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.