic who didn't have the backbone to actually make a break from Christianity.

Breivik does go into some detail in his manifesto regarding Christian culture, as he calls it. It's because he doesn't have another ideological tag for what he sees as a pan-European culture that is not Marxist or Muslim--two ideolgies that are collectivist and dedicated to eliminating individualism. He also likes the history of Christianity, regarding the Crusades, which he sees as a great real-life video game (he was addicted to World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, really violent games). The Crusades, in Breivik's mind, involved good versus evil, the way his video games do.

When he went on his killing spree at the youth camp, he crossed the line from playing video games in his mom's basement to acting them out with live ammo. But in video games, your opponants are also armed and can kill you off at any level. He not only had a psychological break that put him in "game mode" with real weapons against an unarmed, unaware target, he was CHEATING.

One big difference between devout Muslim jihadis and Breivik is that jihadis ARE well-versed in the tenets of their faith, they DO know the Qur'an, and they DO take seriously the Prophet Mohammad's injunction "to kill the unbelievers wherever you find them." They're not "cultural Muslims" who enjoy a nice lamb kebab on their main holiday, Eid. Not only that, but they also have imams who describe jihadi warriors as heroes and martyrs. I haven't --yet--heard any Christian leaders celebrating the Norway attack.

It's not surprising that Breivik's description of what he calls Christianity is so far from what practicing Christians actually believe. He is totally ignorant of the Bible, the tenets of the faith, and the foundation of all those traditions he is loathe to give up--like his Christmas bonus and a paid day off.

It's also not surprising that you will not hear any of this in all the news reports about Breivik, in print or on the air. Painting Breivik a Christian, even though he really isn't one, serves a very important purpose: it silences people who dare to speak the truth about the Islamist agenda.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July--Let's Celebrate Our Freedom.....

....such as "freedom of religion" and "freedom of speech." UNLESS you are a Christian and live in Michigan!

Here's a video of this year's Arab Fest, sponsored by the city of Dearborn, Michigan. Last time I checked, "Dearborn" was not a religious entity, and "Arab" was not a religion.

In fact, millions of Arabs are non-Muslim, and most Muslims are non-Arab.

Not to mention that over 60% of American Arabs are Christian.  (Like Danny Thomas...that's why he named his children's hospital "St. Jude's" and not "Ayatollah's.")

Last year, there were four arrests when Christans tried to "infiltrate" the festival. They were later acquitted. The police viewed the Christians as troublemakers, but if you watch the video, they're really just reading scripture and inviting discussion.

They do have the right to do this at what is purportedly a NON-religious, city sponsored event, like street preachers everywhere. It would also be okay for an imam to quote from the Qur'an at Taste of Chicago. (I'm guessing this wouldn't be anywhere near the rib steamers. Mmmm.)

I also don't think the hypothetical imam would raise many eyebrows--certainly he wouldn't be screamed at, insulted, threatened, or have stuff stolen out of his backpack (in true sharia tradition, those thieves really should have their hands lopped off). And this was all while being surrounded and observed by the police!

It's understandable that the cops hate seeing Christian preachers come into a venue like this, because they know how easy it is to incite violence among crowds of Muslims (freedom of assemby: another liberty we have). But this is like shooting the messenger: the problem is not that Muslims will be offended, because Muslims will ALWAYS be offended by the existence of non-Muslims--the problem is that the crowds that are whipped into a frenzy (because someone dares hold a different belief) are not held accountable. We shrug our shoulders and say, "We shouldn't provoke them!" which is great advice. How about telling that to a battered wife? It makes as much sense.

The larger issue of course is the very existence of ArabFest. This is going on all over the country, and not just as city fesitivals but also in schools as part of multi-cultural fairs and assemblies.

Last week a lot of people in the Chicago area attended Polish Fest, but that was more about pierogi and beer and not at all about religion, unless you count the people who ate way too much pierogi and walked around moaning, "Jesus Christ, my stomach hurts!"

So--we have these fun street parties that feature ethnic food and music, where little stands sell souvenirs imported from the Old Country, where you can actually hear people speaking in their native tongue...but then along comes a group with an agenda and they change the entire event into a rally for their political aspirations, in this case, to promote Islamic law over American culture.

If you listen to the people taunting this preacher, they are clearly telling him that NON-MUSLIMS do not belong at Arab Fest. This is really bad, because a)ethnic fests are supposed to celebrate a culture and invite outsiders to celebrate it too, and b)non-Muslim Arabs are not welcome to participate in their own fest.

Dearborn isn't the only city to experience this with Muslims. Chicago's Arab celebrations have been muted over the past two years, I think deliberately, because they were going this way as well. Dearborn happens to have a large and vocal Muslim population, and they're also at the center of a lot of initiatives to broaden sharia's application so that residents can have legal recourse more in line with Saudi Arabia, at least on domestic issues.

It does NOT have to be this way. We can keep ArabFests all over the country, just like we have Festa Italiana and German Fest and Fiesta Mexico and all the rest, as long as we keep the sponsorship of those events secular, with the understanding that members of all faiths can come and talk about religion if they wish without fear of arrest or harassment.

The city of Dearborn and the Dearborn police in particular should make this clear. Bad enough that the attendees view this as a Muslim party--the city of Dearborn reinforces that impression by implementing a punitive and stifling environment for anyone not on board. (In other words, they are practricing sharia.)

Especially on Independence Day, we should keep in mind that this country is built on principles of inclusiveness and tolerance.

And that means politically-charged Muslims who want to monopolize ArabFest need to be a little more inclusive and tolerant, too.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Are we (water) Bored yet with bin Ladin?

Media overkill alert!

Osama bin Ladin is STILL DEAD.

Now that we've been saturated with all things al-Qaida since last Sunday, it's probably time to put this in perspective. Yes, Osama got whacked. Is that cause for celebration? Not yet. Al Qaida is far from finished, although it will be hard for them to find someone as loathable as Osama to take the helm. But al Qaida does meet some of the criteria for terrorist groups that are highly unlikely to go away: they've been around awhile, they have hundreds of thousands of members and /or supporters in cells all over the world, and they have a religious mandate. So you can put money on them picking, and acting on, many targets already on their list. I hope everyone keeps a level head and realizes that these are NOT retaliatory. We did NOT make a mistake in putting the hit on bin Ladin. But if and when something horrible happens, second-guessing ourselves will be a posthumous victory for him.

Here are some observations:

1. We don't need the pictures released. The picture that tells it all is the one of Hillary Clinton sitting with President Obama and the rest of the Big Dogs while they are watching events unfold live at Osama's compound.( Here's the  link.) You know she's not watching a really tense game of Texas Hold 'Em. She's watching someone die. Proof enough.

2. It still would have been nice if the SEAL team had kept the head. Yes, there would be a lot of crying and complaining from Muslim scholars that this would have been highly disrespectful, but who cut off Danny Pearl's head? (To name just one person.) So, it would have actually been in keeping with Islamic tradition.

3. President Obama ONCE AGAIN instructed the American people as well as the entire world that Osama bin Ladin was NOT NOT NOT a Muslim and that the US is NOT NOT NOT at war with Islam. And then we were told that bin Ladin was buried at sea "in accordance with Islamic tradition." Which is it? Was he a Muslim leader who declared war on the US (as he did) and who therefore engaged us in a conflict with (violent) Islam? And if not, why the respectful burial?

4. I feel sorry for the poor guy on the Navy ship who drew the short straw and had to wash bin Ladin's body. Ick.

5. Getting back to the head--let's all be adults here and recognize that bin Ladin was a Muslim and is considered a Muslim by pretty much all Muslims. Removing the head would have been a way to guarantee he would not (according to Islam) ever reach Paradise. You can only get to Paradise if you have an intact body, although there's a loophole that says if you're a mujahid (martyr) you can strap on a bomb and get blown into tiny pieces and that's okay. If we had taken the head, which we wouldn't do because it would have offended our sensibilities as Westerners, we would have sent a clear message to al-Qaida and all their offshoots: We don't fear you AND we don't respect you.

6. This brings up the issue of inflaming hostility toward the US and our allies, and endangering potential targets. We have to get over that, too.  Our enemies will not stop until a)they are either completely eliminated from the planet or b)they win.

7. Nonetheless we have Muslim clerics bellyaching that it was simply wrong to dump bin Ladin overboard. Boohoo. You would think that since President Obama made it a point to say that bin Ladin was NOT NOT NOT a Muslim, these guys would pick up that theme and shut up. Why is no one directly asking these guys to either embrace or denounce bin Ladin? These "clerics" are operatives for Islamist organizations, and they need to be called to account for this.

8. Did the Allies make it a point to dispose of Adolf Hitler's remains in respectful accordance with his stature as a hero and leader of the Nazi party? Did we honor him and prepare his body with regard to Aryanism?

9. There are Americans who are uncomfortable with the celebrations over the outcome of the raid, and some have even mentioned that Osama bin Ladin should have been treated with the respect we gave to another of our defeated foes, General Robert E. Lee. Comparing bin Ladin to RE Lee is wrong on so many levels. Of course the men, and their situations, have no resemblance to one another, but this is how convoluted everything is with regard to handling our enemies with kid gloves. Osama bin Ladin was a mass murderer who wanted every American dead. (He also tortured puppies.)Why can't we come out and say that he, his organization, those who support it in any way, and those who mourn for him, are EVIL ?

10. I am okay with President Obama getting credit for this successful operation, but let's not forget that President GW Bush laid the groundwork. Obama, in fact, tried to pull back on some of the more controversial tactics that ended up being employed.

11. Some of those tactics ("enhanced interrogation techniques") included waterboarding, about which much has been made. Supposedly, the information that led directly to identifying the compound was NOT obtained by waterboarding, but some of the preliminary intelligence was gleaned from men who did experience simulated drowning at CIA hands. Yet according to NBC and ABC sources, waterboarding was used on a handful of people--possibly as few as three. It has been ackowledged even by Team Obama that waterboarding has never taken place at Guantanimo. Waterboarding is supposedly a horrible experience--this according to the guys who implement it, who also as part of their training have to experience it--but it is a 45 second ordeal. (Or less.) Is one person's forty five seconds of terror worth saving the lives of an entire schoolful of children, or a subway car full of commuters? As a Catholic, I know that the ends don't justify the means, but come on. The "means" in this case aren't really in the category of drawing-and-quartering a person. So I think that 45 seconds of waterboarding some scumbag is totally worth it if the guy reveals where a bomb is planted or who the next victims will be. If you don't think that, I don't want you watching my back.

12. A lot of  Muslims have been getting media attention following bin Ladin's death.  CAIR has been in front of cameras, on the radio and in print saying that bin Ladin did NOT represent them because he "wasn't really a Muslim." So I guess the Vatican should just stop investigating alleged child abusers because any priest who would do such a thing "isn't really Catholic." See how that works? And CAIR is the last group who should be saying that, with all their creepy entanglements! But also notice that the reaction of Muslims has been either a)sad for bin Ladin, like at the prayer services in Pakistan or b)subdued. So in other words, this guy who--according to President Obama--hated Muslims, killed Muslims and was not a Muslim leader, etc etc etc, hasn't evoked any crowds expressing relief that the guy was taken down? Muslims haven't taken to the streets to celebrate this setback to al Qaida? Why am I not suprised?

13. I took the virtual tour where SEAL team cameras panned the compound, and couldn't help but notice the large jar of Vaseline on the shelf in bin Ladin's bedroom. Poor guy, having to live in that dry climate!

14. And one last thing about the head: I think a LOT of people would have paid to see it.  That huge deficit we have? Problem solved!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Egypt's New Democracy: Christians Need Not Apply

The AP carried this story today: Egypt Islamists defiant over Christian governor. The story leads with this:

CAIRO – Protesters led by hardline Islamists in southern Egypt held their ground Monday, saying they won't end their campaign of civil disobedience until the government removes a newly appointed Coptic Christian governor.

The story also says that "tensions were so high that the local Christian residents had to stay inside and couldn't go to church to celebrate Palm Sunday."

Ah, the religion of peace ! The religion of tolerance!

The report continues:

The fall of Mubarak and the opening of the political system has prompted an explosion of political activity in Egypt.

The country's most organized political opposition group, the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood, has also become more vocal about its plans, drawing on its large network of social groups and followers, which it had for long to operate under strict security oversight from the Mubarak regime.

A senior group leader caused an uproar after he was quoted in local papers as saying his group seeks to establish an Islamic state, imposing Islamic punishments — including amputating hands for theft.

Under sharia (which we are told, over and over, by our own "experts" on Islam, is nothing to be afraid of) hand amputations are allowed. You can watch them being carried out on YouTube, though I would recommend doing so on an empty stomach.  The offender doesn't put his hand on a chopping block and get it severed by a cleaver (well, in some countries with low-budget sharia they still do, but not in places like Saudi or Iran). Instead, the victim is strapped to a table, and his hand is locked into a vise-like piece of equipment, and then it's sliced off. It's kind of like an assembly line: the victim's stump is then bandaged and they're ready for the next (alleged) thief.

Sharia also allows public lashings and canings, foot amputations, gouging out eyes, cutting out tongues, all the way up to and including stoning and crucifixion, although the preferred method of capital punishment is still beheading or hanging.

I am still amazed that our media glossed over, or deliberately omitted, references to the MoBro's more creepy ambitions. Everyone all over the world was in a lather over the exciting new day dawning in Egypt.

NPR continually aired "man in the street" reports from CAIR's own Ahmad Rehab, who kept repeating that this "grassroots pro-democracy movement" was for EVERYONE--every religious group, women as well as men, etc. CAIR was founded by, and still has strong ties, members of the MoBro, so of course they're beyond thrilled at this development.

(No one on the erudite staff of NPR expressed any concern about the possibility that the MoBro might be up to no good, despite reams of evidence (in their own words!) to the contrary. They're so inept, it's laughable. )

But there's more bad news.  Egypt, in many ways, is the most modern of all the countries that are turning hard-core Islamist. They traditionally had cordial relations with Israel (the Israelis aren't making any long-term plans in that regard, though, which is wise) and the US. It was fairly literate, and although still largely poor, the infrastructure has improved steadily. Egypt has been a tourist destination for Westerners(for centuries), and they were one of the few Muslim countries to have a cultural life--meaning literature and the performing arts. Also, you could get a drink there; the secular Muslim community enjoyed a lot of social liberties unknown in other Muslim countries, except possibly the big cities in Turkey. Yes, Egypt was corrupt and the economy was strained by a huge population and not-so-huge oil reserves, compared to their neighbors. But it seemed to be moving forward.

Now, all that is gone. And the poorer, less stable, more fundamentalist countries in the region are buckling too.

Islamism will prevail. It's time to have an honest discussion about what that means for our allies, and for us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Can the owner and pilot of a plane also be the hijacker?

One of the buzzwords used when discussing militant Islam has been "hijacked," as in, " Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a few violent people who are NOT REALLY MUSLIMS." Whenever an unfortunate situation develops, even if it involves devout, sincere, and mainstream Muslims who are following the Qur'an, the non-Muslim West has to dismiss it by saying that the religion has been "hijacked." That's because the truth--that Islam is not compatable with democracy--doesn't fit the narrative we've been told to swallow.

Today there's an AP story on Forbes about our Secretery of State Hillary Clinton's comments in Germany, where she expresses concern over events in Egypt following the "grassroots pro-democracy revolution."

 "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is warning that rising intolerance toward women and religious minorities threatens to hijack democratic transitions around the Arab world and spread violent extremism....She said such incidents test the unity of pro-democracy demonstrators whose peaceful protests ousted Egypt's authoritarian president and could fracture the reform movement."

Really, Hillary?

Maybe they didn't cover this chapter in Secretary of State School, but here are some points worth remembering:

1. The "democracy movement" was never about democracy. It was presented as such to generate sympathy and support from Westerners who don't know how the Islamic world works.

2. The most powerful groups in the "democracy movement" have NEVER said they would embrace women and religious minorites as equal partners.

3. The "peaceful protests" weren't all that peaceful. 

4. "Egypt's authoritarian president" will be judged favorably by history. Give it ten years, and Hosni Mubarek will be seen as a man who was sometimes forced to enact extreme measures to keep the genie of Islamism in the bottle, and he'll also be seen as the last Egyptian patriot.

No "hijacking" is taking place. The goals that were stated clearly by the Muslim Brotherhood and by "mainstream" Muslim leaders are now being implemented.  This is what they want. This is what the supporters of the movements--in the Muslim world and in the West--worked for, whether or not they admitted it to themeselves.

Not every culture is ready for democracy. Not every culture is open to allowing every citizen to have personal or civil liberties. Clinton, and her boss, should have known this.

Egypt, I am sure, will be a fine place to live for conservative Muslim men.

Everyone else, not so much.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Straight from Brazil...Where the Nuts Come From !!!!

A crazed gunman killed 11 people and wounded more than a dozen in a shooting spree in Rio de Janiero. The Chicago Tribune and most mainstream media wires are carrying the story, but they're playing coy with all the facts. The Trib actually alludes to narcotics-related violent crime, which has plagued Rio and other cities in the region for years. The "official" analysis, so far, emphasizes that this is a random crime carried out by a mentally unstable former student, and that this type of mass murder is not typical of Brazil.

And yet the shooter was Muslim. and yelled "Allahu akbar!" as he mowed down these kids. The Tribune (etc.) has NOT mentioned this fact in all the stories relating to this incident.

The killer's sister said that he had become "more Muslim" recently, although he had no criminal record. He also left a suicide note that supposedly points to his emotional fragility, but all the quotes so far released from his statement really don't sound that kooky. In fact, they're typical sentiments that suicide bombers express, and record either in writing or on camera, right before they go on their final mission.

Was he a stable, normal, but devout guy, or a complete kook? He definitely sounds like he is walking with one foot off the curb, but there are several questions we should all be asking:

1. He spent a lot of time on the internet, although memberhsip in a mosque has not yet been revealed. But, if he did form any of these ideas as a result of such exposure, shouldn't we be talking more about radicalization of Muslims? This case happened in Brazil, but it is certainly not without precedent here. Yet Peter King was pretty much portrayed as the anti-Christ for suggesting that elements exist within Islam that help "groom" future jihadis.

2. Why the blackout on this guy's religion? I recall that exposing religious fervor played a huge part in coverage of Waco and Jonestown. If this person said he was doing this in the name of Islam and actually shouted "Allahu akbar!" while he was committing the crime, why not say that?

The lesson we should take away from this is that radical, violent Islam has its tentacles everywhere.

So the last and most important question is:

3. What are we going to do about it?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jones Burns Qur'an, Obama Burns Jones, Karzai Burns Everyone...

This is the story that just won't die, unlike the innocent victims of Muslim rage and poor self-control!

Should Pastor Terry Jones be charged with the riots, murders, and beheadings, that are STILL taking place in the wake of his Qur'an burning?

Newsweek's Joe Klein says that Jones is just as bad as the 9/11 hijackers.  That's how ridiculous this discussion has become: destroying a book, a person's personal property, is just as bad as immolating >3,000 human beings.

Underneath all of this is, of course, the feeling that Muslims are not in control of their baser instincts and have somehow missed the big boat called Civilization.  Only the so-called islamophobes are saying that EVERYONE should be held accountable for their actions. Holding Jones accountable has already happened in that he has a tiny little congregation that no one--except non-critical thinkers in south Asia--takes seriously.

But holding the rioting individuals accountable for murder is unthinkable because, as our leadership seems to feel but won't say, that would be the same as holding wild hyenas morally accountable for killing a wildebeest. Violence is in their nature and they can't help it. So, let's work very hard to feed the hyenas so they don't go after the wildebeests--ie, the rest of us.

That's actually pretty insulting, but that's how the politically correct roll these days.

Rev. Terry Jones had been threatening to burn the Qur'an for months, and backed down from his original plan under public pressure, including input from Obama. What made him feel compelled to re-stage the event and actually carry out his threat? I have no idea. (Well, no, I do: free publicity.) Nonetheless, he held a "trial" for the Qur'an, doused a Qur'an in kerosene and then lit it up in front of a crowd of about 30 people at his independent Florida church, then posted a video on youtube.

This second effort to descrate the Qur'an almost missed the radar. News organizations tacitly agreed that the incident would be downplayed, because of previous experiences with Muslim violence--often in response to rumors. Afghanistan's President Karzai was the first person who broke rank and talked about this on the radio, which was then picked up as the theme for that Friday's mosque sermons.

Karzai is not well-liked and is barely hanging onto power. It makes sense that deflecting attention with this issue buys him time, even though the people who put him into power (the US and our allies) are thrown under the bus by this.
For that reason, I think we should cut him loose.

We should pull out all our people, and all our money, and let Afghanistan reap what Afghanistan has sown, which in addition to opium poppies, is illiteracy, poverty and famine. If there is any sort of Afghan leadership that can rally the people and move the country from the 6th Century into the 21st, let them have at it. But Afghanistan, "The Graveyard of Empires", has resisted interference from outsiders for generations. I say, give the Afghan people what they want.
The definition of insanity is hitting yourself in the head with a hammer and expecting a different result each time. We need to recognize our lunacy and move on.

But as for Terry Jones, let's all take a deep breath and try to put this in perspective.

Only about thirty people attended the stunt....about the same number of people in the average high school history classroom. Jones doesn't have a large number of congregants, nor is his church affiliated with any larger Christian organization. It is a rogue church, not endorsed or supported by any denominational association. In fact, those associations have condemned the Qur'an desecration not only because it was disrespectful of another religion but also because of what they see as the deadly effects of the action.

But who actually intiated those deadly effects? Enraged Muslims.Jones's point was to show the rest of the world that Islam is an intolerant and violent religion. He has done so.

Obama addressed this issue and said that , "The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry...However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity. No religion tolerates the slaughter and beheading of innocent people, and there is no justification for such a dishonorable and deplorable act...."
Obama says that "no religion tolerates the slaughter of innocent people..(etc.)" (Well, that's what he's reading from his Teleprompter.)

I would have liked to have heard Obama, for once, stick up for the Constitution. I know it's a lot to ask, and I have given up hope of ever seeing this happen, but what he SHOULD have said was, "What Rev. Jones did in burning the Qur'an was deplorable, and I certainly do not approve of this. However, he was totally within his rights to do so. As a fellow American citizen, I support his right to make a statement as long as he is not breaking any laws."

And he also should have pointed out the inconvenient fact that it was the imams in the mosques in Afghanistan who incited these riots.

So obviously at least one religion not only tolerates the slaughter of innocents, it encourages such bloodshed.

People in rural Afghanistan are very poor and often cannot read or write. They don't have much infrastructure, so they aren't surfing the net. They would have remained oblivious to the entire issue if they did not attend Friday prayers. Karzai should not have given the imams this idea for their sermon topic, and the imams should not have incited violence. But if the mosques had been attended by adherents of a "peaceful, tolerant religion," nothing would have happened.

Instead, the imams advocating death and mayhem were actually preaching to the choir.
We should be able to say this, but we have to keep repeating, "Islam is the religion of peace."

Just as the number of Jones's congregants is tiny and not representative of Americans, Christians, or both, we also should keep in mind that the number of Muslims who are truly up in arms over this is relatively small. (Probably in the thousands, including areas outside Afghanistan.)

It is interesting that world opinion is almost entirely against Jones's action. Not only Muslims, but non-Muslims are horrified, appalled, ouraged, etc. The head of the UN is angry with Jones. (Wow. I bet that scares him.)

Yet Muslims sticking up for Jones's right to free speech? I don't hear anyone speaking out. While many of these leaders insist there is no compulsion in religion, etc., they still seem to feel that the religion of the Qur'an should be given special status.  .

But let's not point this out! Joe Klein might think that mentioning such a contradiction would be the same as the London or Bali attacks.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Murfreesboro Vs. the Mosque: A Lost Cause

A  few nights ago (27 March 2011),  CNN aired a special called "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door", hosted by Soledad O'Brien. The show was about the ongoing efforts of the citizens of Murfreesboro TN to block construction of a local mosque.

I cringed to hear supposedly educated, well-mannered people spew half-truths--sometimes outright lies--about their own motivations and those of their opponents, whom they reduced to vile, simplistic stereotypes. Rarely have I seen such an embarrassing display of ignorance and bigotry, barely concealed by the thin veneer of faked gentility. This is a community determined to preserve a way of life that the rest of America has moved beyond.

Yes: the Muslims had nothing but contempt for their non-Muslim neighbors.

"Unwelcome" is part of an ongoing effort by popular news/commentary outlets--including NPR--to re-program the American public's attitude about Islam. CNN, unbiased news station that it is, had to weigh in on the crisis of ( largely imaginary) islamophobia sweeping across the US, and what better example than Murfreesboro TN...home to  140 churches and about a million rednecks? Oh, plus some long-suffering, peace-loving Muslims who, for some reason, felt compelled to put down roots in this hotbed of Klan activity.

The station even offers a helpful CNN Educator Guide to the episode, because the people of Murfreesboro should at least be able to provide a Teachable Moment to the high school students of America. Learning objective: Islam is benign and wonderful, and Christians--especially the Bible-thumping variety--are the REAL enemy.

I watched the show, expecting it to be biased but hoping it would at least use some balance. Even I was shocked at the protrayal Murfreesboro as a town full of semi-literate inbred louts right out of central casting for Deliverance II.

Murfreesboro's residents were vilified and mocked throughout the hour, even though they made a number of valid points. Yet the production team went out of its way to find examples of backwoods brutishness.  One guy they interviewed wore a seed cap and had, like, two teeth. Really, CNN ? I guess Jed Clampett was busy distilling his next batch of moonshine and so was unavailable.

CNN went for an easy target, because the white Southern male is the last American archetype we are allowed to demonize. Choosing Murfreesboro was a no-brainer for O'Brien and her staff. No matter what those people said, they would be seen as xenophobic paranoiacs rallied around the Stars and Bars and lamenting the end of slavery.

It was almost laughable: when O'Brien interviewed her Muslim contacts, she was almost fawning. She leaned forward, purred sympathetically, and elicited lots of  sad stories about vicitimization and subtle bullying. When she spoke to townspeople opposed to the mosque, it was not so much an interveiw as an interrogation. She fired questions at them and sneered at their answers. This wasn't journalism, it was abuse.

Here's the issue in a nutshell:

Murfreesboro residents consider themselves--as most people do, I suppose--warm and welcoming. They already proved that by rolling out the welcome mat for Muslims prior to 9/11, and the same Muslims recalled how their neighbors approached them after the WTC attacks to reassure them that they understood the distinction between Islam and terrorism. The Muslim population in Murfreesboro increased, though, and eventually they outgrew their small mosque. They bought land and broke ground for an expansion: a newer facility that would include a school, community center, and even a cemetery.

At that point, the non-Muslims in the area became concerned. They tried to block construction on the basis of zoning violations, and while some of those issues were probably reasonable, there were underlying worries as well.

Unfortunately, the discussion segued from zoning problems to whether or not sharia law would be imposed on Tennessee...which may well happen, but Murfreesboro probably won't be the epicenter of that.  Because the mosque opponents veered off trail, they sacrificed a lot of credibility, and that's why CNN pounced on them. The public was supposed to watch the players in this drama and think, "Ah, scary fundamentalists? Those hillbillies are the scary fundamentalists...not those refined Muslims!"

Some highlights:

*Hate messages on the imam's answering machine were played for an aghast Soledad, although most of the recording was censored. One person said, "Mohammad was a (garble garble garble)!" The imam looked sad and said he could not believe he was hearing these statements. But here's what (I bet) the message said: "Mohammad was a pedophile because he was 53 when he married a six year old girl." And that's true. The imam was probably dispmayed that this information was out there, even though anyone who reads the papers knows that child marriages are not uncommon in Muslim societies....even broadly interpretted sharia allows this. So were these "hate messages" or just embarrassing questions that the imam would prefer not to answer honestly?

*One of the more disturbing features of the mosque-under-construction was actually the cemetery. Muslims don't use coffins or vaults--they shroud their dead--and one of the anti-mosque spokesmen mentioned that people were worried about decaying corpses leeching into the water table.  O'Brien scoffed at this. Is she an idiot? Until very recently, a leading cause of death was contaminated water. (Actually, it's still a big killer in the developing world.) Long before germ theory was even dreamed of, armies knew that the most effective way of destroying a village's viability was to foul their water source, often by tossing a human corpse or an animal carcass down a well. Yes, some monastic communities still observe simple burials, but those sites are usually remote and inaccessable...not on the same property as a grammar school and playground.

*The construction site was also conveniently vandalized. An elderly Murfreesboro woman admitted that she thought it COULD have been an inside job by members of the mosque, and O'Brien sneered at her. The woman was visibly shaken and intimidated, but she stood her ground, and her facts were accurate. Other acts of vandalism have been initiated by Muslims trying to illustrate bias, and a mosque in Georgia was torched by a member of the community for precisely this reason. CAIR regularly reports cases of Islamophobia, or islamovandalism, and issues statements galore about "backlash" and "targeting," and you always know it's an inside job when CAIR suddenly shrieks, "No comment!" and drops all references to whatever incident they're upset about. In Murfreesboro, the investigation is "ongoing." Also, during the filming, gunshots were heard in the woods. Gunshots? In rural Tennessee during hunting season? No!

*Who is this imam?   The mosque leader says he's originally from Egypt, where he received his religious education, and then moved to Texas. Of course, there could be very moderate, forward-thinking imams coming out of Al-Azhar U, but I doubt it. And Texas is one of the centers of Islamic fundamentalism here in the US, along with Dearborn, MI, and parts of Florida and Ohio. Next: Tennessee?

*The leaders of the Muslim community resisted fiscal transparency. The Murfreesboro residents kept trying to bring this up and were continually shot down.  But the mosque plans called for huge amounts of money, which was said to have come from the pockets of this tiny, beleagured community. Typically, mosque expansion is underwritten by Muslim organizations which may or may not have aboveboard intentions. If the groups who financed this project have no political agenda, then why not name them? If, as in so many other cases, fundamentalist Saudi or Egyptian foundations have a hand in this, Murfreesboro should aggressively move to shut down this project. Murfreesboro doesn't need a madrassa in its midst.

*Many of the Muslim women wore hijab. If the imam is as fundamentalist as his credentials suggest, this is no suprise.  But as for the "overreacting" Murfreesboro resdients who brought up sharia, we know one thing for sure: at least the Muslims in town are observing it. As they become more integrated with American culture, they will either discard these customs or they will expect them to be acknowledged in the public sector. If the latter--which is probable--the non-sharia Tennessee civil and criminal courts will have to consider sharia regulations. This is happening in communities nationwide. Business and domestic disputes are now involving sharia elements, and criminal justice protocols must now change to accomodate evidence gathering, searching suspects, and detaining people.

*O'Brien allowed Muslims to misquote the Qur'an and she let this go unchallenged. Perhaps this wasn't the forum to debate citations from religious literature. But when a Murfreesboro resident pointed out that the Qur'an allows a husband to beat his wife, a Muslim woman called him a liar and denied that such a passage exists. She's the liar. The Qur'an does have a verse that says this (Sura 4, aya 34)...and it is a verse many Muslim men take seriously--even westernized Muslim men. If the girl had said, "Yes, it's there, but men in this community reject that teaching," or "Yes, but we are moving beyond that..." okay. But don't lie.

Interestingly, O'Brien also didn't spend a lot of time interviewing, except as part of the scenery, Murfreesboro residents who were NOT opposed to the mosque. It seems like the anti-mosque people were in somewhat of a minority, although, had I been there, I would have been among their ranks. It's fishy that CNN was trying to create a story when in fact there probably wasn't much going on, at least not on a national level. There have been a number of anti-mosque initiatives in the Chicago area, and most of these stories never go beyond local news. But I guess Chicagoans don't give as good "local color" as the sons of the South.

I'm sure the more cogent arguments of the mosque opponents were edited out to help O'Brien et al prove their point, but when the issue reached the courts, the pro-mosque contingent looked pretty solid. One argument the anti-mosque lawyer tried to build was that the mosque should not be zoned as a place of worship because Islam is not a religion. Yet Islam DOES fit the basic definition of a religion (belief in a supreme being, codified rituals, morality system, etc.). But Islam is also an all-inclusive lifestyle, and it does not acknowledge a separation of religion and state.  If the lawyer had called the imam to the stand and asked him that directly, the courtroom may have received a little more education about Islam and whether a fundamentalist Muslim community would fit into Murfreesboro. The attorney would have been better off following the financial trail or hiring a private eye to look into the imam's background.

And this is getting old: I counted at least 11 butt shots of Muslim men praying.  Can we please not have this visual image included in EVERY news story about Muslims? Every time the story went back to the mosque promotors, there they were again, rows of Muslim posteriers on display! Maybe the teetotalling Muslims are confused when Americans toast each other with "Bottoms up!" Whatever, it's time to get a new "typical Muslim" pose.

The people of Murfreesboro vowed to follow their fight to the Supreme Court, if necessary. I doubt they'll win unless they change strategy.

But thanks to CNN's lynch mob, they've clearly lost in the court of public opinion. And that's too bad, because they're not a bunch of pathetic hayseeds like Soledad O'Brien would have us believe.  At least we know they have more insight than O'Brien when it comes to Islam.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dick Durbin's Cardinal Rule and Muslim Civil Rights

As a predictable yet idiotic response to Peter King's Senate hearings on Muslim radicalization, Congressman Dick Durbin (D-IL) is now calling for hearings into Muslims' civil rights.

As we're all supposed to know, Muslims have been denied such rights since the discovery of America .(Columbus's navigator was supposedly a Muslim), the founding of this country (although the pre-Columbian Indians were also supposedly Muslim, and the evidence is the clear reference to Allah in T"allah"asee, FL--I am not making that up), and their huge contributions to the space program (according to Prez O...and that's probably the reason so many astronauts are imams).

But anyway, King's hearings are held up as a disgraceful display of targeting the largely peaceful followers of the Prophet, a handful of whom may have performed TOTALLY JUSTIFIABLE violent acts. (Note: MAY have performed...they also "may" have been framed.)

So along comes Durbin and his buddies at CAIR. They've decided to root out Islamophobia in American society and squash it like a bug.

CAIR is considered an authority on civil rights as they pertain to Muslims because they claim they're the authority on civil rights as they pertain to Muslims. I know that's called "begging the question," but that involves logic, and CAIR has an adversarial relationship with reasonable thought.

They're mad because the hearings King held specifically addressed Islamic radicalization in the US.  Despite the fact that we have experienced a number of terrorist events that evolved from radicalized preachers at mosques here in this country, and despite the fact that law enforcement has long lamented the minimal support from the Muslim community in pursuing these cells (CAIR even ran a poster advising Muslims to NOT cooperate with the FBI), and despite many Muslim leaders going on record to either excuse terrorism or advocate for it, we are NOT supposed to mention any Muslim connection to terrorism.  Unless it's in the context  of "terrorists like Tim McVeigh and anti-abortion activists." (Tim McVeigh was an atheist, and I take issue with the anti-abortion smear. I too am an anti-abortion activist, as are many of my associates, and we do not condone violence and have never celebrated the bombing of abortion clinics...unlike the partiers who took to the streets of Cairo to celebrate 9/11).

So let's get a grip and narrow the focus a little: King was not talking about all Muslims--he was trying to address factors that affect Muslims who attend mosques or follow imams and then are led to commit anti-American acts. And so far, investigations into these so-called homegrown Muslim terrorists have revealed that most of them, maybe all of them, are involved with mosques that encourage violent jihad.

But Congressman Durbin and his CAIR friends are miffed.

Apparently, Durbin doesn't put much faith in the US Constitution, which guarantees civil rights for all citizens. 

Discrimination is not allowed, and that means discrimination FOR, as well as AGAINST, any given group.

Yes, there are situations that arise--and the political experiment that is American democracy is constantly maturing--where a group that may previously have been invisible is brought into the foreground and we as a society have to address that. Women in the US did not get the vote until the 20th Century, a fact that always blows my mind.

But Muslims are not in that category. They already enjoy civil rights. They CAN vote. They can own property and businesses and their kids can attend schools.  They don't have to sit in separate sections at the diner.

Or wait! They kind of are encouraged to observe segregation. But not by American custom--by MUSLIM custom.  Durbin's CAIR friends are big on gender segregation, and recommend that public schools who do not observe this should at least enforce this with gym classes and other activities. They also push religious segregation and political segregation, but you can look at CAIR's websites to see all of that.

I wonder if Durbin will call CAIR to the stand first.

He actually has some other witnesses lined up ready to testify that Muslims are constantly harrassed and belittled in American life.

One of these is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.  McCarrick retired from leading his flock in DC, but he's come under Vatican scrutiny for a couple of reasons. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II, who was in deep denial about the pedophile scandal that has rocked the Church. One of his legacies was to install cardinals who would not be too avid in tracking down pedophiles and their protectors. Pope Benedict has worked hard to resolve this problem, and he has held many of these men accountable for what they failed to do while information about abuse emerged. McCarrick was one of the people who was called to Rome to answer some pretty difficult questions.

But McCarrick is also soft on abortion.  He has resisted, and in fact has criticized, calls to deny Communion to politicians who publicly espouse abortion rights. He claims that he, personally, is opposed to abortion, but that "dialogue" with dissenting Catholics is more important than publicly excluding them from the Catholic community.

The Vatican has been very clear on this.  While each Catholic has to answer to his or her own conscience, he or she must also be in a state of grace to receive the Host. No one expects a priest to interrogate a communicant at the altar rail, but this is a case of politicians publicly embracing abortion rights, and also adding that they intend to remain practicing Catholics. At no point, before or after receiving Communion, do they retract their statements, admit wrong, or express regret.

The priest who--knowing that up front-- then goes ahead and gives Communion to such people is in effect endorsing their stance. 

Not that integrity is seen often on Capitol Hill, but it would take a lot of backbone for a Catholic politician to either say, "I am anti-abortion," or to at least have the courage to say, "I depend on votes from pro-abortion supporters. Because I plan to publicly support abortion rights, I have excommunicated myself from the Roman Catholic Church. I cannot both support abortion AND remain a Catholic."

Unfortunately for believing Catholics, these politicians want to appear connected to a faith tradition they no longer buy into, because it's good for their careers. (Whatever happened to Hillary Clinton's statement that pro-choice politicians want to make abortion "safe, legal, and rare"? It's definitely legal, usually pretty safe, but no one--not one--pro-abortion politician has said a word about making it "rare." Interesting.)

McCarrick is supposed to be making and then enforcing Church policy, not encouraging people to engage in mortal sin--such as actively supporting the abortion industry.

McCarrick is like a vice president at a company that has a strict anti-theft policy. If the vice president sees that a theft ring is operating within the company, what is his duty? To enforce policy and get rid of the thieves, or to tell his CEO that he cannot possibly do anything because, after all, the thief may have reasons for stealing, and who is he to judge?

This is the type of person who is supporting the Durbin/CAIR initiative: a hypocrite.

Almost as hypocritical as the theme of the hearings themselves: CAIR's civil rights mean MORE rights for Muslims, not equal rights for everyone.