Tuesday, 1 September 2015
We Have a Winner!
Keith Simmonds has won the crossword competition for August (again). He will receive a copy of Theodore Dalrymple's Out Into The Beautiful World
. Congratulations Keith! And to everyone who came close, try try again.
Posted on 09/01/2015 11:42 AM by NER
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei In Mid-August 2015
On August 17, 2015, just over a month after the announcement of the JCPOA in Vienna, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in a speech at a conference held by the Iranian Shi'ite Ahl Al-Bayt organization that the U.S. is the embodiment of the enemy of the Islamic peoples and of Iran. It must be fought with military, cultural, economic, and political jihad, he said, adding that Islamic Iran is not interested in reconciling with it. He further claimed that the U.S. is attempting to divide the Islamic world into Shi'ite and Sunni camps that will wage a religious war against each other, and in this way gain it will be able to gain control over the peoples of the region.
Iran, he stressed, stands behind the resistance axis, opposes the division of Syria and Iraq, and will continue to support anyone who fights Israel.
Following are excerpts from a report on the speech that was posted on Khamenei's website (Leader.ir):
"[Khamenei said:] 'We must combat the plans of the arrogance [i.e. the West, led by the U.S.] with jihad for the sake of Allah.' The Leader pointed to 'America's efforts to exploit the results of the nuclear talks and exert economic, political, and cultural influence in Iran' and to the plots of the power-hungry order aimed at sowing conflict and gaining influence in the region. The Leader called for 'adopting the correct plans in order to wisely and consistently fight this plot, in an offense against it and a defense against it.'
"[Khamenei said:] 'Jihad for the sake of God does not only mean military conflict, but also means cultural, economic, and political struggle. The clearest essence of jihad for the sake of God today is to identify the plots of the arrogance in the Islamic region, especially the sensitive and strategic West Asian region. The planning for the struggle against them should include both defense and offense.
"[He continued:] 'The plots of the arrogance in the region have continued for a century, but [its] pressure and plotting increased after Iran's Islamic Revolution , in order to prevent [this Revolution] from spreading to other countries. For 35 years, the regime in Iran has been subjected to threats, sanctions, security pressure, and various political plots. The Iranian nation has grown accustomed to this pressure. After the Islamic awakening movement blossomed in recent years in North Africa [i.e. the Arab Spring], the enemy greatly stepped up its plots in the West Asian region because of its panic.
"'The enemies thought that they could suppress the Islamic awakening movement, but it cannot be suppressed. It continues, and sooner or later it will prove itself as reality.
"'The power-hungry order led by the United States of America is the perfectly clear embodiment of "the concept of the enemy." America has no human morality. It carries out evil crimes under the guise of flowery statements and smiles. The enemy's plot is two pronged: creating conflict and [exerting] influence. [The enemy sows conflict] among governments, and, worse, among the nations. At this stage, they are using the Shi'a and the Sunna to create conflict among the nations. Britain is an expert in sowing conflict; the Americans are its apprentices.
"'Establishing violent despicable criminal takfiri circles, which the Americans have acknowledged establishing, is the main means of sowing conflict, ostensibly religious conflict, among [the Muslim] nations. Sadly, some innocent and ignorant Muslims have been fooled by this plot, and have been tricked by the enemy and fallen into its trap. Syria is an obvious example of this. When Tunisia and Egypt, with Islamic slogans, ousted their infidel governments, the Americans and Zionists decided to use this formula to eliminate the countries of the resistance, turning their attention to Syria. After the events in Syria began, some ignorant Muslims were tricked by the enemy and dragged Syria to its current situation. What is happening today in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and other countries, which some people insist on calling "a religious war," is in no way a war of religion [i.e. Sunni vs. Shi'ite], but a political war. The most important duty today is to remove these conflicts.
"'I have explicitly stated that Iran reaches out in friendship to all the Islamic governments in the region, and that we have no problem with Muslim governments. Iran has friendly relations with most of its neighbors. Some still have conflicts with us; they are stubborn, and carry out nefarious acts, but Iran aspires to good relations with its neighbors and with the Islamic governments, especially with the governments in the region. The basis for Iran's conduct comprises the principles laid out by Imam Khomeini, which he used to bring about victory for the Islamic Revolution, and he led it to a phase of stability.
"'One of the principles of the [Islamic] regime [in Iran] is to be "forceful against the disbelievers, merciful amongst themselves [Koran 48:29]." On the basis of Imam Khomeini's lesson, we do not wish to reconcile with the arrogance, but we aspire to friendship with our Muslim brothers. When we support [any of] the oppressed, we ignore the religious element; we provide the same aid to our Shi'ite brothers in Lebanon and to our Sunni brothers in Gaza. We see the Palestinian issue as the chief issue of the Islamic world."
Posted on 09/01/2015 10:04 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
France Is Aware of Real Fascist Evil
On May 8, 2015, French president François Hollande spoke at the Elysée Palace at a ceremony at which prizes were awarded to middle and high school students for the best essays in memory of the Resistance and Deportation. It was exactly seventy years since Charles de Gaulle on May 8, 1945 broadcast the official end of World War II: "We have won the war. Victory is ours. It is the victory of the United Nations and the victory of France."
Twenty years later, de Gaulle, aware of the divisions in France, said, or is reputed to have said, "How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese?" By coincidence, in the same month of May as the 70th anniversary of the end of the war for France, there were three reminders in Paris of the relevance of de Gaulle's jibe.
One was an exhibition marking the centenary of the birth of Edith Piaf, "the little sparrow." A second was the bitter feud between the extremist Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, opposed to immigration and defender of the wartime Vichy regime, and his less extreme daughter Marine, who had him expelled from the Front National (FN) party he founded in 1972.
The third was the opening of an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, dedicated on the 50th anniversary of his death to the work of the modernist architect Le Corbusier, born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris in Switzerland in 1887 and who became a French citizen in 1930. The exhibition, "The Measures of Man," a collection of 300 of his paintings, sculptures, architectural and other drawings, photographs, and films, aimed to illustrate his humanism.
No one can be seriously troubled by the wartime activities of Piaf, who has been accused of giving recitals during the Nazi occupation and of sleeping with the enemy. The sexual peccadilloes of this national icon who "regretted nothing" are of little concern except to the two or three people involved.
Many more are concerned about the behavior of the right-wing FN, its present political strength and success in local and regional elections, its attacks on the French political class, and the presidential ambitions of Marine Le Pen. The theory of quantum mechanics suggests that information can never be lost, even when it falls into a black hole. Though the FN under her leadership is trying to appeal to mainstream voters, its past opposition to the democratic French republic and its continuing approval of the anti-Semitic Vichy regime cannot be forgotten – nor can the significance of the party logo, a tricolor flame, with neo-Fascist implications.
French artists and writers have long been involved in political partisanship, whether communist, Maoist, monarchist, fascist, or anti-Semitic. The best-known incident illustrating this interest in affairs of state was during the Dreyfus Affair, when strong divisions developed, with Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet affirming and Degas and Cézanne denying the innocence of Dreyfus. In the twentieth century, French avant-garde modernist artists took part in or were attracted to fascist movements and fascist mythmaking. Among them were the symbolist Maurice Denis, the Fauve Maurice Vlaminck, the sculptors Charles Despiau and Aristide Maillol, and the architect Le Corbusier.
The work of Le Corbusier has long been admired but has also been the center of controversy. Many other architects have been influenced by his works, the most famous of which are the La Cité Radieuse in Marseille, which is under consideration as a World Heritage site by UNESCO; the Corbusierhaus in Berlin; the High Court building in Chandigarh; the Unite d'Habitation; Villa Savoye; and the Catholic chapel Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp.
Once praised for his modern architecture, such as innovative pairing of functional apartment blocks with parks, Le Corbusier became increasingly criticized for being obsessed with mass regimentation and order, and for creating ghettoes. He was held responsible for destroying historic city centers; for formulating the concept of segregated suburban communities, such as the banlieues, with the alienation and violence they generated; and for erecting buildings that were not well-suited to everyday life. Paris was fortunate that his 1925 plan to raze the center of the city and replace it with high-rise blocks and motorways was rejected.
His creation in 1943 of The Modular, a system of measurement based on the height of an average man, to be applied to architecture, was criticized as a fascist aesthetic for its mechanistic approach. Le Corbusier was accused of dehumanizing the individual by proposing a universal module for domestic structures, constructing machine houses for machine bodies. The human animal would then become like a bee, living in geometric cells.
Le Corbusier's political ideas and his architecture were part of a pattern. His fascist politics and political urbanism go hand in hand – fascism in concrete. By imposing a uniform configuration of straight geometric regularity and standardization on the urban environment, he felt he could banish the chaos of a diverse society and create a milieu that would encapsulate a concept of purity and order, virile and hygienic.
Now, as the result of two books about him, he has, posthumously, become a controversial political figure. His relationship with the Vichy regime, where he kept an office for 18 months, has long been known. What is new are revelations about the extent of his fascist-related activity over a 20-year period, starting in the 1920s, when he was a close friend of Pierre Winter, a doctor who was the head of the Revolutionary Fascist Party. He also endorsed the Faisceau movement of Georges Valois, a Fascist leader in the 1920s. He also approved the ideas of regional syndicalism, opposing capitalism and calling for direct action, and of Hubert Lagardelle, who became the minister of labor in the Vichy regime.
He was involved in Plans, an urban planning journal, writing some anti-Semitic articles. He attended Fascist rallies in Paris, had connections with Italian fascists, and was hostile to parliamentary democracy. His references to "social hygiene" indicate his belief that modern society was unhealthy and in need of transformation.
The two books, Un Corbusier by François Chaslin and particularly Le Courbusier: A French Fascism by Xavier de Jarcy, make clear that this important artist was an outright fascist.
Le Corbusier was a member of a militant fascist group and approved of the demonstration in Paris on February 6, 1934 to overthrow the democratic regime he detested. He was the author of some 20 articles arguing in favor of a corporatist state on the model of Mussolini's ideas in Italy. He welcomed the Vichy regime, which he thought would deal with Jews and freemasons, "who would feel just law." The regime would build a new France. He had an office at the Carlton Hotel in Vichy as an adviser on urbanism until his city plans for Algiers were rejected in June 1942.
It is pleasing to know that contemporary France understands that the unwelcome expressions and actions of the past must not be repeated. The recent speeches of President Holland and Prime Minister Manuel Valls are reminders that France today is and must be vigilant against the resurgence of anti-Semitism and racism. Imaginary evil, as distinguished from real evil, according to the French philosopher Simone Weil, is often seen as romantic and varied. France, like all democratic countries, must be on guard against real evil and disagreeable realities.
First published in the American Thinker.
Posted on 09/01/2015 8:06 AM by Michael Curtis
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
Fragments of world's oldest Koran may predate Muhammad, scholars say
British scholars have suggested that fragments of the world's oldest known Koran, which were discovered last month, may predate the accepted founding date of Islam by the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
The Times of London reported that radiocarbon dating carried out by experts at the University of Oxford says the fragments were produced between the years 568 A.D. and 645 A.D. Muhammad is generally believed to have lived between 570 A.D. and 632 A.D. The man known to Muslims as The Prophet is thought to have founded Islam sometime after 610 A.D., with the first Muslim community established at Medina, in present-day Saudi Arabia, in 622 A.D.
"This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran's genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven," Keith Small of Oxford's Bodleian Library told the Times.
The two sheets of Islam's holy book were discovered in a library at the University of Birmingham in England, where they had been mistakenly bound in a Koran dating to the seventh century. They were part of a collection of 3,000 Middle Eastern texts gathered in Iraq in the 1920s.
Muslims scholars have disputed the idea that the Birmingham Koran predates Muhammad, with Mustafa Shah of the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies telling the Times: "If anything, the manuscript has consolidated traditional accounts of the Koran's origins."
The first known formal text of the Koran was not assembled until 653 A.D. on the orders of Uthman, the third caliph, or leader of the Muslim community after Muhammad's death. Before that, however, fragments of the work had circulated through oral tradition, though parts of the work had also been written down on stones, leaves, parchment and bones. The fragments of the Birmingham Koran were written on either sheepskin or goatskin.
Small cautioned that the carbon dating was only done on the parchment in the fragments, and not the actual ink, but added "If the dates apply to the parchment and the ink, and the dates across the entire range apply, then the Koran — or at least portions of it — predates Mohammed, and moves back the years that an Arabic literary culture is in place well into the 500s."
Posted on 09/01/2015 5:07 AM by Rebecca Bynum