We have spoken to your mother. We know everything.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Answering Questions And Offering Oxygen

The war on terror and the fight against the radical Islamists beg more than a few questions.

Firstly, we have yet to clearly define exactly who we are we fighting. We also need to understand what we are fighting. Are we fighting an entire religion or an offshoot of a religion? Are we engaged in a battle with a civilization and a culture? The recent hostage taking of the British sailors by Iran and the kidnapping of the South Korean aid workers by the Taliban in Afghanistan muddles and highlights those ambiguities.

The answer to these and other questions are critical because seeking out the answers are the equivalent 'keeping our eye on the ball.' If we do not or cannot answer those questions, we cannot possibly prevail in our efforts.

While not clearly defining the questions or finding the answers to those questions doesn't necessarily mean spell a military defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else terrorists congregate , the very real lack of clarity does hamper our abilities and capabilities. Not only is the desired end result obscured, our public and political policies in the region remain incoherent and lacking on focus. Those truths mean we have no coherent strategy.

In Iraq, he cost of that lack of clarity is high. It does mean that no matter how events in Iraq unfold, we will not be able to define and come to a consensus as to what 'winning' really means. To some, it means the cessation of violence. To others, it means a democratic state. To others, it means eradicating the all terror groups. To still others, it means getting out, no more. There are a thousand variations and combinations of those ideas. All the while, without clarity, terror will remain as a form of political expression in Iraq.

For now, the vast majority of that terror is directed at and perpetrated against civilian populations, not against the liberators of Iraq. To be believe that our withdrawal from Iraq will lessen terror in that country is a pipe dream. To believe that we created terror by way of our liberating Iraq is absurd. Those terrorists in Iraq did not love us prior to 9/11. After we liberated Iraq from Saddam, many Arab and Muslim nations were delighted to facilitate the removal from their nations of less than savory individuals and avowed terrorists into Iraq. Those nations cleaned house and we brought into sunlight those who would harm us.

We were recently asked about the origins of terror and violence as a widely acceptable forms of political or religious expression- 'How did this come about? How can so many people find meaning in participating in or supporting acts of evil?'

In this day and age, those questions do not identify expressions of varying view points. Those questions define those who would choose to live in a medieval world long gone, versus those who choose to live in the here and now, dealing with reality(as we have noted in a PJM Sanity Squad podcast, "Imagine living an entire life as a psychotic episode?")

It is clear that even not so fundamentalist Muslims are uncomfortable with secularism. Does that also mean a rejection of modernity? How are secularism and modernity distinguished? On the surface they may be easily separated, but in fact, when examined under real world conditions, the distinctions become blurred. The resistance to secularism is an explicit rejection of secular values, morals and principles. While many reject secular ideas and secular moralities, it is in the way we define our rejection of ideas we do not concur with.

There are no shortages of voices emanating from the Islamic world that denounce the western evil of secularism. America and American Christians, Israel, the Jews and anyone else who has the temerity to denounce radical (and in some cases not so radical) Islamist demands. Recently, we saw efforts by mainstream Muslims in Denmark demand a separate Sharia law system that would apply only to themselves. A similar effort in the Canadian province of Ontario was defeated- mostly because of outrage and non support from the majority of Muslims. In Indonesia, plans are being drawn up that would allow the world's largest democracy to enforce Sharia Law in place of civil law for non Muslims.

The struggle against modernity is much more subtle and not as easily defined as the struggle against secularism. The opposition to modernity is a struggle against change. That is not the same as a struggle against secular values. Modernity has given us everything from the western notions of politics to functioning economies. Modernity has impacted social and cultural mores, even in Muslim countries and it is modernity that Muslim societies, influenced by dysfunctional religious and political leadership, fear most.

Understanding the distinctions between modernity and secularism are critical.

Modernity is much like the Industrial Revolution, a redefinition of the process and methodologies and no more. Modernity is not predicated on values. Modernity is about redefining and improving the technologies that influence and impact how we live our lives.

Secularism on the other hand, is an ideology. Like capitalism, communism and religion, the rules can be changed as the game is played. Secular values can and do change. Secular values are most often predicated on wants, desires and immediate needs.

Secularism, defined as the influence the Renaissance, the Reformation, and a defined Period of Enlightenment, has influenced the west, western thought and even religious thought. To date, secularist thought has barely touched the Islamic world and ongoing medieval violence is still a part of modern day Islam.The chasm between the modern day Judeo-Christian ethic and Islam is huge. See Town Commons, Islam, History and Defunding the UN, for an excellent overview of these and other ideas.

As globalization becomes more and more of a reality, the questions of secularism and modernity becomes more relevant. Can the Muslim world adopt modernity and reject secularism? The answer is not clear. On the one hand, one has only to look at the history of the Church to recognize there was indeed a strong rejection of secularism. Eventually, the Church 'righted' itself and adopted the kind of secular influences that were to elevate even religious thought. On the other hand, much of the Arab and Islamic world are fearful of educating their citizenry. The UN Human Development report places Arab world educational levels at the lowest in the world, save for sub Saharan Africa. These nations, blessed with obscene wealth, will not educate their own people's. For the leaders of these nations, a thinking citizen is a dangerous citizen. Better to keep them in darkness and hopelessness.

Much of Islam has assumed the face and costume of militancy and violence, not the face of theology. The gun- and frenzied use of the gun, has become a part of the faith. This of course, is clearly antithetical to Judeo-Christian values, moral and principles (The Church never advocated the butcher and slaughter of all non believers). This distinction extends beyond the religious and extend into the political arena. Democracies do not settle differences with violence- and in large measure, that is why the Islamists reject dealing with us. The Islamists are willing to engage us violently because they believe that secularism abhors conflict even when conflict is necessary to preserve life - and thus, we are theirs for the taking (they may be right. Western inertia is responsible for untold deaths in Rwanda, Sierra Leonne, the Congo and Darfur).

The Arab world and others understand they will not have to face equal or violent consequences for their actions, no matter how heinous. That in itself is one definition of the 'Clash of Civilizations.'

The opposition to secularism is why there is real opposition to a peace deal with Israel, real democracy within the Palestinian Authority, Iraq or anywhere else in the region. In their minds of the rejectionists, freedom and peace mean that secularists and secularist values have asserted their dominion over Islamism. That notion is intolerable to them, and as many as need be will killed to preserve the illusion that democracy, freedom and peace are evil and in opposition to Islam. They deliberately define democracy and democratic values as a religion in opposition to Islam. That is why their opposition to democracy is so fierce. To believe in democracy is to be apostate and thus, deserving of death. Democratic values hold people accountable- an idea abhorrent to many in a region where accountability in any form is non existent.

Modernity is also suspect is the Muslim world. We can define modernity as the change brought about by self expression, higher education and modern economies that function efficiently and seamlessly.

The rejection of modernity also explains the indifference the Arab world has to education and functioning economies. Failed and dismal Arab world education levels and economies are of little and no concern to Arabs because education and functioning economies represent the reality of a real future. Recognizing and anticipating the future is an integral part of modernity. The future is a reality the Arab world has consciously rejected, by word and deed.

Healthy societies do not naturally reject the future and modernity. Every parent does what they can to address their children's future and to ensure they the future well prepared. That is how society functions and perpetuates itself. Children are the future and it is incumbent on us to ensure their success. It is also incumbent upon us to do what we can to leave a better world for our children- a concept not at all understood in much of the Arab world, for decades led by dysfunctional political and religious leaders. Facing the future means the Arab world would have to be held accountable for their dysfunctional behavior that has made poverty and failure a part of the Arab world reality of today.

Children want to please their parents. More often than not, they will do whatever is necessary to earn their parents approval. What does it say about a society where a parent applauds a child's bigotry, hate and violent tendencies? What does it say about a society where that bigotry, hate and violence are taught in schools? What does it say about a society where parents approve of such educational priorities, and then has those priorities reinforced by media and religious instruction? The tragedies of these dysfunctional societies cannot and will not be overcome easily.

Samuel Huntington makes clear the cost of rejecting modernity. Turkey, a candidate for EU member status has the highest has a population of sixty million and has a GNP equal to that of Denmark, with a population of five million- and Turkey is the most successful Muslim nation in the region. Any shift by Turkey towards Islamism (already a reality and bolstered by Arab world, Islamist-centric satellite broadcasts) will result in that country's economy slow deterioration. The standard of living for Turks will drop as education levels drop and will unlikely recover for decades.

The Arab world is a galaxy away from the 'Turkish way.' Certain realities, already widely reported, bear repeating: The entire Arab world translates about 300 books a year into their own language. Greece translates about 1500 books from foreign languages into Greek in the same 12 months.

The degree of the self imposed isolation of the Arab world can be put another way. The total number of books translated into Arabic since the 9th century numbers about 100,000. That is equal to the number of books translated in Spain every year. To be clear, there are far more books translated into the Spanish language every year. In 12 centuries, the Arab world has translated 100,000 books- the same number of books translated in Spain each year.

The rejection of modernity by the Arab Muslim world goes hand in hand with a deliberate attempts to reshape and redefine the conversation when discussing Arab world failures. America, Europe, Christianity and Jews are the cause of their failures. They are 'misunderstood,' they will say. If we would only understand and endorse their victimhood, they say, all will be well.

They fervently want to discredit 'Orientalism' as as legitimate attempt by westerners to understand the Islamic world. Europeans could not possibly understand Arabs or Islam, they say (on the other hand, only they truly understand Christians and Jews. Those two groups do not understand their own culture and religion. These ideas, or variations thereof, are actually taught in Arab schools).

In fact, the Europeans went to study and learn about the Islamic world (to this day, the world's greatest scholars on the Arab world are found in the west. In the 19th and early part of the 20th century, Europeans learned the various versions of Arabic, Turkish and Farsi. Muslims did not study English, French or German. While Istanbul was chock full of Europeans engaging in trade, there were no equally motivated Turks in Europe. European embassies were crowded together in Istanbul. There were no Turkish embassies anywhere in Europe for decades. The Arab-Islamic world could not be bothered to learn about their own culture and society. Nor could they be bothered to come to and understand the western world.

For centuries, he Arab and Islamic world assign the blame for their failures on the English, the French, the Americans and of course, the Jews. They are satisfied with that. They never look in the mirror or look to what they can do now, to fix the problem. Many are happy to see guns and bombs directed at the west. That they believe, is a form of justice- and it eliminated the reality of tremendous Islamic failures. Focus on guns and bombs take the focus away from Arab failures.

These thinking that leads to these kinds of absurd notions are repeated- and justified- by many on the left. Gagdad Bob has a superb post, The Violent And Dirty Minds Of The Compassionate Left, in which describes the kind of thinking that fertilizes absurdity and detachment from reality:

Political correctness -- the cognitive Swiss Army knife of the left -- is an example of a collective attack on linking. It also deceives the person who engages in it, because PC is always able to operate freely under the pretext of "compassion," when it is actually quite aggressive and even violent. The leftist cannot be consciously aware of this violence, because one of the purposes of political correctness is to allow the leftist to behave violently while denying it -- and even tell themselves that they merely have "compassion," or "inclusiveness," or "tolerance," or some other benign motivation. This is the interior Lie that precedes and facilitates the exterior lie. Obviously, no politically correct leftist is able to tolerate the simple truth, which is that I am a violent liar using pseudo-thinking to attack others and impede their ability to arrive at truth...

However, the person on the business end of political correctness is well aware of the primitive and bullying violence, which is one of the reasons he is not a leftist. A sane person recognizes that Truth is without question the highest societal value, higher than love, higher than compassion, and certainly higher than democracy, i.e., the collective will -- which will simply devolve to the will to power in the absence of truth.

Truth is a "public" event that is replicable in others, whereas a lie is a private event that must be imposed upon others...

In creating the lie, the 'monster,' to justify a rationale for isolating a nation from modernity, America is the single, best obvious choice. To any thinking person, that of course is absurd. America can no more impose modernity on any society than can Japan, Korea or the Chinese. When all is said and done, the market place of free economies and the market place of the free exchange of thoughts and ideas will determine the face of the future. There is nothing the Arab world can do about that. If they and the rest of the Islamic world is to 'catch up' with the west, modernity will have to be a part of that society and culture. Like the left, all the Arab world can do is to delay the inevitable. It is part of the human condition that we wish to exercise our free will and we wish to be free to make choices for ourselves.

In Influence, Knowledge And Truth, we noted the differences between Idea and Identity:

There are those people who believe that that influence is brought about by creation- that is, to have enduring influence comes about as the result of creating a physical manifestation or expression of their ideas or beliefs, be that in art or politics are any other field of endeavor.

These people wrongly believe that to create [in the physical plane] is to have influence, whereas in reality, it is influence that creates.

Making an object or having an idea that is separate and distinct from myself, separates me from that object or idea. I am not a part of that object. If on the other hand, by way of ideas and insight, I influence the world around me, then I have truly created something meaningful.
For example, if you influence your child in way that results in that child growing up to be a productive, decent and caring citizen, you have wielded real influence.

Your influence will live on, spanning time and generations.

Islamist ideologies are predicated on Identity. Only by espousing and embracing the ideologies du jour, as presented by the radical ideologues or by the totalitarian, dysfunctional and failed leaders in the region, can a Muslim be 'credible.'

In the quest that would liberate peoples from oppression and deliver them into freedom, it bears remembering that democracy does bestow upon us the meaning of life. Democracy does not give us a higher cause for sacrificing ones life.

What democracy does give us is the freedom to choose. We are free to seek and choose for ourselves the passions and beliefs that inspire us to real and truthful meaning in our lives.

When we make those choices, we are also seeking out an identity for ourselves, our place within the greater idea of democracy and freedom. In a democracy, that identity is no longer forced upon us or is automatic. We are exercising the gift of free will in how we will identify ourselves, even within a particular religious identity.

Sometimes, exercising choice is difficult. That is why whole populations remain in less than savory environments. Their unhappiness is more acceptable to them than is making choices and taking responsibility for those choices. Democracy does not guarantee happiness, only the environment where that affords each individual with the opportunity to exercise the choices that offer that potential.

There are those who would ask, 'Who are we to tell anyone how to live their lives?'

The question is nonsensical. Asking someone to live in freedom is not telling them 'how to live their lives.' Asking someone to live in freedom is giving them oxygen to breathe.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Discomfort Of Southern Insight

All through the South, there are monuments to the Confederate heroes of the Civil War. There are statues to Robert E Lee, Jefferson Davis and Andrew 'Stonewall' Jackson and every place more than 3 rounds were fired is designated a historic battlefield.

Why is that?

There was certainly more than one reason over which the Civil War was fought, but in the end, they all paled before the tenacity of the South as they fought to retain the institution of slavery.

There is no getting around that. It is true that many southerners did not approve of slavery, but in the end, they took up arms to defend a society and culture that defended that terror. To be clear and not obtuse, slavery meant that people were auctioned off- torn away from their families. Many men, women and children were whipped mercilessly and suffered degradations in public. Many were tortured and all were oppressed in varying degrees, from birth to death. And yet, to this day, throughout the South, the Stars and Bars are flown, the flag under which slavery was defended and fought for, displayed as both a source of pride and a declaration of defiance.

Now, we, as a nation, are fighting a war on terror and we are demanding that good men stand up and be counted. We are asking people to repudiate evil, totally, to divorce themselves from any and all symbols of evil.

We need to look long and hard- at ourselves. Free people everywhere, and Americans in particular, need to take a painful look in the mirror. As history has shown, Americans set the standards for defining freedom.

We are not comparing the radical Islamists and the soldiers of the Confederacy. No Southerners celebrated the death and destruction of innocents. There was no war against civilians, blessed and cheered on by Southern clergy. Further, that was fought at a very different time in history, with very different sensibilities. There is no excuse today for the kind of evil the Islamists espouse.

Nevertheless, there is a whispered truth that must be addressed. Slavery, the institution the Confederacy defended with their lives, was in fact not much different than evil radical Islamists espouse today. The Islamists are fighting to keep an entire culture enslaved. The Islamists are fighting to keep Muslims from claiming the freedom all men deserve. They fight to keep women oppressed and subject to beatings and humiliation. In fact, there is no more nobility in the actions of the radical Islamists than there was in the Southern fight to preserve slavery.

Of course, these Radical Islamists are nothing more than the next chapter of centuries old tradition of Muslim slavemasters, continued today, by evil and tyrannical despots.

The United States would be a very different country had the South won the war, or had left the Union. That, happily, did not happen- for which we believe, has been to the benefit of all mankind. That said, we cannot glorify and romanticize those who fought for evil. If we do, we cannot make that demand of others. Why should they totally abandon the evil or the romanticizing of evil doers? We haven't, as of yet- and we are the ones the world looks to for it's cues on how to define and exercise freedom.

There are no reasons religious people, of any faith, should tolerate those who would make heroes of those men who would deny that we are all children of God.

The Stars and Bars will always be a part of American history, to be sure. We just need to rethink what that means.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

God, Reflected In Our Image And Other Examples Of Hubris

Maxed Out Mama has an excellent post, 'Faith-Based Sex Education.' In it, she discusses the Planned Parenthood curriculum (some of which is posted on her site. Go read). Says MOM,

Note the rather religious framework and the lack of any discussion that maybe, just maybe, the "fixed" world view might have a point about bad consequences from careless and promiscuous sex. Frankly, I would say this is an attempt to propagandize adolescents into the right "religious" views about sex, which is a very celebratory, spiritual and communion-like affair with random partners until your genitals start itching.

MOM makes an important point. There is a clear and deliberate attempt to frame the discussion in religious terms- and thereby co-opt religious moral authority for a clearly non religious agenda.

In fact, framing the sex issue in religious terms is a shrewd political ideology. In doing so, Planned Parenthood forces the 'do we answer to God, or does God answer to us? ' question.

By it's very nature, behavior is to a large extent, a political exercise. Politics are meant to respond to the needs of the majority of society, within a given framework. By turning real religious ideology into a matter of politics- that is, subject to debate- it is only appropriate that there are those that demand religion- and God- answer to us.

Of course, religion cannot really be turned into pure political agenda, or fodder for debate. Religion is what it is. One chooses to accept a particular religion and the ground rules that accompanies that religion, or not. One may select another religion, or one may choose no religion.

Rarely do we see an individual that says, 'I am weak. My religion is too demanding on me. It is not the fault of my religion. It is my weakness that keeps me from the demands of my faith.' As an aside, we suspect God would take great pleasure in that person's honesty. Sometimes, it is the struggle that God measures most carefully and gently, not the results.

Instead, we see man's hubris. When religion becomes difficult, we demand that religion change. We now make more demands of religion, than religion demands of us. We have redefined the nature of religious demands. We have reached a point where it has become acceptable to many that we set the benchmarks, not God. No longer do we measure ourselves as a reflection of His image. The demand now is that God reflect our own image. The hubris is so great that we demand that God endorse our agenda, whatever it may be.

The danger of that cannot be overstated, because that is was happened to Islam. That religion has become, for many Muslims, no longer about man serving God, but rather, about God serving the demands of man.

There is a quote on Dust My Broom, by Sir Wilfred Laurier, that caught our attention:

What is hateful is not rebellion but the despotism which induces that rebellion; what is hateful are not rebels but the men who, having the enjoyment of power, do not discharge the duties of power; they are the men who, having the power to redress wrongs, refuse to listen to the petitions that are sent to them; they are the men who, when they are asked for a loaf, give a stone.

Whereas Islam was once a religion that was easily identifiable as one of the three great monotheistic religions, it has become a shell of itself, as God became a tool of those who would use God first as a hammer, rather than as a vehicle for peace and redemption. It was a choice, made by men, to subjugate God to fit an agenda.

It is easy for us to point to texts and passages in Islam that are violent, mercenary and hateful. They are there and they exist- just as there are texts and passages in both the Old and New Testaments that are violent, mercenary and hateful. There is however, one profound difference. Christians and Jews do not skew the importance by those texts. We focus on the Higher calling of man. Those texts are not part of our everyday vernacular. As we have noted earlier in The Dark Side Of God,

That means that biblical admonitions to violence must be viewed in context and not in a vacuum. In stark opposition to biblical violence are those ideals and standards that compromise the guideposts to which we strive. The bible is clear- violence is a small part of the reality our lives. By contrast, the bible is the guidebook to day to day living with each other.We are to help each other, nourish each other and support each other. If we accept that our mission on this earth is not to destroy each other, then we must accept as truth that the principal part of our lives is to be spent living in peace and harmony. We are all connected, each of us. The accumulation of our contributions are what define us as a community. Those that do not contribute, exclude themselves from that community, of course- and that weakens the community in general. It is our collective mission to bring light into this world, not darkness.

This of course, in antithetical to notions of Jihad and Crusade. Implicit in those provocative words, is the reality that in the past, those words were also defined as violence committed in the name of religion...

Christianity has learned the lesson. There are no offensive wars fought for in the name of God. It is true that Christian and other nations are at war- but they do not fight for a specific religion. We, and they, fight for the truth, that all men are free and deserve to be free. We fight for the human dignity that God has bestowed on each of us. At times, we struggle mightily against our adversaries, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. At other times, we do not fight hard enough, as in Darfur.

The wars we fight are not just inequities. They are an impediment to our progress, that part of us that strives to "beat our swords into plowshares." The unabashed and frenzied bigotry belie any lessons we have learned. "Am I my brothers keeper?" is drowned out in cacophony of visceral hatred. There are no brothers, to some. We are kept from our growth, spiritual and moral, by the hate.

The wars we fight are not meant to push a particular agenda. They are meant to address certain universal truths- that all men are created in God's image and that all mean are equal.

When God is used a hammer, or a tool to push an agenda, as it is the case with the Planned Parenthood curriculum, there is a risk that rather than dealing with the issue at hand, a false God is called upon to foster ever expanding agendas that will divide us, rather than bring us together.

We are not against sex education, so let us dispense with the inevitable knee jerk responses. We are discussing context and agenda- no more, no less. Simply put, we believe that the sexuality and full sexual awareness are reached over time. There is no need for every single sexual issue group to foist their political ideologies upon our kids, right from the get go.

Read Maxed Out Mama's post, here
.

The idea of the 'agenda' over substance has not gone unnoticed in other areas as well. The Anchoress talks about what passes for journalism today:

Maybe it’s time to bring back cub reporters - people who are in the profession because they love to write and they love to tell a story. It seems to me so many of the press’ problems would go away if they would simply get back to reporting news, rather than trying to “frame” it.

There is an elegant truth here, unsaid: Journalism has become a kind of agendized religion, with some journalists believing they are passing on the word and meaning of God's will and intent. We are being asked to accept their word as sacred, as if they, by virtue of their profession, must be heeded and remain unchallenged- and the exercising of free will, to believe otherwise or to question the sanctity of journalists and their agenda, has become an intolerable and defining characteristic of evil men.

And journalists wonder why they are so poorly regarded.

Portions of this post have been previously published.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jobs And Other Stuff







Canaries, Coal Mines And Free Speech

Yesterday, the Baron and Dymphna of Gates of Vienna were guests on Fausta's BlogTalk Radio show. Fausta was kind enough to invite us as well.

As is always the case, the Baron and Dymphna sowed the seeds for a fascinating and insightful conversation. We discussed the matter of Freddy Thielemans and the Belgian 9/11 demonstration that is fraught with threats of violence, capitulations, counter threats, lawsuits and confrontation. Why all the hullabaloo? Because the Belgians are afraid of the threat of (what will prove to be inevitable) Islamist violence and appear to be willing to do just about anything to pretend they can deal with the situation.

What that really means is that when the inevitable violence occurs, blame will placed on anybody but the Islamists.

Our conversation got us to thinking: Just how do we deal with those who will squash free speech and expression they fear or don't like? How important is free speech, really- and how do we know when free speech becomes a sword of Damocles instead of an avenue of exchange?

Here is some food for thought, previously published:

The Gates of Vienna has a superb post, Ahmanjinedad's Kampf . Reading the post will incite you, depress you or, it just might stop you in your tracks. You won't be able to just 'walk away'.

Now fast-forward eighty years. Watch Kristallnacht, D-Day, Auschwitz, the Berlin Wall, Vietnam, and 9-11 fly by in a blur. Hit "play" as soon as you see the face of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, making his infamous speech this past October :

"The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world… The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land.

As the Imam [Khomeini] said, Israel must be wiped off the map.

The Islamic umma will not allow its historic enemy to live in its heartland."

Says the Baron,

It is as if the President of Iran were eerily channeling the Reichskanzler of the 1930s.

He's right.

We were made aware of this excellent piece via another Dr Sanity post. We left a comment:

If we haven't learned that appeasement is a bad idea, we may deserve exactly what is going to come our way.

I can only hope that we make that stand clear before Almahdenijad decides to kill a few milliion Jews within missile range.

I recall a lecturer once making the remark that Jews were the 'canary in the coal mine' for much of recorded history.

He was referring to an Abba Eban quote, "The Jews are the living embodiment of the minority, the constant reminder of what duties societies owe their minorities, whoever they might be."

I think real magnitude of that remark just hit me.

The Jews have survived everything that has been thrown at them. That will not change.

I can only hope we can survive what appears to be history repeating itself. We seem to be abandoning the Jews again, because it appears to be politically expedient.

God help us.

I believe my response was right on the money.

Anne Bayefsky, in a speech to the UN at a conference, Confronting Anti-Semitism: Education for Tolerance and Understanding, sponsored by the United Nations Department of Information, said this:

At the U.N., the language of human rights is hijacked not only to discriminate but to demonize the Jewish target. More than one quarter of the resolutions condemning a state's human rights violations adopted by the commission over 40 years have been directed at Israel. But there has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of 1.3 billion people in China, or the million female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia kept as virtual slaves, or the virulent racism which has brought 600,000 people to the brink of starvation in Zimbabwe. Every year, U.N. bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violations by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning and cross-amputation of right hand and left foot. This is not legitimate critique of states with equal or worse human rights records. It is demonization of the Jewish state.
As Israelis are demonized at the U.N., so Palestinians and their cause are deified. Every year the U.N. marks Nov. 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People--the day the U.N. partitioned the British Palestine mandate and which Arabs often style as the onset of al nakba or the "catastrophe" of the creation of the state of Israel. In 2002, the anniversary of the vote that survivors of the concentration camps celebrated, was described by Secretary-General Annan as "a day of mourning and a day of grief.

Naturally, the conference was boycotted by Arab states.

Of course, Amnesty International isn't the least bit concerned with Almahdinejad's bigoted and racist remarks. Nowhere on the AI website can anything be found on the subject. Given Amnesty's record on Israel and anti-Semitism, that isn't surprising. While quick to denounce the US gulag, Jews and Israel are another matter.

...The change became abundantly clear at the U.N. World Conference Against Racism that took place in August and early September 2001. The final declaration of the forum of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) said Zionism, or the self-determination of the Jewish people, equals racism and went downhill from there. On the final day prior to the adoption of this declaration, international NGOs, including Amnesty, deliberated about their position as one caucus. As a representative of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists I was about to enter our meeting place along with the president of Amnesty, Irene Khan, when the chief representative of Human Rights Watch, Reed Brody, turned to me in the presence of the others and told me I was not welcome and had to go. Said Brody, to the objection of no one (although I had worked professionally with many of them for years), I represented Jews and therefore could not be trusted to be objective...
However, despite the rhetoric of "inclusiveness," the Amnesty International chief sat on her hands when a motion to delete the voices of Jewish victims of racism was put to the vote and adopted. Every Jewish NGO from around the world walked out. Amnesty and company stayed.

Of course they did. It has become apparent that Jews are as relevent to Amnesty International as they are to the UN, the President of Iran and the rest of the Arab world.

The plight of the Jews- now and in the past- force me to reach deep into myself- and that is never easy. It is a painful and difficult process, to really give a damn when it is so much easier not to. I hate the process, because it is difficult and messy and interferes with an easy life.

We have written about our visit to Auschwitz . We wish everybody could walk through that place.

If that were possible, the preposterous notion of Israelis (read: Jews) as Nazis would be put to rest. If Jews were indeed Nazis, they are remarkably inefficient. After five years of Arab intigated violence, 99.99% of all Palestinians are still alive enough to preach that

The Jews are the Jews.... They do not have any moderates or any advocates of peace. They are all liars. They must be butchered and must be killed.... The Jews are like a spring - as long as you step on it with your foot it doesn't move. But if you lift your foot from the spring, it hurts you and punishes you.... It is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land, make war on them anywhere that you find yourself. Any place that you meet them, kill them.

This call for a genocidal war against the Jews was made in 2000 by Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiyah, rector of advanced studies at the Islamic University of Gaza on PA TV, the official channel of the Palestinian Authority. Halabiyah has given scores of similar sermons. Throughout the region, similar sermons and lessons are taught, to cheering, frenzied throngs. Will we not hold these Eichmanns to account? Or do we need for the slaughter of Jews to take place first?

Caring about trees, the rainforest, or puppies or not eating meat doesn't say a thing about your morality or ethics if you don't stand up against the hate- the real hate, the kind that kills- now. Irwin Cotler, Canadian Minister of Justice, said rather succintly when talking about the likes of Iranian President Almahdinejad

It is not surprising then, that the Supreme Court of Canada, in the trials of Holocaust deniers, affirmed: "the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words." Tragically, fifty years later, this lesson has still not been learned. The hate trafficking in Rwanda and Bosnia took us down the road to ethnic cleansing and genocide; and the worst arena today is to be found in the Arab countries and Palestinian Authority.

Check out Fausta's BlogTalk Radio show with the Baron and Dymphna. It's all about insight.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mother Teresa’s Blessing Of Struggle

Much has been made of the recently published letters describing Mother Teresa's struggle with faith.

Atheists gravely note Mother Teresa's 'loss of faith.'

Taking note of the letter two years ago, Catholics spoke of her 'hunger for God'

Mother Teresa did not 'lose faith.' She did not 'hunger for God' as if she was being deprived of Godly sustenance.

Mother Teresa struggled with herself. She assumed for herself the kind of struggle that only serves to elevate believers.

Firstly, to be human, by definition, is to be something other than God. That means that we cannot be expected to always understand God or His intent. By design, God may exclude or preclude us from ever 'getting it.' That includes Mother Teresa.

When we accept our 'humaness,' we are accepting our imperfections. As humans, we are not blessed with perfection. We are blessed with something far greater- free will. And, we are blessed with doubt.

Doubt is indeed a blessing, perhaps the greatest of God's gifts to His Creation, because every time we overcome that doubt and behave in a way that honors God, we have chosen to honor both Him and us. Only those that have experienced darkness can experience and appreciate light and the ability to see both the beauty and the dangers of our surroundings. In fact, if we do not acknowledge that darkness even exists, we can never see and appreciate the light.

We are supposed to struggle with faith and even tire of the struggle. It is the burden of that struggle that makes us whole and makes us complete. When we experience the doubt, the pain, and the despair of our search for God and meaning, we are not in violation of spirituality- just the opposite, really. When we are dealing with our doubts and pains, we begin to approach the final spirituality of acceptance.

The acceptance of ourselves, our limitations and insights, often comes after great pain and weeping. In a way, that weeping is a kind of window into wisdom- we are able to see ourselves for who we are and where we belong. These are cathartic moments, rare in life.

We can choose to submit and refer to the pain and the struggle as an 'affliction of love,' and thus hide the true nature of the pain and doubt, or, we can accept the pain and doubt for what they really are- adversaries that we must struggle with and overcome. We are given an opportunity to conquer, every day.

Spirituality is not spectacular. In fact it is mundane for the most part. John Paul II was not an imperious pope, but rather, an everyman with a past, who showed us what was possible. Therein was his greatness. He never said, "Look at me, in my robes of glory!" He never said, "Follow me and I will show you the way!"

Instead, he said to the tens of thousands that came to worship with him, "I love you, too!" as they loudly professed their affection. He was with them and of them. He always reminded them that God loved them, but in the end, it was his identification with his flock that made him so beloved. He was one of them- and knew that they must engage and struggle with faith, as all believers do. There are no shortcuts. John Paul II was of course, in good company. History has shown that God has chosen rather mundane and very ordinary people to speak on his behalf- and being rather mundane and ordinary, many were rather unenthusiastic with the prospect- not because they doubted God, but rather, they doubted their own worthiness. Why? Because we are human beings and not spiritual beings. We are meant to struggle ideas and concepts that cannot be corralled by mere words.

In our humaness, we are clothed with finite attire- we cannot divine the mind of God. When we demand absolutely certain truth, we are attempting to play God. We may believe that there are absolute truths, but in fact, we are bound by our understanding at the moment. Scientific truths alter as our understanding alters.

If we presume we can understand the 'absolute truth' about God, we are destined to fail in our desire to know God and to accept God as God. The 'absolute truth' about God changes as we come to understand ourselves, our world and even others.

That 'absolute truth' can never be corralled or understood because only God is 'absolute.' As humans, we are the opposite of absolute. We can be 'good' and 'bad,' we can be 'more' or 'less.' For us to exist as God's creations, we must know joy and we must know suffering. We need to succeed and we also need to fail. We are meant to be less than perfect, because it is through our imperfections that we find ourselves and our potential.

God treasures our spiritual achievements. He treasures our failures along the way even more, because in facing and overcoming our failures, we have shown that we are indeed worthy of the humanity He bestowed upon us. We are not meant to become perfect in our struggle and search for meaning and faith- we are meant to overcome the limitations, imperfections and obstacles along the way.

Mother Teresa's struggles with faith are not defined by the letters she wrote to her confessors. Rather, her struggle with faith is defined by the good works and deeds she accomplished over a lifetime.

Relating to God is about relating to that most human side of ourselves.

It has often been noted that 'the greater the faith, the greater the struggle.' We have often noted that we are measured by what we build and not by what we destroy or fail to build. What mighty lessons we can learn from Mother Teresa's struggles.

Portions of this post have been previously published.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Shirtless In Paris And Novosibirsk

MHNN (New York)- After two weeks of consultations with the governments of France and Russia, the Mental Health News Network (MHNN) sat down with Pat M Santy (PMS), author of Carnival Of The Insanities, to discuss her meetings (COTI is second only to the Presidents Daily Briefing in must reads for world leaders) . Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin also joined the conversation.

The invitation to Santy came about after she met with Sarkozy in Kennebunkport, Maine. George W Bush introduced the two just prior to going outside to haul rocks on the beach. When asked why he wanted to move rocks, the president remarked he was looking for Blackbeard's treasure. Stunned reporters looked on and the President started to laugh and said,
I was just kidding. I need the exercise. Besides, I left my chain saw in Waco.

Santy agreed to travel to Paris, France to consult with Sarkozy and his new government. From there, she headed off to a Siberian vacation resort in Novosibirsk to meet with Vladimir Putin.

MHNN- How do you like France? Do you like French cheese? French wine?

PMS- France is nice. Lots of cheese, lots of wine. It isn't hard to understand why no one gets any work done.

MHNN- How would you characterize your relationship with President Sarkozy?

PMS- First, allow me to thank President Sarkozy for the invitation to France. Now, my relationship with President Sarkozy is excellent. In fact, our relationship has improved with each bottle of wine. Things really took off when I suggested to Nicolas that he take off his shirt.

MHNN- Wasn't that a bit forward of you?

Nicolas Sarkozy- Don't be an idiot. Madame Sarkozy was there. The idea is that by taking off my shirt, I would symbolically more open and less prone to disguising my real feelings. Don't you watch Oprah or Dr Phil?

MHNN- Was the suggestion helpful?

Nicolas Sarkozy- of course it was. As soon as my shirt came off, madame Sarkozy and I excused ourselves for a few minutes- we are after all, French!

MHNN- You excused yourselves only 'for a few minutes'?

Nicolas Sarkozy- Pay attention! As I said, we are after all, French!

PMS- I for one was glad. I needed a break from the chunk of Roquefort and goose liver pate an hour routine.

MHNN- What did you discuss?

PMS- We talked about the Middle East, cheese, Afghanistan, coq au vin, Iraq, brioche, NATO, pate, the EU and tarte aux noisettes. We didn't want to get bogged down, so when we took our breaks, we lightened the mood with a nice Tarte aux Poires et Frangipane and then some crepes.

MHNN- It seems the French president was most considerate. Did you also discuss Russia?

Vladimir Putin- Allow me to jump in here. I too, was shirtless, though unlike my pansified French colleague, my discussions with Dr Santy were more straightforward. I have to admit, she does not intimidate easily. By the way, I left with Mrs Putin for four hours. After all, I am Russian!

Nicolas Sarkozy- Is that how long it took you to catch her?

PMS- Vladimir, Nicolas, don't go there, please.

Vladimir Putin- OK. Anyway, every time I tried to put the squeeze on, I'd send a few bombers to buzz the American coastline. PMS didn't flinch! Then, we'd laugh and share a bottle of vodka. We went through 8 cases!

MHNN- That's very funny, President Putin. Did you dine as well as the French?

Vladimir Putin- Of course we did, but none of that sissified food. We had bear, reindeer and a gaggle of Chechins.

(Silence)

I'm just kidding about the Chechins!

MHNN- OK, what came about as the result of these consultations with Dr Santy?

Nicolas Sarkozy- Mostly, we came to the realization that 'political shirtlessness' is the way to go. There comes a point where we have to be upfront about dealing with our problems. We have had a relatively quiet summer in France because I made it clear that troublemakers would be dealt with severely. I made it clear that I would not hold back the police for the sake of political correctness and that entire families and imams who preach violence would be deported back to where they came from. Like Vladimir says, 'they had a come to Jesus moment and they came to Jesus.' No troubles this summer.

Vladimir Putin- Well, we Russians have a long history of shirtless politics. Just ask the Chechins. They wanted to play and they were made to pay. We're doing the same thing to the Iranians. They were so smart- smart enough that we Russians are now in control of all their natural gas!

MHNN- Dr Santy, how would you characterize your meetings?

PMS- Overall, I would have to say our meetings were productive. Look, everyone has an agenda and at the same time, everyone we are all living in the same neighborhood. Terror affects us all and the threats emanating from the Middle East are in reality, pointed at all of us. We did have a terrifying moment when Ismail Haniyeh and Khalid Mashaal of Hamas offered to take their shirts off and join us.

MHNN- What happened?

PMS- Well, both Nicolas and Vladimir scared them off.

MHNN- How?
PMS- They told Haniyeh and Mashaal there were initiation rites. They would have to denounce their beast-like behavior and adopt a more civilized kind of behavior. That was too big a step for them to take.

MHNN- How did the meetings end?

PMS- We all agreed to meet monthly to discuss world events and the Carnival Of The Insanities. That will always be the starting off point for our meetings.

Friday, August 24, 2007

“Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers”

Have you noticed that men over a certain age...look a lot like Kenny Rogers?

American entertainment. There's nothing like it.

Love Letters And Nurtured Lessons

Some lessons are learned over time, seeds planted and nurtured over time.

The following was written in February of 2005, almost 2 years ago, in response to a post we read elsewhere. Sometimes, to understand the world around us and what is of real importance, we have to look back.

Love comes in all shapes and sizes and in many varieties.

There was one post I read today, that struck a chord. It is a love letter, of a different kind, written by someone I admire.

I knew I would I would link to the post- but I have been struggling all day in how to present the letter.

It is a love letter, but it is not addressed to a loved one.

It is a love letter, but it is not addressed to a close friend, nor is it addressed to a stranger

It is a love letter, but it is not addressed to someone seeking help, nor is it addressed to someone well anchored.

It is a love letter, that at one time or another in our lives, would make a difference.

I am going to rest not in an inner world insulated...but in the warmth of that invisible sun..
The letter is here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Religion And Referees

Conversing with Robert Spenser of Jihad Watch and author of the just published Religion Of Peace? Why Christianity Is And Islam Isn't is like an intellectual sparring match with someone very much at the top of his game. Spectators are treated to a fine display of the 'sweet science,' in the comfort of their seats. That said, if you want to step into the ring with Spenser and expect to last more than a round or two, you had best know your subject matter.

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of stepping into the ring with Robert Spenser in a BlogTalk Radio interview, hosted by Fausta.

Spenser frustrates many of his detractors because he really is at the top of game. It becomes very clear very quickly that he understands Islam's religious, political and psychological components and manifestations. His logic is clear and crisp and he does not equate opinion with fact and he expects the same of those he debates. Rather degrade his exchanges, he demands they be elevated. This is no small matter. Spenser is a lightning rod because the intellectual demands he makes of his adversaries usually backs them into a corner. Consequently, the responses are usually predictable. He is often referred to as an 'Islamophobe' or similar nonsense.

The genesis of Spenser's confrontation with Islam is clear: He cares little about what Muslims say. His focus is on behavior and action.

The promise of Al Andalusia is long gone, having been replaced by centuries of totalitarian Islamic leaders that have left a legacy of death and failure. Like all leaders of totalitarian societies, they deliberately promote the most primitive and base human instincts. These leaders have nothing to fear from dysfunctional and a poorly educated society. Rather than shepherd their populations from the dark ages into the modern world, technologies are used to develop and encourage the paranoia, denial of reality and projection that have become the recognizable dysfunctions of much of the Arab and Islamic world.

None of this would be remarkable save for the fact we are in the 21st century. Christianity has evolved from a faith that gave us the Inquisition, the dark ages and the Crusades. Judaism has evolved from the faith that demanded confrontation, conflict and war as the Israelites settled the Land. Islam has remained in a twilight zone- the religion that time forgot. That truth, more than any other, is what Spenser really addresses.

Spencer's arguments pull no punches. Islam has never evolved because the religious dysfunction and expression came about as the result of centuries of dysfunctional religious leaders. When religion and religious expression are allowed to be the exclusive purview of dysfunctional ideologues, the result is a dysfunctional expression of faith. Further, when those

perverted expressions of religious faith become integral parts of a very dysfunctional political expression and political process, the results are inevitable. Dysfunction always breeds more dysfunction.

When moved by the power of faith, man created great cathedrals and monuments. There was a time when Islamic art, literature and architecture were grand expressions of man's potential. Mosques were colorful examples of creativity, color and inspiring architecture. Today, mosques are cold, colorless, severe and drab. What motivates and inspires Muslims today is very different from those earlier expressions of faith.

Robert Spencer also reiterates another unequivocal truth. It is the evolution of religion and the evolution of a believers relationship (or non relationship) with his or her faith that has powered human development. It is an absolute truth that modern society cannot exist alongside backward religious expressions. That is why nations predicated on a free and democratic Judeo-Christian ethics are producing nations and why virtually all of the Arab world are only capable of consumption. It is also an unequivocal truth that producing nations and societies are very different than consuming nations.

One of the accepted hallmarks of civilized society is an accepted code of moral behavior. No matter one's prejudices, biases or beliefs, we are all expected to behave in a certain way. We are all expected to treat others, regardless of their religion, culture or creed, in the same way we ourselves expect to be treated. If that accepted code of moral behavior is not present in a particular society, that society cannot be counted as civilized, no matter how 'well dressed' or how much they consume.

In civilized societies, religions are measured by what they build and not by what they destroy. Religions are measured by how many lives are saved in the name of God and not by how many lives are taken in the name of God. The Judeo-Christian world understands morality and ethical standards as inclusive, applicable to all. Many in the Muslim world see morality and ethical standards as exclusive, applicable to themselves as needed and otherwise of no relevance or consequence.

Robert Spenser is a referee. Everybody plays by the same rules. Everybody.

Until they do, he'll keep blowing the whistle.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Anarchy, Bigotry And Dysnfunction

Broken nations cannot camouflage their brokeness anymore than broken people can camouflage their own dysfunctions and pass themselves off as well adjusted.

Those for whom racism, hate and bigotry are integral parts of their identity are racists, bigots and haters themselves, no matter how hard they attempt to hide that truth. Why? Because only racists and bigots will find cause to justify their bigotry. Only racists and bigots will refuse to address and condemn bigotry that might highlight their own psychopathies and dysfuctions. Racists and bigots will go to extreme lengths to deny their own pathologies and poke their own eyes to temporarily blind themselves from the truth of their own dysfunctions.

Simply walking upright on two legs is no measure of moral or cultural equality. Civilized people will condemn bigotry, racism and hate wherever and whenever they see it. Civilized people will address the worst and most egregious examples of bigotry and racism with fervor and tenacity. There are those who attempt to camouflage their own bigotry while pointing to other mostly contrived bogeymen (there is a certain humor to the furious, ferocious and frenzied attempts by many in the dysfunctional Arab societies to portary Israel and Jews as the real evil. As we have noted, denial and psychopathy run deep in that part of the world).

In Anarchy And The Will Of God (a must read, h/t Larwyn) Wretchard notes

A Europe shattered and disillusioned by the Great War turned again to religion;
but not to the Christianity they had recently rejected; but instead to the new
European world-faiths of the 20th century. Nazism and Communism were the
proudest creations of post-Christian Europe. They were faiths whose missionaries
would proselytize everywhere and make converts as far afield as Vietnam and
China. Faiths under whose banners structures greater than cathedrals would be
filled with chanting adherents; faiths whose patriarchs greater than Popes would
rule; pitiless religions where not thousands, but hundreds of millions would be
burned at the proverbial stake. The shadows of Hobbes’ candle had taken form and
their names, bright with blood, were written across the pages of the Second
World and Cold Wars. In the end, Europe emerged exhausted from the carnage
wrought by her intellectual products; faithless, and incredulous to see Islam
glaring at it from the Other Shore; full of the very certitudes they had
recently forsaken. Lilla says Westerners do not understand Muslims; but only
because they have forgotten what it is like to be them: to slay or be slain for
one’s belief. Lilla does not guess whether Islam will itself undergo its own
version of a Great Separation. The question for him is where a faithless West,
needing a reason to exist, must go from here…
While there are no crystal balls of course, one thing can be certain: nations for whom bigotry and dysfunction are the primary order of the day, will implode. Nations that only consume and cannot produce, will be forgotten.

The Arab world is a prime example. The only world class contributions they have of note are Jew hating and individual and collective denial (‘Imagine an entire life lived as a psychotic episode’). It bears remembering that this indicts the Arab world, not Islam. That religion has been appropriated by a cadre of some of the most dysfunctional political leaders the world has ever known. Today, the religion and politics have been fused together in an ugly and incestous relationship (for example, ‘religious leaders’ are employed and paid by the state. It is no coincidence that religious ideologies have come to resemble and support political ideologies).

Robert Avrech, the author of Seraphic Secret, recently remarked that

Israel is the only country in the world whose legitimacy is called into question
by the so-called intellegencia. In truth, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudia Arabia,
Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and almost every Arab state in the region is an
artificial creation of the great colonial powers. These Arab states were created
by British, French and German diplomats who carelessly drew lines on maps thus
throwing together a fatal brew of populations that were to clash for generations
in bloody religious, clan, tribal, border and state warfare.

What is it about Israel that enrages so many people? It is clear to even the most vociferous of Israel’s critics that there nations with far more egregious behavior and far more openly racist and bigoted track records than that tiny nation. Further, if you listened closely the mostly bizarre nature of the charges leveled against Israel, a listener might be led to conclude that only democracies can be guilty of the most heinous crimes. Israel’s neighbors, an alumnus of the most repressive regimes on earth, are always portrayed as victims. They are always the embodiment of noble, no matter how degenerate and dysfunctional the regime.

Democracies like Israel by their nature try to find a way to negotiate the evil that can come from the individul against society, as well as the evil that originates from the unchecked society against individuals and individual liberty.

The totalitarian Islamic societies that surround Israel do not rein in either type of evil. The individual is encouraged by society- for the sake of society or the sake of religion- to channel rage, hatred and homicidal impulses toward the non believer. This has the net effect of destroying both the individual and eliminating individuality, lifting all restraint on actions taken in the name of society or in the name of religion. Thus, both the individual and society become psychopathic.

It would be easy to say that antisemitism is at the root of the anti Israel sentiments, but that is untrue. Many espousing that sentiment are liberal or leftist Jews and others with an impeccable track record of standing at the fore for social justice, racial equality and defenders of human rights (none of that applies to most Arabs or Muslims. They have a clearly antisemitic agenda, that is very much the ‘mother’s milk’ of the region, taught from a very early age. Many believe that by aligning themselves with leftists, that agenda will either be ignored or adopted by the leftist movement).

There is something about Israel that enrages the left- and that something has to do with having to engage evil on a daily basis. The Israelis must deal with an evil that is real, evident and clearly defined. For the left, evil can not exist because the recognition of evil forces societies and cultures to set boundaries and limitations. Even more, evil helps to define culture and communal behavior. If there is no evil, the individual and the individual’s needs and wants are of paramount concern. If there is evil, then the community and the needs of the community are of concern. The needs of the individual are subjugated. For the narcissistic individual, this is a catastrophe of the highest order, and that is why for the narcissistic leftists, the only evil they can acknowledge is the evil that places the welfare pf the community or state over the welfare of the individual.

In the case of Israel, that must be done every single day. To not put the safety and well being of the community at the fore would result in disaster. This is not hard to understand. Promises of rape, slaughter and destruction are ingrained into a culture, reinforced daily. We noted yesterday in Temptations And Choices that from a cultural standpoint, destruction of Satan, the tempter, is a cultural imperative. Rather than grow and strengthen oneself by resisting temptation, one must destroy temptation.

…The tempted cannot simply resist the temptations- they must destroy the tempter
so that they might not succumb. They do not see that resisting temptation is
more powerful than destroying that temptation. The justification of destroying
temptation, as opposed to simply resisting comes from the elevation of the
tempter…

That is how we end up with indiscriminate murder and the
justification and elevation of evil…

All non Muslims are fair game, as are all Muslims who are ‘not on the program.’

The left too, finds comfort in this kind of ideology. By elevating the tempter, i.e., differing ideologies, into a kind of bogeyman, the justification of the elimination or of asserting dominion over that bogeyman becomes clear.

The entire raison d’etre of Islamic fundamentalism is not only to reject and destroy the temptation, but to destroy Satan himself. The entire justification for the rabid ideology to remove American troops from the Gulf region, is to cleanse the region of Satan’s temptations. Western dress, attitudes towards women even western values are a threat. Even if the Americans are mostly invisible in the area, the fact that they are ‘tempters,’ poisons the holy land of the Arabs. Terror attacks against them and even civilians who work in region (forced to live in armed compounds for their own protection) can therefore be justified.

The idea that ‘tempters’ and Satan must be destroyed is played out every day in the Middle East. Westerners are targeted for violence and kidnapped in Egypt and elsewhere and Jews, the ever reliable standby, are targeted with regularity

All these behaviors are first and foremost the manifestation of the denial personal temptations (”You can’t get me. You have no power over me. I will get you first”). More these kinds of behaviors are clear reflections of the projection that must be displaced onto others. Their own ‘darker side’ becomes visible. The need to degrade others and to label them (women are whores, Jews are Nazis, etc. Ever present is the notion that Jews and Christians are sons of ‘apes and pigs.’

The need for this kind of projection over the years have mirrored the escalating and real failures in the Arab world. The dysfunctional pathologies have not just been left untreated. They have been encouraged and fed with the intoxicants of wild deceit. As a result, we have what is now a furious frenzy, one in which women and children are enlisted as terrorists and suicide bombers. Wherever there are ‘tempters,’ women and children are encouraged to blow themselves up. Restaurants, hotels and buses filled with everyday people leading everyday lives, are targeted.
All the while, men who deliberately go out and kill the tempters in a display of great piety, readily admit that the temptations of a heaven with 72 black eyed virgins as a motivator for their terrorist acts. The idea of limitless and boundless sex is now a good enough reason to kill.
One might believe that the fundamentalists are motivated by religious zeal alone, but that is deceptive. The fundamentalist movements are also out to garner as much political power as they can. They do this by maintaining an ‘Islamic state.’ Other non religious states employ terror groups, wrapped in the flag of Islamic ideologies, as their proxies. Syria, led by the Allawite Assad clan is a perfect example. They are decidedly non religious (in fact, it took an act of the Syrian Parliament to have Allawite sect considered as ‘Muslim’) but have nevertheless been staunch supporters of Hizbollah and Hamas, two terror organizations that are ostensibly religious in nature.

Rather than attack Israel, Jews or westerners in general, the pattern of Arab leaders who support the fundamentalists has been lifted from the gangster play book. Fund the terror, hire the killer and look into the cameras and say, ‘My hands are clean.’ It isn’t that the tyrants are even remotely interested in the religious ideologies of the terrorists. The sole purpose of Syria’s Assad in supporting ‘religious’ terror is to maintain his grip on power. As long as he and other leaders in the region support the fundamentalists, they will ‘watch each other’s back.’
So much for the morality of religious fundamentalists.

Religion also provides camouflage. By focusing on faith and hate of Israel, attention is drawn away from the economic, social, educational and societal failures. Israel is the only target that can be safely attacked without the fear of repercussion.

In the Palestinian Authority, the worth of political parties are measured by how many Jews the various factions have killed. Invariably, it is the political entity in ‘power’ that can make that proud claim. The ascendancy of Hamas over the PLO at the polls had more to do with corruption than of killing and terror. The Hamas movement promised an even harder line against Israel, with no recognition of Israel or even peace talks. They promised more killings and more terror, with ‘honest government’ as a bonus.

As a result of the Hamas win over the PLO, the Husseini clan (from which Arafat hailed and the largest and most powerful) have struggled to maintain their power and privileges. Now, they are seeking ‘real’ relations with Israel so as to regain power. They have little choice. Hamas is gunning for them.

Swiss psychologist Arno Gruen, noted that the source of manifested aggression and real destructiveness has it’s origins in culture and not in the individual. Everything that reinforces the fragmentation and disenfranchisement of our personality feeds the creation, nurture and elevation of our destructive drives. Truth, justice and morality have little to do with the cultivation of a culture and society for whom hate is the oxygen of their existence.

In a religious, cultural and societal environment that advocates terror and violence, the personality of the terrorist becomes as broken and as fragmented as that of the society and culture that birthed him. The terrorist is merely the reflection of the world he knows.
The brokenness of the society, culture and individual are blind to even the most basic building blocks of civilized man’s most universal moral codes. In fact, those building blocks are no longer present. In societies and cultures that are so broken, primal and murderous behavior takes over and becomes dominant.

Every ‘end of the world’ film focuses on a broken society where bestial instincts run rampant. Y2K alarmists gathered supplies and weapons in preparation for the demise of civilization. In fact, the ‘moral’ and ‘religious’ instruction that have become the defining characteristic of fundamentalists, terror regimes, organizations and those who support them, are anything but moral or an expression of sanctity. The societies and cultures that have adopted these ideologies are murderous and cruel. They espouse a pornographic morality of excess, that focuses on and encourages moral dysfunction.

Religious ‘leader’ Ibrahim Mdaires:

Allah has tormented us with the people most hostile to the believers’ –the
Jews…
With the establishment of the State of Israel, the entire Islamic
nation was lost,because Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the
Islamic nation, and because Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the
entire world suffers…
You will find that the Jews are behind all the civil
strife in this world. The Jews are behind the suffering of the nations…Listen to
the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The
stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew…We have ruled the
world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we rule the world again.

The words of Mdaires are drivel, of course. What is relevant is that the kind of evil he espouses in a post Holocaust world, can find root in societies, cultures and individuals that have been oppressed and feel inferior and impotent. The cultural rejection and resentment towards reality are the cauldron that cooks the stew of dysfunction.

There is no desire for peace or accommodation. The Arab world, influenced by the fundamentalists, desires to be both victim and victimizer. They at once see themselves as tormented and passive, and in the same breath, declare their wild desire to be tormentors and inflict all kinds of punishment. As long as there is a single Jew left, they are justified in their primal desires. Religious authorities indoctrinate entire populations with hate and fundamentalism, knowing full well that these citizens, frustrated by their own impotence, will react to their exhortations with an almost sexually driven kind of frenzy that releases pent up emotions in the form of murderous rage, sadism and the urge to dominate.

The need to hate is not about hate, per se. The more one hates, the more one wants to destroy. Hate the Jews enough and you will want to destroy them. Hate the west enough and you will want to destroy that, too.

Couple hate and the tempter, and there is no middle ground. Destruction is the only option- unless of course, there is a cost to the destruction. When confronted with accountability and responsibility, the need to confront and destroy lessens and the need for compromise and accommodation increases. Lebanon’s Hizbollah faction understands that truth. Notwithstanding their ‘clear victory’ that left south Lebanon in a cloud of cement dust and Beirut stunned when the Lebanese government failed to rein in the terror group, Nasrallah and Hizbollah has been remarkably restrained in taking on Israel again. In fact, they are lying, very, very low, licking the wounds of their ‘victory.’ The combination of their religious and political bravado has been muted. They were held accountable for their actions and words.

Hizbollah, Hamas and all Middle Eastern fundamentalists have proved the point that when religion is mixed with politics, the results will always end in extremism.
It is religious extremism that will defeat the tempter and religious hate that demands the destruction of the non believer. The enemy, defined as any unbeliever, can and must be persecuted. Aggression is the appropriate and necessary response, required by god and country. If those efforts fail, the believer is humiliated and imbued with guilt- and that only serves to serve as the justification for more aggression.

Every civilized society has strict limits on the appropriate expression of rage and anger. Most religions too, limit and restrict manifestations of anger and hate. Nevertheless, fundamentalist (and even not so fundamentalist) Islamic expressions serve as an acceptable and sanctioned outlet for violence and rage- especially whe that anger and rage are directed at non believers.

We wrote,

The creation of the State Of Israel could not be explained away, denied or
hidden. As far the Arab world was concerned, the establishment of the Jewish
state, in their neighborhood and on their watch, was indeed a catastrophic
event. In fact, it was cataclysmic, because Israel was undeniable evidence that
the rise and domination of the Islamic world, led by the Arabs was indeed over.
Notwithstanding Arab failures for over a thousand years, the establishment of
Israel was a truth that not even the Arab world could deny. That catastrophe
worsened as Israel ascended into the first world and they fell even further
behind. In the same way that Da Vinci and Galileo were to stun the church with
scientific truths, Israel stunned the Arab world with the successes that could
only serve to highlight a millennium of Arab failure and darkness. The divine
law, given by God Himself, that gave Muslims dominion over all mankind was
upended- and by Jews, no less. The magnitude of the event cannot be
understated.

Fundamentalist Islamic ideologues do not recognize any kind of internal conflict. Their problems are all the result of external influences- Tempters, non believers, etc.
Denial, displacement, and projection are necessary defenses and necessary for identity. These defenses also serve to cut off and eliminate any connection a believer might have with the moral building blocks of a civilized society. Their entire being and identity is framed by primal aggression and the unrestrained, cruel and irresponsible behavior of childhood. Nazi ideologies of social manipulation, live on.

Now, we have come full circle. Robert Avrech’s remarks and focus on his blog are more than a political comment. They are a significant social analysis that perfectly describes the need by the left to be inclusive of some of the most dysfunctional and failed regimes and their ideologues, in history. The only way we can be inclusive is if we agree to drink from the same poison. Avrech’s position is clear. No matter how well meaning the left might be, he would no more acquiesce to society drinking the hemlock any more than he would feed the poison to his own child.
Islamic fundamentalism, as opposed to Islamic terror, has hurt western culture, because we have refused to marginalize and reject the ideology. There is the mistaken belief that we can negotiate our way out of trouble. In doing so, we are drinking from the cup of poison. While we can negotiate with societies that share our values, we are sorely mistaken if we believe we can negotiate with cultures and societies bent on our elimination.

We will not cease to be the tempters and we will not cease to be the cause of Arab world failures, no matter how much we drink from the cup of poison. In the end, the poison will kill us.
For an excellent look at psychological defense mechanisms and how ideologies and culture play a role in those mechanisms, see Dr Sanity’s Symptom Or Adaptation? It is a must read and analysis of how contrived defense mechanisms can undermine cultures and the individual, using much of the Islamic world as an example.

Portions of this post have been previously published.

Friday, August 17, 2007

On The Boat Again

We had hoped to post our follow up to Evil, On Borrowed Time, today. Unfortunately, we heard the weather forecast and decided that our time would be better spent on a boat and celebrating those things that make life worth living (the ocean, a boat, fine dining and the company of good friend, Sam Adams). The North Carolina coast beckons.

Notwithstanding the Sunday MHNN post, will return to a full and regular schedule of posting after the weekend. In the event our readers find real insight and appropriate analysis before we return, we will be the first to drop to our knees and offer up Hosannas and give thanks to the Lord.

As many of you go about walking in counter clockwise circles awaiting our return, we are reposting Temptation And Choices, a look at how some Muslim societies came to define and then redefine themselves- and thus, have authored their own destinies.

As Islam was going through it’s turbulent formative stages, there was much violence and killings directed at early religious figures. The most significant event was the murder of Ali, son in law of Mohammed. This single event was to have violent and repercussions that have lasted to this day. Ali’s death led to a huge schism between early Muslims. There were those who considered Ali to be the rightful ‘heir to the throne’ and as such, the rightful successor to Mohammed, and there are those who refused the idea of that kind of succession. Followers of Ali morphed into the Shiites, while the majority of Muslims became the Sunnis.

The Sunni persecuted the Shiites, referring to them as non believers or a corrupter of Islam. Within the Sunni Islamic world, the Shiites are considered a sect, a breakaway group that has forsaken Islam.

Both groups have developed ideologies that have persecuted Jews and Christians, ideologies that originated not so much as a religious expression, but rather, as a way of dealing with feelings of inferiority and fears of illegitimacy. By displacing those fears on others (all non believers), they believe they show their dominance over them and at the same time, they are ‘fulfilling God’s will.’ The highest form of that displacement results in the destruction of all their enemies, and thus, they will be seen as most ‘worthy in God’s eyes.

In fact, in order to understand and comprehend Arab conflicts with the west (Non Arab Islamic conflicts are for the most part, very different), one has to understand the nature and history of the ever increasing and escalating Muslim conflicts with each other.

Each culture and society defines conflict differently. What may be grievous offenses in one culture are mere sights in others. Cultures also can be differentiated in how they deal with conflict. Some cultures demand violence and confrontation, others insist on negotiation and accommodation.

In all cases however, conflict is a mirror that reflects a comparison between the players, one in which the true character of those players and conflict emerges.

The genesis of all consuming and blind cultural and societal hatred are the symptoms of wounded pride and perceived insult. Once that pot starts to boil, that enveloping rage boils over into a self hatred, because that rage only serves to highlight an inability to maintain self control- and that inability to maintain self control cannot help but be compared with societies and cultures that can and do maintain that self control.

As long as cultures and societies remain relatively isolated, those comparisons meant little, because most societies and cultures were unaware of what was going on ‘outside.’ Reality was their existential four cubits. Over the last two hundred years, that was to change dramatically. As technology, travel, trade and political/economic exchanges developed, the isolation of backward Arab societies (in relation to western cultures) from the rest of the world was to come to an end.

The exposure to the western ideas, politics, technology and economic successes posed a direct challenge to a more backward Arab world. By any standard of measurement, they were found to be lacking. It was in how the Arabs responded to the new world and new ideas that was to determine their future. Rather than achieve similar successes for themselves, successes that would reflect their unique identity and culture, the Arab world believed that by imitating western culture, they would advance. This was to be a complete failure and utter failure. The Arab has fallen even farther behind.

In the meantime, the attempt to imitate the west has had the expected backlash. Religious ideologues have determined that even the effort to move into the 21st century, is a threat and an affront to God. Real Muslim glory can only be achieved by looking back, not forward. A new Caliphate (one that will punish and subordinate non Muslims), strict and inflexible, is the vehicle that will bring happiness and fulfillment to the ummah.

The movement to restore Islam to it’s former glory is the clear ideology of Whabbism, a belief that spiritual ‘rededication’ meant the purification of Muslims- and that purification and Islamic religious and cultural renewal was to embrace the notion that non Muslim ideologies were to be rejected and scorned.

Western and non Muslims ideologies are held responsible for the decline of the Muslim empire. It is the non Muslims that have humiliated the Arab world. It is the non Muslims that have exploited the Arabs and it is the non Muslims that have oppressed Islam. Non Muslims are guilty of keeping the Arab world from their rightful place of leadership, dominance and prestige. As we noted yesterday, the establishment of a successful Jewish state in a tiny corner of the Middle East is a direct affront to the Arab world. Al the spinning and dancing in the world cannot change the truth that

The creation of the State Of Israel could not be explained away, denied or hidden. As far the Arab world was concerned, the establishment of the Jewish state, in their neighborhood and on their watch, was indeed a catastrophic event. In fact, it was cataclysmic, because Israel was undeniable evidence that the rise and domination of the Islamic world, led by the Arabs was indeed over. Notwithstanding Arab failures for over a thousand years, the establishment of Israel was a truth that not even the Arab world could deny. That catastrophe worsened as Israel ascended into the first world and they fell even further behind. In the same way that Da Vinci and Galileo were to stun the church with scientific truths, Israel stunned the Arab world with the successes that could only serve to highlight a millennium of Arab failure and darkness. The divine law, given by God Himself, that gave Muslims dominion over all mankind was upended- and by Jews, no less. The magnitude of the event cannot be understated.

Israel not only reflects Arab failure, she also reflects the successes 0f western ideologies and western predicates for success. The Arabs would have you believe that the rejection of western successes are justified by saying they are rejecting the western culture and values that are anathema to Muslims. They cannot explain the successes of Muslim societies in Singapore and Malaysia. Those nations succeeded because they achieved their own successes on their own terms. They did not imitate or attempt to define themselves by western cultural expressions.

In any event, in the Arab world, any expression of western ideas, ideologies or beliefs are deemed ’satanic.’ The choice of imagery and words are no accident.

Bernard Lewis noted that in the Islamic world, the principal functions of Satan is to assume the role of ‘tempter.’ Arab religious expression defines the ‘tempter’ as offering democracy, technology, freedom for women, sexuality without religious constrictions, education and success, material and emotional.

Those straight-jacket that have ‘kept the Arabs down,’ have naturally resulted in resentment in the Arab world. The religion induced euphoria can only result in the realization that the promise is unfulfilled. As prayers go unanswered, crushing disappointment becomes hate. Western temptations elicit hate and then greed. Everybody wants a piece of the pie- now. They don’t want to work for it. They want to take it, because that is their right. It is in the taking that pride can be restored and disappointmet can be obviated. It matters little who gets hurt in the process.

In the Arab world, pride can be regained not by excelling or achieving, but rather, by destroying…

Greed and envy are organisms that cannot exist without each other. Greed that cannot be immediately sated leads to obsessive envy. Also true is that envy ferments and results in the intoxicating beverage that results in the lust that is greed, and the cycle from which there is little chance of escape, begins.

Frenzy begets the lust, which begets the frustration and rage, which begets the need for revenge. The cycle then repeats. The process results in a merry go round of conflicting emotion. The individual feels superior, then inferior. He believes that he is of stature and then he becomes invisible and irrelevant.

It is for these reasons that the successes of Jews and Christians and the establishment of Israel have been traumatic for Arabs. Their entire world was upended. The successes of the ‘other’ only served to highlight their own profound failures. It became clear for all to see that the Arabs were now the dhimmi, the second class citizens. Even worse than that, the Arabs were ignored. Every Arab understood that without oil, Arabs would be relegated irrelevance- mostly by their doing. They understood that blaming the ‘other’ or blaming colonialism was no more than a shell game, designed to deceive no one but themselves.

The Arabs are engaged in a schizophrenic battle of monumental proportions. Moderates recognize that the western ‘temptations’ can offer redemption and success on their own terms (by achieving and not imitating) . Fundamentalists are determined to destroy the ‘temptor,’ Satan, embodied by America, Israel, Jews and Christians.

The tempted cannot simply resist the temptations- they must destroy the temptor so that they might not succumb. hey do not see that resisting temptation is powerful than destroying that temptation. The justification of destroying temptation, as opposed to simply resisting comes from the elevation of the temptor. Christians are the agents of Satan, Jews are pigs, non Muslim women are ‘uncovered meat’ and whores that defile family and community. All non Muslims are fair game, as are all Muslims who are ‘not on the program.’

That is how we end up with indiscriminate murder and the justification and elevation of evil.

We noted,

In their world, heroes kill. In ours, heroes save lives.

In their world, heroes are mass murderers… In our world, heroes come to liberate and give life.

What shame there must be in the Arab world…

The contrast in how heroes are defined cannot be more clear or crisp. That contrast also helps to defines the the chasm of differences between cultures.

The Arab world will have to find it’s own redemption. It it doesn’t, it will implode and cause untold damage.