Christian Tragedy in the Muslim World

Few people realize that we are today living through the largest persecution of Christians in history, worse even than the famous attacks under ancient Roman emperors like Diocletian and Nero. Estimates of the numbers of Christians under assault range from 100-200 million. According to one estimate, a Christian is martyred every five minutes. And most of this persecution is taking place at the hands of Muslims. Of the top fifty countries persecuting Christians, forty-two have either a Muslim majority or have sizeable Muslim populations.

The extent of this disaster, its origins, and the reasons why it has been met with a shrug by most of the Western media are the topics of Raymond Ibrahim’s Crucified Again. Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow of the Middle East Forum. Fluent in Arabic, he has been tracking what he calls “one of the most dramatic stories” of our time in the reports and witnesses that appear in Arabic newspapers, news shows, and websites, but that rarely get translated into English or picked up by the Western press. What he documents in this meticulously researched and clearly argued book is a human rights disaster of monumental proportions.

In Crucified Again, Ibrahim performs two invaluable functions for educating people about the new “Great Persecution,” to use the label of the Roman war against Christians. First, he documents hundreds of specific examples from across the Muslim world. By doing so, he shows the extent of the persecution, and forestalls any claims that it is a marginal problem. Additionally, Ibrahim commemorates the forgotten victims, refusing to allow their suffering to be lost because of the indifference or inattention of the media and government officials.

Second, he provides a cogent explanation for why these attacks are concentrated in Muslim nations. In doing so, he corrects the delusional wishful thinking and apologetic spin that mars much of the current discussion of Islamic-inspired violence.

Ibrahim’s copious reports of violence against Christians range across the whole Muslim world, including countries such as Indonesia, which is frequently characterized as “moderate” and “tolerant.” Such attacks are so frequent because they result not just from the jihadists that some Westerners dismiss as “extremists,” but from mobs of ordinary people, and from government policy and laws that discriminate against Christians. Rather than ad hoc reactions to local grievances, then, these attacks reveal a consistent ideology of hatred and contempt that transcends national, geographical, and ethnic differences.

In Afghanistan, for example, where American blood and treasure liberated Afghans from murderous fanatics, a court order in March 2010 led to the destruction of the last Christian church in that country. In Iraq, also free because of America’s sacrifice, half of the Christians have fled; in 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was bombed during mass, with fifty-eight killed and hundreds wounded.

In Kuwait, likewise, the beneficiary of American power, the Kuwait City Municipal Council rejected a permit for building a Greek Catholic church. A few years later, a member of parliament said he would submit a law to prohibit all church construction. A delegation of Kuwaitis was then sent to Saudi Arabia–which legally prohibits any Christian worship– to consult with the Grand Mufti, the highest authority on Islamic law in the birthplace of Islam, the Arabian Peninsula.

The Mufti announced that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” a statement ignored in the West until Ibrahim reported it. Imagine the media’s vehement outrage and condemnation if the Pope in Rome had called for the destruction of all the mosques in Italy. The absence of any Western condemnation or even reaction to the Mufti’s statement was stunning. Is there no limit to our tolerance of Islam?

Moreover, it is in Egypt–yet another beneficiary of American money and support– that the harassment and murder of Christians are particularly intense. Partly this reflects the large number of Coptic Christians, the some sixteen million descendants of the Egyptian Christians who were conquered by Arab armies in 640 A.D. Since the fall of Mubarak, numerous Coptic churches have been attacked by Muslim mobs. Most significant is the destruction of St. George’s church in Edfu in September 2011. Illustrating the continuity of mob violence with government policy, the chief of Edfu’s intelligence unit was observed directing the mob that destroyed the church. The governor who originally approved the permit to renovate the building went on television to announce that the “Copts made a mistake” in seeking to repair the church, “and had to be punished, and Muslims did nothing but set things right.”

The destruction of St. George’s precipitated a Christian protest against government-sanctioned violence against Christians and their churches in the Cairo suburb of Maspero in October 2011. As Muslim mobs attacked the demonstrators to shouts of “Allahu Akbar” and “kill the infidels,” the soldiers sent to keep order helped the attackers. Snipers fired on demonstrators, and armored vehicles ran over several. Despite the gruesome photographs showing the crushed heads of Copts, the Egyptian military denied the charges, but then claimed that Copts had hijacked the vehicles and ran over their co-religionists.

False media reports of Copts murdering soldiers fed the violence. Twenty-eight Christians were killed and several hundred wounded. In the aftermath, thirty-four Copts were retained, including several who had not even been at the demonstration. Later, two Coptic priests had to stand trial. Meanwhile, despite an abundance of video evidence, the Minister of Justice closed an investigation because of a “lack of identification of the culprits.”

The scope of such persecution, the similarity of the attacks, and the attackers’ motives, despite national and ethnic differences, and the role of government officials in abetting them, all cry out for explanation. Ibrahim clearly lays out the historical and theological roots of Muslim intolerance in the book’s most important chapter, “Lost History.” Contrary to the apologists who attribute these attacks to poverty, political oppression, the legacy of colonialism, or the unresolved Israeli-Arab conflict, Ibrahim shows that intolerance of other religions and the use of violence against them reflects traditional Islamic theology and jurisprudence.

First Ibrahim corrects a misconception of history that has abetted this misunderstanding. During the European colonial presence in the Middle East, oppression of Christians and other religious minorities was proscribed. This was also the period in which many Muslims, recognizing how much more powerful the Europeans were than they, began to emulate the political and social mores and institutions of the colonial powers.

Thus they abolished the discriminatory sharia laws that set out how “dhimmis,” the Christians and Jews living under Muslim authority, were to be treated. In 1856, for example, the Ottomans under pressure from the European powers issued a decree that said non-Muslims should be treated equally and guaranteed freedom of worship. This roughly century-long period of relative tolerance Ibrahim calls the Christian “Golden Age” in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, as Ibrahim writes, the century-long flourishing of Middle Eastern Christians “has created chronological confusions and intellectual pitfalls for Westerners” who take the “hundred-year lull in persecution” as the norm. In fact, that century was an anomaly, and after World War I, traditional Islamic attitudes and doctrines began to reassert themselves, a movement that accelerated in the 1970s. The result is the disappearance of Christianity in the land of its birth. In 1900, twenty percent of the Middle East was Christian. Today, less than two percent is.

Having corrected our distorted historical perspective, Ibrahim then lays out the justifying doctrines of Islam that have made such persecution possible during the fourteen centuries of Muslim encounters with non-Muslims. The foundations can be found in the Koran, which Muslims take to be the words of God. There “infidels” are defined as “they who say Allah is one of three” or “Allah is the Christ, [Jesus] son of Mary”–that is, explicitly Christian. As such, according to the Koran, they must be eliminated or subjugated. The most significant verse that guides Muslim treatment of Christians and Jews commands Muslims to wage war against infidels until they are conquered, pay tribute, and acknowledge their humiliation and submission.

In the seventh century, the second Caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab, promulgated the “Conditions of Omar” that specified in more detail how Christians should be treated. These conditions proscribe building churches or repairing existing ones, performing religious processions in public, exhibiting crosses, praying near Muslims, proselytizing, and preventing conversion to Islam, in addition to rules governing how Christians dress, comport themselves, and treat Muslims.

“If they refuse this,” Omar said, “it is the sword without leniency.” These rules have consistently determined treatment of Christians for fourteen centuries, and Muslims regularly cite violations of these rules as the justifying motives for their attacks. As a Saudi Sheikh said recently in a mosque sermon, “If they [Christians] violate these conditions, they have no protection.” From Morocco to Indonesia, Christians are attacked and murdered because they allegedly have tried to renovate a church, proselytized among Muslims, or blasphemed against Mohammed–all reasons consistent with Koranic injunctions codified in laws and the curricula of school textbooks.

Both Islamic doctrine and history show the continuity of motive behind today’s persecution of Christians. As Ibrahim writes, “The same exact patterns of persecution are evident from one end of the Islamic world to the other–in lands that do not share the same language, race, or culture–that share only Islam.” But received wisdom in the West today denies this obvious truth. The reasons for this attitude of denial would fill another book. As Ibrahim points out, the corruption of history in the academy and in elementary school textbooks have replaced historical truth with various melodramas in which Western colonialists and imperialists have oppressed Muslims.

These and other prejudices have led American media outlets to ignore or distort Islamic-inspired violence, as can be seen in the coverage of the Nigerian jihadist movement Boko Haram. These jihadists have publicly announced their aim of cleansing Nigeria of Christians and establishing sharia law, yet Western media coverage consistently ignores this aim and casts the conflict as a “cycle of violence” in which both sides are equally guilty.

As Ibrahim concludes, even when Western media report on violence against Christians, “they employ an arsenal of semantic games, key phrases, convenient omissions, and moral relativism” to promote the anti-Western narrative that “Muslim violence and intolerance are products of anything and everything–poverty, political and historical grievances, or territorial disputes–except Islam.”

Within the global Muslim community, there is a civil war between those who want to adapt their faith to the modern world, and those who want to wage war in order to recreate a lost past of Muslim dominance. We do the former no favor by indulging Islam’s more unsavory aspects, since those aspects are exactly what need to be changed if Muslims want to enjoy the freedom and prosperity that come from political orders founded on human rights and inclusive tolerance. Raymond Ibrahim’s Crucified Again is an invaluable resource for telling the truth that could promote such change.

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The Politics of Resentment

Under the guidance of general director Irina Bokova, a Bulgarian socialist politician and daughter of the adamant communist ideologue Georgi Bokov, editor-in-chief of “Rabotnichesko Delo,” the party daily newspaper during Todor Zhivkov’s dictatorship, UNESCO recently decided to add hundreds of manuscripts by Ernesto “Che” Guevara to the Memory of the World Register. In so doing, Mme Bokova and the organization she runs pay tribute to an ideological adventurer directly involved in the establishment of the Cuban totalitarian state and its secret police. “Che” Guevara hated the US, liberal values and whatever an open society means. He lionized guerrilla fighters as “killing machines” and was himself a killing machine. How would the world respond to a similar decision regarding the manuscripts of a Nazi leader, say Alfred Rosenberg? The answer is in the question. Double standards regarding the mass crimes of the two totalitarian experiments (fascism and communism) remain a shockingly disgraceful  feature of our times.

There are topics that, whether we like it or not, remain disturbingly timely. Among these is the phenomenon of the problematic, often adversarial, relationship between the contemporary Left and democratic capitalism, the U.S., Israel and the universality of human rights. Political thinker Jean-Francois Revel wrote about the anti-American obsession rampant among French leftist intellectuals. Historian Robert Wistrich and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy have identified a mounting and frequently vicious anti-Semitism within the Left. A fierce and courageous book, United in Hate, by Dr. Jamie Glazov, editor, political commentator and historian, is a call for clear-mindedness in our dangerous times. It is a successful effort to demystify some people’s enduring attraction to dictators, pseudo-redeemers, myth-makers, and political mountebanks. Published a few years ago, United in Hate, a scathing encyclopedia of foolishness, is as timely and compelling as ever.

Glazov revisits some of the most notorious and tragic chapters in the history of Western gullibility, including the case of Walter Duranty, the “New York Times” Moscow correspondent during the Great Famine and the purges of 1936-1939 — about which Duranty knew everything but chose to lie. He denied that millions were starved to death by Stalin’s police state, and he endorsed (as did the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, Joseph E. Davies), the Stalinist show trials. Unlike William E. Dodd, the U.S .ambassador to Nazi Germany, who despised and lambasted Hitler’s criminal regime, Davies accepted and even endorsed Stalin’s propaganda and regarded the victims of the Great Purge as genuine saboteurs and spies. In his memoir, “Mission to Moscow,” made into a Hollywood hit during the war, Davies glamorized Stalin’s tyranny as a popular regime. Mass terror was glossed over and the Davieses maintained cordial relations with Stalin’s clique.

At the Hillwood Collection in Washington one can see a superb Russian vase received as a gift by the Ambassador’s then wife, millionaire Marjorie Merriweather Post, from Madame Molotov, Polina Zhemchuzhina. An uninformed visitor would have no idea that the object was most likely the result of Bolshevik plundering of Russian old fortunes and that Mme Molotov was herself arrested in the late 1940s, tried and deported to the Gulag as a Zionist agent. The Molotovs’ grandson, political commentator Vyacheslav Nikonov, is, incidentally, one of Vladimir Putin’s chief propagandists.

People such as Duranty indulged in lying to themselves and to others; these lies enabled political corruption of an untold scale to go not only unchecked but protected.  The story of intellectual treachery, as disquietingly told by Glazov, continued during and after World War II. Cassandras such as George Orwell and Arthur Koestler were dismissed as “war-mongers.” The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre proclaimed: “L’anticommuniste est un chien” (“The anticommunist is a dog”). Great minds such as Albert Camus and Raymond Aron were disparaged.

Whoever thinks that the collapse of the Soviet empire during the revolutionary upheaval of 1989-1991 ended this infatuation with abuse in the service of a fantasy Utopia was mistaken. Anti-Westernism, and Anti-Americanism, possibly out of frustration that the West falls short of “perfection,” remains a galvanizing force for all those who resent the rule of law, democratic procedures, humanistic values, and critical thinking.

The European Left, echoed by many in the US, sees the global terrorist threat as a paranoid delusion meant to justify US world supremacy. Free elections in Iraq were dismissed as a mere electoral window-dressing. Distinguished university professors accepted to serve on Qaddafi’s son’s (and then heir apparent) doctoral dissertation committee at the London School of Economics. The very idea that human rights are universal is often decried as a lack of sensitivity regarding “local traditions” in China and other police states.

Anti-Americanism has become an ideological cement uniting groups and movements of various persuasions. It blends with traditional Judeophobic myths in a conglomerate of resentment. Glazov explores the mind of individuals such as Noam Chomsky for whom Israel is the great villain of our time, allegedly an “imperialist puppet,” whereas Hamas and other terrorist groups belong to the progressive wave of the future. Glazov’s encyclopedia of lethal misguidedness shows how Stalinists and Fascists closed ranks as ideological brothers in their inextinguishable hostility to freedom. The social scientist Albert Hirschman once wrote that shared hatreds make for strange bed fellowships. Glazov’s analysis of the Stalino-Fascist Baroque once again illustrates the truth of this view.

Glazov offers a perceptive anatomy of the leftist radical mythology. As Ambassador R. James Woolsey writes in his Foreword, Glazov’s approach deals with the radical Left- not with the decent, rational Left . The old democratic Left, the Left of Francois Mitterrand, Paul-Henri Spaak, Tony Blair, and Mario Soares was anti-totalitarian, anti-dictatorial, anti-Soviet, and pro-Israel. The radicals, increasingly influential in Europe, favor authoritarian anti-American regimes (e.g. Hugo Chavez’s “Bolivarian socialism” in Venezuela) and resent Israel. Political scientist Alvaro Vargas Llosa accurately distinguishes between a vegetarian Left (Lula in Brazil) and the carnivorous one (the Castro brothers, the Ortega brothers, Evo Morales, Chavez and his heir, Nicolas Maduro, reportedly a puppet of Raul Castro’s secret service).

Unfortunately, the illusions of the radical leftists continue to misinform much of the public discourse in the West, including efforts to blame the U.S. for war and every misfortune from AIDS to global warming. Instead of seeing Islamism as an heir to the totalitarian movements of the last century, many leftists prefer to find justifications for the anti-Western anger they dispense.

Glazov highlights in an unsparing, well- documented way the endless hypocrisy, double standards, and sheer irresponsibility of the latter-day Leninists. They are ready to walk in the steps of the  Marxist poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht’s and acclaim any crime, merely because they execrate diversity, market forces, separation of powers, accountability, equal justice under law, free expression and other Western values. For the leftists analyzed by Glazov, these values are nothing but an ideological camouflage for capitalist (plutocratic) domination. Former Red Brigades theorists like philosophy professor Antonio Negri receive paeans for their anti-”Empire” diatribes.

For these revolutionary oracles, radical Islam and Palestinian terrorism are purifying forces, catalysts of the “Great Refusal” (a term dear to Herbert Marcuse, once the guru of the counter-culture), whereas liberal capitalism is rotten, worthy only of being smashed. Unfortunately, such ideas are infectious and seem to have poisoned the minds of many young people in post-communist countries. Attacking capitalism as soulless, inhuman, mercantile, and philistine has become, once again, a favorite enterprise of the intelligentsia.

Glazov was born to a Russian dissident family who, after years of harassment, left the Soviet Union for the West. In 1968, his father, Yuri Glazov, a distinguished scholar, had signed “The Letter of the 12″ to protest the Soviet regime’s abysmal human rights abuses. For the Glazovs, as for other members of the beleaguered dissident communities in East-Central Europe (the USSR included), the term “Free World” had a very concrete meaning. So did the concept of totalitarianism -repudiated by many Western social scientists convinced that communist regimes could reform and reconcile with pluralism. Communism is intrinsically monopolistic, inimical to the free expression of values, opinions, political choices. In fact, communism cannot be really reformed in terms of political institutions. As East Europeans dissidents used to say: “There is no communism with a human face, but only totalitarianism with broken teeth.” This is the  meaning of human rights activist, political thinker, and poet Liu Xiaobo’s “Charter 2008,” a manifesto for political and intellectual freedom the Chinese leaders hated intensely and led to Liu’s arrest and imprisonment.

Glazov’s book identifies the current dangers and calls for moral clarity and political alertness. In the tradition of  Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer,” he offers an important analysis of nihilistic revolutionary passions rooted in frustration, resentment, rage, desperation, and ideological frenzy. He shows how utopian fanaticism remains a main feature of our times and how it mobilizes anti-Western ideologies and movements. His book should be read by all those who hold dear the value of liberty.

Vladimir Tismaneanu is professor of politics at the University of Maryland (College Park) and author most recently of “The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century” (University of California Press, 2012). Special thanks to Nina Rosenwald for her excellent editorial suggestions.

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Duly Noted – Wealth, Poverty and Ignorance.

Favored myths and popular lies.

There are developments that do not fit your anticipations if you are socialized by Western values. Reality and our cultural assumptions can clash. Several postulates that are said to be mankind’s goals only express local cultural preferences. Their summary would be a sentence about “liberty”, the “pursuit of happiness” and “self-evident”.

True, the order that produced these concepts has been sufficiently successful to justify emulation. However, it does not follow that the way of the achievers is predestined to become a guideline for all of mankind. We may add that, the worldwide differences in wealth and rights reflect this. The rejection of the values that advanced societies hold to be universal explains global differences in achievement. The attitude expressed through this rebuff reveals why much of mankind remains unfree, badly governed, and poor.

The inequality that is a result as well as the cause of this condition proves to be resistant. Blaming “unequal distribution” is only a superficial explanation. The well sounding phrase is more a symptom of past and future failures than a revelation of causes. The term “distribution” brings to mind a traditional remedy of the Left. It has healed little but developed a tradition of failure that is enshrined as a sign of moral superiority. That the misled masses that are the victims of the credo fail to see through the slogan does not invalidate the judgment.

Redistribution does not overcome the condition of those that missed modernization. In fact, the underachieving tend to misunderstand the roots of poverty and wealth. Also, they like to believe that success is a reflection of luck or of theft by the powerful. The equation of power and wealth explains why popular movements arise to replace a bad dictatorship with a good one – one that will be generous to its subjects. Being in the dark regarding wealth’s origins causes a misunderstanding. That concerns the implications of receiving aid in response to penury that is supplied involuntarily by those that are said not to need what they contribute. The beneficiaries overlook that the precondition – a shakedown of the better off – demotivates unwilling donors. Ultimately, the results will shrink the cake out of which the handouts come. With the resulting downward trending equality, sapping motivation to produce will diminish what politics can give away.

Neither nature, nor luck creates whatever is rated as “wealth”. Wealth is the product of attitudes and their application to potentialities. We all compete, and we compete with our cultures. This explains why richly endowed countries are poor and why countries that are by nature poor can be rich. Those who, in the service of distorting ideologies hide this do a disservice to mankind. Their approach creates firewood for envy-fed conflicts and prevents accomplishments by dismissing success strategies.

The foes of the successful society have repeatedly relied on theories to draw attention away from the cause of underdevelopment, servitude and poverty. In the West, a rationalization stressed the role of the Jews. Easily done: Inherited Christian prejudices confirm a contemporary economic-social thesis. Even if the early lenders that demanded repayments at the arrival of the money economy were Germans (the Fuggers) or Italians, usury stuck on the Jews. A special intermezzo is that of the Templars. That monastic order made money from the Crusades and the international trade that accompanied travel. Europe’s cash crunched monarchs that were the order’s bankrupt debtors physically liquidated the Templars. Marxism replaced the “Jews” with the “Capitalists” and persecuted “class aliens”. That Idi Amin Dada had transplanted into Africa the tale of the Pakistani bloodsucker tells that the category of the “enemy” is a flexible one. Some present-day elites exploit tales about “the Americans”.

The theme here, the ignorance about the causes of poverty and the strategies to escape it – as have recently hundreds of millions – has a personal aspect. It makes the writer to want to “spit it out” to guide the reader to insights on an additional level.

My grandfather had purchased after WWI some land and a manor in Hungary. He had a doctorate in economics and expert knowledge of agriculture. In a country dominated by large, badly managed latifundia, from his small base he created the income of the landed rich. That he achieved by producing for the market – not by ignoring it as did the absentee owners of the neighboring estates. Irritatingly for these, he even paid his workers above the going rate. Furthermore, he was, as an old worker put it decades later, “his own best hired hand”. The locals could not understand grandfather’s agribusiness and the natural origins of his success. In a typical reaction, the native found a logical, explanation. It was that there is a gold mine under the “Black Castle”.

This specific idiocy establishes a globally valid connection between poverty, ignorance and backwardness. Up until the 1944 German occupation and government by local national socialists, such gibberish did not matter. At the same time, American air fleets began to overfly us at 9:30 a.m. from Bari, Italy, to bomb the Reich. The daily routine and the reason why “they” found their way demanded an explanation. Well, since Eugene Marich already had a goldmine, it was logical that he must be directing the Liberators with a flashlight to their destination. These rumors activated in the Nazis their “national” as well as their “socialist” identities. Raids and searches followed. You might feel relieved that the gold mine was not found. Even so, the story ends in a tragedy. Days before the end, the Gestapo took my grandparents. The officer in charge explained that before he liquidates, he must settle the case created by numerous denunciations. The most pleasing alternative offered was that the file could be closed if my grandfather would commit suicide. He took the offer.

As one ponders the future of the global balance between poverty and wealth, it seems that the real enemy is not the existing penury. Explanations abound why societies remain mired in traditional misery. Ignorance regarding the origin of both conditions is a culprit. This has a logical cause. Superficially, the conspiracy oriented explanation of the origins of misery and well-being is more convincing than is the complex reality. If you do not know much, a “flat earth” sounds more convincing than the story about a rotating ball. Furthermore, poverty has its professional beneficiaries. This element has an interest to miseducate. The resulting false consciousness can be exploited to mobilizing the political support of the grateful victims

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Mai bine prea tarziu decat niciodata

Tandre consideraţiuni despre crezul naţional

Se spune că Dumnezeu îţi dă, dar nu-ţi bagă şi-n traistă. Sub acest aspect, nu de şanse istorice a dus lipsă ţărişoara noastră. Spre exemplu, în martie 1990, românii au primit în dar, de la nişte compatrioţi din Timişoara, o Proclamaţie. În întîmpinarea cererii formulate de numeroşi alţi compatrioţi, de-a termina dracului cu tot ce-a însemnat comunismul, punctul 8 al documentului venea cu o interesantă ofertă: nomenclatura comunistă şi ofiţerii de securitate să nu poată lucra în funcţii publice timp de trei legislaturi, în special în funcţia de preşedinte al ţării. Ceea ce ar fi dus România pînă în anul 2000, garantat, fără Ion Iliescu precum şi fără agreabilii săi colaboratori la butoane. Oferta a fost refuzată de naţiune.

Sigur, în jur de 4 milioane de cetăţeni au semnat, atunci, apeluri privind includerea în legea electorală a punctului 8 din Proclamaţia de la Timişoara. Dar ce sînt 4 milioane? Punctul 8 al Proclamaţiei a fost şi temelia demonstraţiei-maraton din Piaţa Universităţii, în sensul aplicării, nu al ignorării zisului punct (pentru cititorii mai tineri: e vorba de demonstraţia din primăvara lui 1990, soldată cu invitarea minerilor la Bucureşti, nu de cea din ianuarie 2012, soldată cu invitarea lui Claudiu Crăciun la televiziunile de ştiri antidictatură). Fiind însă vorba de nişte golani, aşa cum bine a explicat domnul Iliescu, cum putea naţiunea să adopte o asemenea golăneală?

Mintea cea de pe turmă

Ea, naţiunea, a înţeles exact despre ce era vorba: ţărăniştii şi liberalii îi vor împuşca, spînzura şi trimite la Canal pe toţi comuniştii. Bun, autorii Proclamaţiei de la Timişoara au explicat limpede, pe înţeles, că nu era vorba de toţi membrii partidului comunist. Simplii membri puteau candida, puteau ocupa funcţii publice, puteau face tot ce doreau în limitele legii. Activiştii de partid erau problema. Fiindcă au slugărit comunismul pentru privilegii, nu prezentau garanţii morale, deci meritau să stea pe bară trei legislaturi. Mai ales în ce priveşte funcţia de preşedinte.

He, he. Dar ce, românii sînt fraieri? Păi nu ştiau ei de pe vremea comuniştilor că una se spune şi alta se face? Ăştia cu Proclamaţia de ce-ar fi oameni de cuvînt? Doar fiindcă aşa spun ei? Păi nu e clar că mint? Îşi zic anticomunişti, dar promit să-i lase în pace pe simplii comunişti? Fugi, dom’le, de-aicea! Chiar ne iau de proşti? O să ne omoare pe toţi. Şi pe matale, care n-ai fost membru, dar tot ai avut vreun cumnat, vreun nepot, vreun vecin care a fost. Iar pe ăia care scapă, o să-i termine capitaliştii şi moşierii, că asta fac exploatatorii poporului. Numai la domnul Iliescu e salvarea, că dînsul a fost tovarăş şi înţelege problemele. Hai, strîns uniţi în jurul Conducătorului! Şi-aşa, cu 87% dintre voturile exprimate, România lucidă, responsabilă, a defecat pe Punctul 8 al Proclamaţiei de la Timişoara, oferind ţara lui Ion Iliescu şi agreabililor săi colaboratori. Oferta a fost acceptată cu plăcere.

Bancul cu timpul, mereu actual

În următorii doi ani, unii şi-au revenit. Le-a părut rău, de pildă, că au refuzat cu obstinaţie să meargă în Piaţa Universităţii, să vadă cu ochii lor că nu se dădea mită în dolari, blugi şi, desigur, droguri. Să audă cu urechile lor ce se spunea acolo, nu la televizor. Unii au regretat, chiar, că şi-au dat copiii sau fraţii afară din casă, fiindcă erau împotriva lui Iliescu. Au promis că vor fi şi ei împotrivă. Cînd li s-a spus că vor pecetlui, prin votul lor, soarta ţării pe încă 40-50 de ani, n-au crezut. Cînd li s-a spus, apoi, că era prea tîrziu, că răul fusese facut, iar n-au crezut. Doar e şi vorba aceea din străbuni: mai bine mai tîrziu decît niciodată. Nu?

Ei, şi-au trecut 22 de ani. Generaţia Iliescu a avut destul timp ca să-şi crească moştenitorii, asigurîndu-şi succesiunea. Baronii locali au avut destul timp ca să fie împroprietăriţi cu judeţe, definitiv. Profesioniştii manipulării au avut destul timp ca să formeze noi deformatori de opinie. Tinerii au avut destul timp ca să priceapă că e mai bine să hotărască alţii pentru ei, refuzînd, în mod inteligent, să voteze. Astfel, România a avut destul timp ca să-şi dorească să rămînă în mizerie, oferind USL o supermajoritate parlamentară, la scrutinul din 2012. Între timp, unii s-au trezit. Regretă că au votat cu USL, sau că nu s-au deranjat să voteze împotrivă. Au speranţe că se rezolva la următoarele alegeri. Să stea liniştiţi. Pot fi mîndri. Sînt a doua generaţie care confirmă „Teza Iliescu“ privind orginalitatea democraţiei noastre. „Mai bine prea tîrziu decît niciodată“ rămîne crezul fundamental al românilor. Altfel, pînă în 2030-2040 nu mai e mult. Dacă mai rămîne ceva, unii o să mai apuce.

Alexandru Hâncu

Ca să nu repetați greșelile istoriei, trebuie s-o învățați. Iar ca să învățați istoria care trebuie, nu aveți altă soluție decât să vă abonați la Kamikaze. Nu pentru noi, nici pentru tine, ci pentru copiii tăi. 

Text preluat din Revista Kamikaze

Sitcom Infantalization and the Death of America

It’s not difficult to peg precisely when the American sitcom moved away from following the lives of mature adults to idealizing the lives of overgrown adolescents. But there’s no question that two generations of Americans have now grown up in a world where virtually everyone worth watching on television is a twentysomething to thirtysomething without a home, a spouse, children, or even a solid job in many cases.

That transition began with the modern shift of the early 1970s, when CBS led the way in moving from traditional situation comedies like Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies to more urban-centered comedies like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family. Both of those shows focused on non-traditional situations. The Mary Tyler Moore Show focused on a single woman living with a roommate while working at a news station. All in the Family focused on a father and mother living with their grown daughter and son-in-law. The twist: the father was a bigoted moron, and the mother was a good-hearted idiot, while the liberal son-in-law, who didn’t have the ability to provide for his wife, was the smartest one of the bunch.

Fast forward forty years. There are still family-oriented sitcoms, although they all feature non-traditional families being equated to traditional families, or completely dysfunctional traditional families (Modern Family, Glee, Two and a Half Men, Family Guy). There are work-oriented sitcoms, although those sitcoms largely revolve around people who dislike their jobs (The Office, Parks and Recreation). But all of those sitcoms revolve around people who are in their forties.

What of people in their thirties? They are treated like people in their twenties used to be. The Big Bang Theory features late-twenties scientists rooming together, or with their mother, struggling with love; it took five seasons for one of the main characters to get married. Nobody on the show has had children. New Girl features three men living with a woman in an apartment. All are approaching or above age thirty. All but one have dead-end jobs. None are married, none have children.

That used to be the exception rather than the rule. Now, thanks in part to the plethora of television characters who live glorious and fun single lives without responsibility, that’s become the societal ideal. The median age of marriage was stagnant from 1950 to 1970; it was 22.8 for men and 20.3 for women in 1950, and 23.2 and 20.8, respectively, in 1970. As of 2010, the median age of first marriage is now 28.2 among men and 26.1 among women.

As for childbearing the numbers are similarly stunning. The average age for first childbirth for women in the United States is 25, lower than the average age for marriage (no wonder there are such massively rising rates of unwed motherhood across socioeconomic lines). The median age in 1950 was 22.8. That may seem like a minor rise, but as Jonathan Last has pointed out in his fantastic What to Expect When Nobody’s Expecting, a rising age of first birth and a lower age of last birth means fewer children.

Not all of this is attributable to television – not even close. But television, as both a reflective and a transformative medium, has changed how people think about marriage and family. Marriage on television is largely relegated to negativity. Married couples are generally miserable (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons), while single people lead glamorous lives full of sexy partners and interesting jobs (Sex and the City, Friends). Nobody has to live with the consequences of spending adulthood as in a suspended state of adolescence.

America, however, will. When Americans stop getting married, stop having children, stop aspiring for a home and a homestead, the predictable effect is an unmoored civilization, both morally and economically. We cannot all live in our father-in-law’s house. Someone has to pay the bills. And someone has to pick up the slack for a population that increasingly blows off responsibility for the fleeting fun of college-style living.

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Egypt Erupts

Sunday marked Mohamed Morsi’s first anniversary as president of Egypt. By evening it was clear—if there had been any doubt left—that he had little to celebrate.

Already on Saturday, amid mounting violence, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood had had to whisk him away to safety amid reports that protesters planned to march on his presidential palace. At least eight people, including a young American man, had already been killed in demonstrations. Offices of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, had been set on fire in the cities of Alexandria and Dakahlia.

The opponents of the Islamist regime claimed to have gathered 22 million signatures on a petition to oust Morsi—almost double the 13 million who had voted for him a year earlier. These opponents are an unlikely coalition of (relative) liberals, supporters of the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak, and even more extreme Islamists of a Salafist bent. All are united—for now—only by an iron determination to topple Morsi and his regime.

That regime, in the eyes of the protest movement, is responsible for Egypt’s ongoing economic deterioration that includes mounting inflation, wide-scale unemployment, a steep drop in tourism, shortages of basic commodities, plummeting foreign investment, and dwindling cash reserves. Accompanying the acute economic crisis is a breakdown in social order with the police rendered impotent, rampant crime in the streets, and minorities like Christians and Shiites suffering severe persecution.

The protesters also charge the regime with subverting Egypt’s political institutions. The parliament was disbanded a year ago, and early in June the Senate was declared unlawful. The Brotherhood, say its opponents, has imposed its own Islamist constitution on the country, stacked government with its supporters, and generally betrayed its supposedly democratic mandate while miserably mismanaging the country.

The crisis intensified on Sunday. During the day one person was killed and close to thirty injured when Morsi supporters and opponents clashed in the city of Bani Suef, south of Cairo. Troops and armored vehicles were deployed in Cairo and army helicopters flew above the city. Fears of violence were reportedly prompting many people to try and flee the country, with 60,000 leaving it via Cairo International Airport since Friday.

The key question was whether, as the heat of the day subsided toward evening, the protesters indeed had enough support to bring vast numbers of people into the streets. By early evening it was clear that the answer was affirmative as hundreds of thousands materialized in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in cities throughout the country. The Tahrir Square protesters used the same chant—“The people want the fall of the regime!”—that was heard there two and a half years ago in the anti-Mubarak revolt. A much smaller group of Islamist supporters of Morsi, reportedly around 10,000, gathered around a mosque near the presidential palace.

By late Sunday evening there were reports of about 175 people injured in protests throughout the country. The Brotherhood said its Cairo headquarters had been attacked by protesters firing shotguns and throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks. The initial impression, then, is that the protest has real backing and energy and the regime would be wrong to count on it fizzling out.

A key issue is the role of the army. Earlier in the week the chief of staff, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, had warned that the army would intervene if things got out of control. Having been removed from power a year ago by Morsi, after having ruled the country for the year and a half since Mubarak’s fall, the military establishment is considered resentful toward the regime but cognizant of the fact that Washington, as Israeli commentator Boaz Bismuth puts it, “supports the elected president, even if it is Morsi. The military, however, can force Morsi to make concessions.”

The coming days will tell to what extent the regime is in trouble; but Sunday’s events can hardly leave it sanguine. It would be encouraging to think most Egyptians now realize the mistake of hastily deposing the lesser evil, Mubarak, and in effect clearing the path for the considerably greater evil of Morsi and his Islamists. Confronted, though, by yet another Middle Eastern spectacle of roiling violence, with Salafists constituting one faction of the rebels, even relative optimism has to be cautious.

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Who Will Compose a Manifesto for American Revival?

The progressive assault on American society is nearing total victory. The assault was in fact a revolution as it sought to overthrow the governing structures of the United States by undermining and abrogating the fundamental principles that gave birth to those structures. The assault, which began at the turn of the twentieth century, met with almost immediate success. In particular, the ratification of the 16th and 17th amendments to the Constitution and the establishment of the Federal Reserve bear testimony to that success. Although many pundits argue that it was not until the advent of Barack Obama that the progressive victory was assured, one can make a very strong case that the cataclysmic upheavals in American society that occurred in the 1960s guaranteed the ultimate success of the progressive revolution. There have been a few partially successful conservative counterattacks: Coolidge in the 1920s, Reagan in the 1980s, Gingrich in the 1990s and the Tea Party a few years ago. But all of these have a “Battle of the Bulge” character – delaying the inevitable, not preventing it.

I have argued on numerous occasions that the fundamental strategy of the progressive assault is encapsulated in the aphorism usually attributed to the early twentieth century Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci: capture the culture, the politics will follow. And that is exactly what the progressives did. Through an unremitting assault on the basic cultural institutions of American society, the progressive movement captured virtually all of the society’s opinion-forming organs. Today the media, universities, legal profession, seminaries, federal bureaucracy, journalism schools, educational system, etc. are overwhelmingly dominated by leftists, collectivists and statists. Not surprisingly, the politics have followed – to the extent that a radical statist with absolutely no experience in any qualifying aspect of American life (e.g., business, military, executive) has been elected – and re-elected – president of the US.

Surely, when surveying the scene in 1895, the young progressive must have viewed the revolutionary task ahead of him as gargantuan – perhaps even impossible. But he and his cohort set to work and scarcely more than a century later, his progeny sits atop the mountain. With perseverance, single-minded dedication and adherence to the game plan, they overcame the enormous obstacles in their path and converted American society into the multicultural, government-dependent, environmentally-obsessed, racially divisive, militarily-weakened, redistributionist, self-denigrating, secular, morally decadent, class conscious society that we comprise today.

Thus in 2013, a young conservative, when contemplating a counterrevolution that would return America to its founding principles, faces a daunting landscape as inhospitable as his progressive forbearer confronted 118 years earlier. He will need the same perseverance, tenacity and dedication if he is to repeat the success. And he needs to follow the same game plan – that is, he needs to recapture the culture. In other venues, I have proposed some strategies to do so, but here I would like to suggest the need for a tool.

All revolutions require a guidebook – a manifesto that outlines the fundamental rationale of the revolutionaries and points the way toward the game plan that will drive the revolution. Historical examples are manifold. Perhaps the most famous is the US Declaration of Independence. Others include: the Declaration of the Rights of Man (issued during the French Revolution), the Cartagena Manifesto of Simon Bolivar, the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. Two more recent examples are the Port Huron Statement and the Contract with America. The latter, which inspired Gingrich and to some extent the Tea Party, has had rather limited success. On the other hand, the former (usually attributed to Tom Hayden) has played a significant role in motivating and guiding progressive efforts over the last half century.

One could argue that the manifesto for the conservative counterrevolution has already been written by Mark Levin. His 2009 book Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto is a serious candidate to fill the bill. But I fear that its longevity and influence may be limited. Time will tell. However, it is likely that something shorter and more focused, but equally eloquently and passionately argued, might be necessary. I don’t propose to write that document here. Rather I will describe what I see as the five fundamental components that the document must encompass and address if it is to galvanize and motivate the public and also to serve as the inspiration for the decades-long effort that it must guide. Those five are:

  1. Freedom. The primary thrust of a conservative manifesto must be freedom. The basic tenets of the Declaration of Independence must be re-emphasized. The most fundamental ideal of the American Revolution is that all human beings are born free, that each individual is inherently equal to any other before the law, that we all enjoy certain inalienable rights endowed by God, or Nature’s God – specifically, the rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights, and that governments are instituted almost exclusively to protect those rights. The present system, in which the Federal Government acts as the initiator and enforcer of “new rights” in a manner that is far beyond the scope of the powers enumerated to it in our Constitution, is contrary to the spirit of freedom and constitutes a grave danger to our individual liberty.
  2. Economic Opportunity. Building on and consistent with political freedom is our right to economic freedom. The people have the right to choose their mode and place of work, to enter into monetary or labor contracts freely, to enjoy the fruits of their labor and to buy and sell property as they see fit – all, of course, within the rule of law. The government’s sole role in the economic foundation of our lives is to enforce the rule of law – dispassionately, objectively and without prejudice. In addition, our economic system will embrace free market capitalism – because it is the only system consistent with economic and political freedom, and because it yields far greater overall prosperity than does socialism, Keynesianism or any other economic system.
  3. American Exceptionalism.  We must re-endorse the following ideas: the American experiment in political and economic freedom makes us unique among the nations of the Earth; America should remain a shining example to the world of freedom and hope; America has been and continues to be a force for good in the world; we welcome immigrants to our shores who share our ideals; and we will maintain the strength and will to move the world towards a more humane, free and prosperous future.
  4. Morality. We must re-endorse the notion of our Founders that our system of government and rules for organizing society (i.e., as a democratic, Constitutional Republic) can work only if the people – who enjoy widespread liberty -are moral, decent and virtuous. We live in a time when one man’s morality is another man’s chains. But hopefully, we all can agree that a moral America is one grounded in: faith, charity, humility and strong families and communities.
  5. Rule of Law. We must re-emphasize that ours is a society in which the law, not men, reign supreme. In addition to – indeed as a companion to freedom, we seek justice. The laws are made by the people and our leaders execute them according to the consent of all who are governed by them. Thus we reject political corruption, crony capitalism, the cult of a leader or leaders, and discrimination – reverse or otherwise.

Who will write the manifesto? The conservative cause needs someone with Levin’s depth of understanding, Krauthammer’s perspicacity, Buckley’s eloquence, Limbaugh’s passion, Churchill’s guts, Reagan’s optimism and the wisdom of a Solomon. Will that person please report to the front desk asap!

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Better Living Through Video Games

Video games have had a bad reputation for basically as long as they’ve been around. To begin with, they were portrayed as the purview of losers and fringe geek-types. Increasingly, they are blamed for any random act of violence that gains media attention. But when you’re talking about an industry that is larger than the movie industry and has been for some time now, it’s difficult to write it off as a mere niche activity. Moreover, not only is there no evidence that video games induce violent behavior, there are also good reasons to believe that video games can have positive cognitive and social effects on gamers.

One of the fears about modern technology that gets a lot of airtime is the notion that we risk destroying our ability to focus for prolonged periods on tasks that require all of our attention. Nicholas Carr has made himself the chief representative about this point of view. Drawing on neuroplasticity research, he argues that a great deal of tech services are set up in a way that rewires our brain to seek instant gratification for minimal attention, and in the long run makes it harder for us to get anything else.

Though the rise of casual gaming along the lines of Angry Birds certainly is a part of the trend that Carr describes, the biggest names in video gaming have always encouraged long term focus rather than discouraged it. Platformers, the genre of which Super Marios Bros. is a part, require gamers to devote all of their attention as they jump from place to place, for bad timing and failure to notice an obstacle inevitably result in death. MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft are famous for sucking gamers in for hours and hours over the course of months. This may be cause for concern for some reasons, but discouraging focus is surely not one of them. If Carr’s hypothesis holds, then games such as these should actually wire gamers’ brains in a way that makes it easier for them to focus on longer tasks in general.

One of the sources of satisfaction that modern cognitive scientists emphasize is finding opportunities to experience what is known as “flow“. Flow is the sensation of working right at the edge of one’s abilities. If you’ve ever had a bad streak where it felt as though you were performing worse than you were capable of but seemed unable to come out of it, you might say that that’s the opposite of flow—flow is the very best possible streak. It’s exhilarating while it lasts, and it feels fragile—like any small distraction could derail you.

Who knows this sensation better than a gamer? Take Super Meat Boy, the ultra-hard platformer highlighted in the documentary Indie Game: The Movie. Anyone who has devoted hours to playing this game knows what it is like to suddenly hit a streak in which a level that seemed impossible is suddenly overcome all at once. Flow is the cognitive payoff that gamers receive for devoting enormous amounts of time to focusing on trying to solve very specific problems.

Having a sense of place within a community is another important aspect of personal satisfaction, and here again gaming has much to recommend it. Far from its reputation of being isolating, gaming is and has always been an intrinsically social activity. To begin with, we got into gaming because our friends were into it, and we sought the games that we heard about through our friends. We shared our progress, as well as tips and tricks we learned about, with our friends. Gaming provided a common ground for connecting with new people or breaking the ice at a gathering. Even when we did not know one another personally, we were connected to each other through our common experience of playing the same games and reading the same magazines.

Today there is far more community among gamers than there ever has been. The chief cause is of course the Internet, both because access to forums and chat programs and social media allows communities to better connect in general, and because gaming increasingly harnesses connectivity directly. Xbox Live made real-time interaction among gamers playing the same game the gold standard of hardcore gaming. Games like World of Warcraft encourage seeking out new companions to accomplish in-game goals.

There is a school of thought with a long history—far predating modernity—which holds that the path to the good life is to devote oneself to a craft, of which the arts are considered a part. One need not take a position on the debate over whether video games are an art form in order to agree that the creating of video games is a craft. It requires animators, programmers, designers, composers, and increasingly writers as well. Obviously many indie games simply involve one or two people taking on all of these roles—but it’s clear that every one of these tasks is itself a craft, so it is no big leap to say that their combination is a craft as well.

Technological progress and new funding mechanisms such as Kickstarter are making it easier than ever for people to devote themselves to this craft. Moreover, the community aspects of gaming and the net in general are making it possible for gamers to increasingly participate in the process of creating games. Be it through criticism, through contributing to a Kickstarter campaign, or through promoting a favorite creator on social media, gaming is taking on all of the larger activities associated with any form of culture.

Critics of the ill effects of technology tend to think that video games are the biggest problem area of all. I hope I have offered some evidence that, in fact, gaming can be a countermeasure against some of modernity’s downsides. More than that, participation in the gamer community can be an uplifting and fulfilling activity.

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Excusing Jihad In Boston

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev woke up and told investigators that he and his brother Tamerlan were waging a lone jihad when they set off two bombs packed with nails and ball bearings at the Boston Marathon. He said his brother came up with the whole plot out of a desire to “defend Islam.” And as if on cue, the mainstream media began an all-out effort to obscure and downplay the significance of the now indisputable fact that this was a jihad terror attack – an effort as energetic and inventive as their previous attempt to convince the American people that the bombings had to be, just had to be, the work of “right-wing extremists.”

Imagine for a moment if the attackers had indeed turned out to be “right-wing extremists.” Imagine that they were even that mother lode of Leftist media fantasy, Christian “extremists” – think Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, his body tattooed all over with Biblical quotes, muttering about the wrath of God and determined to terrorize not just a single family, but an entire city, an entire nation. Just to make it really interesting, imagine that the people these Christian terrorists happened to kill with their bombs were Muslim.

If the attackers had been people like that, the Atlantic Wire would have run a piece entitled “The Boston Bombers Were Christian – So?” It would have complained that “we confuse categories – ‘male,’ ‘Christian’ — with cause,” and cautioned against stereotyping all Christians and painting Christians with a broad brush.

Meanwhile, Chris Matthews would have had on an FBI agent who would have asked about the bombers, “Where was their inspiration? Where did they get the guidance?,” leading Matthews to respond: “Why is that important? Why is that important to — is that important to prosecuting? I mean, what difference does it make why they did it if they did it? I’m being tough here.”

Also on MSNBC, Martin Bashir would lament about how these Christian bombers were “burying the ‘peace, compassion and kindness of the Bible.’” A local Muslim leader at a prayer service would have cautioned: “We must be a people of reconciliation, not revenge….The crimes of the two young men must not be the justification for prejudice against Christians….It is very difficult to understand what was going on in the young men’s minds, what demons were operative, what ideologies or politics or the perversion of their religion.”

If the Boston bombers really had been Bible-quoting Christian fanatics, none of that would actually have happened at all. Instead, the media feeding frenzy would have been intense. The air waves would have been full of earnest examinations of how the Bible is full of material that constitutes incitement to violence, recommendations of what the churches and Christian leaders must do to make sure that this kind of attack never happens again, and story after story about bright, attractive young people who got mixed up with church groups and ended up with their lives and the lives of everyone around them in ruins.

But of course, the bombers weren’t Christians; they were Muslims, acting explicitly in the name of Islam. Media analysts, when they have deigned to take notice of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s statement at all, have scratched their heads in puzzlement over how he and his brother could have gotten the idea that murdering innocent people at a sporting event could possibly constitute any kind of defense of Islam. However, they wouldn’t be so puzzled if they knew that the Qur’an exhorts Muslims to use the “steeds of war” to “strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (8:60) – and that al-Qaeda has recently recommended bombing sporting events as a nicely effective way to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah.

The mainstream media has no interest in how the Qur’an may incite those who believe it is the word of Allah to commit acts of violence against those who do not so believe. And so it was that the Atlantic Wire’s story was actually about why it scarcely mattered that the bombers were Muslim, and Chris Matthews was declaring that the bombers’ inspirations and motivations made no difference, and Martin Bashir was praising the virtues of the Qur’an, and it was Sean O’Malley, the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, who cautioned against taking revenge and decried the “perversion” of Islam that led to the bombings.

It is hard to say why Cardinal O’Malley was so confident that the bombers were perverting Islam, despite the Qur’an’s many commands to Muslims to commit acts of violence against unbelievers (2:190-193; 4:89; 9:5; 9:29; 47:4; etc.). It is likely, however, that he simply believes what he has been told about this question: that Islam is a religion of peace, and that those who commit acts of violence in its name are twisting and hijacking the beautiful, peaceful teachings of the religion.

And that’s the problem with this pervasive media denial. The Atlantic Wire asked why it mattered that the bombers were Muslim. It’s a fair question. It matters because the fact that they were Muslims is not incidental to what they did. There’s this thing called “jihad,” you see. It’s an Islamic doctrine involving warfare against unbelievers. The likelihood is that some others might want to wage jihad against Americans as well. And so the more we know about it, the better prepared we can be to defend ourselves.

But the more we lie to ourselves and each other about what this jihad is really all about, the more we enable people like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. We cannot possibly defeat an enemy whom we refuse to understand, refuse to study, refuse to listen to because he explains why he is our enemy in terms that we can’t bear hearing. That’s why this media obfuscation is nothing short of criminal. And it will bear much more fruit of the kind it bore on the sunny day of the Boston Marathon.

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Calling Islam “Islam”

I wrote this a few years ago, and I think it’s worth posting again, particularly after the latest jihadist attack in Boston. I noticed, after the attack this week, that a number of people are using more proper terminology to identify this enemy, which is very important in taking on the enemy. I recall watching panel discussions after 9/11, with each panelist using a different term to describe the enemy we face. That annoyed the hell out of me as I think it’s incredibly important to identify the proper terms when speaking about our enemy, and to NEVER create terms, for whatever reason. To me, the only difference between “Islamism” and Islam is three letters. Below I try my best to make the case why we should always call Islam “Islam.”

Western intellectuals and commentators refer to the enemy’s ideology as:

“Islamic Fundamentalism,” “Islamic Extremism,” “Totalitarian Islam,” “Islamofascism,” “Political Islam,” “Militant Islam,” “Bin Ladenism,” “Islamonazism,” “Radical Islam,” “Islamism,” etc….

The enemy calls it “Islam.”

Imagine, if during past wars, we used terms such as “Radical Nazism,” “Extremist Shinto” and “Militant Communism.” The implication would be that there are good versions of those ideologies, which would then lead some to seek out “moderate” Nazis. Those who use terms other than “Islam” create the impression that it’s some variant of Islam that’s behind the enemy that we’re facing. A term such as “Militant Islam” is redundant, but our politicians continue praising Islam as if it were their own religion. Bush told us “Islam is peace” — after 2,996 Americans were murdered in its name. He maintained that illusion throughout his two terms, and never allowed our soldiers to defeat the enemy. And now we have Obama, who tells us, from Egypt:

“I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

If only he felt that way about America. Washington’s defense of Islam has trumped the defense of America and this dereliction of duty could well be called Islamgate.

Islam is a political religion; the idea of a separation of Mosque and State is unheard of in the Muslim world. Islam has a doctrine of warfare, Jihad, which is fought in order to establish Islamic (“Sharia”) Law, which is, by nature, totalitarian. Sharia Law calls for, among other things: the dehumanization of women; the flogging/stoning/killing of adulterers; and the killing of homosexuals, apostates and critics of Islam. All of this is part of orthodox Islam, not some “extremist” form of it. If jihadists were actually “perverting a great religion,” Muslims would have been able to discredit them on Islamic grounds and they would have done so by now. The reason they can’t is because jihadists are acting according to the words of Allah, the Muslim God. From the Koran:

“Slay the idolators wherever you find them…” Chapter 9, verse 5

“When you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads until you have made a great slaughter among them….” Ch. 47:4

Beyond the doctrine, there is the historical figure of Mohammad, who, more than anyone, defines Islam. How would you judge a man who lies, cheats, steals, rapes and murders as a way of life? This evil man is Islam’s ideal man, Mohammad. Whatever he said and did is deemed moral by virtue of the fact that he said it and did it. It’s no accident that the only morality that could sanction his behavior was his own. Nor is it an accident that Muslims who model themselves after him are the most violent.

For the 13 years that Mohammad failed to spread Islam by non-violent means, he was not so much peaceful as he was powerless. It was only through criminal activity and with the help of a large gang of followers that he managed to gain power. But he wanted his moral pretense too, so he changed Islam to reflect the fact that the only way it could survive was through force. And so, acting on Allah’s conveniently timed “revelation” that Islam can and should be spread by the sword, Mohammad led an army of Muslims across Arabia in the first jihad. From then on, violence became Islam’s way in the world. And today, acting on Mohammad’s words, “War is deceit” — in the sense that Muslims use earlier “peaceful” verses from the Koran as a weapon against the ignorance and good will of their victims. Those “peaceful” passages in the Koran were abrogated by later passages calling for eternal war against those who do not submit to Islam. How Mohammad spread Islam influenced the content of its doctrine and therefore tells us exactly what Islam means.

Note also that the only reason we’re talking about Islam is because we’ve been forced to by its jihad. And where are Islam’s “conscientious objectors”? Nowhere to be found, for even lax Muslims have been silent against jihad. But that doesn’t stop desperate Westerners from pointing to them as representives of “Moderate Islam.”

Far from being a personal faith, Islam is a collectivist ideology that rejects a live-and-let-live attitude towards non-Muslims. And while the jihadists may not represent all Muslims, they do represent Islam. In the end, most Muslims have proven themselves to be mere sheep to their jihadist wolves, irrelevant as allies in this war. Recovering Muslims call the enemy’s ideology “Islam,” and they dismiss the idea of “Moderate Islam” as they would the idea of “Moderate Evil.” When, based on his actions, Mohammad would be described today as a “Muslim Extremist,” then non-violent Muslims should condemn their prophet and their religion, not those who point it out.

Islam is the enemy’s ideology and evading that fact only helps its agents get away with more murder than they would otherwise. Western politicians have sold us out, so it’s up to the rest of us to defend our way of life by understanding Islam and telling the truth about it in whatever way we can. If we can’t even call Islam by its name, how the hell are we going to defend ourselves against its true believers? One could argue that we’d be better off if the West would just choose one of the many terms currently used for the enemy’s ideology. For my part, I call the enemy what they are, “Jihadists,” and our response, “The War on Jihad.” But behind it all, it’s Islam that makes the enemy tick.

Despite my frustrations with the refusal of many to call Islam “Islam,” I know that those who speak out against Jihad put themselves in danger, and I respect their courage. But it’s important that we acknowledge Islam’s place in the threat we face and say so without equivocation. Not saying “Islam” helps Islam and hurts us. So let’s begin calling the enemy’s ideology by its name. Let’s start calling Islam “Islam.”


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