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Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Muslims In Armed Forces Of The West

A former Navy sailor charged with supporting terrorism by disclosing secret information about the location of Navy ships and the best ways to attack them also discussed attacking military personnel and recruiting stations, federal prosecutors said yesterday. The sailor, Hassan Abujihaad, discussed sniper attacks on military personnel and attacks on recruitment sites, prosecutors said in Federal District Court, although they said it was unclear if he would face additional charges. Mr. Abujihaad’s lawyer, Dan LaBelle, has said there is no proof that his client disclosed the naval information. --from this news item

From a posting last February:

"Several points:

1. The fact that some Muslims say it is alright to "join the army" should not be a source of Infidel satisfaction, but worry. "Joining the army" in order to find out about how the enemy (that is, the Infidels whose Infidel army it is) operates, or to learn certain skills that be applied against Infidels, or even to commit acts of sabotage and betrayal while in the army, might be the motivation.

We have every evidence of this, from the American Muslim soldier who threw a grenade into a tent of sleeping American soldiers, killing two; the Marine who slipped away, apparently to Lebanon (but who knows exactly what he was doing, or what information he gave out, or secrets he betrayed?), was caught, in America gave a press conference in which he declared his complete innocence, ending "Semper Fi" (quite a performance it was, like so many performances by smiling or solemn imams, including those who took part in those post-9/11 candlelight vigils in an ostentatious display of sharing-our-grief solidarity, then subsequently discovered to be preaching quite different and disturbing things), just before somehow eluding capture and making it out of the country, presumably back to Dar al-Islam, and still the American government has been unable to locate him or bring him back, or perhaps isn't really trying. There are other stories, less-publicized, of a Muslim sailor, on a ship in the Persian Gulf, through an intercepted communication offering to reveal secrets about the ship to make it more vulnerable.

Then there is the evidence of a lack of patriotism of an identifiable group that, one would think, under all the circumstances, would be moving heaven and earth to prove itself, and has done nothing of the kind. A few years ago, while happening to be at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, I visited its military museum, and on the desk at the entrance there are bound volumes of World-War-Two era copies of "Stars and Stripes." I opened one volume at random and read all about the unit we all know about --the 442nd Regiment, the one in which Senator Inouye served, during World War II, and about its exploits. The contrast struck me then, and has struck me since: where are the Muslims clamoring in the United States, in Western Europe, to prove themselves? If, despite the constant efforts to recruit, the British government can only come up with 330 Muslims out of 180,000 people in the armed forces, that is approximately 1/500th of the force, while Muslims make up 1/30th of the population, then this tells us something.

But it shouldn't surprise us. Islam teaches that loyalty is owed only to Islam and to fellow Believers. The danger is twofold, for Infidels. One is the absence of any feeling of loyalty to the Infidel nation-state, and a belief that the land on which Muslims live by right, by Allah's divine right, belongs in the end to them, and the Infidels are merely temporary in charge, sojourners who have no permanent right to any part of the world, which belongs to Allah and therefore to the best of people. The refusal to take Muslim ideology serious, the refusal to study it in depth and to accept the most transparent and flimsy of apologetic versions, whether offered by Muslims or by the non-Muslim apologists who are all about us. The Muslim apologists are full-time practitioners of every kind of evasion and lies and half-lies and half-truths, of taqiyya and tu-quoque, and we can see examples of this every day, on talk shows, and in the press, all over the Infidel lands. It takes a while, it takes experience and practice, to detect and then to be able to see through, and then to be able to piercingly reveal and at the same time answer, such a fog and pettifog of nonsense and semi-nonsense.

Why is there so much of it? Many reasons. Some do it it out of some blend of leftist hatred of The System, of the West, of the White West, of Amerika, of Kapitalism, and find that Islam is now the vehicle of choice to express resentment. Some, like Karen Armstrong, resentful of Christianity, and suffering long-term mental desarroi and of course from terminal stupidity, find not the reality of Islam -- she hasn't a clue about the reality of Islam --soothing. Many are apologists out of cupidity (so many are on the Arab take, so many academics are supported directly or indirectly by Arab money for their "centers" and their "chairs" and so many want to ensure that they do nothing to antagonize their Muslim colleagues, who are eternally vigilant in monitoring their work, and can cause them all kinds of trouble. And others are ignorant, willfully or lazily ignorant, and do not want to think for themselves, do not want to connect the dots of observable Muslim behavior by abandoning their false model, their Ptolemaic model of a "few extremists" for the true, Copernican theory that can both explain all the data, in Bangladesh, Sudan, Nigeria, Thailand, and also Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Beslan, and have predictive value: can predict, for example, what would happen, necessarily, in Iraq, and what will happen, necessarily, in Iraq if the Americans withdraw (hint: it won't be good for the Camp of Islam, and will give America that "victory" about which Bush and Cheney prate without ever understanding, or recognizing, in what such a true "victory" for the West would consist -- nor do any of their critics).

Muslims and Western Armed Forces: what a paradox. What do we want? We know Muslims are taught not to offer any loyalty to the legal and political institutions of the Infidel nation-state. Don't expect it. Don't squander resources trying to make Muslims forget, or never know, what Islam is all about because it will not work. They will find out. The Infidel states -- England, France (Sarkozy is disastrously intent on "affirmative action" for Muslims in the organs of the state --he is not nearly well-versed enough in Islam, even if he appears, by optical illusion, to be sufficiently comprehending of the matter, and appropriately sober in his supposed "hard line" that is not nearly hard enough) -- have to give up pious hopes for "integration" that rely on a shared game of Let's Pretend: Let's Pretend that Islam does not inculcate what Islam inculcates. Let's Pretend that Islam is not Islam.

The numbers of Muslims in the British Armed Forces are telling. They tell us what, if we knew about Islam, would come as no surprise.

But what if the British government manages to increase the number of Muslims in the army, and the police, say five-fold or ten-fold or twenty-fold? Would that be good? Would that be considered a "success"? Not if one understood Islam. Not if one understood the reasons why people were joining up at this point -- not out of a sudden loyalty (the time for that was five, four, three, two years ago) but out of something which those with long experience of the problem (J. B. Kelly, for example, to me just a week ago), have worried about: the slow and steady infiltration into the army, security services, and police, all over Europe, of Muslims intent on what, by their Total System, they should be intent on.

Worry, every which way."

Posted on 7:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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Posted on 6:54 AM by NER

Islamosuckered -- Or the Means Justify the End
If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that there is no agreement about what a democracy is.  Was the Palestinian Authority a democracy (before Hamas ruined the charade and made explicit the obvious point that for it, the popular elections were never anything other than an opportunistic power grab)?  Turkey's democracy is rigged to keep the Islamists out of power, but the formula is not working as intended because the non-Islamists can't get it together, so fundamentalists are now running the country without representing a majority of Turks.  With the power they wield, they are removing the shackles that long kept Islam in check.  Islamism will now be a force to be reckoned with (as it is in, say, Pakistan) even if the Islamists are out of power.  What's so good about that?

Secondly, democracy is not an end, it is a means to the end of a better, freer, more self-determinative life.  The better, freer life is our goal.  Why should we applaud the decline of the Turks' military check?  If the choice is between a secular society guaranteed by the military or a slide toward an Islamic society ushered in by democracy, why is the latter better?  How is it freer and more self-determinative for a minority, or (were it to happen) even a majority, to impose Islamic culture on people who'd prefer freedom of conscience?  How is a democracy preferable to a military that guarantees a life freer than the average Turk would have under unfettered AKP rule?

We are in an age of democracy fetishism, which oddly substitutes facile popular elections for a commitment to real, substantive democracy.  I guess that beats confronting (a) the judgmental fact that not every society is ready for true democracy, and (b) that Islamic societies are not hospitable to the freedom of choice, freedom of conscience and equality under the law that I would have thought were elementary to real democracy.

Posted on 6:34 AM by Andy McCarthy
Monday, 23 July 2007
Taken At The Flood

From an article in the English press (one of many) about the diluvial desarroi in Great Britain, in the overflowing banks of the Thames, and the Avon, and the Severn, and the Great Ouse, and others once described by Auden as "baby rivers":

"The Great Flood of July is all the more remarkable for following right on from the Great Flood of June, which caused similar havoc in northern towns such as Doncaster and Hull, after a similar series of astonishingly torrential downpours on 24 June.

Meteorologists agree that the miserably wet British summer of 2007 has generally been caused by a southward shift towards Britain of the jetstream, the high-level airflow that brings depressions eastwards across the Atlantic. This is fairly normal. But debate is going on about whether climate change may be responsible for the intensity of the two freak rainfall episodes, which have caused flooding the like of which has never been seen in many places.

This is because the computer models used to predict the future course of global warming all show heavier rainfall, and indeed, "extreme rainfall events", as one of its principal consequences.

The new study, carried out jointly by several national climate research institutes using their supercomputer climate models, including the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office, does not prove that any one event, including the rain of the past few days in Britain, is climate-change related.

But it certainly supports the idea, by showing that in recent decades rainfall has increased over several areas of the world, including the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and linking this directly, for the first time, to global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

The study is being published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, and its details are under embargo and cannot be reported until then. But its main findings have caused a stir, and are being freely discussed by climate scientists in the Met Office, the Hadley Centre and the Department for Environment For Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

One source familiar with the study's conclusions said: "What this does is establish for the first time that there is a distinct 'human fingerprint' in the changes in precipitation patterns ­ the increases in rainfall ­ observed in the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes, which includes Britain.

"That means, it is not just the climate's natural variability which has caused the increases, but there is a detectable human cause ­ climate change, caused by our greenhouse gas emissions. The 'human fingerprint' has been detected before in temperature rises, but never before in rainfall. So this is very significant.

"Some people would argue that you can't take a single event and pin that on climate change, but what happened in Britain last Friday fits quite easily with these conclusions. It does seem to have a certain resonance with what they're finding in this research."

The Hadley Centre lead scientist involved with the study was Dr Peter Stott, who specialises in finding "human fingerprints" ­ sometimes referred to as anthropogenic signals ­ on the changing climate.

Last September Dr Stott, who was not available for comment yesterday, published research showing that the climate of central England had warmed by a full degree Celsius in the past 40 years, and that this could be directly linked to human causes ­ the first time that man-made climate change had been identified at such a local level.

The human fingerprint is detected by making computer simulations of the recent past climate, with and without emissions of greenhouse gases ­ and then comparing the results with what has actually been observed in the real world.

In Dr Stott's research, and in the study to be published on Wednesday, the observed rises in temperature and rainfall could be clearly accounted for by the scenario in which emissions were prominent.

The conclusions of the new rainfall study are regarded as all the more robust as they are the joint work of several major national climate research bodies, led by Environment Canada, with each using its own supercomputer climate model.

Global warming is likely to lead to higher rainfall because a warming atmosphere contains more water vapour and more energy. Since climate prediction began 20 years ago, heavier rainfall over Britain has been a consistent theme. "

Posted on 11:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Iran launches new dress crackdown

From The Australian

IRAN overnight launched a new wave of a moral crackdown against women who "dress like models" and men whose hairstyles are deemed unIslamic, police said.

Tehran's police force dispatched dozens of police cars and minibuses into the early evening rush-hour to enforce the dress rules at major squares in the city centre, an AFP correspondent said.

The new "plan to increase security in society" - which is limited to Tehran but will later extend nationwide - comes after a pre-summer drive by the police resulted in thousands of warnings and hundreds of arrests.

"We have vowed to continue the campaign to reinforce the plan to increase security in society with new personnel who have received the necessary training," the Tehran police head of information Mehdi Ahmadi said as the first police forces were dispatched.

Although the April crackdown was the severest such drive in years, some women are still donning figure-hugging coats and skimpy headscarves. The wacky hairdos favoured by some young men in Tehran are also much in evidence.

By renewing the drive, it appears the police want to send a message that they are serious about enforcing the dress rules.

Ahmad Reza Radan, the head of Tehran's police, emphasised that the plan was not just restricted to enforcing Islamic dress rules but also targeted all those who disrupt "security" in society.

He said that the police would also step up the fight against what he described as "sexually deviant groups and Satan-worshipping cults.  Some young people, intentionally or unwittingly, are walking advertisements for Western deviant sexual and Satan-worshipping cults. In this plan such people will be identified and confronted."

Posted on 4:56 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Wider still and wider

Observant readers may have noticed that New English Review has just expanded. Widthways. Possibly this means that it has widened in scope and broadened in outlook. But more probably it means that we will be using bigger words and longer sentences. No more pinched, concise, lapidary postings. Postings from now on will be expansive, as if the button on the waistband, and on the blouse, has been undone, and the tongue loosened.

However, expansive is expensive. We may look more voluptuous, and taste full-bodied and fruity, but we are still lean, hungry and poor. So please, if you want us to expand further, give a little.

Here's why.

Here's how.

Posted on 3:13 PM by Mary Jackson

First They Came for 'Chronicles'
His curiosity piqued by my reference to Chronicles magazine, which I described as "Papo-Paleo-Con," a reader attempted to go to the magazine's website. He was prevented from doing so by his company's "hate" website filter.
Chronicles may not be everybody's cup of tea, but its general tone of earnest scholasticism couldn't be more Weaverian if it was printed all in Latin (which I suspect they will eventually do).  "Hate"?  For Heaven's sake.
Posted on 2:02 PM by John Derbyshire

A Mystery
It seems the rumor is going around that Robert Spencer and I are the same person. The briefest of glances at my postings, and his, would show anyone sensitive to style that we couldn't possibly be the same person. As for content, I lack a certain kind of mental stamina and patience to go through the Qur'an and Hadith and Sira and all the commentators again and again, and I certainly wouldn't experience the kind of delight that I saw on Robert's face when he received from a friend another few volumes of Tabari, the kind of face that I might put on if I received a book of verse or an art book, say a nice big one on Sienese paintings (presents cheerfully accepted).

No one in his right mind, with even the most minimal sensitivity to language, could confuse Robert's straightforward lucidity, rooted in the texts, for my curlicues, rooted in everything else (a nice, though entirely accidental, division of labor) or, of course, vice-versa. It is true, however, that we agree in many ways about Islam, though Robert is a dab hand with the texts, other things, including Tarbaby Iraq and other mistakes in policy, interest me more. But if we think more or less alike on this matter (though Robert is a devout Christian and I an equally devout atheist; he likes Bob Dylan and I prefer songs of the 1920s-1930s-1940s; he says tomato and I say tomahto, and so on), we are joined by tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions or tens of millions of others who have educated themselves about Islam. And also in agreement are all kinds of ex-Muslims, some of them determined freethinkers (Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina), some undeclared (Wafa Sultan), some Christians (Nonie Darwish, Walid Shoebat), and many others, possibly not as well known, or less publicly eloquent people who through no fault of their own, were born into, and raised up within, Islam, and who have chosen to jettison it.

For that matter, even some who continue to call themselves Muslims, such as Fouad Ajami and Kanan Makiya and the great, now-under-siege Egyptian long resident in Italy, Magdi Allam, may call themselves "cultural Muslims" or wish, out of filial piety (the remembrance of pious, yet meek-and-mild Muslim parents who somehow manged to willfully ignore the full texts, the full meaning and therefore the full permanent potential menace,of Islam) or civilizational embarrassment, or even a residual defensiveness, reality are Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslims.

And of course, Robert has a beard, and I, a mere stripling, well -- je suis imberbe.

One more thing. Those who think that Robert and Hugh are the same person are, unwittingly, flattering both of us.

By the way, if it turns out that we are in fact the same person, and I have just been kept in the dark about it all these years -- boy, am I easy to fool -- could I please have a big boost in my salary? I need soon, you see, to go and break the bank in Monte Carlo.

Posted on 1:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Re: Puns

A reader:  "Mr. Derbyshire—-Regarding the pun you quoted, I understand Lord Montague when caught in a compromising situation after promising to turn over a new leaf, was quoted as saying: 'I have to get to the bottom of this page first.'"
New leaf... page... got it.

Lord Montague of Beaulieu (pronounced "Bewley") features in a number of stories in this general zone.  Also at least one song:  Anyone who has been bused to an away rugby game will recall the spoof of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" whose refrain ends:  "...And My Lord Montague of Beaulieu."  The other Christmas gifts in that spoof have... escaped my memory.

Posted on 1:47 PM by John Derbyshire

Not to be Taken Too Seriously
Posted on 1:45 PM by John Derbyshire

Dozy bint of the week

Do you suffer from low blood pressure and need to raise it? Are you feeling bored and languid, and want to get angry so you can feel properly alive? Read this piece from Karen Armstrong in - where else? - The Guardian. I've highlighted the worst bits:

For Muslims to protest against the Danish cartoonists' depiction of the prophet as a terrorist, while carrying placards that threatened another 7/7 atrocity on London, represented a nihilistic failure of integrity.

But equally the cartoonists and their publishers, who seemed impervious to Muslim sensibilities, failed to live up to their own liberal values, since the principle of free speech implies respect for the opinions of others. Islamophobia should be as unacceptable as any other form of prejudice. When 255,000 members of the so-called "Christian community" signed a petition to prevent the building of a large mosque in Abbey Mills, east London, they sent a grim message to the Muslim world: western freedom of worship did not, apparently, apply to Islam. There were similar protests by some in the Jewish community, who, as Seth Freedman pointed out in his Commentisfree piece, should be the first to protest against discrimination.

Gallup found there was as yet no blind hatred of the west in Muslim countries; only 8% of respondents condoned the 9/11 atrocities. But this could change if the extremists persuade the young that the west is bent on the destruction of their religion. When Gallup asked what the west could do to improve relations, most Muslims replied unhesitatingly that western countries must show greater respect for Islam, placing this ahead of economic aid and non-interference in their domestic affairs. Our inability to tolerate Islam not only contradicts our western values; it could also become a major security risk.

Posted on 12:38 PM by Mary Jackson

Militants kill four Lebanese troops
Jon makes the very good point that when Israel takes action against a camp containing refugees of Palestinian description it is declared a massacre. When the Lebanese army does the same, and with a greater loss of life the mainstream press is silent.
Four Lebanese soldiers were killed in pitched battles with al Qaeda-inspired militants at a Palestinian refugee camp on Sunday as Lebanon's worst fighting since the civil war entered its 10th week.
Security sources said 15 more soldiers were wounded in the fighting with Fatah al-Islam militants at Nahr al-Bared camp. There was no immediate word on militant casualties.
The deaths brought to 117 the number of soldiers killed in the battles that began on May 20. More than 81 militants and at least 41 civilians have also died.
The army has pushed slowly into the camp, fighting close-quarter battles with Fatah al-Islam militants after bombarding its positions with artillery and tank fire to try to force the group to surrender.
The camp, home to 40,000 refugees before the hostilities, has been completely destroyed and it was expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild. Its residents have sought shelter in other Palestinian refugee camps.
Palestinian sources say there are around 1,000 civilians left in Nahr al-Bared, refugees and wives and children of Fatah al-Islam mainly Arab fighters.
Posted on 12:09 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Surprise, No Surprise, Why Was I Surprised?

Years ago, while visiting some fellow Americans at Oxford for a few days, I fell sick. Among those in the group of Oxford  undergraduates whom I had managed to meet was one, with an obviously Muslim name, whose parents had come to England  from the subcontinent. Alone among those students I already knew or had just met,  softspoken Imran expressed great concern. It was genuine concern, and contrasted noticeably with the distinct lack of concern of my fellow Americans. 

In recent years I have sometimes wondered, in a what-became-of-Waring mood, what happened to that  kind student who long ago took such an interest in someone he had just met and hardly knew.  Might he, who showed no signs then of being much of anything, have since become a devout Muslim, I wondered, a filiopietistic  Defender of the Faith?  You may imagine my pleased surprise, followed immediately by a complete lack of surprise, and then replaced just as quickly by my own  surprise at my initial pleased surprise, to discover  that, for several decades now, X, the boy and man in question, has been a Quaker.

Posted on 11:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Long to rain over us

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella:
But chiefly on the just because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.


More on umbrellas, and the social and moral connotations thereof, here in The Spectator:

Our attachment to the umbrella is not paralleled elsewhere, on the Continent or even in America. There, it remains strictly utilitarian. For us it has not just moral but aesthetic overtones. Emerson noted, and recorded that, ‘An Englishman walks in a pouring rain, swinging his closed umbrella like a walking stick.’ Well, yes: because if you’ve managed to roll it to the highest possible standards of thinness, you are not going to undo your work for a transient shower.

I had a day off today - a lie-in, followed by long, leisurely and liquid lunch, and the intention of walking off the lunch on Hampstead Heath. But not only is the road to Hell paved with good intentions; the pavement is slippery and muddy. Yes, it's raining again.

Now I know I'm English, and moaning about the weather is what we - stereotypically - do, but this is ridiculous. It has been cold, wet, grey and horrible all June and all July so far, with no let up in sight. According to The Telegraph, it's the worst summer in living memory:

Britons are resigned to suffering the worst summer in living memory with record rainfalls in June and July - and no sign of sunshine on the horizon in August.

Forecasters believe this month may already be the wettest July on record - nine days before it ends. Experts forecast gales in the middle of the week and more rain going into early August.

As well as flood victims forced to abandon their homes, farmers are in despair at losing their crops. Ice-cream sellers described it as an "horrendous" summer.

Club cricketers saw their frustrations grow at another weekend washout.

Astronomers are complaining they have not had a cloudless night in months. 

The country suffered the wettest May since 1967 (and the fourth wettest ever). It was the dullest June in a decade in terms of hours of sun, and the wettest since Met Office records began, with 230 per cent more rain across the UK than average.

One would imagine that tourism has been severely affected. Who, after all, would go tramping around in the mud in Cumbria and the Lake District? And yet, in the last few days, the nondescript market town of Penrith has enjoyed an upturn, indeed a surge. Mirabile dictu, as they say up there. When they can catch their breath.

Posted on 11:32 AM by Mary Jackson

Turkey In The Maw
"Ironically, the far-right nationalists are now vehemently against the Islamists, and that's some good news. Because the Turks are fiercely nationalistic, there may be a way to resurrect nationalism and get rid of the Islamists once more."-- from a posting at Jihad Watch by a citizen of Turkey

Not sure why it should be "ironically" that the "far-right nationalists are now vehemently against the Islamists," because that was always the case, wasn't it? That has been true since the initial flourish of laws in the time of Ataturk himself -- to limit the power of Arabs, Arabic, and arabization by providing a Qur'an in Turkish and with a Turkish commentary, to make an end for Turkish of the Arabic script and adopting the Latin script, to give women the right to vote, and to create a ministry of religious affairs that would monitor or even write the sermons. In the armed forces those who gave signs of deep belief (such as frequent reading of the Qur'an) would be cashiered, and higher education was strictly secular. It was put in the hands of those who were leery of Islam. (Surely one of the first things that the new regime will attempt to do will be to take on again the universities and those who still control them. It will attempt to discharge those, especially certain brave Rectors, who have so far remained firm in keeping Erdogan and others of the islamist line from gaining control in the Wars of the Rectors.) And of course there were new laws regarding clothing -- the banning of the hijab in government offices or on official business (see the wife of Abdullah Gul, see the wife of Tayyip Erdogan), and the forcible imposition of Western dress on men, with such measures as the Hat Act. It is much harder to pray five times a day with a Western visored cap or hat than with a fez.

The steady and relentless pressure of such laws, and of the attitude of suspicion and hostility toward Islam -- recognized as the very thing that was holding Turkey down and out -- helped create the class of "Muslim-but-secular" Turks who are a much greater proportion of the Muslim population than in any member of the O.I.C. save, possibly, Kazakhstan. (Kazakhstan registers the best results among the five stans possibly because of its large non-Muslim population -- Russians, Jews, and many other "nationalities," including, even, Koreans.)

But those laws were not end of it. Dealing with the primitive masses, the Kemalist Turks in control developed an alternative narrative to the narrative of Islam. It went like this: the "best of people" were no longer the Arab Muslims (for the Turks, like the Iranians contemptuous of the "desert" Arabs, also dimly recognized that Islam was a vehicle for Arab supremacism), but the Turks themselves, the "Sun People." Inonu worked on this. It offered the myth of "the Turk," a category that both appeared to exclude non-Muslims (Christians and Jews could be citizens of Turkey, with theoretical legal equality, but they were not "Turks.") At the same time, it backdated the claim of the Turks, back through the Osmanlis and the Seljuk Turks, back through Byzantium, all the way to the Hittites, so that everything that happened in Anatolia seemed to be appropriated into the "history of the Turk."

But more important than this has been the cult of Ataturk: the books about him, the formerly omnipresent pictures of him, the warrior at Gallipoli, the wise lawgiver pondering his nation's course at Dolmabahce Palace, the all-knowing all-wise never-to-be-questioned leader who ended up -- unsurprisingly -- as a replacement for Muhamamd, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil.

In the end, the secular Turks didn't do enough. They lazily relied on the army to protect them, the army that would stage a coup and come to their rescue. But an army can stage a coup only when Islam is still in a state of weakness. Now the same infiltration that has gone on in many parts of Turkish society has also been going on, still at the lower levels, of the army. And given the way in which the Islamic forces have so cleverly used their time in office to appear, quite wrongly, as a "moderate" force, a "new kind of Islam" -- the kind of thing that the defeated secularists and Western governments all want desperately to believe because the truth is too unpleasant, too hard to take -- one wonders if the army can indeed stage another coup.

Why didn't those secularists, all these years, for the past half-century, work and work and work like madmen to change the minds of men, to continue the work of Ataturk, to substitute not a crude cult of "the Turk" and the "Sun People" and Ataturk as the Great Man, but to steadily create a class of Western men, encouraging skepticism and a spirit of criticism and self-criticism, that could exist with a reasonable patriotism? Why didn't they, long ago, begin to discuss, for example, the Armenian question? Instead of shunning the issue and trying to shut down all discussion inside and outside Turkey, they could have studied those mass murders as being prompted -- as indeed they were -- not by "the Turks" engaged in ethnic warfare, but by Muslim Turks (and Muslim Kurds too) against Armenians because they were Christians, as the detailed first-person memoirs, with the shouts of "giaour" and the fiendish glee with which the pregnant wives of priests were immolated, help to make clear. Why not, in other words, blame Islam-maddened Turks and Kurds, and not "Turks and Kurds"? That is, why not blame Islam for what happened, since it is clearly to blame?

And why did secular Turks not look closely at the example of Iran, where secular, leftist Iranians were snookered into helping overthrow the Shah by Khomeini and the True Believers, and then destroyed? (Yes, the Shah was corrupt and vainglorious, but compared to what followed, he and his court, those hoveydas and tabatabais, look better every day.) It will always be that way. The Muslims will use, as they are now using some among the secularists, to deplore the army, to deplore the laws that the threat of Islam makes necessary. And those secularists, not having studied carefully the example of Iran, fall for it. For god's sake, what happened to the elegant Bakhtiari? To Bani-Sadr? To Ghotbzahadeh? What happened to Iranian intellectuals? Who was jailed? Who went mad in jail? Who was murdered, who with his wife was decapitated, and their heads left on either side of the mantelpiece in their house? Haven't the past nearly thirty years of the Islamic Republic of Iran right next door taught the Turkish secularists, the ones who think that Turkey can be just as solicitous of civil rights as the United States, what they needed to know?

The Turkish secularists let the army be their final protection. They accepted Kemalism and the benefits it brought. It made their own existence possible. But they were not grateful enough. They did not continue to work to weaken the power of Islam over the minds of men. They were not sufficiently relentless and ruthless. They did not stress or even make the connection between all the failures of Turkish society and Islam. That includes its political and economic failures: Turkey’s current boom deflects attention from the high permanent unemployment rate, and may also be partly the consequence of the giant sums being expended in Iraq by the Americans, and dislocations in Iraq that redound to Turkish benefit. It also includes its social and intellectual failures: the bookstores of Istiqlal Caddesi are one thing, the Islamic bookstores quite another. Then there are its moral failures: the refusal to discuss the mass-murder of Armenians, or the treatment of the Jewish refugees on the Struma, or the massacres in Smyrna, not to mention the Varlik Vergesi (a special, confiscatory tax imposed during World War II on Jews, Armenians, and Greeks), and the attacks on the Greek community of Istanbul in 1955 (see “The Mechanism of Catastrophe” by Speros Vryonis). All that was part of the continued discrimination and persecution that has helped to reduce the non-Muslim proportion of Istanbul’s population from 50% in 1914 to 1% today.

Surely these things need to be written about, studied, discussed in Turkey -- and not only intermittently, and then by Orhan Pamuk of or someone of similar protecting fame, but continually, as part of the accepted daily fare, as openly as in Western countries their historic misdeeds are analyzed and discussed. For Turkey’s secularists should wish to imprint on the collective mind the importance of study, investigation, analysis. That includes what, in the history of such mistreatment of non-Muslims, is owed to the promptings of Islam and not to some “ethnic” conflict as, at times, one is lead to believe: that “the Turks” made war on “the Armenians” when in fact it was Muslims, Turks and Kurds who made war on Christian Armenians and for reasons having to do with their being Christians more than their being Armenians.

In the schools, beginning with higher education, secularists need to insist that this subject -- Islam and its influence on Turkish behavior -- be discussed. Along with this, why should there not begin to be open discussion of how a land completely un-Muslim became Islamized, and how, indeed, so many of those who proudly call themselves Turks would discover, if they could or would investigate, that they are in fact the descendants of forcibly converted, or seized, Christians and Jews? How many fiercely nationalist or Islamic Turks, for example, were Armenians two or three generations ago?

The problem of the Turkish secularists is that they represent, at most, perhaps 25% of the population. After 80 years of Kemalism. That isn't enough. It won't be enough to withstand a cunning, tireless, relentless enemy of secularism. The Islamic side knows how to wait, and work, steadily, for their ends. For one startling example of this, see Fethulleh Gulen's counsel of cunning and patience (recently translated by the scholarly Samaritans at Here is the most telling part:

"You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers… until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria… like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete, and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it… You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey… Until that time, any step taken would be too early - like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all - in confidence… trusting your loyalty and sensitivity to secrecy. I know that when you leave here - [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and feelings expressed here."

One thing the secular Turks can now do is make sure that all the Westerners they know, those long resident in Istanbul (of the Freely sort), those who come to study or trade, those whom they will continue to meet abroad, Western politicians, military men, academics, journalists, are made fully aware of their plight, and warned about the dangers of taking this "moderate Islamist" (as the BBC is now calling it) victory as anything other than a danger, a menace. The secularists should work away among the thinking portion of the Turkish population abroad -- for example, among the millions in Western Europe -- to enroll them in a campaign that can be billed as "upholding the legacy of Ataturk." (If the secularists ever manage to return to power, chastened, they must do much more than merely "uphold the legacy of Ataturk" but extend it, far beyond what they have done so far.) And those Turkish secularists who once looked to the army to rescue them in case of need, and now think that they can be rescued, or at least the problem shared with others by having Turkey admitted into the E.U., should instead realize that Turkey will not be, and should not be, admitted into the E.U., and that they will have to rely mostly on themselves, and that they cannot expect the menaced Infidels of Western Europe to share their danger in quite so immediate and menacing a way.

They should understand this rejection of Turkey's application -- understand it sympathetically. Would they, were they the citizens of Italy or France, want a Muslim country, with a population of 80 million, to become part of the E.U.? Would they want Muslims from Turkey, or other Muslims who could far more easily move into the E.U. from Turkey, moving freely about, visa-less, what would be one big Schengenland? (Think of the security problems as Arabs and Iranians -- hard for the Westerners to distinguish from Turks -- would try to enter the E.U. as "Turks.") Of course they wouldn't, and any resentment at the West for not wishing to share the problem of Islam more than it already does, is misplaced.

The Turkish secularists, like the Iranian secularists, did not realize that the primitive masses will always return to Islam -- or rather, that the hold of Islam is so great, that they will not have left it in the first place. And what happens in the capital (Istanbul,Teheran) is not what happens elsewhere. Never have the secularists, or "leftists" as they are often crudely and inaccurately called by the Western press, managed to outfox the upholders of Islam. It is always the other way round.

Posted on 8:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

The Oxford Book of Very Short Poems

Though gender-bending poetic license was claimed, those ten little words constituted not a poem but a joke. However, there are shorter pieces that are not jokes but poems. One of them, by Ungaretti, has made it into the Italian  schoolbooks:


Meaning: I raise the blinds (or, more likely, open the shutters), and sunlight floods in. Good ad copy, by the way, for those flogging home solar energy units.

Quaere: what are other poems, ten words or under, deserving of inclusion in The Oxford Book of Very Short Poems, which OUP's editors have not yet asked me to edit, but I am sure that any day now they will.

Posted on 9:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

To Make A Long Story Short

"Could it be that the end of Islamist violence will be brought about by Jihadists themselves?" -- Sarah Barmak

A Very Short Poem on a Very Long Story:

Kak zhe tak?
Glup Barmak.
Um -- bardak.
Vot eto tak.

Posted on 7:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Deterrence Measures

The nation's top intelligence official yesterday went further than ever before in outlining what he described as a heightened threat of an al Qaeda attack on American soil. --from this news item

And what is the deterrence going to be, and how will that deterrence be made known? Surely any further attack on Americans has to be answered not by means of what is essentially a glorified police action, attempting to round up only those immediately involved, those who trained and supported them. Retaliation must he very large, and must do equal damage to the Camp of Islam. The Al-Saud, the Al-Thani, the Al-Sabah, the Al-Maktoum, and all the others must be made aware that their economic and other interests will be damaged, damaged far more severely than we have so far been damaged, and that such damage will be inflicted in all kinds of ways, including a halt to the availability of goods and services, the seizure of enemy-owned assets (just as such assets were seized during World War II), and that will include the privately-owned real estate of various Saudi princelings (could that be why Prince Bandar is selling off his Aspen estate for $135 million, the estate for which he had blown to bits the top of a mountain to improve his view") and whatever can be reached by American and other NATO allies. The days of visiting the West for medical care and education should come to an end -- wouldn't you, if you were told you could no longer go to any Western doctors, begin to worry, begin to think about modifying your behavior so that you could see the best oncologists and cardiologists and bring your children to Western doctors instead of Arab ones? You would.

And that's a start. Other measures could include seizing the very large, and very conveniently placed, oilfields of Saudi Arabia, holding whatever oil revenues are obtained piously "in trust," after first deducting the amount of economic damage that Saudi support, over the past 30 years -- support for mosques and madrasas where the most fanatical Wahhabi propaganda has been available and been distributed, support for campaigns of Da'wa targetted at the psychically and economically marginal, campaigns to buy up Western hirelings in all the capitals of the West, and much more -- amounting to nearly $100 billion in the past 30 years -- has caused, for there is a direct relationship between the Saudis and the spread of the most virulent form of Islam.

Deterrence, to be effective, must be understood on all sides. The Western world has not made clear to the rulers and peoples of Muslim states, nor to Muslims now living in the Bilad al-kufr and working night and day at their Taqiyya-and-Tu-Quoque in order to prevent Infidels from learning just a bit too much about Islam, and about the history of Islamic conquest over 1350 years, that all kinds of measures can be, and will be, taken. The Western publics are far far ahead of their governments, and the deep unhappiness with both parties in this country, with the hallucinating Bush bringing "freedom" to "ordinary moms and dads" and the Democrats who oppose the war but apparently not for the right reasons -- that is, in order to more intelligently constrain Islam that can be achieved best by leaving, not staying in, Iraq.

Western governments, led by the Americans, should start consulting with one another on this collective threat (surely the recent elections should mean that NATO will have to meet without Turkey, no longer a fit member of an organization that will have to direct its main efforts at constraining Islam) of the world-wide Jihad, and on the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, and demographic conquest within the Bilad al-kufr, especially in the hitherto negiligently compliant states of Western Europe. One wants the Muslim would-be terrorists, and those who support them, to be made aware of what, beyond physical destruction to certain Muslim lands, will take place, what damage will be done to the interests of Muslims in Paris and London, in Dearborn and Falls Church, what will be done with some -- not all-- of the oilfields, what will be done with reachable Arab and Muslim assets in the West, what will be done to close down Muslim institutions all over the West that inevitably offer support and encouragement for the Jihad.

The leaders of the Soviet Union knew what would happen if they did thus and so. The Muslims have been led to believe that very little will happen -- oh, hundreds of billions may be spent, in vain attempts to cure Muslim "poverty" (see Afghanistan) and to "reconstruct" an entire country (see Iraq), and to bring Western ways, and the pollyannish panacea of "free elections" which are the main way that "freedom" can be brought, in Bush's view, to "ordinary moms and dads" in the Middle East. But the Iraqi body politic has already clearly rejected the attempt to successfully transplant the organ of Western freedom. Time to try something that makes sense.

The reason the Arab states do not attack Israel at the moment is because of the deterrent effect of the IDF, and what the IDF can do. That's it. It has nothing to do with the Camp David Accords, nothing to do with a change of heart -- how could Muslims, if they were true believers, ever accept an Infidel state such as Israel, on land once part of Dar al-Islam, a state that furthermore is in the middle of that so-called "Arab world"? It is simply impossible, not thinkable. Deterrence, however, is not unthinkable -- it exists, and it works.

The same can and should be done by the American and other Western governments. They have to start dropping all kinds of hints, as to the damage that can be inflicted on Muslim interests, everywhere. And they might do best to talk about reducing the Money Weapon (or inflicting economic damage in turn on the Muslim states), closing down campaigns of Da'wa and countering the effect of past campaigns, and recognizing demographic conquest as a key instrument of Jihad, historically and at present, and not only calling a complete halt to Muslim immigration into the West, but reversing it, by means that are not only perfectly justifiable when one is fighting such a complicated war of self-defense in which, in a move without precedent in history, large numbers of people who are by unshakable faith unalterably opposed to the continued dominance, in our own, Infidel lands of our own legal and political institutions, our own solicitousness for the individual rather than the collective, and for freedoms that are the product of centuries of thought and statecraft, have been allowed by the millions to settle within our lands, in a collective fit of ignorance and historical amnesia. In such circumstances, those who sense their own responsibility, even in the midst of such present decadence, to preserve a civilizational heritage that can be undone by mere numbers, will take what measures are necessary, and will do well to learn of how often, in the past, even the most tolerant and advanced regimes -- such as that in Czechoslovakia in 1946 -- undertook measures (the Benes Decree) that no one at the time, and no one respectable since, has criticized, much less deplored.

Posted on 7:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Great Pun

Tucked away in the "Letters" column of the August 2007 issue of my favorite Papo-Paleo-Con magazine Chronicles is this simply terrific pun—so terrific it left me wondering if it is the writer's own, or some kind of classic I have somehow never spotted before.

The letter-writer is Christie Davies, author of The Strange Death of Moral Britain .  The pun occurs at the end of a paragraph whose topic is "male homosexuals, the family, and demography."  Here are the last two sentences of that paragraph:

"My very recent research on why royal dynasties (whose lineage is vital) die out does not indicate that male homosexuality has been an important factor.  For royalty, the bottom of the page does not mean the end of the line."

Posted on 7:00 AM by John Derbyshire

Creationism evolves a Muslim face
This is a  very odd story from The Scotsman.
IN THE United States, opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schools has largely been fuelled by the religious right, particularly Protestant fundamentalism.
Now another voice is entering the debate, in dramatic fashion. He is Adnan Oktar, from Turkey, who under the name Harun Yahya has produced numerous books, videos and DVDs on science and faith, in particular what he calls the "deceit" inherent in the theory of evolution.
One of his books, Atlas Of Creation, is turning up unsolicited in the mailboxes of scientists and members of theUS Congress, and at science museums around the country.
The lavishly illustrated 800-page book is one of the most significant creationist challenge to Charles Darwin's theory, which Yahya calls a feeble and perverted ideology contradicted by the Koran.
The principal argument of Atlas Of Creation, advanced in page after page of stunning photographs of fossil plants, insects and animals, is that creatures living today are just like creatures that lived in the fossil past. Ergo, Yahya writes, evolution must be impossible, a lie or "a theory in crisis".
In fact, there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth.
Kevin Padian, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who, like colleagues there, found a copy in his mailbox, said people who had received copies were "just astounded at its size and production values and equally astonished at what a load of crap it is. If he sees a picture of an old fossil crab or something, he says, 'See, it looks just like a regular crab, there's no evolution,'" said Padian. Extinction does not seem to bother him. He does not really have any sense of what we know about how things change through time."  Or how great is the scale of time - 2 Peter 3.8 and Matthew 28.20. 
Who finances the effort is "a big question that no one knows the answer to," said another recipient, Taner Edis, a physicist at Truman State University in Missouri, who studies issues of science and religion, particularly Islam.
Edis grew up in a secular household in Turkey, and has lived in the US since enrolling at research university Johns Hopkin. He said Yahya's activities were usually described in the Turkish news media as financed by donations. "But what that can mean is anybody's guess."
Support for creationism is also widespread among Muslims, said Edis, whose book, An Illusion Of Harmony: Science And Religion In Islam, was published in the spring.
"Taken at face value, the Koran is a creationist text," he said, adding that it would be difficult to find a scholar of Islam "who is going to be gung-ho about Darwin". Perhaps as a result, he said, Yahya's books and other publications have won him attention in Islamic areas. "This is a guy with some influence," Edis said, "unfortunately for mainstream science."
Miller agreed. He said he regularly received e-mail messages from people questioning evolution, with an increasing number coming from the Middle East, most citing Yahya's work.
As the scientists ponder what to do with the book - for many, it is too beautiful for the bin but too erroneous for their shelves - they also speculate about the motives of its distributors.
It's also possible, said Miller, "that Harun Yahya and his people have decided there are plenty of Muslims in the United States who need to hear this message."
De Ricqles said some worried that the book was directed at the Muslim population of France as a strategy to "destabilise" poor, predominantly immigrant, suburbs "where a large population of youngsters of Muslim faith would be an ideal target for propaganda".
The comments in this one do not add to the matter in hand; some people just don’t get it, and never will get it in this life. John 20.27 and Luke 15.7.
Posted on 2:38 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 22 July 2007
More From Erdogan's past

Dr. Andrew Bostom reminds us of the following from his upcoming book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism:

In 1974, Tayyip Recep Erdogan, then serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of the Islamist National Salvation Party (founded by Erbakan), wrote, directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play entitled Maskomya. Rifat Bali, a Turkish historian, observes that Erdogan’s play, Maskomya,


…or in its correct form Mas-kom-Ya, was a theatrical play that was staged everywhere in the 1970s, as part of the “cultural” activities of MSP [National Salvation Party] Youth Brances. The unabbreviated version of Mas-kom-Ya is Mason-Kommunist-Yahudi [Mason-Communist-Jew]. It is known that the play was built on the “evil” nature of these three concepts, and the hatred towards them.

Posted on 5:02 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Turkish Election Report
By Linda Michaud-Emin and Heymi Bahar
Having won Turkey’s July 22 parliamentary elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is set once again to form a single-party government. This triumph is especially impressive as it is the first time in a half-century that a government party wins reelection. Ironically, this means that while the July 22 elections have taken place amidst so much controversy they are in fact producing the most stable government in many years.  
In recent years, the Turkish government has been plagued by an on-going battle between Deniz Baykal’s opposition socialist Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the AKP on the issue of secularism. When it was time for parliament to choose a president on April 27, 2007, the AKP selected its number-two leader, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, for the post. In turn, the CHP boycotted the balloting, thus blocking it. As a result, parliamentary elections were moved up to an earlier date. With street demonstrations protesting AKP’s Islam-oriented program, it seemed as if the opposition might seriously challenge the government. Instead, the government did very well.
Still, the probable continuation of an AKP single-party government does not mean there will be no change. The emergence in third place of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as well as an increase in independent members could bring some important changes.
First, the MHP as a second opposition party—after the CHP--with an intensely nationalist ideology could harass the AKP considerably, as well as polarizing the system to a far greater extent. The MHP is particularly hostile to demands for more rights by the Kurdish minority. At the same time, though, Kurds may be more significant because the Kurdish forces ran as independents—their main party has been banned—and could sometimes hold the balance of power.  
Nevertheless, in September or October the AKP will now probably propose and elect a presidential candidate from its own party which is what led to this whole mess in the first place. It may, however, seek someone less controversial than Gul and try to reach a consensus with the CHP.
The presidency in Turkey up to now has always been a bulwark of the secular system. The president appoints the prime minister, the military’s chief of staff, university rectors, diplomats, and members of the country’s highest court. An AKP presidency coupled with an AKP government can dramatically change the nature of both Turkish politics and society.
Secularists fear that with AKP controlling executive, legislative, and—by appointing judges--judicial branches of government it would be a point of no return for the country. In 2004, for example, the AKP passed a law lowering the compulsory retirement age as a way of forcing out thousands of civil servants. Many of them were replaced by graduates of the imam hatips, Islamic schools, who might have been less qualified but who were very loyal to the AKP and its policies.
A confident, more assertive AKP has serious ramifications for Turkish foreign policy in terms of its positions on U.S. interests, the West in general, radical Islamist forces, and Israel. Examples include the recent natural gas agreement between Turkey and Iran as well as Turkey’s differences with the United States over Iraq.
While it is possible to exaggerate marginal phenomena or short-term public opinion trends, anti-American and anti-Jewish feelings have been rising in the country since 2002, the year the AKP came to office. The question is to what extent changes in the society are boosting the AKP and a more Islamic approach to issues or whether it is the AKP government that is altering these attitudes.
Linda Michaud-Emin is a research fellow at the Global Research in
International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC). Heymi Bahar is a research associate at the GLORIA Center.
Posted on 2:59 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Seventeen laws of motion?

In last week’s Sunday Times, John Carey reviewed Gino Segrè’s Faust in Copenhagen: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics and the Birth of the Nuclear Age. Carey argues that “Segrè’s attempt to link the lives and work of his physicists demonstrates, very satisfactorily, that it is a dead duck.” The emphasis is mine: 

The trouble is that the two parts have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. Segrè seems to think that because the lives of artists and writers shed light on their work, the same must be true of theoretical physicists. He is evidently encouraged in this notion by the belief that the artistic and scientific developments of the 1920s were somehow linked. James Joyce’s Ulysses and de Chirico’s paintings were, he says, marked by the same “wild experimenting” that led to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. This kind of claim is often wafted about in popular cultural histories, but it is nonsense, and Segrè’s failed attempt to link the lives and work of his physicists demonstrates, very satisfactorily, that it is a dead duck.

Joyce’s Ulysses, to take Segrè’s own example, is drenched in Joyce. His upbringing, family, Irishness and individuality are stamped on every page. It is impossible to think of it being written by anybody else. With Segrè’s scientists, things are quite different. Pauli, for instance, discovered, by sheer mathematical genius, before any experiment had detected them, that neutrinos exist. Besides being a mathematician, Pauli was a Catholic and a Jew, his mother committed suicide, he smoked and drank too much, and he had a brief, unhappy marriage to a dancer. But none of this had any effect on neutrinos. They carried on exactly as before, unmarked by Pauli’s personal problems. If he had not discovered them, someone else would have done, and if nobody had, they would nevertheless exist. That is where art and science differ. For understanding their work, Joyce’s and de Chirico’s lives matter. Pauli’s is irrelevant.

I don’t know enough about art or science to judge this last point, which is an interesting one. However, I have a few random thoughts.

First, although I can see that writers, at least writers of fiction, generally bring their life’s experience into even the least autobiographical of works, there are exceptions. What about Shakespeare, about whom we know little? And if Shakespeare had to please his audiences, then painters and sculptors had to please their patrons. Music, I suspect, can be even further removed from the personality of the composer. Mozart, it is said, was coarse and scatological, but there is none of it in his music.

Secondly, while I generally accept that the scientist appears to be independent of the science – neutrinos are the same whether they are discovered or not, and no matter who discovers them – I wonder if this is inevitably the case. What about scientific laws? If Newton hadn’t discovered his three laws of motion, would somebody else have disovered exactly those three? Suppose there are not three, but seventeen laws of motion, and fourteen, to date, remain undiscovered. Are laws – of motion or anything else – just there, waiting to be discovered, in the way that neutrinos are?

Laws, whether scientific or Biblical, seem to come in neat and memorable numbers, which suggests that human beings wish to fit the subject into manageable categories. Pseudo-sciences, such as “Marketing” and “Management”, abound with neat numbers of things: Porter’s Five Forces, Seven Habits of Effective Managers, and so on. Clearly the theorists thought five and seven – unlike seventeen and nineteen – were memorable numbers, and filled the gaps accordingly. But in principle, scientists should be open to the possibility that there are seventeen, or nineteen, or ninety-seven laws of something.

I am sure that somebody will have written about this matter in a way that makes sense. If so, I would like to know what they have to say. 

Posted on 11:53 AM by Mary Jackson


"The trillion plus dollars we have spent on foreign aid since the 70s was money flushed down the toilet."-- from a reader

Almost entirely -- but not entirely. A few countries, a very few, are solidly in the Western, even American camp and while most such countries do not need any aid, there are what the investment advisers call special situations. Israel is an obvious case: a victim of a Lesser Jihad, and a country that has for decades essentially drawn the enemy fire, used up its resources, until now -- for now the Arabs and Muslims feel themselves powerful enough, now that they possess the ten trillion dollars from OPEC, and the millions of Muslims now permitted to settle in Western Europe, and with the West's technology that helps make the dissemination of the message of Islam easier. Other such states to whom such aid can be justified would include Ethiopia, with the Ethiopian army of help in East Africa (though HR 56 should be signed and the Addis Ababa regime strongly chidden), and Bulgaria, which by its history under the Ottomans is likely to understand the situation better. And the same goes for Serbia, which has been the recipient not of aid but of misunderstanding and undeserved animus.

But generally, you are right. Time to stop all the spreading of American money around. Our own country is a mess, and we need to rebuild it, to "reconstruct" it. And foreign aid, when received by members of what used to be called the "underdeveloped world" or the "Third World," is usually wasted, often is the disease for which it is supposed to be the cure. It encourages Bad Government by those who already govern badly. It provides the wherewithal for corrupt rulers, and corrupts others not yet corrupt. It discourages a reasonable internal market.

This has all been written about, by the late Peter Bauer, a development economist, and by William Easterly, who started life as an innocent participant in the foreign-aid racket, but was keen enough, and honest enough, to see through the holier-than-thou rhetoric to the racketeering beneath. Easterly has proved to be unanswerable; Amartya Sen tried, most unconvincingly, in a review, but did not succeed.

Posted on 11:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Esposito's Errata Sheet

For John Esposito's article in today's Washington Post,

here is the Errata Sheet:

For "Islam was seen as a continuation of the Abrahamic faith tradition, not a totally new religion."


"Early Islam naturally appropriated and distorted elements of Judaism and Christianity (readers of the Bandar Beacon will want to consult the several anthologies edited by Ibn Warraq on the early Qur'an, including "The Origins of the Koran" and "What the Koran Really Says," as well as his "The Quest for the Historical Muhammad") which was mixed into the substratum of Arab pagan lore -- the djinn, for example, is still devoutly believed in.

This was because relatively small groups of Arabs, already pre-existing in separate colonies among the much larger, settled, richer, advanced non-Arabs, chiefly Christians and Jews, found useful the construction, no doubt by divers hands (but perhaps special attention should be given to the early Umayyad Caliph, Abd el-Malik b. Marwan, in Damascus), of a belief-system that could be presented to the conquered Christians and Jews not as a brand-new and alien form of belief, but rather as "a continuation of the Abrahamic faith tradition, not a totally new religion."

The new, revised, much improved Esposito text would then continue as follows:

"The investigation of early Islam is one of the most fascinating and exciting areas of scholarly endeavor in Islamic studies. It is also an area of study conducted entirely by Western scholars of Islam -- les vrais -- and not one in which any Muslims have wished to participate, for the spirit of free inquiry is entirely lacking in Islam.

That is why, from the days of Ignaz Goldziher, who first studied the Hadith in a skeptical manner (and Goldziher was deeply sympathetic to much of Islam), through the great scholars of Islam -- through C. Snouck Hurgronje, and Joseph Schacht, right up to the present, with the work of John Wansbrough, and then Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, and so many others, Andrew Rippin and Louis de Premare and Gerd Puin, who use all kinds of evidence, and whose names can be found in the anthologies edited by Ibn Warraq and which I, John Esposito, would like to recommend so very highly. And I would of course like to recommend too that all those who study Islam make themselves familiar with the work of Christoph Luxenberg on the "Syro-Aramaic" (i.e., the Aramaic of Edessa) substratum or underlay for the early Qur'an, which helps us explain the approximately 20% of the text that makes little or no sense, even to readers of classical Arabic.

I'm sorry that I myself, lean mean jogging John Esposito, have had no time to read any of these people, and until now have had not the slightest inclination to recommend them, or make any of these scholars known to my colleagues, to my students, or to those I advise in the corridors of power (and did I tell you that during the Clinton Administration I was very much on call, my expertise constantly sought?).

And the reason, you see, is simply time. I do have my jogging. I do have my development work -- my fund-raising, that takes up so much of my time. For I have a whole crew here at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, and they need to be paid. There is loyal John Voll, and loyal Yvonne Haddad. There are others, the kind of people who will not let our donors down. There are lectures to be given, and possibly a King Abdul Aziz Prize to fatten my future. There is my own salary, my own take -- and I haven't done at all badly, let me tell you. But that's why I haven't been able to get to any of the books I've mentioned, but have been churning out books with such titles as "Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?" (can you guess from the title what the book might conclude?), and coffee-table stuff, with lots of pictures of tulips and turbans, and the interior of the Blue Mosque looking, as always, positively ravishing. A word of advice for "Islamic scholars" who wish to be as successful as I: make sure you have those books on Islam, even those supposedly scholarly ones, full of pretty pictures -- full of that local-color that fills the reader's mind with thoughts of exotica, and along with the Iznik tiles and that perennial favorite, those painted groups of turbanned Turks, the odd camel will do, but please, listen to me, do go very heavy on what, after all, is the only art form that the Muslim world can offer save for calligraphy, that isn't a patch on what the Chinese and others in the Far East can supply. So put in as many of the mediagenic mosques as you can find -- you can start by consulting, but only on aesthetic matters, Oleg Grabar (but watch out, he's too much of a real scholar to fully trust - just borrow his pictures). Make sure you get in some nice Persian examples, and the Taj Mahal, and the Dome of the Rock, and the Umayyad Mosque, and a few examples from fabulous Bokhara, and the less about Islam, real Islam, that is the texts of Islam, that you put in -- and please, no hint of Antoine Fattal, not a mention of Bat Ye'or, just leave any serious discussion of the meaning of the word "dhimmi" out of your work for as long as you possibly can -- just look at how I have managed to avoid that subject -- but if you must, do it with the old "Umarite Covenant" business. That always gets them. Mention as few of the hundreds of great Western scholars of Islam, in the period 1870-1970, as possible. If they never learn even the names of Henri Lammens, St. Clair Tisdall, Georges Vajda, Charles-Emmanuel Bousquet, Edmond Fagnan, Samuel Zwemer, and others, so much the better. And if any smart young student finds out about them on his own, and dares to mention them, simply invoke the magical phrases "Orientalism" and "Edward Said" and put on a big show of indignation about these "so-called Orientalists," and that will shut him up, and satisfy many of the lemmings in your class. It's always worked for me."

Oh dear. I didn't mean to publish right here those last few paragraphs. They are part of the "Teacher's Guide" that I , lean mean highly-successful-in-every-respect John Esposito, quietly supply to those who use whose names are on the list compiled by my colleagues at the annual meetings of MESA Nostra, the Trusted Ones, the ones whom we can always count on not only to assign my books in their college courses, but to be careful about what the students find out, and careful about what they are never supposed to find out. My god, I hope no one notices this. Let's hope.

Posted on 11:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Muslim Doctors

"One comment on those jihad "doctors".. the way they botched those terror attempts makes me wonder if they ever were very good doctors to begin with..."-- from a reader

Isn't there another, much more obvious thought that the case of the Jihad Doctors might prompt? How carefully, with what tender attention, might such "doctors" treat their non-Muslim patients? I'm not talking about potential serial killers, injecting something lethal into the veins of trusting young Vijay Kumar, aged 11, who is brought in by his parents, or Mrs. Goldstein who closed her fabric store after her husband died, or retired Wing Commander Archibald Coakley, M.B.E., whose grandson brought him in, because each represents a different example of the enemy, the Infidel enemy that still inhabits England and seems to think the land is not for turning.

No, there are other ways. Deliberate inattention, offering a wrong diagnosis, treating with ineffective drugs, overlooking the latest literature, forgetting ways to ease their pain, treating them roughly as they undergo certain procedures, making them anxious and enjoying their anxiety and that of their families.

Farfetched? Why? If you take to heart what others among you have obviously taken to heart, and if this is indeed the permanent enemy, and if you are told you must not only never take them as friends, but regard them as Unbelievers who are obstinate obstacles to the triumph of Islam, large boulders blocking the path you have all your life been told to take, fi sabih Allah, wouldn't the stranger reaction be for those of us on the outside to dismiss such fears? Would it really make sense to call those who harbor them, or who point out why they are not necessarily far-fetched, objectionable, and not investigate the real possibility not only of such behavior -- but of the potential liability of doctors' groups and hospitals if they do not investigate or worry sufficiently about such matters?

Posted on 10:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Erdoğan On The Record

ME Quarterly has assembled some older quotes by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that might be useful to keep in mind while heading into the elections:

Early in his career while mayor of Istanbul (1994-98), Erdoğan was explicit in support of an Islamist agenda. As he considers a presidential run, a juxtaposition of statements made early in his career with his actions as premier suggest that while his style may have changed, his agenda has not.

Separation of Mosque and State

The Turkish Republic is founded on the notion of the separation of mosque and state.

  • "We will turn all our schools into İmam Hatips [religious schools]"—Cumhuriyet, Sept. 9, 1994
  • "Thank God Almighty, I am a servant of the Shari‘a."— Milliyet, Nov. 21, 1994
  • "I am the imam of Istanbul."—Hürriyet, Jan. 8, 1995
  • "The police operations against the turban are comical."—Sabah, May 5, 1995
  • "I support the proposal to inaugurate the parliament by reciting the Qu'ran."—Milliyet, Jan. 8, 1996

Belittling of Atatürk

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the father of modern Turkey and the symbol of Turkish secularism.

  • "One ought not to stand [in respect, stiff] like a straw on Atatürk's commemoration events."—Hürriyet, May 12, 1994
  • "There was much ado about nothing on November 10 [the commemoration of Atatürk's death]—Hürriyet, Nov. 14, 1994

Disapproval of Western Culture

Turkish governments traditionally pride themselves on their embrace of and participation in European culture.

  • "I am against the [Western] New Year's celebrations."—Sabah, Dec. 19, 1994
  • "Alcohol should be banned."—Hürriyet, May 1, 1996
  • "Swimsuit commercials are lustful exploitations."— Hürriyet, Mar. 6, 1996
Posted on 10:47 AM by Rebecca Bynum

A Human Achievement Without Equal

The building, in the views that I have seen, looks like something in a horror movie.

Apparently the local Arabs don't think so. They are very proud:

"Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, said it will be an architectural and engineering masterpiece of concrete, steel and glass. Dubai has 'resisted the usual and has inspired to build a global icon,' he said.

'It's a human achievement without equal.'"

If building a tall building is in truth "a human achievement without equal" -- forget all paintings, sculpture, poems, prose, forget everything in the silly world that you thought constituted "human achievement" and look on this vertical vertiginous skyey ozymandias-monument to nothing but money, money ultimately derived from an accident of geology (not Dubai's own accident, but the accidents of its neighbors and what they happen to lie on top of) then this is indeed a "human achievement."

And if we were to concede that -- of course no intelligent  person would -- then we would have to ask who are the "humans" responsible for this "human" achievement. The architects are not from Dubai. The contractors are not from Dubai. The semi-slave workers are not from Dubai. There is nothing from Dubai, save for money, and where it happens to be built, about it.

Meanwhile, who in his right mind would, knowing what a target such a building will be  to Muslim terrorists. For it is undoubtedly the perfect symbol of the "corrupt" and "decadent" world that too many Muslims have embraced, a symbol of the corruption of the Al-Saud, and the Al-Thani, and the Al-This and the Al-That and, of course, of the "Persians," those "Rafidite dogs" (the phrase that  not only Al-Zarqawi was fond of) who have poured hundreds of billions into Dubai, practically turning it, in the eyes of many local Arabs (on what they determinedly call the "Arabian Gulf"), into a Persian colony.

And if the Americans come to their senses and leave Iraq, and the Sunni-Shi'a rift becomes a split, and then a war up and down the natural fault lines within Iraq, and then co-religionists on either side send money, send "volunteers," send weapons, and if the Islamic Republic of Iran persists in laying claim to Bahrain, and if the Shi'a in the Eastern Province (al-Hasa) of Saudi Arabia become even more restive, and have to be put down, and if thee are problems among Shi'a and Sunnis in Yemen, and Pakistan, and Lebanon, and nearby Kuwait, why then...well, don't buy an apartment just yet in Dubai, don't put too many eggs in any Dubai nest just yet. Wait ten years, then we'll see.  

Posted on 10:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

In this year went the King Henry over sea at the Lammas;
and the next day, as he lay asleep on ship, the day darkened over all lands, and the sun was all as it were a three night old moon, and the stars about him at midday. Men were very much astonished and terrified, and said that a great event should come hereafter. So it did; for that same year was the king dead, the next day after St. Andrew's mass-day, in Normandy. Then was there soon tribulation in the land; for every man that might, soon robbed another.
Within 18 months there was civil war for the throne between his nephew Stephen and his daughter Matilda or Maud.
After this Stephen and Matilda (or Maud) spent the reign escaping from each other over the snow in nightgowns while “God and His Angel’s slept”.
Posted on 10:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Just A Country Muslim, Y'all

Well shut my mouth if this ain't the most blatant piece of Muslim propaganda I've read today. Mohja Kahf writes from Fayetteville, Arkansas in the Washington Post.

...Christianity has inspired Americans to the politics of abolition and civil rights, as well as to heinous acts. Christian values have motivated the Ku Klux Klan to burn houses, and Jimmy Carter to build them. You can't say that when Christianity informs politics, only bad things happen.

This may strike you as odd coming from a Muslim. But, my dears, it's true: People of faith do not signify the apocalypse for democracy. And (here comes the Muslim agenda) that goes for believing Muslims as much as for other religious folk. Muslims, in a very specific way, are not strangers in your midst. We are kin. Not just kin in the lovely way that all humans are. We carry pieces of your family story.

I got a phone call one evening from a friend who is a lovable gossip in my home town. "Have you read today's paper?" she wanted to know. A letter-writing curmudgeon had mouthed off about how U.S. Muslims ought to be expelled, as worthless, dangerous and un-American. "What are we going to do?" she said. We'd worked together on non-pork lunch options for our kids in school -- we share that dietary law, as she's Jewish.

Anyhow. I invited the letter-writer to coffee. Walter declined, but we started writing to each other, his letters bearing a Purple Heart address label; he had been wounded in World War II. Walter was the crotchety, racist American great-uncle I never had. I sent him family photos, as you do to even an ornery relative...

A year later, I get a knock at my door. It's Walter. "La ilaha illa allah!" he says, before "hello." "You and I worship the same God. I know that now." He limps into my living room, and we finally sit down to coffee...

I grew up Islamist. That's right, not only conservative Muslim, but full-blown, caliphate-loving Islamist, among folk who take core Islamic values and put them to work in education and politics, much like evangelical Christians. One of the things about the United States that delighted my parents, and many Islamist immigrants, is that here, through patient daily jihad, they could actually teach their children Islam -- as opposed to motley customs that pass for Islam in the Old Countries.

Look, Islam never really "took" in the Arab world. The egalitarianism that the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) preached, for example, never much budged Arab tribalism. The Koran's sexual ethic, enjoining chaste behavior and personal responsibility toward God on men and women both, not tribal ownership of women's sexuality, never uprooted the sexual double standard or the pagan honor code. Honor killing, as a recent fatwa by al-Azhar University's mufti reminds believers, is a pagan rite violating Islamic principles. Here in the United States, religious Muslims can practice Islam without those entrenched codes.

They are also critical of casual sex and immodesty. Such conservative Muslim criticism of mainstream American culture isn't new in American discourse. "Unlike Muslims, we Americans believe in women's equality," someone will object. Really, that's an essential American trait? Tell that to citizens who struggle for gender justice. Muslims, pious ones even, will tell you that they believe in it, too, and are no more sexist than you. Your sexism just takes forms so familiar that they're invisible; holding doors open for women doesn't seem nearly as sexist as walking protectively ahead of them...

Pious Christian and Jewish values are not inherently in conflict with American civic life, as secular folk tend to forget. Devout immigrant Muslims don't belong? That ship has sailed. Myles Muhammad Standish and Harriet Halima Tubman are here. Not as strangers out of place, either. This is a letter to your beautiful heart: We are your blood.

Posted on 9:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Illegal immigrants from Malta checked for terrorism links
Following revelations last week in this newspaper that the Glasgow airport bomber had frequent communications with Malta, foreign security sources said that anti-terrorist security forces have frequently investigated some asylum seekers who came to Malta by boat and subsequently found their way to the continent.
Kafeel Ahmed, who suffered 90 per cent burns after driving a blazing Jeep Cherokee into Glasgow airport on 30 June, also linked to the two unexploded car bombs in central London the previous day, was in frequent contact with Malta in the months leading up to the series of foiled terrorist attacks according to Indian police.
Indian investigators probing the activities of two Indian brothers, Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed, allegedly at the centre of the recent terrorism plots, say they have found a SIM card used by Kafeel Ahmed when he was last in India between December 2005 and May 2007.
Using mobile phone forensic techniques, Indian police say they have analysed a SIM card and mobile phone line used by Kafeel Ahmed that was registered in his father's name.
The analyses, according to Bangalore police investigators, have revealed what they describe as "frequent communications" with Malta, the UK, Finland, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Foreign security sources said that the links, which lead back to Malta, are being actively studied for possible links to al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.
Security-minded people here in Malta also claim that some who come destitute and penniless seem to have sent ahead money through the banks, as they are known to have purchased property, but this could just mean the existence of family or other networks rather than necessarily the existence of a network with links to terror.
The Lockerbie bombers probably have passed through Malta on their way to the Pan Am flight to the US in 1988. Maltese friends of my family, of my generation and older have never been happy at the strengthening of Maltese ties with nearby Libya, particularly as this happened at the same time that ties with the UK were loosened. While Muslims do not seem to lament the loss of Malta with quite the desire for reclamation that they do Al Andalus it should not be forgotten that from the 8th to the 11th century Malta was under Islamic domination, or the role the Island played in the struggle on the 16th century against the Turks. 
Posted on 10:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Islam or Not Islam?

The Washington Post carries an interesting article by a former jihadist, Mansour al-Nogaidan, who describes finding his own private Islam in the midst of persecution and death threats. The religion he finds is as old as the human race - God is Light - it is not Islamic per se.

...In 1999, when I was working as an imam at a Riyadh mosque, I happened upon two books that had a profound influence on me. One, written by a Palestinian scholar, was about the struggle between those who deal pragmatically with the Koran and those who take it and the hadith literally. The other was a book by a Moroccan philosopher about the formation of the Arab Muslim way of thinking.

The books inspired me to write an article for a Saudi newspaper arguing that Muslims have the right to question and criticize our religious leaders and not to take everything they tell us for granted. We owe it to ourselves, I wrote, to think pragmatically if our religion is to survive and thrive.

That article landed me in the center of a storm. Some men in my mosque refused to greet me. Others would no longer pray behind me. Under this pressure, I left the mosque.

I moved to the southern city of Abha, where I took a job as a writer and editor with a newly established newspaper. I went back to leading prayers at the paper's small mosque and to writing about my evolving philosophy. After I wrote articles stressing our right as Muslims to question our Saudi clerics and their interpretations and to come up with our own, officials from the kingdom's powerful religious establishment complained, and I was banned from writing.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave new life to what I had been saying. I went back to criticizing the rote manner in which we Muslims are fed our religion. I criticized al-Qaeda's school of thought, which considers everyone who isn't a Salafi Muslim the enemy. I pointed to examples from Islamic history that stressed the need to get along with other religions. I tried to give a new interpretation to the verses that call for enmity between Muslims and Christians and Jews. I wrote that they do not apply to us today and that Islam calls for friendship among all faiths.

I lost a lot of friends after that. My old companions from the jihad felt obliged to declare themselves either with me or against me. Some preferred to cut their links to me silently, but others fought me publicly, issuing statements filled with curses and lies. Once again, the paper came under great pressure to ban my writing. And I became a favorite target on the Internet, where my writings were lambasted and labeled blasphemous.

Eventually I was fired. But by then, I had started to develop a different relationship with God. I felt that He was moving me toward another kind of belief, where all that matters is that we pray to God from the heart. I continued to pray, but I started to avoid the verses that contain violence or enmity and only used the ones that speak of God's mercy and grace and greatness. I remembered an incident in the Koran when the prophet told a Bedouin who did not know how to pray to let go of the verses and get closer to God by repeating, "God is good, God is great." Don't sweat the details, the prophet said.

I felt at peace, and no longer doubted His existence.

In December 2002, in a Web site interview, I criticized al-Qaeda and declared that some of the Friday sermons were loathsome because of their attacks against non-Muslims. Within days, a fatwa was posted online, calling me an infidel and saying that I should be killed. Once again, I felt despair at the ways of the Muslim world. Two years later, I told al-Arabiya television that I thought God loves all faithful people of different religions. That earned me a fatwa from the mufti of Saudi Arabia declaring my infidelity.

But one evening not long after that, I heard a radio broadcast of the verse of light. Even though I had memorized the Koran at 15, I felt as though I was hearing this verse for the first time. God is light, it says, the universe is illuminated by His light. I felt the verse was speaking directly to me, sending me a message. This God of light, I thought, how could He be against any human? The God of light would not be happy to see people suffer, even if they had sinned and made mistakes along the way.

I had found my Islam.

Posted on 9:26 AM by Rebecca Bynum

First dumb Britain, now dumb America

I have posted frequently (for example here, here, here, here and here) about the dumbing down of Britain's education system. Now it seems that it's happening in America too. Marc Epstein in City Journal:

Before Mayor Bloomberg starts shelling out money to high school juniors for passing their New York State Regents exams, he would do well to bring as much scrutiny to the content of these tests as he does to the quantity of trans fats in restaurant food. People who took their Regents exams 30 years ago assume that the current version of the tests is essentially the same. They would be stunned to learn how dumbed-down the tests have become. You might say that the American history Regents gives new meaning to the term “E-Z Pass.”


the 15 document-related questions are ludicrously easy. The documents include some written passages, but are mostly political cartoons and photographs. Several concern the women’s suffrage movement, such as a photograph of a suffragists’ parade showing women carrying various signs containing the word “suffrage.” The exam question asks, “What was a goal of the women shown in these photographs?” Another photo shows a White House picketer with a banner reading, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” The exam asks the student to state “one method being used by women to achieve their goal.”


The extraordinary adjustment built into the chart makes it possible to get only 20 of the 50 multiple-choice questions right and pass the Regents. It’s also possible to complete only one of the two essays and pass. The examiners have created a fail-proof test that measures nothing beyond basic reading and writing competence.


So before we allow Bloomberg and Richard Mills, the state’s commissioner of education, to pop the champagne corks over improved test results and higher standards, let’s examine the content of the product. Politicians and the public are forever demanding truth in packaging when it comes to food and other consumer products; why should they be deceived about the content of their children’s educations?

Before long, life will imitate art.

Craig Brown has written a sequel to Sellar and Yeatman's classic, which - pace, Hugh - cannot be mentioned often enough. Brown's sequel is called "1966 And All That". It is in the spirit of the original, although not as good. Like the original, it contains those spoof test papers - "Why are you so numb and vague about Arbella Stuart?", "What price glory?", "Who was in whose what, and how many miles awhat?". Many of these are updated for the new style dumbed down GCSE paper, in which candidates are spared the pain of facts or analysis and asked to empathise:

Imagine you are Adolph Hitler. It is the morning of 30 April 1945. How are you feeling? Unburden yourself in no more than 50 words. Ask yourself: where did it all go wrong? On balance, might you have better career prospects if you had stuck to being a painter?

Watch this space.

Posted on 8:55 AM by Mary Jackson

Delusions of honesty

Excellent article by Theodore Dalrymple on Tony Blair. This should be read in full. Here he is on Blair's shameless courting of the Muslim vote:

Blair found the Muslim threat far easier to tackle abroad than at home, perhaps because it required less courage. Intentionally or not, he pandered to domestic Muslim sentiment. During the general election, in which the leader and deputy leader of the opposition were Jewish, he allowed Labour to portray them as pigs on election campaign posters. The Jewish vote in Britain is small, and scattered throughout the country; the Muslim vote is large, and concentrated in constituencies upon which the whole election might turn. It is not that Blair is anti-Semitic: no one would accuse him of that. It is simply that, if mildly anti-Semitic connotations served his purposes, he would use them, doubtless persuaded that it was for the higher good of mankind.

Further, Blair’s wife, Cherie, is a lawyer who now practices little, but who by convenient coincidence—immediately before a general election, and at a time of Muslim disaffection with Labour over the Iraq War—appeared before the highest court in the land, defending a 15-year-old girl who claimed the right to wear full Muslim dress in school. It turned out that an extreme British Islamic group backed the case legally and financially.

Blair also presided over the extension of mail voting in Muslim areas, despite having been warned about the likely consequence: that frequently, the male heads of households would vote for all registered voters under their roofs. Indeed, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that Blair supported voting by mail because of this consequence, which would tip the vote toward the many Labour candidates who were Muslim men themselves. Pro-Labour fraud became so widespread that the judge leading a judicial inquiry into an election in Birmingham concluded that it would have disgraced a banana republic. The prime minister also proved exceptionally feeble during the Danish cartoon crisis, and repeatedly said things about Islam—that it is a religion of peace, for one—that he must have known to be untrue.

Blair, then, is no hero. Many in Britain believe that he has been the worst prime minister in recent British history, morally and possibly financially corrupt, shallow and egotistical, a man who combined the qualities of Elmer Gantry with those of Juan Domingo Perón. America should think twice about taking him to its heart now that he has stepped down.

Posted on 8:47 AM by Mary Jackson

When Squirrels Come, They Come Not Single Spies, But In Battalions

From the Sciurine Desk at a National News Network:  

"You can tell that Iran is feeling a little beleaguered these days when there are reports that Tehran may be under attack from rodents!

That is what the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported this week, that police had, ahem, "arrested" 14 squirrels on charges of espionage.

The rodents were found near the Iranian border, allegedly equipped with eavesdropping devices, according to IRNA.

When asked to confirm the story, Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, the national police chief, said, "I have heard about it, but I do not have precise information." He declined to give any more details.

IRNA said that the squirrels were discovered by intelligence services – but were captured by police officers several weeks ago.

'Are you serious?'
The reaction to the report on Tehran’s streets was varied – from disbelief to assigning guilt for the alleged infraction.

"No, I had not heard about this, but it does not surprise me, foreign countries are always meddling in Iran," said Hassan Mohmmadi, a fast-food vendor.

Mohammadi asked me if I knew where the squirrels were from, and I told him that I didn’t know. Then he came to his own conclusions. "I bet they were British squirrels, they are the most cunning," he replied.

Meantime, an independent journalist, Sepher Sopli, was not surprised by the idea that another country would spy on Iran, so much as he was dumbfounded by their methods.

"I read this story in the papers and though it was very bizarre; what struck me as odd was that in this age of modern technology, people were relying on squirrels to do their spying," Sopli said.

But, the report was still strange enough to surprise. "That's very funny, but you’re not serious are you?" said Soraya Jafari, a student in Tehran." 

Posted on 8:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Citizens Groups Work Locally To Control Illegal Immigration

From The Washington Times:

Recent lobbying by grass-roots organizations to force tougher enforcement of immigration laws in Prince William and Loudoun counties is inspiring similar groups to form in other Virginia localities and even across the state line in Maryland.

Residents concerned about the negative effects of illegal aliens recently formed Help Save Virginia Beach, the fourth chapter of the umbrella group Help Save Virginia...

"The group played a very large role in the illegal immigration crackdown that the board is pursuing," said Mr. Stewart, at-large Republican. "They played a very helpful role in providing some of the research for the measures that the board took and they were also effective at generating public interest and turnout."

The resolution requires police officers to ask about immigration status in all arrests if there is probable cause to believe that a suspect has violated federal immigration law. The resolution also requires county staff to verify a person's legal status before providing certain public services...

Montgomery County's population increased from 873,341 in 2000 to 932,131 in 2006, U.S. Census Bureau figures show. The Hispanic population increased from about 11.5 percent to 13.6 percent in the same period.

Prince William County's population increased from 281,813 in 2000 to 357,503 in 2006, according to census figures. The Hispanic population nearly doubled during that period, from about 9.7 percent to 18 percent.

In Loudoun County, the population increased from 169,599 in 2000 to 268,817 in 2006. The Hispanic population increased from about 5.9 percent in 2000 to 9.3 percent in 2006, according to census data.

Help Save Herndon successfully lobbied for town police to become the first locality in the region to receive immigration-enforcement training under an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security. Officers completed training last month.

Local action is motivated in part by frustration with federal inaction on immigration reform and by the desire to make a difference in the local community, Mr. Stokes said.

"If you're taking a bath and the tub starts to overflow, what are you going to do first: Turn off the water or grab a mop?" he asked. "Local communities — we're the mop. If local communities cannot affect change at the border, which we cannot, most definitely we can start dealing with the consequences."

Posted on 8:22 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Sunni Shi'a Clash in Bahrain

As Hugh Fitzgerald has been saying for years, the ruling Sunnis are oppressing the Shi'a in Bahrain. From The Telegraph with thanks to Andrew Bostom:

...Known in the West as a booming business centre, Bahrain is increasingly being promoted as an upmarket tourist destination, with luxury villas built on land reclaimed from the warm blue sea. Yet the country's authorities, bolstered by an almost entirely Sunni muslim police force and army, are being forced to step up security in preparation for a summer of unrest by the country's Shia majority.

As riot police clashed with Malkiya's protesters, Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist, said: "They want you to see Formula One and the Financial Harbour. But that's not the real Bahrain. What you see here? This is the real Bahrain."

Bahrain, an island linked to Saudi Arabia by a causeway, is the strategically sensitive home to the American Fifth Fleet. More than half its 750,000 population are Shia - one of only three such countries in the region, along with Iran and Iraq. But its ruling elite are Sunni, and for decades they have suspected that Iran, from just across the Gulf, is fomenting dissent among Bahrain's Shia...

For the ruling family, land has become the new oil. Land reclaimed from the shallow sea can be sold to the highest bidder to build another business complex or tourist resort, and 97 per cent of the country's coastline is now in private hands.

So the fishermen of Malkiya were infuriated when a cousin of the king, a powerful member of the royal family, seized coastline to which the villagers had always had access, potentially threatening their livelihood. When villagers protested - peacefully, they insist - they were met by riot police deploying tear gas, truncheons and rubber bullets.

Even worse, say the villagers, many of the police are foreign Sunni, some of the thousands being lured in to shore up the security forces and help offset the population imbalance.

One young Shia protester, surrounded by his mostly unemployed friends said: "They bring people from the outside and give them jobs. Why do they have priority over us? It's not right."

For years, the authorities have recruited Sunni from Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Pakistan to police Bahrain. Opposition activists point to the exclusion of Shia from the defence force and the police as evidence of systematic discrimination...

Ghanim al Buainanin, the first vice-speaker of Bahrain's parliament and leader of a Sunni Islamist bloc, denied any discrimination and said there were other reasons for the unrest. He pointed the finger at Iran, whose coast lies less than 100 miles away and whose intelligence services have long been suspected of exploiting Shia grievances to foment trouble for the West....

Posted on 7:57 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Misplaced Responsibility

WaPo: The American ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan C. Crocker, has asked the Bush administration to take the unusual step of granting immigrant visas to all Iraqis employed by the U.S. government in Iraq because of growing concern that they will quit and flee the country if they cannot be assured eventual safe passage to the United States.

Crocker's request comes as the administration is struggling to respond to the flood of Iraqis who have sought refuge in neighboring countries since sectarian fighting escalated early last year. The United States has admitted 133 Iraqi refugees since October, despite predicting that it would process 7,000 by the end of September...

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says that about 2 million Iraqis have been displaced inside the country so far, and that an estimated 2.2 million others have fled to Syria, Jordan and other neighbors, where they threaten to overwhelm schools and housing, destabilize host governments and provide a recruiting ground for radical unrest. Each month, an additional 60,000 Iraqis flee their homes, the U.N. agency said.

Overall estimates of the number of Iraqis who may be targeted as collaborators because of their work for U.S., coalition or foreign reconstruction groups are as high as 110,000. The U.N. refugee agency has estimated that 20,000 Iraqi refugees need permanent resettlement...

Posted on 7:45 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Not the same

Classic quote from Ben MacIntyre:

How could one begin to understand the blowing up of a Tube train without some knowledge of the difference between Christianity and Islam?

Those behind the latest production of Shaw's Saint Joan clearly don't understand the difference. Lloyd Evans in The Spectator:

Both the programme notes, and the music in places, hint that Joan should be understood as a female suicide bomber. What an artless and porridge-brained equation that is. Suicide bombers sneakily murder innocents off their guard. Joan bravely fought other combatants in open battle.

The word "martyr", like the words "peace" and "God" are used in both Christianity and Islam. However, the meanings are very different, and it is astonishing how few people know this. In our leaders, this amounts to culpable negligence.

Some know, but they twist the facts. And nobody does this better than Karen Armstrong, who adds insult to injury with her contribution to a seemingly grotesque distortion of Bach's St Matthew Passion. Michael Tanner, also in The Spectator:

Bach’s St Matthew Passion doesn’t seem an obvious ‘Glyndebourne opera’, except from the point of view of the non-Londoner having to use public transport to get there, who might well regard the whole outing as a penitential pilgrimage. At the third performance the atmosphere did seem unusually hushed. What we were offered was an almost entirely silent play within which a performance of Bach’s masterpiece took place. The idea, a notably bad one of the producer Katie Mitchell’s, is that in a school somewhere in Europe there has been a shooting, with many children, whose photographs we are shown, killed. Four travelling players come and console the mourners, enlisting the onlookers for the small parts in the Passion, and getting them all to sing the choruses and chorales. This much we are told in the programme, as well as that the story of Christ’s death is experienced through the spectators’ (on stage) own grief. A long and painfully banal article by Karen Armstrong, also in the programme, naturally refers to 9/11, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay. In case we hadn’t noticed, there is still plenty of suffering around to be comprehended and understood.

Banal is too kind.

Posted on 6:54 AM by Mary Jackson

Dubai skyscraper: the bottom line

The story begins thusly:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates —  Developers of a 1,680-foot skyscraper still under construction in oil-rich Dubai claimed Saturday that it has become the world's tallest building, surpassing Taiwan's Taipei 101 which has dominated the global skyline at 1,667 feet since 2004.

The Burj Dubai is expected to be finished by the end of 2008 and its planned final height has been kept secret. The state-owned development company Emaar Properties, one of the main builders in rapidly developing Dubai, said only that the tower would stop somewhere above 2,275 feet.

Scrolling to the very end of the story, we find these pertinent facts:

The architects and engineers are American and the main building contractor is South Korean.

Most of the 4,000 laborers are Indian. They toil around the clock in Dubai's sizzling summer with no set minimum wage. Human rights groups regularly protest against labor abuse in Dubai, but local media rarely report such complaints.

Money talks, they say—and oil money talks particularly long and loud these days. What it says is, "Here is new business model for world. Get used to it."

Posted on 6:22 AM by Robert Bove

Female genital mutilation arrest
A WOMAN has been arrested in east London on suspicion of arranging female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Met Police has announced a £20,000 reward for anybody who provides information that leads to the UK's first ever prosecution for FGM.
The 36-year-old woman was arrested in Hackney and has been bailed to return to a north London police station on September 6.
I hope this is genuine and not an attempt merely to claim a substantial reward. We shall see what comes of it.
The Metropolitan Police website has this to say.  Half of the reward is coming from the Waris Dirie Foundation.
Posted on 4:38 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 21 July 2007
That Open Letter to Magdi Allam

Those who know Italian, and even more, those who may be Italian citizens in the United States or Great Britain, will be interested to follow the attempt by some in Italy to excommunicate the fearless and truthful Magdi Allam for his recent book "Viva Israele."  A letter, signed supposedly (I write "supposedly" because at least a few have signatures of the "Donald Duck" variety, such as a certain "Camera d'Aflitto" which is a letter away from being "camera d'affitto" or "Mrs. Rented Room") by 200 signatories, denounces Magdi Allam. The last such round-robin letter of denunciation, of a certain Luigi Calabresi, several decades ago, was followed by his murder; many of the signatories of that letter (it had nothing to do with Islam) publicly regretted their epistolary participation.

The Arabs and Muslims of Europe have carefully cultivated, encouraged, played to, and exploited, the pre-existing mental pathologies of antisemitism and anti-Americanism. In this hideous letter all three kinds of odiousness are on display: the Arab/Muslim apologists, the antisemites, and the anti-American brigade. They all belong together. They deserve each other. And meanwhile, this letter may serve to rally all those who did not sign and would not sign. There is a perfect correspondence, a one-to-one correspondence, between lack of moral and other kinds of intelligence, and those who signed, and a perfect reverse correspondence, between those who possess moral and other kinds of intelligence, and who all, to a man, refused to sign, would not ever think of signing.  

All the best people on one side. All the worst on the other. And not only in Italy. It's just like in 1938. Makes things very simple.

Those who wish to read a bit more can google "Magdi Allam" and "lettera" or start here:


Posted on 8:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Congressional Hearings on Jewish Refugees

Here is a report on the Congressional hearings held yesterday in Washington on Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab countries by Philip Klein in the American Spectator:

Regina Bublil Waldman remembers math class, Libyan style.

As a six-year old Jew living in the Arab nation in 1954, Waldman witnessed the lesson at a local madrasa. "The teacher turned to the board and asked the students, 'If you had five Jews, and you killed three of them, how many Jews do you have left to kill?' That was a very frightening and very traumatic experience for me. I came home crying, and I asked my mother, 'Does that mean I will be killed?'"

Her childhood experience was just a harbinger of what she would encounter in 1967, when in response to the Six Day War, Muslim mobs began to torch Jewish homes and businesses. Waldman's family was only able to escape Libya alive because of the benevolence of friends. A Muslim man prevented her house from being burned, and her British boss rescued her family from a bus driver who had locked them in a bus, poured gasoline below, and held a box of matches.

Waldman, now a humanitarian activist, recalled her experiences on Thursday in testimony before a Congressional Human Rights Caucus hearing about the plight of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were forced from their homes in the decades following the establishment of the state of Israel. Proposed legislation, with versions in the House and Senate, would recognize this displaced population that has been forgotten by history...

Ever since it came into being, Arabs have used the Palestinian refugee problem as part of a campaign to undermine Israel's legitimacy. This even though, as it declared its independence, Israel proclaimed:

Even at this hour of bloodshed, we call upon the Arabs of Palestine to restore peace in this country. We call upon the Arab citizens to return to their homes. We assure them full civil rights on the basis of full representation in all governmental organs of the State. We are extending the hand of friendship to the neighboring Arab states in order to initiate mutual cooperation. We are ready to contribute our share to the revival of the Middle East.

Arab governments were not so gracious to their Jewish populations. Even before the existence of Israel, anti-Semitic laws were common in Arab states. In Yemen, for instance, Jews were not permitted to ride horses, because they were not supposed to be higher than Muslims, and Jewish orphans under the age of 12 were forcibly converted to Islam. During World War II, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the leader of Palestinian Arabs, was Adolf Hitler's guest in Berlin, and wanted to apply the Nazis' "final solution" to Jews in Palestine and Arab countries. In a radio address to Arabs, al-Husseini declared: "Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them."

Even if they wanted to leave, Jews were denied their right to migration, and after World War II, the British prevented Jews from emigrating to Palestine. Once the British mandate ended, Israel declared statehood, and war broke out between Israel and the Arab states, the situation became even worse for Jews. Anti-Semitic programs and riots claimed lives throughout the Middle East, Jews had their citizenships revoked, and their land and assets confiscated. The situation continued to deteriorate in the 1950s, as a wave of Arab nationalism spread through the region, and was exacerbated further by the Six Day War in 1967...

In the near term, the focus is on passing two resolutions, one in the House (H.R. 185) and one in the Senate (S. 85). The proposed House legislation resolves that "for any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement to be credible and enduring, the agreement must address and resolve all outstanding issues relating to the legitimate rights of all refugees in the Middle East, including Jews, Christians, and other populations displaced from countries in the region."

It also calls on the President to instruct any U.S. representative to the U.N. or other international forums to use American influence to ensure that any resolution that mentions Palestinian refugees "must also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish, Christian, and other refugees from Arab countries..." as well as make clear that the resolution of all outstanding refugee issues are integral to any comprehensive peace plan.

So far, the two pieces of legislation have found support in both parties. The House resolution is sponsored by the staunch liberal Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), but includes among its 16 co-sponsors the conservative stalwart Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN). The Senate version is sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and includes among its five co-sponsors Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS). Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) spoke at Thursday's hearing.

Posted on 2:46 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Oh, but for that first taste o' cullen skink

Having gotten side tracked in my research of today's Suds—I started with an excellent heather hopped strong Maine brew, MacFoochie's Scottish Ale, out of Portland—I soon found myself at Scocha's musical Myspace site, finally settling down at Half Way House, our favorite little Edinburgh pub, which somehow combines intimacy, friendliness, and privacy.

Here's what owner Allan Tonnin said at Best Pubs UK about his place, half way up Fleshmarket Close in the Old City:

Just thought I'd give you an update as I'm the owner and have been for nearly 12 years! There are now only 5 genuine freehouses in the Old Town and this is one. We have 4 cask ales on most of the time and, as your recent reporter says a much better range of fresh, home-cooked food than used to be the case. We specialise in the small Scottish breweries and in serving dishes like Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Stovies and Cullen Skink. We also give C..A.M.R.A. members a discount of 50p off their first pint. As we generally have among the lowest prices in the Old Town (apart from Wetherspoons) that means we can offer good value.

We can't argue with his self-assessment, having found hospitality itself just a wee bit up the invigorating steps of Fleshmarket Close a few times on each of our trips to Old Smoky.

Posted on 2:36 PM by Robert Bove

Sketches of Railroad Stations, Privately Printed

On page 107 of that indispensable reference for times like these (times that try men's souls), "The Railroad Station," by Carroll L. V. Meeks, a reader finds the following:

"The second late Romanesque station to be considered is Bradford Gilbert's Illinois Central Station in Chicago, begun in 1892 (Figs. 140, 141), whose train-shed has been described. Gilbert had already completed a number of successful stations. He was the second architect since Francis Thompson to publish a book of his railroad buildings; his Sketch Portfolio of Railroad Stations first apeared privately in 1881."

That "Sketch Portfolio." Of those "Railroad Stations." The one that in 1881 "first appeared privately."  Come up and see my "sketches." "Sketches of Railroad Stations."

Now we finally get it. The Gents, of course, bien sur, we've all heard about that -- but the platforms? With the noise, and the people? My god, what innocents we have been.

Posted on 2:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

I Remember Penrith

Yes. I remember Penrith

The name, because one afternoon

Of heat the express-train drew up there

Unwontedly. It was late June.


The steam hissed. Someone cleared her throat.

No one left, though someone came

On the bare platform. What I saw

Was Penrith – only the name


And willows, willow-herb, and grass,

And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,

No whit less still and lonely fair

Than the high cloudlets in the sky.


And for that minute a blackbird sang

Close by, and round him, mistier,

Farther and farther, all the birds

Of Oxfordshire, and Gloucestershire.



The Wikipedia entry notes that "as it is a small town relying heavily on agriculture and associated trades, the nightlife in Penrith is not especially notable." The writer obviously did not travel by train.

Posted on 2:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Rebuttal #11,346

"Hugh's idea of abandoning Iraq (and Afghanistan also) is based on solid reasoning, but if the goal is to weaken Islam and Islamic jihad, it is the wrong way to go.

We should definitely abandon Afghanistan, returning only from time to time with punitive raids to destroy terror camps, poppy fields, and cave complexes, as needed.

But we should stay in Iraq. There, what we should abandon are the wasteful nation-building efforts. Instead, we should seize the Iraqi oil fields permanently, and use the money from oil sales to 1) pay for current and future military expenses our war of defense against the Islamic global jihad (including financial support of our wounded and the families of the fallen), and 2) to pay for a counter-dawa campaign against Islamic fascism."-- from a reader

The very idea that the American government, still tremblingly solicitous of Muslim opinion, and seemingly incapable of making the case to other Infidels, much less rallying them around a joint strategy to weaken the Camp of Islam -- or even to recognize that a Camp of Islam may be said to exist -- would "seize the Iraqi oil fields permanently" shows an un-realism which is un-arguable -- meaning here that it simply cannot be argued with.

And the position I have maintained at since March 2004, that the American government can achieve a kind of "victory" in Iraq, or at least get a return on the colossal American investment, not by remaining in Iraq but by leaving it, as should have occurred just as soon as the country-scouring for WMD had been completed and the regime of Saddam Hussein permanently undone, both of which had been completed by the beginning of 2004, is based entirely on the notion that this will weaken the Camp of Islam, the image of Islam (internecine fighting will be observed by Infidels with keen interest). So when that same reader describes that position -- my position -- as being "based on solid reasoning" but then immediately follows this by declaring that "if the goal is to weaken Islam and Islamic jihad" then leaving Iraq "is the wrong way to go" I simply do not understand him.

He does not rebut my argument. He does not say that the sectarian and ethnic fissures in Iraq, or within Islam, do not exist, or that those fissures did not exist since the beginning of Islam, or that what happens in Iraq between Sunnis and Shi'a will not have consequences among their co-religionists elsewhere, nor that what happens to the non-Arab Kurds in Iraq, and to their dream of an independent state, will not have consequences for non-Arab Muslims chafing under Arab domination and mistreatment elsewhere. He does not say that these fissures can or will be assuaged, and does not argue that when I say that they cannot be assuaged, because the attitudes of Islam prevent compromise, prevent sweet reason, but encourage instead aggression, violence, and a worldview in which there is only victor and vanquished, I must be wrong.

No, he simply ignores all that, and insists that the best we can do -- a realistic thing, in his view, is to "seize the oilfields of Iraq" when the American government, and Infidels everywhere, are hardly capable of contemplating anything like the ferocity that was routine in all previous wars against enemies as dangerous as those now prompted by the tenets, attitudes, atmospherics of Islam.

Posted on 1:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Speaking of Integration...

Letter to the editor spotted in the Irish Independent (thanks to Dr. Andrew Bostom):

Middle East intolerance

I have in total about six years Middle East experience, mainly the Arabian Gulf countries and Red Sea area and I have seen no integration for non-Muslims in these countries. I have, however, seen a religious policeman in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia whipping people on the legs with a long cane into the Mosque at 5.45 pm.

And I was spat at by the same little bearded one dressed in a white robe.

If Turkey comes into the EU we have the potential for 20m Islamic people leanings with a legal right to come to western Europe. Can we handle it? I don't think so and I will vote against the EU Treaty (constitution) to stop it.

We were fooled once. I hope we don't get fooled again.

Posted on 11:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Threat or promise?

Spotted in the north of England:

Posted on 10:35 AM by Mary Jackson

Muslim veil row woman returns to court
The next story in the list of local news in Pendle Today is the next instalment in this story which Mary posted about last month.
A woman wearing a full Muslim veil has appeared in court, three weeks after a Manchester magistrate walked out of her previous hearing because her face was covered.
Ian Murray is embroiled in an internal investigation after refusing to deal with Zoobia Hussain, 32, at Manchester Magistrates Court on June 28.
Hussain made a formal complaint to the court about her treatment, which her lawyer, Judith Hawkins, said "intimidated and deeply embarrassed" her.  . . Hussain's complaint triggered an investigation by the Manchester Magistrates Advisory Committee on July 3. Mr Murray has until July 19 to respond officially to the complaint. 
At that time the press concentrated on the actions of the Magistrate and merely said that Hussain was accused of criminal damage. Pendle Today is not afraid to say more.
At Wednesday`s hearing, the district judge trying Hussain heard she had sprayed graffiti on the walls of a property from which she had been evicted and put holes through doors.
The young mother is accused of re-entering the council house in Longsight after her family was thrown out for rent arrears in January this year and causing more than £3,000 worth of damage.
Housing officers found drawings of eyes on the walls, with the words "I am watching you" scrawled next to them, when they arrived to let Hussain back into the property to collect her belongings.
I have heard of the ladies of Pendle. I have read Mist Over Pendle. There are some interesting things reported in Pendle Today.
Posted on 10:07 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

"Force" Is A Bad Brand

Statecraft is rapidly being reduced to business think: the world is just one big market for ideas The Pentagon actually paid $400,000 for this "advice."

WaPo: ...The key to boosting the image and effectiveness of U.S. military operations around the world involves "shaping" both the product and the marketplace, and then establishing a brand identity that places what you are selling in a positive light, said clinical psychologist Todd C. Helmus, the author of "Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation." The 211-page study, for which the U.S. Joint Forces Command paid the Rand Corp. $400,000, was released this week.

Helmus and his co-authors concluded that the "force" brand, which the United States peddled for the first few years of the occupation, was doomed from the start and lost ground to enemies' competing brands. While not abandoning the more aggressive elements of warfare, the report suggested, a more attractive brand for the Iraqi people might have been "We will help you." That is what President Bush's new Iraq strategy is striving for as it focuses on establishing a protective U.S. troop presence in Baghdad neighborhoods, training Iraq's security forces, and encouraging the central and local governments to take the lead in making things better.

Many of the study's conclusions may seem as obvious as they are hard to implement amid combat operations and terrorist attacks, and Helmus acknowledged that it could be too late for extensive rebranding of the U.S. effort in Iraq. But Duane Schattle, whose urban operations office at the Joint Forces Command ordered the study, said that "cities are the battlegrounds of the future" and what has happened in Baghdad provides lessons for the future. "This isn't just about going in and blowing things up," Schattle said. "This is about working in a very complex environment."

In an urban insurgency, for example, civilians can help identify enemy infiltrators and otherwise assist U.S. forces. They are less likely to help, the study says, when they become "collateral damage" in U.S. attacks, have their doors broken down or are shot at checkpoints because they do not speak English. Cultural connections -- seeking out the local head man when entering a neighborhood, looking someone in the eye when offering a friendly wave -- are key.

The most successful companies, the Rand study notes, are those that study their clientele and shape their workplace and product in ways that incorporate their brand into every interaction with consumers...

"Certain things do not translate well," the study warned. "Danger lies behind assumptions of similarity." A gesture Bush made during his 2005 inaugural parade -- the University of Texas "hook 'em horns" salute with raised index and pinkie fingers -- stands for the "sign of the devil" in some cultures and an indication of marital infidelity in others. A leaflet dropped to intimidate Iraqi insurgents, the study noted, "also reached noncombatants" and "gave everyone who picked it up the 'evil eye.' "

"Words cause similar cultural confusion," it said. The Arabic word "jihad," for example, has religious connotations for Muslims; its repeated use to connote terrorism is insulting and also perversely lends legitimacy to violent acts...

I think I'm going to be sick.

Posted on 9:40 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Ban for St George Cross bandana
A BINMAN from Burnley has been banned from wearing a St George's Cross bandana by Pendle Council
The ban, which Pendle Council states is a "company rule", came to light when waste refuse operative Matthew Carter was pictured wearing the bandana on a photograph in a local newspaper.
Mr Carter said he received a verbal warning having been told complaints were made about the bandana, stating it could be offensive and racist, despite the fact he had worn it for seven months previous to the newspaper report in May.
Mr Carter, who has worked for the council for five years, said he only knew about the ban when he was told
Ian McInery, Pendle Council's Operational Services Manager, said: "Matt knows cleansing staff have a uniform and there are clear rules about what they can wear.
"We've made it clear to staff that they are not allowed to put stickers or flags on bin wagons or wear clothing which shows support for a particular team, group or country."
Mr Carter, who moved to Burnley in 1999 from Barbados, said he had not been told he could not wear his favourite headwear until he was pictured in the Nelson Leader. The Nelson Leader’s website is this one above -  Pendle Today.
 Matthew Carter, who has been told by Pendle Council to ditch his St Georges Cross bandana.
 "I received a verbal warning and was told that the St George's Cross was not allowed to be seen on any clothing we wear because it could be considered offensive and racist. I still need to wear a bandana, I'm wearing a skull and cross one now, to keep my hair back and away from the machine I'm working with or else it could be dangerous."
Skull and Crossbones have had their own problems on occasion but lets not go there today.
Pendle Council added: "Matt is one of the many hard working people who work for Pendle Council. He makes a difference, out in our towns and neighbourhoods keeping our streets and pavements clean”.
There is Mr Carter to the left, wearing his St George's bandana and very nice he looks.  A picture is worth 1000 words.
Posted on 9:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Mob Rule, An Idea Whose Times Has Come Again

The most ingenious aspect of American democracy is that it very effectively prevents pure majority rule, or mob rule, as they used to call it in the 18th century. Our founding fathers recognized the inherent problems with pure democracy which gives the majority unlimited power over minorities. In Muslim societies, and increasingly in our own but that's another subject, there is very little pluralistic organization standing between the citizen and the state, so that under majority rule minorities are openly persecuted. Democracy, then, becomes nothing more than a system of majority domination.

Both Pakistan and Turkey are going down the democratic road to Islam and the Bush administration, with its childish view of the "democratic process" as the cure for all social evil, is powerless to stop it, indeed, is encouraging it (see the election of Hamas, see the election of the Shi'a bloc in Iraq). Here is the latest from Pakistan from the New Duranty:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, July 20 — Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that the suspension of the country’s chief justice earlier this year by President Pervez Musharraf was illegal, dealing the president a strong rebuke and raising new questions about his ability to continue his rule past this year.

The decision, which reinstated the chief justice, was another blow to General Musharraf, who finds himself increasingly beset by Islamic militants and pro-democracy opponents as intelligence agencies in the United States lose confidence in his ability to root out militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

General Musharraf’s critics had accused him of dismissing the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, so as to install someone more likely to bend to his authority as the general was expected to face critical legal challenges this year to his continued rule as president and army chief of staff.

The chief justice surprised many, including General Musharraf, by challenging his dismissal, turning a pre-emptive move by the president into a watershed for the nation. Mr. Chaudhry has since become a rallying point for Pakistanis increasingly frustrated with nearly seven and a half years of military rule...

The ruling now seems likely to bear not only on the fate of the president, but also on Washington’s strategy of backing him as the linchpin of its fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region.

Already a United States intelligence report concluded that Al Qaeda continued to find sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and suggested that military strikes on Pakistani territory could not be ruled out if Pakistan did not show greater results.

Meanwhile, General Musharraf’s decision to raid a pro-Taliban mosque in the capital earlier this month has stoked the fury of Islamist extremists, who rejected a peace deal with the government this week and unleashed a spate of attacks, including suicide bombings, that have left more than 100 people dead.

Now the court decision has given a new boost to the pro-democracy forces arrayed against General Musharraf...

Posted on 8:37 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Sex and the witty

I enjoyed Sex and the City. It was froth, but watchable froth. I liked the title music, the fast pace and the fashionable but silly "themed"restaurants, of which the most memorable was Raw, where none of the food was cooked. However, the idea that there is some kind of feminist message, that Carrie and her friends are liberated women, is absurd. They are essentially passive, desperate for husbands and, with the exception of the plainest, working in frivolous "girly" jobs.

One reason the women fail to convince, despite some sparky dialogue, is that the men they engage with are not equal sparring partners. Of course there are more shows, books, plays and films where men get all the action and all the lines, and women are mere dolls, but two wrongs don't make a right.

In this week's Spectator, Sarah Churchill argues that, for this and other reasons, Sex and the City cannot hold a candle to the "Screwball" romantic comedies of the 1930s:

Some 65 years before Sex and the City offered ‘groundbreaking’ stories about professional women seeking true love in the big city, screwball comedy did the same thing, except that its ideal women were usually minding their own business instead of desperately seeking a husband. Not exactly progress.

Screwball imagined the battle of the sexes as exquisite cosmopolitan fun, a new kind of comedy of manners, chic fairy tales in which sophisticated urban lovers crossed wits, crossed country, and, occasionally, cross-dressed. Men in tuxedos and women in satin evening gowns teased, taunted, and tormented each other into submission. Screwball was Jane Austen in Art Deco, Beatrice and Benedick at the Stork Club, with slapstick added to the mix: Cary Grant in a tuxedo slips on an olive at the Ritz in Bringing Up Baby; Myrna Loy in furs does a skidding pratfall across the glossy floor of a bar in The Thin Man. Screwball imagined women who were as smart, stylish, witty, independent and forceful as the men who tangled with them...

Screwball imagined an altogether more robust world, in which lovers didn’t need each other desperately; they were not so insufficient. Nor could man hope to conquer woman; the best he could achieve was détente. In screwball women and men gave as good they got, artists at one-upmanship and masters of the Parthian shot. Neither admitted defeat; neither was in the wrong for long. Except in the sense that love would conquer all, the game was never rigged: screwball admired both its protagonists equally, and meted out impartial justice that was very nearly irrespective of sex (bar the occasional spanking). If Clark Gable taught Claudette Colbert how to dunk doughnuts properly in one scene in It Happened One Night, she taught him how to hitchhike in the next. If Carole Lombard got punched in the jaw in Nothing Sacred, she socked Fredric March right back...

Screwball relied upon give and take, distributing cleverness equally, and without gender bias, between its central couple. Sex and the City only cares about satisfying its women, who only care about satisfying themselves. It makes for fairly onanistic viewing. There are certainly some sharp lines, but the women get all of them. Of course, such chauvinism flatters the women watching it, but one wonders why they would ever desire the stereotyped, boring cartoons who pass for the men in the series. Sex and the City concerns women; screwball comedy concerns heterosexuality. It’s about couples battling it out, and achieving a truce, overcoming difference in a comedy of reconciliation. Sex and the City is about self-gratification.

Posted on 8:29 AM by Mary Jackson

Is Boris good enough?

I think so. Boris Johnson has his faults, but he is energetic, intelligent, very witty, and above all fun. I am delighted that he has joined in the race to be London's mayor, and I hope he wipes the floor with the nauseating Ken Livingstone. The Spectator, unsurprisingly, backs him to the hilt. He's "one of us", it declares:

Though only a few days old, Boris’s campaign has already put a smile on the face of politics. Some see this as an intrinsic debasement of the electoral process and a sad indictment of the state of political culture. The absurd implication of this is that politics cannot and should not be entertaining. In fact, the humourlessness of modern politics is one of many reasons that it so conspicuously fails to engage the interest or sympathies of so many people.

Just as it is possible to be deadly serious and epically shallow, so humour in politics need not be a sign of frivolity. In Boris’s case, humour reflects a rich capacity to communicate, to stretch out a hand to voters. Most politicians confuse being ‘in touch’ with slavishly following the instructions of their private pollsters. In the eyes of the public, most of them seem to be a caste apart, aloof and ineffective. Wit is one of the most powerful means of combating this impression and of communicating ideas without preaching, hectoring or signalling the assumption of moral superiority. Groucho Marx will be a more enduring philosopher of human nature than Karl...Boris has made his fair share of gaffes over the years, but, unlike the incumbent Mayor, he has never compared a Jewish journalist to a concentration-camp guard. He has not promoted radical Islamic clerics like Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He has not championed the bendy buses that have added to the misery on London’s roads. And for all his taste for comedy, he has done nothing as inherently comic as Mayor Livingstone’s risible cultivation of the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez. It should be asked: who is the real ‘joke candidate’ here?

Let's not forget that Boris successfully campaigned against the abolition of Ancient History A-level. That alone would get my vote.

Posted on 8:07 AM by Mary Jackson

Enemies of Islam

When apologists for Islam’s Jihad refer to "enemies of Islam," they increasingly mean those who do dare to look steadily at the actual contents of Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira and then begin to take note of the history of Jihad-conquest and subjugation of all non-Muslims. What makes them crazy is that such "enemies," like Robert Spencer, keep level-headedly pointing to the actual contents of Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, about which they can do nothing, and to the commentaries not by one or two isolated crazies, but by the perfectly respectable orthodox jurisconsults.

The mental stamina Robert Spencer exhibits in refuting, point by point, the bizarre representative of a bizarre world, with its bizarre claims that are yet believed by hundreds of millions, is to be admired. One might think it is easy to deal with what would appear to be such crazy claims, but it turns out to be hard, because 99% of the Western world has decided it would rather believe palpable nonsense and lies, or at least pretend to, in the hope that by pretending, somehow it would all come true.

Yet the fact that they are lies is not difficult to establish. Imagine you are a Muslim today. You are trying to divert the attention of 5 billion Infidels from Islam itself. You are trying to make sure that Infidels do not look closely at what is actually in the immutable texts of Islam. Taqiyya. Tu Quoque. Smiling "Open Houses" where the chicken and pita and baklava, and those carefully friendly faces, and the careful patter about the "three Abrahamic faiths" and "the three monotheisms" and the "prophets such as Jesus and Moses whom we honor" and so on are meant to keep the Infidels quiet, and satisfied.

And you keep it up. You have plenty of money to support you, and an army of Infidels, some ignorant and willfully so, some unable to come to grips with a matter so disturbing, some lazy, some piously convinced that everyone everywhere wants just exactly the same thing and we are all god's chillun to boot, some possessing mental pathologies (e.g. antisemitism or anti-Americanism) that makes them eager to believe the best of Islam, some merely doing-it-for-the-money Western hirelings, perfectly aware of how to improve their bank accounts through doing the bidding of the Saudis or other rich Arabs and Muslims.

And then along comes someone, Robert Spencer or someone like him, who simply keeps going back to the texts and the history of how those texts were received, and acted upon. And you can never, ever, rebut a word he says. Never. Not a single quotation has been found false. Not a single passage. Nothing. You can only, therefore, provide the argument that he must be this, or must be that, and how maddening it is when he turns out to be not this, and not that, but exactly what he says.

And what's more, the cat is now out of the bag. For we can all read those texts. They're a click away, in various translations presented synoptically. We can read the Qur'an. We can read as many of the Hadith as we can stand to read without our brains turning to mush. We can read the biography, the Sira, of Muhammad. We can find out all those things he did that Muslims insist are not to be criticised, but indeed to be emulated, for Muhammad is uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil.

What can one do when you cannot hide these texts, and indeed in a certain sense want to spread them -- but only to those Infidels who will not criticise but instead marvel at them, and be driven to "revert" to Islam? And yet, at the very same time, you want to keep those same texts from the prying eyes and comprehending brains of tens or hundreds of millions of Muslims?

A tall order. An impossible order.

Sometimes we hear that these "enemies of Islam," as one Muslim put it some time ago, “control vast media resources, such as television networks, news agencies, newspapers, radio stations, Internet sites, magazines, music companies, film studios, and publishing houses.” One only wishes it were true. A handful of Internet sites, possibly. But what newspapers? Le Monde? The Guardian? The New Duranty Times? The Bandar Beacon? What radio stations -- the ones such as the BBC that are handmaidens of Al-Jazeera in their coverage? What television networks in the Western world have not bent over backwards in their desire to curry favor with Muslims? What news agencies? Reuters, Agence France Press? What magazines, what music companies, what film studios? In 1942, Hollywood made 300 anti-Nazi films -- with the encouragement of the War Office.

We are in a war now, a war that is carefully unrecognized -- that is, war is being made on us, and will continue to be made on us by those who take their Islam seriously enough, and possess the wherewithal to conduct Jihad by whatever means are available. Has there been a single explicitly anti-Jihad movie? Do you know of any that have depicted, say, an agent of Islam burrowing his way deep into the government, possibly with the help of those ex-ambassadors and others who have for so long who have been on the Saudi take, directly or indirectly? Have you ever seen a film depicting some sinister pseudo-academic figure with a well-funded operation -- very much reminiscent of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, run by lean, mean, jogging John Esposito, always ready to offer his lengthy resume designed to show what an authority he is, and always ready to set straight members of the government, as well as the laziest and most unquestioning of reporters who might actually go to him to "find out about Islam"?

There's a movie here. Who wants to produce it? I'll write it -- and it won't be a kinder, gentler sort of movie. Let's start that production of war movies soon; it is getting on to 1943, and we need a little more oomph.

Posted on 7:37 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

"The enemy is extremism, we think"

General Petraeus is interviewed by NPR here

A simple question that many in America are now wrestling with: Who is the enemy and what is the U.S. fighting for?

The enemy is extremism, we think, and it is extremism that comes in various forms. Al-Qaida-in-Iraq is a very significant target to us. We see it as the most important near-term threat, because it is the source of the most horrific casualty-producing attacks in Iraq, the attacks that are intended to reignite the horrific sectarian violence that ripped the fabric of society in Baghdad and Iraq in late 2006 through 2007 and still is at play, certainly. There are also, certainly, Sunni extremists beyond al-Qaida, and then there are certainly Shia extremist elements — the most worrisome [being] those associated with Iranian-sponsored groups that sprung from the Sadr militia movement.

When you survey Iraq with your commanders, what is the specific problem or the place that you see that most troubles you and that, in your view, most threatens ultimate success in Iraq?

I think it is probably neighborhoods in Baghdad — actually, neighborhoods through which the sectarian fault lines run. And there are not just big fault lines; there are micro fault lines, and our commanders have really learned an extraordinary amount about this. And they're trying, in a sense, first to sit on these fault lines, literally, with their forces and Iraqi forces, and then to try to stabilize them and then to try to revive them because wherever these fault lines are, there is enormous fear, and markets have shut, banks have closed, basic services are not provided, the streets aren't clean and so forth, and so those are the most challenging of areas.

We've tried to reduce the sectarian violence and have achieved some success in that.

And can you sustain that over the long term?

You put your finger on the biggest issue, and it's the word sustainable, and in fact, it's something that we talk about with the commanders fairly frequently. In fact, we had a police summit [Wednesday] where the various police commanders and coalition commanders who are in Baghdad briefed the [Iraqi] minister of interior and myself on the way ahead for the police, because you have to have local men helping to maintain local security, and in a number of neighborhoods in Baghdad, that is not the case — the ones about which we are most concerned and where, in fact, the focus of our combat and our stability operations is found.

It seems like a day doesn't go by where we don't hear President Bush say, "Just wait until Gen. David Petraeus makes his report." There's so much pressure building to this status report that you're going to deliver in the fall. You are known as a man who has steely resolve, but I'm just wondering, what kind of pressure do you feel right now?

I feel another rock put in my rucksack every time I hear that. Well, obviously, I mean, this is the toughest thing that any of us have ever been involved in, and it's both an enormous privilege to soldier again with our great young men and women over here and to lead them, but needless to say, there's a pretty huge sense of responsibility that goes along with that. Having said that, I mean, you just put the rucksack on and move out and try to do the best you can.

Posted on 7:29 AM by Rebecca Bynum

DC Circuit Gitmo Decision: "Stinging" Defeat?

I haven't had a chance to study yesterday's decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit regarding detention proceedings for enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay.  But it's already clear that the New York Times account this morning, portraying the ruling as a major defeat for the Bush administration, is misleading.

There's a dispute over what "the record" of a detention proceeding, called a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT), is.  The government took the position that it is only the information presented at the CSRT; the combatants claim it is all information the government has pertaining to the detainee, whether it is presented at the CSRT or not.  The combatants won on that issue, but the three-judge panel appears to have been very careful about deferring to the executive branch regarding what information is deemed classified; and it makes provision for the government to disclose very sensitive information only to the court, not the combatant.

I was also suspicious of the Times report because, after you wade sixteen paragraphs into the story — paragraphs which have very little to do with the case decided yesterday but are obviously intended to convey the impression that the sky is falling on the Bush administration's military tribunals — reporter William Glaberson drops this "oh, by the way" graph:  "The ruling also included significant victories for the government, including a decision allowing the Pentagon to limit the subjects that the lawyers can discuss with detainees and authorizing special Pentagon teams to read the lawyers’ mail and remove unauthorized comments."

All the spin that's fit to print.
Posted on 7:04 AM by Andy McCarthy

The U.S. Attorney Firings: It's Politics, Not Law

As it reaches the end-game stage, it may finally be dawning on Democrats who continue mulishly pursuing the "scandal" over the firing of U.S. attorneys that the issue is political, not legal — something I've repeatedly argued (see, e.g., here and here), as have others.

U.S. attorneys have no power of their own.  The power they exercise is executive power, which the Constitution vests entirely in the president.  They are his delegates, not independent actors, and he may fire them for any reason or no reason.  If he fires them for a stupid reason, that is a political blunder for which the president and his Justice Department will be politically damages — as has certainly happened here.  But it is not a crime.

Congressional Democrats have tried to investigate it as if it were a crime.  They've violated constitutional separation-of-powers principles by issuing subpoenas to some of the president's top aides.  The White House wisely declined to comply, and Congress's next step is to try to hold them in contempt of Congress.

Only there's a small problem.  The Constitution vests Congress with no authority to prosecute.  That is an executive power.  Congress can say "prosecute" all it wants.  It needs a U.S. attorney to do it.  But the U.S. attorneys work for the president.  Flexing its constitutional muscles, the executive branch is not going to prosecute any contempt urged by Congress.  Checkmate.  Like this whole theater from the start, the issuance of subpoenas and the chatter about contempt is political, not legal.

The wiser Democrats already see that.  As the Washington Post reports this morning, it's exactly the position taken by the Clinton administration's Justice Department.

This controversy has been a political coup for Democrats.  They've exposed some pretty embarrassing details about the day-to-day operation of the Justice Department.  But there are only so many political points to be wrung from every political drama, and this one has run its course.  Time to stop wasting time pretending this is a criminal matter.

Posted on 7:03 AM by Andy McCarthy


A waspish colleague once gleefully pointed out one of my many mistakes: I had spelt the word “public” without its mitigating “l”. However, I had the last laugh. He claimed to have found “an errata”. “How very singular,” I replied.


It doesn’t do to be too triumphant in drawing attention to another person’s errors. In doing so you will inevitably make a mistake of your own, as I found to my cost on this thread. And a gentleman should never comment on a lady’s slip.


If you can spot your mistakes before anyone else does, so much the better. John Derbyshire, I notice, has a short errata list in his Radio Derb announcement.


The best errata list ever is to be found – where else? – in Sellar and Yeatman’s 1066 And All That:


P.11 For Middletoe read Misletoe.

P.17 For looked 4th read looked forth.

P.50 For Pheasant read Peasant, throughout.

P.52 For sausage read hostage. 

Posted on 6:24 AM by Mary Jackson

China blocks Muslim haj plans
This is very brief from The Scotsman but they do get stuff that the BBC never bothers with and the broadsheets (as was) get the next day.
MEMBERS of China's Muslim Uighur minority in the country's far west have been ordered to hand in their passports to stop them making a haj pilgrimage to Mecca, a spokesman for the Germany-based World Uighur Congress has alleged.
As one commentor, a Chinese himself says,
 “It is not the haj the Chinese government are worried about, it is the 'baggage' they bring back, fomenting world wide conquest of the infidel they don't want!” 
Posted on 6:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Just out seeing the sights

Redefined here.

Posted on 5:28 AM by Robert Bove

Christian women seized by Taleban face stoning
ABOUT 20 South Korean Evangelical Christians face death after being captured by Taleban rebels in war-torn Afghanistan, where it is suspected they were preaching Christianity.
The group were travelling from the capital Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar where their church, known for its evangelical zeal, claimed they would work in a hospital.
The kidnappings took place on Thursday afternoon in the province of Ghazni, 170km south of Kabul.
Korea's foreign ministry put the number at about 20. "The government plans to exert every possible effort so that our kidnapped Koreans can return safely as soon as possible," said a spokesman.
It is believed the Koreans are members of the Saemul church in Budang, just south of the capital Seoul. A church official confirmed that 20 of its members were in Afghanistan and they could not be reached.
"They are young Korean Christians who were engaged in short-term evangelistic activity and service for children in Kandahar," said Joseph Park, mission director of the Christian Council of Korea.
Posted on 3:49 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 20 July 2007
Obama On Record: Not A Good Enough Reason To Remain

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.

"Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now - where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife - which we haven't done," Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done. Those of us who care about Darfur don't think it would be a good idea," he said.

Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it's likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq."

Posted on 9:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

What Constitutes A Good Outcome In Iraq

"There was an address made recently to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (July 17). The speaker examined each of the other proposed options -- and concluded that none of the proposed options would weaken Islam -- in fact, the speaker suggests that it would probably do the exact opposite. Quote: "Each [of the proposed options] involves ceding ground to terrorists or to Iranian influence. Each also sends the message that, when faced with terrorism, America runs."-- from a reader

Yes, this was testimony by Michael Rubin. I thought every single one of its propositions was wrong. The refusal to contemplate a free-for-all in Iraq is prompted, in this and in other cases, not by an analysis of what the benefits would be to the Camp of Infidels, but by a mixture of embarrassment, refusal to see that one was wrong all along (this is paralyzing the Bush Administration and its most fervent loyalists), a queasiness about internecine warfare because of a perceived inability of the Americans not to take the blame -- but surely it is not beyond the wit of those who, for the right reasons, want to leave Iraq now (want to have left it three years ago) to exploit the extensive record of all those "Get Out of Iraq Now" (for the wrong reasons) campaigners, who will, if their wish is granted -- and I have argued that it should be, for quite different reasons -- not be able to then express a feigned horror at the result. Besides, it is unclear what the result will be, but it is clear that the Sunnis will never acquiesce in their loss of power, and the Shi'a will never give the Sunnis what they want, and that, finally, the attitudes of Islam -- the victor/vanquished view of the world -- will keep both sides from making those compromises that American policymakers keep thinking can and will and must be made.

In the end, the mess in Iraq merely expresses the Triumph of Islam - a triumph that will, if only we let it, lead as well to a dividing and demoralizing and therefore to a weakening, of the Camp of Islam.

Posted on 5:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Softly-Softly, Sabrina

I can imagine the fury of a well-educated, secular Turk as he reads this article by the young Sabrina Tavernise, so uncomprehending of Turkish history, and of all that it took to systematically constrain Islam so that the very possibility of some modicum of reasonableness, the very development of an educated secular class, the very class that Sabrina Tavernise and all other Westerners frequent and the only class with which they feel, quite rightly, fully comfortable, came about only because of Ataturk.

If Kemalism is on the ropes, it is not because the Kemalists have been too ruthless but because they have not been nearly ruthless enough. They did not push, relentlessly, their program after the first few decades, and some of those who followed were content to pocket the benefits of Kemalism without systematically trying to change the minds of the masses, and the masses remained largely unaffected.

Since, in any society, the primitives will always and everywhere outweigh the others, it was important that those to whom, thanks to Kemalism, the freedom to think was granted, should never have taken those freedoms for granted. Now it may be too late. Make no mistake; there is a program by those who want more and more Islam. Its proponents are patient: look at the statements about waiting for the right moment by the sweet-reasonably sinister Mr. Gulen, waiting in his Washington-area exile, for the results of the election.

While America dithered, and still does, in Iraq, Russia returned to KGB-shchina. While America dithered, and still does, in Iraq, China established economic colonies everywhere, from New York to Belize to West Africa to Italy, and is steadily driving whatever local competition remained, from the silk manufacturers of Como to the makers of pottery in Mexico, into non-existence, while the Administration keeps singing the praises of "free trade" and Nafta, as the free-market fundamentalists they are. While America dithered, and still does, in Iraq (spending $880 billion that China, just as dependent on Middle Eastern oil, for some reason didn't think it had to spend a penny in Iraq to keep being supplied with that oil at the market price -- is it possible the Chinese understand the workings of the oil market better than the Americans?) Turkey has been allowed to become ever-more thoroughly re-islamized. Softly-softly, Sabrina Tavernise seems to think. I'd rather the Times depended on intelligent and secular Turks, less readily fooled. Not fooled at all.

Posted on 5:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

HCE, Or, The Rest Is Silence

"'Here comes everybody' as John Cage once said...."

Cage, the strong, famously silent type,  may have "once" said this, but someone else was there before him. Long before John Cage was in his crib, refusing to mewl, insisting on remaining silent, James Joyce was writing merrily about "Here Comes Everybody" or "Haveth Childers Everywhere" or "Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker."

Give everyone his due, as if every day were the Day of Doom. Neither more nor less.

Posted on 3:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Radio Derb

This week's Radio Derb is up here.

Errata sheet:

(1) Yes, the Dow went over 14,000, not 1,400.

(2) A hijab is a headscarf, not a body covering.

The researchers responsible for these gaffes have been dismissed, and will never work in this town again.

Posted on 3:26 PM by John Derbyshire

What Ernest Gellner Does With Words
Some of you might enjoy "Words and Things" -- from 1959 -- by Ernest Gellner. Or possibly more, the description of Gellner, Russell, Austin, Ayer, Ryle, and others in Ved Mehta's "The Fly and the Fly-Bottle."

Gellner wrote about, knew about, many things. One thinks of him taking on large topics, such as Logical Positiviism or Nationalism. But his doctoral thesis, I was surprised to learn, was on the "Organization and the Role of a Berber Zawiya." More the fox than the hedgehog at Houghton Street.
Posted on 3:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

A tale of two mindsets

It was reported earlier this week that New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority is expanding it's familiar bus and subway public service campaign--"If you see something, say something"--and placing such warnings on TV. The following is an excerpt of a letter to the NY Sun today regarding the announcements. Keep in mind that, although there may be life in the King amendment protecting our right to "say something" without fear of being sued, we live in a society where the sacred aboriginal right to litigation takes precedence over personal and national security.

If you are underground in a train car and see a package, you must get out at the next stop. It is unlikely anyone will bother to do so or succeed in giving a warning.

If you are on a subway platform there is usually nobody to tell until the next train pulls into the station.

Most people upon seeing a suspect package simply get off at the next stop.

On my first trip to Israel 20 years ago, I sat on a bench at a bus stop. I was reprimanded by an elderly Israeli already sitting on the bench for not checking under the bench for a "suspect package" before I sat down. I just hope that the MTA figures out a method by which New Yorkers can call in reports in real time.

I hope it does not take a tragedy for the MTA to do more than offer slogans and a phone number.

Steven Mostofsky
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Posted on 1:08 PM by Robert Bove

Mother of militant Islam's dark past
From the Australian – With a dark past, a darker present and a future black as Newgate's knocker she sounds a right one, and the daughter a chip off the old block.
RABIYAH Hutchinson, known as the mother of militant Islam in Australia, was involved in a drug scandal and investigated by child welfare authorities before becoming aMuslim.
An investigation by The Weekend Australian can reveal that Hutchinson was born into a Sydney Presbyterian family before becoming a Baptist and then converting to Catholicism during her search for religious truth.
The 53-year-old's journey to conservative Islam took her to the mujaheddin camps of Afghanistan and into Osama bin Laden's inner circle, prompting intelligence sources to claim she was more highly connected to al-Qa'ida central than anyone else in Australia.
Her links to extremists, terrorists and terror suspects, as well as her string of marriages, including to highly ranked al-Qa'ida figure Mustafa Hamid, have made her the target of 24-hour surveillance by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. She has moved at least five times in the past few years.
In Sydney's southwestern Muslim heartland of Lakemba, she is believed to mentor a group of women following Wahabism, the sect behind extremist Islam.
In those early days Hutchinson wore a long, brightly coloured abaya and a hijab over her hair but she left her face uncovered. But friends say she became more hardline in her views and soon took off for Indonesia, where it is understood she married second husband Mohammed Pujo, a leader of the Solo Brun Islamic Defenders Front.
That marriage was short-lived and produced no children. In 1984 she married third husband Abdul Rahim Ayub, who was later sent to Australia to set up the JI terror cell known as Mantiqi 4.
They had three children together: Mohammed, Abdullah and a daughter, Aminah. They came back to Australia in 1985 and lived in Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne, becoming close to hardline clerics Feiz Mohamed and Mohammed Omran.
During their time living in Sydney's northern beaches they also got to know Jack Roche, who was released from jail this year after serving 4 1/2 years' jail for plotting with al-Qa'ida to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra.
She went to Afghanistan and remarried a couple of times, including in 2000 when she married the Egyptian-born Hamid, a confidant of bin Laden also known was Abu al Walid al-Masri.
She worked as a midwife and a teacher and with her top-level al-Qa'ida connections, Hutchinson became a key connection for Australians travelling to Afghanistan for military training.
Details of Hutchinson's activities in Kabul were revealed by Melbourne man Jack Thomas, during his interrogation by Australian and Pakistani police following his arrest in Pakistan in January 2003. Thomas told the AFP that when he arrived in Kabul, he made contact with Hutchinson, to whom he referred as "Umm Mohammed" meaning "mother of Mohammed".
Thomas knew Hutchinson from Sydney, where he had attended the wedding of her daughter Rahma to a man arrested in Sydney last year on terrorism-related charges. After his arrest Rahma went to Yemen to live with her brothers. She returned to Sydney earlier this year and was seen in court supporting her husband.
Rahma is dressed more conservatively than even her mother, covering every part of her body, including gloves for her hands and a veil over the niqab which obscures all of her face. Her driver's licence photo is covered by a yellow post-it note which she will only remove for identification to women. She spends a lot of time with her mother and has few very close associates.
Posted on 12:49 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Maybe We Could Move The Whole Building Over There
Posted on 11:21 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Islam Is A Vehicle For Arab Supremacism

The mass-murders in Darfur (or Dar Fur, as Carl Geiger Pasha and everyone else used to write it) are not regarded with abhorrence by other Arabs. Nor do other Arab states wish the Arabs who rule Sudan to be taken to be prevented from continuing their genocidal activities -- and are doing everything they can, especially in the corridors and coulisses of power at the U.N. and the E.U. and through their extensive network of Western hirelings, collaborators, and fellow-travellers, to block any effective action to stop the Sudanese government until it is too late -- until, that is, enough of the black Africans have been killed, the women raped, the villages burned down, the remainder forced to straggle into Chad, and even in Chad the harrying by Arab tribesmen continues, and that country, too, has become unsettled with a million or more refugees.

Yet there has not been a single resolution by the Arab League, not a syllable of protest by Egypt --Sudan's political enemy, but certainly not a regime about to protest something as unremarkable and acceptable as the mass killing by Arabs of non-Arabs -- in this case black Africans. There has been no "cooperation" by Egypt with the West, nor by another Arab power.

And yet American campuses are full of people brightly demanding that China cease its cooperation with Sudan, that China is the main country to count on to pressure the Sudanese government and there is talk of boycotting the Beijing Olympics in order to force the Chinese government to stop its running of interference for Sudan at the U.N. But running interference, through the use of a veto at the Security Council, is not the same thing as giving the kind of endless behind-the-scenes support, as fellow Arab states do, to the Sudanese government. American campuses should be full of divestment movements aimed at the most effective collaborators with the Arabs of Sudan: the Arabs of the Arab League states, including "our ally" Egypt. But so far the Arab states have gotten off scot free.

The lone Arab, Nabil Kassem, who made this documentary, is akin to Kanan Makiya (Samir al-Khalil), who alone among the Arabs publicly denounced the mass-murder of the Kurds (some 182,000) by Saddam Hussein. Kanan Makiya called this "shameful" but could never quite understand why no other Arabs inside or outside Iraq Protested the killing of the Kurds. He is not alone in his failure to understand. The best people in the Muslim world, if they do not become apostates but out of filial piety remain Muslims, never can quite understand, much less analyze for others, what it is that explains certain kinds of behavior.

In the case of the complicity of the Arabs outside Sudan -- who have cleverly disguised their support for that regime, their efforts to hinder and delay -- very successfully -- actions that might have been taken by the U.N. against Sudan during its twenty-year campaign of mass-murder in the southern Sudan, or its several-year-long campaign in Darfur -- the explanation is simple: Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacism. Islam is the national religion of the Arabs, evolving initially out of pagan Arab lore, and a mishmash of appropriated, and much distorted, figures and stories taken from Judaism and Christianity, the final result being a "faith" that could be used to both justify and promote the conquest, by comparatively primitive Arabs, of much larger numbers of non-Arabs, chiefly Christians and Jews and Zoroastrians. A non-Arab Muslim, until recently and still ideally, reads the Qur'an only in Arabic, and non-Arab Muslim children memorize as much of it as possible -- in Arabic. Non-Arab Muslims take as their model a group of seventh-century Arabs and above all, Muhammad, the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil. The Sunna itself consists essentially of the ways, the customs and manners, of seventh-century Arabs. Muslims turn Meccatropically five times a day for the canonical prayers; they perform hajj to Mecca; Arabia is the center of their being. It is as if all those who were part of the British Empire, five times a day, turned and prostrated themselves toward London, as if every Indian, every black African in a British colony, took an English name, and took some Englishman (possibly someone a bit more modern than a woad-painted Pict from 700 A.D.).

The black African Muslims of Darfur, like the black Africans of the southern Sudan, may be killed without arousing any indignation among all but the tiniest handful of Muslim Arabs, the same tiny handful that might have protested the killing, by Arabs, of the Muslim Kurds.

The reason is one that not even Kanan Makiya, nor Nabil Kassem, can likely face: Islam is the source of, the promoter and vehicle of, Arab supremacism. And Arab supremacism, whether it is of the linguistic and cultural kind, that attempts to ban the Berber language, or to convince Maronites and Copts, not always unsuccessfully, that because they are "users of Arabic" that makes them "Arabs," or of the murdering kind that simply wishes to eliminate non-Arabs if they happen to possess something -- oil, as in the Kurdish lands and in the southern Sudan, and possibly oil (and now water -- that vast underground lake discovered by American researchers who naively have said that if the waters were to be used for irrigation, this "might solve" the Darfur crisis when, if anything, it will only make Darfur that much more desirable to the Arabs, and their insensate desire to remove all the black Africans -- through murder -- that much greater.

Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism is a theme that must always and everywhere be noted, analyzed, stressed. It is a powerful weapon in dividing non-Arab Muslims, more and more of them no doubt recognizing the inattention to their own histories, their own pasts, once islamization, then followed by arabization of varying kinds, takes place. And the understanding of Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism has one other great virtue: it happens to be true.

Posted on 10:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Life for 'honour killing' father
From The BBC
A father who ordered the killing of his daughter after finding out she had a boyfriend has been jailed for life.
Banaz Mahmod, 20, was raped and tortured before being strangled and buried in a suitcase in Birmingham.
Her Iraqi Kurd father Mahmod Mahmod, 52, of Mitcham, south London, will serve at least 20 years.
Her uncle Ari Mahmod, 50, who helped arrange the murder, and killer Mohammed Hama, 30, got life terms and will serve at least 23 and 17 years respectively.
Her death had been ordered after her affair with fellow Kurd, Rahmat Sulemani, was discovered.
The Common Serjeant of London, Judge Brian Barker, said: "This was a barbaric and callous crime.
"You are hard and unswerving men to whom apparently the respect from the community is more important that your own flesh and blood."
They are indeed. This morning, in advance of sentencing the Daily Mirror reported that
A MURDERER kicked and stamped on an honour killing victim to "make her soul leave her body".
Mohamad Hama told how tragic Banaz Mahmod, 20, was also raped, strangled, stuffed in a suitcase then dumped in a shallow grave.
The gruesome details of how Iraqi Banaz met her death because she fell for a Kurdish boy were revealed in a secretly taped prison confession.
Hama, 30, said: "I was kicking or stamping on her neck to get her soul out. She was stark naked. The soul wouldn't just leave like that. The cord was round her neck."
Banaz's ordeal was revealed during a presentence hearing at the Old Bailey yesterday.
Posted on 10:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax


This is a new word, invented by me - unless I'm googlethwarted as usual. It means Scottish version of a name or word. For example "raking" becomes McRaking, and "spreader" becomes McSpreader.

Which non-Scottish writer sometimes put Mac- or Mc- in front of words to make them into names?

Clue 1: He probably never wore a sporran in his life but his characters get more than their fair share of oats.

Clue 2: There's only ever one answer.

Posted on 10:38 AM by Mary Jackson

New Life for the King Amendment?

At the Washington Times, Audrey Hudson reports that senate Republicans scored a victory on parliamentary rules this morning which, potentially, revives the chance for enactment of an amendment providing protection against lawsuits for Americans who report suspicious activity.

Posted on 10:48 AM by Andy McCarthy

Petronius's Onymicon

I blush -- see the crisrixian "Keats and Embarrassment" passim -- to admit that in my first year of prep school, at the age of fourteen, I would read, under the covers, after lights were supposed to be out, a book that I had been told about by the older boys at Exeter or Andover, at St. Paul's, or possibly even Winchester or Glenstal Abbey, or Appleforth (I can't remember, it's all a blur now), a book that I had carefully ordered from a catalogue and had had mailed to me in a brown paper wrapper. The book was "Petronius's Onymicon" and I remember devouring it from cover to cover, looking for the good parts.

Imagine my surprise, some decades later, to attend a reunion and find out from my aging classmates -- all of them had suffered from the ravages of time to which, strangely, only I in that entire class have remained immune --  that I had had it all wrong. The book they had recommended to me decades before, one of them laughingly told me (he had been famously thick-headed at school, and was now a spectacularly rich financial finagler) -- was in fact "Petronius's Satyricon," a book a sympathetic Latin master had recommended to the class one day. Well, you can imagine my embarrassment.

But never since have I been at a loss for nyms.

Posted on 10:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

An Obvious Misunderstanding

"Right on Hugh. And stay in Iraq, and keep killing Al Qaeda jihadis..." -- from a reader

Apparently the reader has chosen to offer general approval ("right on") with specific and total disapproval -- or a deliberate ignoring of -- what I think, have always thought, should happen in Iraq. And that is the exact opposite of his prescription that the American army "stay in Iraq, and keep killing Al Qaeda jihadists."

Let me repeat: Tarbaby Iraq can result in something like a victory for the United States, and for the common, but as yet unrecognized Camp of Infidels, if and only if the Camp of Islam is weakened. It will not be weakened if the American army is bogged down in Iraq. It will not be weakened if to the $880 billion already spent on this folly still more money is added.

The true cost -- financial cost -- of this war is not understood. Even the critics of the war, such as General MacCaffery, keep using the figure "$400 billion" as if they are permitted to count only what has officially already been spent, and not the costs of replacing desert-degraded or left-behind equipment, not the costs of exiting, not the costs of future lifetime care for ten or twenty thousand wounded, not the costs of now trying to recruit people to the regular and to the citizen army, not the costs.... -- well, if this were all factored in, it would come, as of right now, to $880 billion, exclusive of macroeconomic costs, and that is more than the cost of all the wars, save World War II, that the United States has ever fought. 

There is the human cost -- the cost in lives, the cost in severely wounded. There is the cost to army morale, a morale weakened because too many soldiers, in Iraq, can see for themselves that the problem is not merely "Al Qaeda" but the grasping, meretricious, treacherous "Iraqis" themselves, but the gap between what the soldiers experience (and this or that gunga-dinnish Iraqi officer, with winning ways, should not be confused with the great mass of "Iraqis"), even if they know nothing about Islam and nothing, really, about the history of Iraq's ethnic and sectarian divisions, and the official line of the Administration and the most dutiful unquestioning officers, is part of the problem -- is exactly what diminishes morale among the troops who do take in reality, and do sense that gap, and do realize that the "mission" -- whatever it is and at this point it seems still to be to bring "freedom" to "ordinary moms and dads" in the Middle East, despite the long history of sectarian and ethnic conflict that -- I am certain -- will not be papered over, will not be resolved, will not come to an end no matter what heroic efforts continue to be asked of troops who are paying for the mistakes of the civilians, in all branches of government, unwilling or incapable of learning about Islam and about the history of Iraq.

Had you written "Right on Hugh" and then followed it with "and let's get out of Iraq, as you have been urging since very early in 2004 and thereby exploit the pre-existing fissures, including those between Sunnis and Shi'a, and different camps within each of those, and between the Arabs and non-Arab Kurds" -- then I might not have needed to reply. But you didn't. So I did.

Posted on 10:14 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Nothing lackronym

What does bacronym stand for? See here. And if you still think that the derivation of "posh" is Port Out, Starboard Home, then you're a CWOT*.

I thought there were only acronyms and bacronyms, but - alackronym - I was wrong. Here's Ben Macintyre:

The opposite of [the bacronym] is the “anacronym” (from anachronism), an acronym so completely absorbed into the language as a word in its own right that its origin has been generally forgotten - scuba, for example, from Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, or laser from Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Who now remembers that JCB was once the proud marketing acronym of the unsung Joseph Cyril Bamford, pioneer of earth-moving equipment?

I doubt he was the first man with earth-moving equipment. Moving swiftly on:

Perhaps most annoying subset is what might be called a “hackronym”, formed by journalists desperate to spot a trend: YUPPIE (Young Urban Professional), or KIPPERS (Kids in Parental Property Eroding Retirement Savings).

Acronyms can cause more problems than they solve. When I was first working in the US, my friendly Irish-American banker asked if I wanted to open an IRA account. I was appalled at what I assumed was an invitation to bankroll terrorism, until he explained about the Independent Retirement Account.

US legislators are fond of contrived acronyms, the most excruciating being the 2001 Act Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terror: the USA PATRIOT Act. Pass the sic bag.

At the other end of the spectrum are those few brave organisations determined to carry on with a blithe disregard for the demands of simplicity. The founder of the Scottish Standing Committee for the Calculation of Residual Values of Fertilisers and Feeding Stuffs (SSC-CRVFFS) was not seeking a place in the OED.

But the most impossible acronym of all is to be found in the Concise [yes] Dictionary of Soviet Terminology, which cites “The Laboratory for Shuttering, Reinforcement, Concrete and Ferroconcrete Operations for Composite-Monolithic and Monolithic Constructions of the Department of the Technology of Building-assembly Operations of the Scientific Research Institute of the Organisation for Building Mechanisation and Technical Aid of the Academy of Building and Architecture of the USSR.” Or N I I O M T P L A B O P A R M B E T Z H E L B E T R A B S B O M O N I M O N K O N O T D T E K H S T R O M O N T for short.

This is known as a heartattacronym.

*CWOT = Complete Waste Of Time. Why, what did you think it was? See you next Tuesday.

Posted on 9:18 AM by Mary Jackson

Due Diligence

Even after the Doctors' Plot we hear that those conducting Jihad through violence are marginal figures in Muslim societies. Yet a recent book by Carmen bin Ladin [the way her ex-husband transliterated his name] makes clear that the Bin Laden family, far from being horrified by their famous scion, is quite proud of Osama Bin Laden, who from an early age expressed his disapproval of all things judged to be un-Islamic. And outside of the pillaging princelings of the House of al-Saud, the Bin Ladens arepossibly the most solvent family in all of Saudi Arabia. He, Bin Laden, was no marginal figure.

And this brings one to Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Doctor al-Zawahiri, the now much-more-visible Al-Qaeda leader. Ayman al-Zawahiri is the grand-nephew of Azzam Pasha, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, the same Secretary-General of the Arab League who, just as the five Arab armies attacked the nascent state of Israel, promised that it would be a "massacre" such as had not been seen since the time of the Mongols, and that the "booty" taken in this classic Jihad would be easily removed, once the Jews had been cast into the sea. For a lucid summary of what the Arabs at the time did, and said, see Battleground by Samuel Katz, pages 12-37. In other words, Ayman al-Zawahiri is Muslim Arab royalty: the reflected glory of one's relatives is a significant feature of Arab, and Muslim, life.

These are not marginal figures. They are from two of the most important dynasties -- political and economic -- in Arab life. And that dynastic aspect perdures: from Tariq Ramadan heroically carrying on Da'wa in the same sinister spirit as his grandfather Hassan al-Banna ("Islam must dominate and is not to be dominated"), the founder in Egypt of the murderous Muslim Brotherhood, to Moqtada al-Sadr, scion of a family of famous Shiite clergy -- the last, and least, of the line -- that Gertrude Bell managed to note in her letters from Baghdad back in the 1920s.

So little in the Arab Muslim world changes. What has changed is the presence of money from oil, and the technology to spread Islam with its "full message" of Jihad and hatred of Infidels. And of course there has been the colossal folly of permitting, without the slightest consideration of what this would inevitably mean for the lives and wellbeing of the indigenous Infidels, huge numbers of Muslims to move, unhindered and even welcomed, to the Bilad al-kufr, the Lands of the Infidels, where they arrive not as grateful refugees, but as people who, from Ramadan to Dyab Abou Jahjah in Belgium to the German imam who, at the opening of the Grenada mosque, called for the destruction of the Infidel economies of Europe, see Europe as, by right, the lands to which the people of Allah, and only they, are entitled. And all that is there is booty. It belongs to them for the righteous taking.

No one is being asked to join the Resistance in France in 1942. No one is being asked to be a hero. But one owes it to oneself, to other Infidels, to one's children, to at least fully inform oneself about Islam, its central tenets, and about the treatment of non-Muslims under Islamic rule, during the past 1350 years. That is an act of study, not of bravely being a courier, or hiding British airmen, or blowing up the oilfields of Rumania, or any such feat of derring-do.

This is the only feat of derring-do you are being asked to perform: study, study, study. Not all night, not all day. But enough so that you understand what Islam is all about, so that you cannot be fooled in conversation, and so that you may, through letters, through discussions, through phoning in to those PBS talk shows run by Lord Haw Haws and Tokyo Roses, get the truth through.

What should this duty be called? Let us say: the Duty of Due Diligence. We are being asked to accept a "merger" of our civilization with that of Islam, without knowing very much about Islam. And that "merger" is supposedly to take place through the unhindered, and supposedly irreversible, movement of Muslims to the Lands of the Infidels. Well, Due Diligence demands that we study this matter very carefully.

Go ahead. Perform that Due Diligence. It is the minimum that can be asked of you.

Posted on 8:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Flying Imams, CAIR and Democrats Defeat Common Sense National Security

At least for now, the Democrats have killed Rep. Pete King's amendment which would have provided protection from being sued for people who report suspicious behavior — like the Flying Imams' simulated hijacking — in national security cases.  Michelle Malkin has the details.

Maybe it's me, but I just find this stunning.  Asking whether, in this era (or, frankly, any era), you should be able to tell the police you saw something troubling without having to worry about it is like asking whether you should be able to breathe.  It is common sense — if such a thing exists anymore in Reid/Pelosi America.

The Democrats' maneuver here is also an obnoxious assertion of state power over the individual:  If the state subpoenas you for information, you are compelled to provide it to the authorities whether you want to or not; but if you want to provide it voluntarily in order to protect your community, the Democrats say, "prepare to be sued."

What possible good reason is there to silence people who want to tell the police they saw suspicious behavior?  Under circumstances where we are under threat from covert terror networks which secretly embed themselves in our society to prepare and carry out WMD attacks?  Planet earth to the Democrats:  To execute such attacks, terrorists have to act suspiciously at some point.  There are only a few thousand federal agents in the country.  There are many more local police, but even they are relatively sparse in a country of 300 million.  If we are going to stop the people trying to kill us, we need ordinary citizens on their toes.  Again, this is just common sense.

Profiling?  Our war is against ISLAMIC radicals.  They think the KORAN is commanding them to murder us.  The guy who tried to bomb the airport in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago was yelling ALLAH! as he fought with the police.  We're supposed to ignore that?

Democrats killed the amendment in a very sneaky, technical, under-the-radar way in the House — so they can tell their insane fringe backers they pulled it off, yet no one's fingerprints are on it.  As far as I'm concerned, that just means we should blame "THE DEMOCRATS."  Period.  If they don't want personal accountability, we should see it this way:  When it comes to national security, this is who they are.

In the senate, the measure fell short by three votes of the 60 needed.  By the way:  Barack Obama and Sam Brownback, showing real leadership as they run for the White House, did not bother to vote.  Nor did Dianne Feinstein, though she is a member of the Judiciary Committee and frequently has lots to say on national security issues.  Three votes were needed on an issue that pitted the American people against the netroots, and those three were nowhere to be found.  Profiles in courage all.

All Republicans in the Senate except Brownback voted for the measure.  Hillary Clinton, who is running for president and obviously is not suicidal, broke with her party and voted with the Republicans.  So did Senators Bayh, Conrad, Dorgan, Landrieu, Lieberman, Nelson (of Nebraska), and Schumer. The remaining 39 Democrats were all nays.  Call them the "Death Wish Caucus," doing the bidding of CAIR, which is backing the Flying Imams and their alleged right to sue Americans for reporting potential terrorist activity.

Michelle advises us to take heart:  "This fight is not over. There still is a final conference report to be hashed out. Keep your phones lit. The Senate Dems need to hear from you."

Posted on 8:12 AM by Andy McCarthy

So I'm slow, am I? You just try walking with fins.

In their annual return, dozens of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) have been planting their eggs in deep nests up and down Folly Is., S.C. since June. Here's a July sighting.

Nest 18 July 17, 2007 by Judi B. and Betty T. More

Says one Folly Turtle Watcher,

"She nested in the trough (low area) between the sand fencing and existing dunes ... an area that has been over washed by spring high tides.  Cheryl probed the nest while Mike dug a new nest and 111 eggs were moved to a safer, higher location in the County Park."

Posted on 7:26 AM by Robert Bove

Two men held in Bristol on suspicion of terror offences
From This is London the website of the London Evening Standard
Two men have been arrested under the Terrorism Act 2006, after the discovery of a suspicious substance in a flat, police said today.
Officers from Avon and Somerset Police arrested the two men, one of Afghan origin, on Wednesday evening after searching premises in the Easton area of Bristol. Police said that during the search a substance was found that led them to believe there may be a potential link to terrorist activity.
Police arrested a man in the Castle Park area of central Bristol at about 10pm on Wednesday evening on suspicion of drug related offences. Following the arrest police searched a flat in Stapleton Road in the Easton area of the city.
During that search officers found a suspicious substance, a spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said. Following the search police arrested second man.
Both men, who have not been identified, are currently being questioned at undisclosed police stations in the Avon and Somerset area.
The Easton area, which lies several miles to the north of central Bristol, is home to a large Muslim population.
Police said they had been speaking to community leaders in the area to offer reassurance and information.
Abdul Malik, Liberal Democrat councillor for Easton, said the news of the arrests had been a shock to the Muslim community in the city.
He said: "At the moment it is very new to us. We were only told about the arrests yesterday. (Funny, when the east end gangs, of which the Kray Bros were the most well known, were being broken up in the late 1960s I don't remember the police coming in to reassure and inform the local community) We are not sure if it is associated with any event nationally or internationally. Of course we condemn any terrorist activity and we are hoping that this is nothing serious. We hope this will not undermine the wonderful relationship we have with all communities in Bristol."
He added, Our local drug dealers are all quiet religious (but not excessively so) boys who like nothing better than listening to Vera Lynn CDs and who wouldn’t hurt a fly. I can’t believe that any of them would be involved in anything like this. No, I’m making that up.
Update on this story.
police found two containers maked 'hydrogen peroxide', the chemical used in July 7 London bombings, at their flat.
"There is a heightened vigilance with the general terrorist threat and that has sparked our inquiry as to why someone would ostensibly be in possession of up to 50 litres of hydrogen peroxide," Steve Mortimore, Assistant Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said.
"If it turns out to be 50 litres of industrial strength hydrogen peroxide, then clearly there are some questions to answer," he said.
The substance turns out to be vegetable oil. It might not have been.
Posted on 4:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

More from The Mirror on events within HMP Frankland.
BLUEWATER bomb plot terrorist Omar Khyam is living in fear after fellow prisoners threatened to kill him.
The 25-year-old al-Qaeda mastermind has been sent death threats at the same jail where dirty bomber Dhiren Barot was last week attacked with boiling oil and water.
Khyam's lawyer Imran Khan is pleading with officials to get the Crawley-born thug transferred away from Frankland prison in Co Durham. He said: "We have been pressing as a matter of urgency for him to be moved before something happens. Otherwise we will go to the High Court.  He already feared for his life but this attack on Barot is solid evidence of the manner of death threat my client faces."
Khyam was secretly transferred from Belmarsh jail in South East London for radicalising other prisoners.
A source said: "He and his followers were turning dozens of other inmates to radical Islamist ideas. He was moved before things got worse." The Crawley-born terrorist is now in a segregation wing at Frankland.
Posted on 3:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 19 July 2007
Life imitates Scrapple Face

Go here for the tale of the world's first openly Muslim priest. No kidding.

Posted on 4:59 PM by Robert Bove

Rorty on Nietzsche
Jonah Goldberg points out this Richard Rorty quote.  It is an exceptionally pure specimen of blank-slatism. 
"This hard saying brings out what ties Dewey and Foucault, James and Nietzsche, together- the sense that there is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves, no criterion that we have not created in the course of creating a practice, no standard of rationality that is not an appeal to such a criterion, no rigorous argumentation that is not obedience to our own conventions."
I.e. What is "deep down inside us" was put there either by ourselves, or by God.  In the absence of God, we create ourselves.
In fact, careful inquiry shows that most of what is "deep down inside us" was put there by Ma Nature (who may, of course, have been operating under God's supervision).  This may even include the moral sense.  At least, there are very plausible, though at present speculative, theories explaining the moral sense in naturalistic terms. 
These theories will be rigorously proved, or refuted, when we know much more about the history and function of the human genome.  Given the track record of science vs. supernaturalism, I wouldn't personally bet my house on a supernatural origin for the moral sense.
(Incidentally, is Rorty being fair to Nietzsche there?  I thought the old boy was more sypathetic than that to naturalism... but my knowledge of Nietzsche is sketchy, derived mainly from the Solomon/Higgins Teaching Company lectures, which someone told me are a bit of a whitewash.  Elucidation from better-informed Nietzscheans would be appreciated.)
Posted on 3:43 PM by John Derbyshire

I didn’t post about the possible deportation of Samar yesterday as I was hoping for better news today. I hope that the Daily Express is correct.
A WOMAN who faced being stoned to death in Iran for the “crime” of becoming a Christian was granted a re­prieve last night when Britain postponed her deportation.
Samar Razavi, 30, was just hours away from being forced on to a Tehran-bound plane when Daily Express columnist Ann Widdecombe raised her case in Parliament.
After the intervention, Home Office officials told Miss Widdecombe the deportation would be put off while the case was reconsidered.  Samar came to the UK three years ago to study English, having already converted from Islam because her boyfriend in Iran was a Christian.
But during her time in Britain, the authorities in Iran learned that she had become a Christian and they issued a death warrant. Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Miss Widdecombe said Samar had been refused asylum even though she was under a death warrant. To shouts of support at Prime Minister’s Question Time, she said: “Will you please look at the case with an urgent view to intervention? Samar was detained on Tuesday last week, despite officials being shown a copy of the death warrant which warned of “stoning to death”.
She has been supported by friends at the church she attends in Bournemouth.
Last night supporter Ruth Oliver said: “We are not rejoicing because we’ve a long way to go” 
Samar’s faith deepened while she was in Britain and she sought asylum, but it was considered she had no reason to remain here.
Samar’s family are said to be un­happy that she has converted from Islam, but do not want her stoned to death. Her boyfriend does not face danger as he comes from a Christian family.
Miss Widdecombe said: “I’m relieved that Samar’s situation will be re­viewed. I can’t predict the decision but I’m glad it will be reviewed at the highest level.” Local MP Tobias Ellwood is now requesting that Samar be allowed to return to Bournemouth until a decision has been made.  He said: “We hope the Government will now address Samar’s case as soon as possible.” The Home Office is under pressure to reform the way Christian asylum seekers are treated following complaints about “ludicrous” questioning from immigration officials.
Ann Nash, a campaigner at Father’s House Church in Bournemouth, said: “This is, we feel, immoral to let this happen to someone who has tried to seek refuge and asylum in this country. We feel there are so many other people who do this country harm but are allowed to stay and yet Samar, who has not done this country any harm, is not permitted to remain.”
This article from the local paper the Bournemouth Daily Echo is from earlier in the week. The immigration authorities seem to have stayed the deportation, then fixed it for tomorrow, then stayed it again late yesterday. The comments from local people supporting her are encouraging. 
Posted on 3:31 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Downing Street's response to e-petition.
As I posted last night (the early hours of this morning really) the petition against the building of the proposed “Megamosque” ended at midnight.
The No 10 Downing Street response arrived in my inbox at tea time this afternoon. Obviously the response was given a lot of thought.
The interim response sent in May said
Under planning legislation, local planning authorities are responsible for the day to day control of development in their area. In doing so they are required to take into account all material considerations including the views of interested persons and particularly local communities.
With respect to the proposal associated with a site near the Olympic development in Newham, we understand from Newham Council that there is no current planning permission or application for a mosque and Newham Council do not expect a planning application in the near future
The Government believes that where controversial issues such as this arise, all involved should ensure that discussions are conducted in a manner that respects the views of all sections of our communities and in a way that does not raise tensions in local areas.
The final response said
Thank you for taking the time to sign this e-petition.
This petition expresses concern about the possibility of planning permission being given for a large mosque in East London on a site near the London 2012 Olympic development in Newham.
Those who have signed the petition and members of the public alike should be aware that Newham Council have confirmed that they have granted no such planning permission or received an application for a mosque as described in this petition.
In addition, there have been no approaches made to the Government in terms of seeking funding, despite the widespread unsubstantiated claim that up to £100 million of taxpayers' money is being spent on this project.
The Greater London Authority has also made a statement about untrue claims circulating about the Mayor of London's involvement in this project. This is available at: (new window). (This address is an error – surprise, surprise.)
Under the Town and Country Planning legislation, local planning authorities are responsible for the control of development in their area. In doing so they are required to take into account all considerations, including the views of interested persons and in particular local communities.
The Government strongly believes that where controversial issues such as religious premises arise, all involved should ensure that discussions are conducted in a manner that respects the views of all sections of our communities and in a way that does not raise tensions in local areas. The Government does not endorse the language used in this petition or the associated emails that have come to light over the course of the petition.
Notwithstanding that the wording of the petition could have been better 277000 signatures mean nothing to the government. As 1.8 million signatures on the petition on the subject of road pricing had no effect on that policy I shouldn’t be surprised.
As I said before it is disingenuous to merely say that there is no application for planning under consideration. There is no point in engaging new architects if the intention is to continue in makeshift accommodation for ever. In any event the temporary planning permission for that use expired some time ago.
Things are happening on the site – a new perimeter fence has gone up and machinery has appeared.
The government must realise that we cannot be ignored. 
Posted on 3:04 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Karzai & Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai, upset over the deaths of civilians caught in the middle of fighting between coalition troops and militant fighters, had harsh words for NATO forces Saturday. --from this news item

Karzai is a weak ruler, which at least means he is no despot, for good or ill. His main interest is in doing what modern rulers of Afghanistan have always tried to do, which is to inveigle outsiders into bringing aid to the country. The Americans thus have been told, and do believe, that if they build roads and schools and so on and so forth, this will somehow -- no one explains how -- not only manage to "transform" Afghanistan (for more on this o'erweeing and silly idea, see Rory Stewart), but make the Muslims of Afghanistan friendlier. Nonsense. All the evidence suggests that greater access to the outside world, to the world of audiocassettes, videocassettes, satellite television, all the greater movement that American-built roads supply, all the access to new and better weapons, will only cause the people in Afghanistan (not "the Afghani people" which is a different and doubtful construct) to be more easily subjected to the al-Jazeera messengers from outside, and what's more, more inclined to participate in Jihad.

Better to do nothing, nothing to change them, nothing to "transform" them, nothing to lift them out of their permanent hardscrabble existence which is the fate of all Muslim peoples, with their habit of mental submission and inshallah-fatalism, unless they are rescued, as so many have been, either by the manna of oil and gas deposits, or by the Jizyah of foreign aid that so many Muslims have managed to extract from Infidels, rather than going, as they should, to their fellow rich members of the umma -- why isn't Saudi Arabia now contributing ten or twenty billion to the "reconstruction" of Afghanistan? Wasn't it Saudi Arabia that spent billions to keep Afghanistan from control by those Infidel Russians? But of course the Saudi interest is not on behalf of people in Afghanistan, but only against their falling under Infidel domination. The same is true for the Arab aid given to the "Palestinians" -- given only for weapons, and as rewards to the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists, and not to improve the daily lot of those fellow members of the umma, to whom loyalty is supposedly owed -- but is merely a negative loyalty, a loyalty that works not for fellow Muslims but only against Infidels.

The investment in Afghanistan will come to nothing. It attracts less attention because it seems acceptable, but that is only because we are all silently making the comparison with the fantastic folly of Iraq, and on that scale, Afghanistan is hardly to be complained about.

People are not as malleable as the naive Administration thinks. Nor has the case been made that Western aid, endless aid, will do anything to make the Muslims now in Afghanistan less hostile or less of a threat. It will only make them better able to participate, in whatever way they can, in what is a world-wide Jihad, conducted with different instruments and with different levels of intensity depending on conditions, and with different local targets -- targets of those who are Infidels, or are seen as collaborators of the Infidels.

Posted on 3:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Pseudsday Thursday (cont.)
When is a duck not a duck?
It is usually thought, and I daresay rightly thought, that what one might call the affirmative use of a term is basic - that, to understand 'X', we need to know what it is to be X, or to be an X, and that knowing this apprises us of what it is not to be X, not to be an X.

 But with 'real', it is the negative use which wears the trousers. That is, a definite sense attaches to the assertion that something is real, a real such-and-such, only in the light of a specific way in which it might be, or might have been, not real.

'A real duck' differs from the simple 'a duck' only in that it is used to exclude various ways of not being a real duck - but a dummy, a toy, a picture, a decoy, etc. And moreover I don't know just how to take the assertion that it is a real duck unless I know just what, on that particular occasion, the speaker has it in mind to exclude.

JL Austin, Sense and Sensibilia (1962)

This chap's a real clever clogs. Or is he?

Posted on 3:05 PM by Mary Jackson

Pseudsday Thursday

"Blah-feme" on fatigue fugue, glorious dances, sickness, musicking, macrobiotics, degree-zero aesthetics, hegemonic structures and deadly truth:

The relationship "fatigue - fugue" has always fascinated me. How might it be that these words seem phonetically and cypherially joined? What strange slip of arbitrary linguistic assignment led to the striking visual and auditory similarity of these two words? I am moved to engage in what Mladen Dolar has termed an apocryphal etymology. Imagine the glorious dances that would ensue in such an etymology, the counterfactual histories that would run along the interface of baroque polyphony and the debilitation caused by a dearth of physical energy.

And yet, as with Dolar's counterfactual series phonos-phonē, there is something highly suggestive in this relationship. Fugue, that musical form that performs the ideological neatness of absolutism, the fantasy of an ordered multiplicity within a stringent and absolute harmonic singularity, falls under a usefully malign pressure when made to account for its closeness to fatigue. We are dealing here with the realtionship of multi-voicedness and lassitude, polyvalence and the singularity of sickness.

'Here comes everybody' as John Cage once said: and it is here that this apocryphal narrative begins to come into focus: it was Cage who, in his writings and work, drove the distended and overwrought connection between intention and expression to crisis point; for Cage, the multiplicity that Christian traditions had linked to wickedness and, explicitly to Satan, was a condition of living, a state of being that could not be reduced to singularity, intention, order, or the rule of law. The fatigue that Cage felt for most of his earlier life (and 'cured' by a macrobiotic diet) was also the starting point of his foray into degree-zero aesthetics. His body, marked by the excesses of his youth, was beginning to rebel, to refuse the channelledness of the late expressionism that had tormented his perilous nights. With his realisation at the destructive force of that older aesthetic comes his new microbiotic regime and his turn to forms of being and musicking that embrace multiplicity.

What this apocryphal narrative helps draw out, then, is the open-ended and yet devastating operation of the principle of undisciplined connection on hegemonic structures: just to think fugue and fatigue together is to notice something that was no visible before.

In play, the deadly truth will out.

Next week: tomato pizzicato - pheasant plucking for the highly strung.

Posted on 2:39 PM by Mary Jackson

The Patience of a Slow Jihadist, Fathullah Gulen

The essence of Fathullah Gulen's message is patience and cunning. But it is not a different message, with different goals, from that of Ayman al-Zawahiri or of Osama Bin Laden or of any true-believing Muslim leader of this or that group. It is worth selecting, from the previous post, the two most telling paragraphs:

"You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers… until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria… like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete, and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it… You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey… Until that time, any step taken would be too early - like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all - in confidence… trusting your loyalty and sensitivity to secrecy. I know that when you leave here - [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and feelings expressed here."


"The philosophy of our service is that we open a house somewhere and, with the patience of a spider, we lay our web, to wait for people to get caught in the web; and we teach those who do. We don't lay the web to eat or consume them, but to show them the way to their resurrection, to blow life into their dead bodies and souls, to give them a life."

Posted on 12:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald


That's the title of a tiny article in yesterday's Corridere della Sera. Not a misprint for Swedish "Vasa" but an abridged verson of "vaffanculo," which impossible imperative, assuming the culo of the person in question is his own, is no longer, according to that Corriere article, to be considered obscene. Why not? For the same reason that the definition of "obscenity" has been linked, by the Supreme Court,  to "prevailing community standards" so that as those standards fall (because of the prevalence of obscene items to which that community becomes inured), still more is allowed, "community standards" go down, and the race down is to the swiftest.

It's been a long time since Carlin's Seven Little Words were the stuff of case law.  Now anything goes -- far more than Cole Porter would have wanted, as anyone can confirm by turning on the Vaffa Sultans and other Emperors of the Ante-Meridian  Air. It's an esthetic as well as moral error, in Italy or anywhere else.

Il mondo e fatto a scale: C'e chi scende, c'e chi sale.

Well, it's easy to see who's descending or scending -- we are, here in North America and in Schengenland.

Quaere: Who's going up?

Posted on 10:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Fethullah Gulen: Settled Among The Amish

MEMRI: Fethullah Gulen is thought to be one of the richest Turks in the world. He lives on a large estate in Pennsylvania, and it is from there that he runs his million-member community. The prevailing perception in political circles in Turkey is that Fethullah Gulen is the power behind many Islamist politicians, especially in the AKP.

In 1999, footage was aired on Turkish television of sermons delivered by Fethullah Gulen to a crowd of followers, in which he revealed his aspirations for an Islamist Turkey ruled by shari'a as well as the methods that should be used to attain that goal. In the sermons, he said:

"You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers… until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria… like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete, and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it… You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey… Until that time, any step taken would be too early - like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all - in confidence… trusting your loyalty and sensitivity to secrecy. I know that when you leave here - [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and feelings expressed here."

The sermon continues: "When everything was closed and all doors were locked, our houses of isik [light] assumed a mission greater than that of older times. In the past, some of the duties of these houses were carried out by madrassas, some by schools, some by tekkes [Islamist lodges]… These homes had to be schools, had to be madrassas, [had to be] tekkes all at the same time. The permission did not come from the state, or the state's laws, or the people who govern us. The permission was given by Allah… who wanted His name learned and talked about, studied, and discussed in those houses, as it used to be in the mosques." [3]

In another sermon, he said: "Now it is a painful spring that we live in. A nation is being born again. A nation of millions [is] being born - one that will live for long centuries, Allah willing… It is being born with its own culture, its own civilization. If giving birth to one person is so painful, the birth of millions cannot be pain-free. Naturally we will suffer pain. It won't be easy for a nation that has accepted atheism, has accepted materialism, a nation accustomed to running away from itself, to come back riding on its horse. It will not be easy, but it is worth all our suffering and the sacrifices." [4]

In yet another sermon, he said, "The philosophy of our service is that we open a house somewhere and, with the patience of a spider, we lay our web, to wait for people to get caught in the web; and we teach those who do. We don't lay the web to eat or consume them, but to show them the way to their resurrection, to blow life into their dead bodies and souls, to give them a life." [5]

By the time this was aired, Gulen had already left the country for the U.S., supposedly for health reasons. A year later, in 2000, he was indicted in absentia for attempting to change Turkey's system of government and for "forming an illegal organization with the purpose of establishing an Islamist state." It was from there that he built his international Islamist community. [6]

At a 2003 judicial hearing, it was decided to postpone Gulen's trial, subject to reprocessing if he was indicted again for a similar crime in the next five years. In May 2006, the AKP government modified the criminal code regarding acts of terror, and Gulen was acquitted. [7]

Posted on 10:17 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Heartthrob House

When Americans try to speak in an English accent, they generally fail. Men and women fail in different ways. With men the result is hilarious - think of those villains. With women it is curiously bland - think of Bridget Fonda's feeble Mandy Rice-Davies in Scandal, or Gwyneth Paltrow's insipid Emma.

I assume that the reverse is true, that an Englishman's attempt at an American accent will be similarly received. I was therefore astonished to see the success of Hugh Laurie in House. 

Hugh Laurie has had a number of roles, but to me he will always be an amiable and comical goofy upper-class twit. Goofy upper-class twits can only be English.

Hugh Laurie was Bertie Wooster, an amiable and comical goofy upper-class twit:

He was George in Blackadder, an amiable and comical goofy Prince of Wales and an amiable and comical goofy army lieutenant:

But now he's transformed into Dr Gregory House, a fiercely intelligent, decidedly un-goofy doctor with an abrasively sarcastic manner, sex appeal, a mysterious limp, an American accent and a serious beard:

For all his considerable talents, Stephen Fry, who co-starred with Hugh Laurie in his comedies, can only ever be Stephen Fry. Hugh Laurie's versatility, by contrast, is very surprising.

Question for Americans: is his accent any good?

Posted on 9:24 AM by Mary Jackson

Re: Lost Story Bleg

Got it.

In 'The Mannichon Solution,' a nebbish chemist working in the detergents department while dreaming of the Nobel Prize accidently discovers a solution that might make him rich and famous but that kills any organism with yellow pigment, and for which the only likely buyer is the C.I.A. (to drop into the Yangtze to solve the 'yellow peril' problem).

Many thanks to reader Sergey, who found that for me, and also to the several readers who pointed me to Heinlein's "Sixth Column," which, though not the story I remembered, looks to be worth reading.
Posted on 9:37 AM by John Derbyshire

Robert D.Crane

If we can recognize that the Muslim bashers, like Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch, really are on our side in the global war against terrorism, how can we convince them that their strategy is counter-productive? It should seem obvious by now that demonizing Islam merely breeds more Muslim extremists by evoking extremist reactions. Most ironically, the Muslim bashers support the Muslim terrorists by agreeing with their perversions of the Qur’an and sunnah. --Robert D. Crane

Robert D.Crane is a convert to Islam, and his biography -- the one he himself composed -- shows other evidence of mental bizarrerie. He has a vested interest in protecting Islam, and protecting as well his own emotional investment, as a convert, in Islam. At this point, he is unlikely to say -- it would be impossible for him to say, given his mental makeup, to say or even to allow himself a glimmer of a hint, that --yes, you're right, I "reverted" to something I did not understand, that is quite different from what the naive revert may think, and that those who are born into Islam, and have managed to defect or escape -- and these are, essentially, all the best people, intellectually and morally superior people, who through no fault of their own are born into Islam -- such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq and Ali Sina and Azam Kamguian and Irfan Khawaja and a great many more, and in whose ranks I would also place those who, largely out of filial piety, continue to call themselves "cultural Muslims" or even, in the case of Magdi Allam, "Muslims."

That is one explanation, a more innocent one, for the behavior of this bizarre representative -- but aren't "reverts" from Leopold Weiss (Mustafa As'ad) to St. John Philby to John Walker Lindh and David Hicks and Richard Reid and Yvonne Ridley all of them just a little, or a very great deal, off?

Another, more sinister explanation, is that Crane wishes to keep up a collective game of "Let's Pretend." Let's tell Muslims there is nothing wrong with Islam; let's tell Muslims that yes, they are right, the "real" Islam is swell, and there is nothing to worry about. And in so doing, of course, we are also forced to tell another audience -- ourselves, the audience of Infidels --the same soothing untruths, soothing and dangerous, because we will then, presumably, not be sufficiently alert and wary to protect ourselves from, inter alia, the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, and demographic conquest.

After all, if as Robert D. Crane claims, there is nothing wrong with Islam, and if his characterization of Robert Spencer is correct, if Spencer is indeed "diabolical" and prompted by the carefully-undefined "islamophobia," then we should do nothing to protect ourselves against, not only or merely terrorism, but against that Money Weapon (that supports the spread of Islam all over the Western and greater Infidel world), those well-financed carefully-targetted campaigns of Da'wa, planned like a military campaigns, which is what they are, and of course demographic conquest, the beginnings of which were made possible by Infidel negligence and naiveté -- the very negligence, the very naiveté, that the Cranes of this world would in sweetly sinister fashion have continued until it is too late. Why not -- for Crane, as for other converts or reverts, Islam should cover the globe, Islam should dominate, Muslims should rule.

If, however, you do not agree with the true-believing likes of Robert D. Crane (or the propaganda spun by the armies of Western hirelings, academics, journalists, ex-diplomats, who are "only" doing it for the money), then you may not be eager to participate in this collective game, a game to be played by Infidels in order that Muslims will not be offended and pushed into the camp of the "extremists," if, in other words, you agree that the work Robert Spencer has done in his meticulous presentations, devoid of rhetorical frills or furbelows, and based deliberately not on Western texts, but entirely on the texts of Islam, or on the commentaries on those texts by Muslims themselves, then you will not take kindly to the likes of Crane attempting to persuade you that we can "do more good" with Muslims by never telling these truths, to ourselves as well as to them, never bringing up the evidence of the texts (or for that matter the evidence of 1350 years of Jihad-conquest, and subsequent subjugation of non-Muslims of every kind).

No, you will not take kindly to such advice at all. You will instead regard Robert D. Crane as what he is: a transparent propagandist for Islam. Whether fully or semi-demented, is to me unclear. But it hardly matters.

Posted on 9:03 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Islamic Creationist and a Book Sent Round the World

Islamic propaganda is well financed and sophisticated. Earlier this week I pointed out the full page ads running in National Review, The New Republic and other political magazines promoting an apologetic CD series on Islam by Akbar Ahmed. The source of this is a previously little known company called Now You Know Media.

New Duranty is running this article:

In the United States, opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schools has largely been fueled by the religious right, particularly Protestant fundamentalism.

Now another voice is entering the debate, in dramatic fashion.

It is the voice of Adnan Oktar of Turkey, who, under the name Harun Yahya, has produced numerous books, videos and DVDs on science and faith, in particular what he calls the “deceit” inherent in the theory of evolution. One of his books, “Atlas of Creation,” is turning up, unsolicited, in mailboxes of scientists around the country and members of Congress, and at science museums in places like Queens and Bemidji, Minn.

At 11 x 17 inches and 12 pounds, with a bright red cover and almost 800 glossy pages, most of them lavishly illustrated, “Atlas of Creation” is probably the largest and most beautiful creationist challenge yet to Darwin’s theory, which Mr. Yahya calls a feeble and perverted ideology contradicted by the Koran...

In the book and on his Web site (, Mr. Yahya says he was born in Ankara in 1956, and grew up and was educated in Turkey. He says he seeks to unmask what the book calls “the imposture of evolutionists” and the links between their scientific views and modern evils like fascism, communism and terrorism. He says he hopes to encourage readers “to open their minds and hearts and guide them to become more devoted servants of God.”

He adds that he seeks “no material gain” from his publications, most of which are available free or at relatively low cost.

Who finances these efforts is “a big question that no one knows the answer to,” said another recipient, Taner Edis, a physicist at Truman State University in Missouri who studies issues of science and religion, particularly Islam. Dr. Edis grew up in a secular household in Turkey and has lived in the United States since enrolling in graduate school at Johns Hopkins, where he earned his doctorate in 1994. He said Mr. Yahya’s activities were usually described in the Turkish press as financed by donations. “But what that can mean is anybody’s guess,” he said...

Though I have argued that natural selection is probably not the only mechanism involved in evolution, I certainly maintain evolution is a fact and a very important concept upholding the idea of progress as an integral part of reality - that creation is not static. In this aspect I have sympathy for those who see Intelligent Design as a reactionary effort to re-introduce biblical, or, in this case, koranic creationism, in order to undercut the idea of progress, though I understand the basic concepts driving ID are much broader.

Islam is nothing if not anti-progressive.

Posted on 8:20 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Home truths

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has admitted that she smoked cannabis while at Oxford University in the 1980s. From the BBC:

Her disclosure came the day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown said she would head a review of UK drugs strategy - including reviewing the cannabis laws.

"I did break the law... I was wrong... drugs are wrong," Ms Smith, 44, said.

She had smoked it "just a few times", had "not particularly" enjoyed it and had not taken any other illegal drugs, she told the BBC.

Why do politicians always claim they didn't enjoy it, or didn't inhale? I look forward to the day that a cabinet minister admits to inhaling deeply on a Camberwell Carrot and loving every minute of it.

As we reported here, David Cameron also partook of a puff - and smoked the odd joint too. As a punishment, he was forced to copy out hundreds of lines of Latin poetry. I think our Home Secretary deserves a similar fate. However, instead of Latin lines, I think she should write out five hundred times:

My name is Jacqueline Smith.

My name is Jacqueline Smith.

I can contemplate with equanimity the possibility of a Home Secretary with pot-filled past. But a home secretary called Jacqui? It's infra dig. It's tacqui.

Posted on 7:31 AM by Mary Jackson