June 5, 2011
You Did Not Learn All You Needed to Know in Kindergarten
In 1988 a fluffy lightweight book by Robert Fulghum , a Unitarian Universalist Minister, hit the best seller lists. Its thesis was that everything you really need to know you learned in kindergarten. The top three items were “Share everything; Play fair; and Don’t hit people.”
These precepts might be fine for kindergarten pupils in Washington State where he resides, but as a template for grownups living 2011, it falls laughably short of practical. We can be charitable without sharing equally; we should play fair (for example, foregoing intensive interrogations of prisoners captured in battle) only when those who want us dead play fair, and we should hit back at people who are trying to kill us.
Fulghum might be a pleasant man and an amusing seat mate on a long distance flight, but he’d be a preposterous ally in a life and death battle and not the sort of person whose redistributionist views make for sensible budgeting or social planning. In many ways this infantile view of the world has been adopted by the willingly blind who parade about in giant papier mache heads waving banners which say nonsensical stuff like “Ground drones, End Wars,” or who fly first class to UN conferences where they tell the West it is responsible for sharing what its citizens — by dint of their labors, thrift and adherence to rational social organizations — have accrued with the rest of the world, including spendthrifts, mountebanks and layabouts. The notion being , I suppose, that in impoverishing ourselves the West will provide more wealth for the world’s dispossessed.
In fact, we know that excess capital provides the best means of financing the creation of new technologies that enrich the world and improve life and the environment for all. Simply dividing the wealth pie further will impoverish us all, and, in fact, generally just ends up in the hands of corruptocrats building up Swiss bank accounts or adding on to villas in Cannes. Picture the Oil for Food Scandal under UN aegis on an even grander scale.
The rules in kindergarten will not serve you well in this world. At least not if you follow these rules and not, say, those of kindergartens in Israel where the lessons have to include the knowledge that the world includes enemies who wish you dead:” Don’t pick up toys in the road because they often are disguised explosives.” And not if you take seriously this week’s fatwa by an Iranian cleric that it’s a religiously appropriate thing to murder Jewish children.
So why have such silly notions about the nature of the world we live in and how we should behave in it survive after countless acts of terrorism (we are being beset by people who are not “play[ing] fair”) and overwhelming proof of the intractable hatred so many Moslems around the world have for the Israel, the U.S. and the West in general? And why have so many American Jews entered into this mass delusion about what is happening and what must be our reaction if it is not “hit [ting back] at people”?
Why do so many cling to preposterously sinister notions about Israel’s conduct and persist in the therapy notion/blather that perhaps what the West and Islamists lack is enough “communication,” that talking more will resolve intractable conflicts?
Writing in the Volokh Conspiracy (a website you really ought to bookmark for its many fine contributions, especially on the law) David Bernstein answered this question to my satisfaction.
I’ve been thinking for some time about blogging about the concept of “enemies”, and how modern universalist liberalism has trouble dealing with the possibility that in some conflicts there is no mutually acceptable solution (at least not from the subjective perspective of the participants in the conflict), and thus one really has a conflict among enemies, not simply a misunderstanding that can be resolved through negotiations and compromises. To take an extreme example, if an Islamist extremist insists that violence against the West is necessary until Islam dominates Europe and North America, that extremist is an enemy, regardless of what the West does or doesn’t do. The West can either fight or submit.
Bernstein went further, linking to Rabbi Daniel Gordis in Commentary who wrote of the inexplicable hostility of some rabbinical students to Israel to explain other aspects of the phenomenon.:
If you asked a Jew at any other time in the history of our people whether or not he had enemies, the notion that he should consider the possibility he did not have enemies would have occasioned a blast of the mordant humor that has helped keep our tribe alive through the millennia. Today, however, the discomfort with the idea of “the enemy” and the intolerability of being in a drawn-out conflict has led these students to the conviction that Israel must solve the conflict. The Palestinian position is not going to shift; that much they intuit. But having enemies, and being in interminable conflict, is unbearably painful for them. So Israel must change. And if it will not, or cannot, then it is Israel that is at fault. In which case, it makes perfectly good sense for these future Jewish leaders to refuse to purchase prayer shawls manufactured in Israel and to insist on demonstratively remaining seated as the prayer for Israeli soldiers is recited in their rabbinical-school communities. They will do virtually anything in order to avoid confronting the fact that the Jewish people has intractable enemies. Their universalist worldview does not have a place for enemies. [snip]
What too many of these students do not understand is that the Jewish tradition makes a bold claim — the claim that we learn caring, and we learn love, from that which is closest to us. To love all of humanity equally is ultimately to love no one. To care about one’s enemies as much as one cares about oneself is to be no one. There needs to be priority and specificity in devotion and loyalty. Without them, we can stand for nothing. And without instinctive loyalty to the Jewish people, Jewry itself cannot survive.
What appears to be, at first blush, an issue of weakening Zionist loyalties is thus actually something far more worrisome. The real issue is a traditional Jewish lexicon, which includes notions such as “us” and “them,” which bespeaks concentric circles of loyalty and devotion, which does not deny the indisputable fact that the Jews and their state have real enemies, which understands that not everyone can be loved into submission or peace.
I shared the Bernstein piece with my friend and fellow American Thinker author Terry Heinrichs and he had some additional thoughts worth sharing, about how the concept of moral superiority and alienation from one’s own people plays into this widespread craziness:
It is an attitude that is also useful; It permits those who possess it to combine willful blindness with feelings of moral superiority. The one allows us to put our heads in the sand and pretend away a danger we’d rather not confront; the other allows us to commend ourselves for being so wonderfully tolerant and accepting. “It’s just those intolerant boobs among us that rant about Islamic enemies. We know and are better than that. We don’t recognize enemies so we don’t have them. We’re Kantians.” We’ll also be dead if we don’t change our behavior. [snip]
The “it’s not them; it’s us” view is accurate only to the extent one disengages oneself from the “us.” And this is what is done, isn’t it? The willfully blind morally superior being detaches himself from the group even as he admits a kind of distant association with it. It’s not me and mine; it’s the “them” within the “us” that create all the problems.
“We’re good over here.”
Indeed, what was all that “Not in My Name” stuff about except an effort to disengage from the struggle we face while patting oneself on the back for being so morally superior to those who sacrificed to take the war to our enemies?
We all have some things to learn after we leave kindergarten.
Mosques as Barracks in America
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan represents the triumphant Janus-faced approach to the fundamentalist global “Islamic revival.” He and his pious forbears have now completed dismantling Turkey’s secular experiment, and achieved the full-throated re-Islamization of Turkish society, an insidious process begun already within the decade after Ataturk’s death, in 1938. When currying favor with gullible Western audiences, Erdogan burbles disingenuous ecumenical platitudes about the “Alliance of Civilizations.” But in reality, this is an Islamization campaign promoted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, notably Saudi Arabia, which rewarded Erdogan, for his role in the Alliance, specifically, as “services to Islam,” with the “King Faisal International Prize,” considered the “Nobel prize” of the Arab world. Regardless, Erdogan has always aroused his Muslim constituencies by brazenly appealing to their deep-seated jihadist sentiments as he did while mayor of Istanbul, in 1997, delivering a fiery speech that reminded the masses of these words from the poem “The Soldier’s Prayer,” written (in 1912) by Turkish nationalist poet Ziya Gokalp:
The minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the faithful our army.
Cited appropriately by successful opponents of minaret construction in Switzerland, such rhetoric should now resonate uncomfortably in America with the online release Monday June 6, 2011 of alarming survey data from a representative national sample of US mosques.
During August 2007, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) released “Radicalization in the West – The Homegrown Threat.” This insightful 90-page report evaluated the threat that had become apparent since 9/11/2001, analyzing the roots of recent terror plots in the United States, from Lackawanna in upstate New York to Portland, Ore., to Fort Dix, NJ. Based upon these case-study analyses of individuals arrested for jihadist activity, the authors concluded that the “journey” of radicalization that produces homegrown jihadists began in so-called “Salafist” (“fundamentalist” to non-Muslims) mosques characterized by high levels of Sharia-Islamic Law-adherence. The landmark study just published, “Sharia and Violence in American Mosques” (Kedar M, Yerushalmi D. The Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2011, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 59-72) sought to expand considerably upon the NYPD’s post-hoc, case study approach-systematically gathering objective survey data, with much greater methodological rigor-and address these two a priori questions: I) Is there a robust association between observable measures of religious devotion, coupled to Sharia-adherence in US mosques, and the presence of violence-sanctioning materials at these mosques?; and II) Is there a robust association between the presence of violence-sanctioning materials at a mosque, and the advocacy of jihadism by the mosque’s leadership via recommending the study of these materials, or other manifest behaviors?
Full details of the sampling methodology, extracts of representative jihad promoting materials (texts), and specific Sharia-compliant behaviors recorded, are provided in the accompanying appendices, reproduced from the full study (which will be available here 6/6/11). In brief, survey data were collected from a nationally representative, random statistical sample of 100 US mosques, covering 14 states, and the District of Columbia. This concise overview of the basic data collection procedures-including a self-critical, honest caveat by the authors about “completeness” of the available information on US mosque locations-is reproduced verbatim from the report (p. 68):
A surveyor visited a subject mosque in order: (a) to observe and record 12 Sharia-adherent behaviors of the worshipers and the imam (or lay leader); (b) to observe whether the mosque contained the selected materials rated as moderate and severe; (c) to observe whether the mosque contained materials promoting, praising, or supporting violence or violent jihad; and (d) to observe whether the mosque contained materials indicating the mosque had invited guest speakers known to have promoted violent jihad. Thus, the survey only examined the presence of Sharia-adherent behaviors, the presence of violence positive materials in mosques, whether an imam would promote the study of violence-positive materials, and whether a mosque was used as a forum to promote violent jihad. Since there is no central body to which all mosques belong, it was difficult to ascertain that the sampling universe list was complete. This may have introduced bias into the sampling although the authors find no evidence of any systemic distortions.
The study’s results provide clear-and ominous-affirmative answers to the a priori questions posed. Sharia-adherence was strongly associated with the presence of jihad-violence sanctioning materials, and the presence of jihad-violence sanctioning materials was in turn robustly associated advocacy of jihadism by mosque imams-religious leaders. This key summary finding was highlighted by the authors:
…51 percent of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari’a-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim; 30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence like the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Fiqh as-Sunna; 19 percent had no violent texts at all.
Thus 81% of this statistical sample representative of US mosques were deemed as moderately (30%) to highly (51%) supportive of promulgating jihad violence to impose Shari’a.
Additional profoundly troubling findings emerge when the data are explored in depth beyond these summary observations. For example, only 4.7% of Muslim worshippers attended mosques where jihadist materials were not provided because Sharia-compliant mosques promoting jihad were the most heavily attended. The authors also describe these specific details indicating that the preponderance of US mosques sanction jihad terrorism and its ultimate goal of a Caliphate (i.e., the transnational imposition of strict Islamic law in current Muslim nations, and ultimately global imposition of Islamic Law, including in the US), if one includes advocacy of financial support for this sacralized violence (from pp. 67-69).
The survey found a strong correlation between the presence of severe violence-promoting literature and mosques featuring written, audio, and video materials that actually promoted such acts. By promotion of jihad, the study included literature encouraging worshipers to engage in terrorist activity, to provide financial support to jihadists, and to promote the establishment of a caliphate in the United States. These materials also explicitly praised acts of terror against the West; praised symbols or role models of violent jihad; promoted the use of force, terror, war, and violence to implement the
Sharia; emphasized the inferiority of non-Muslim life; promoted hatred and intolerance toward non-Muslims or notional Muslims; and endorsed inflammatory materials with anti-U.S. views… [O]f the 51 mosques that contained severe materials, 100 percent were led by imams who recommended that worshipers study texts that promote violence.
[M]osques containing violence positive materials were substantially more likely to include materials promoting financial support of terror than mosques that did not contain such texts. A disturbing 98 percent of mosques with severe texts included materials promoting financial support of terror. Those with only moderate rated materials on site were not markedly different, with 97 percent providing such materials.
These results were comparable when using other indicators of jihad promotion. Thus, 98 percent of mosques that contained severe-rated literature included materials promoting establishing an Islamic caliphate in the United States as did 97 percent of mosques containing only moderate rated materials.
These are the hard data that make plain why the “see no Sharia in America” mindslaughter redolent across the political spectrum amongst our policymaking, academic, and journalistic elites, is so dangerously delusive.
Indeed such disturbing survey results from a nationally representative sample of US mosques demonstrate Islam’s doctrinal and behavioral consistency across nearly 14 centuries, past as prologue to the present. Over 17,000 jihad terror attacks have been committed by Muslims worldwide since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism committed against the United States itself on September 11, 2001. These data should remind us that there is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad despite contemporary apologetics. Jahada, the root of the word jihad, appears 40 times in the Koran. With 4 exceptions, all the other 36 usages in the Koran as understood by both the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam (including Abu Yusuf, Averroes, Ibn Khaldun, and Al Ghazali), and ordinary Muslims-meant and mean, “he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like.”
The Muslim prophet Muhammad waged a series of proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians and pagans of Arabia. Numerous modern day pronouncements by leading Muslim theologians (see Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model,” 2001) confirm that Muhammad remains the major inspiration for jihadism today. Jihad has been pursued continuously since the 7th century advent of Islam, through the present, because it was institutionalized by seminal early Muslim theologians based on their interpretation of Koranic verses, and long chapters in the “hadith,” or acts and sayings of Muhammad. Within a century of Muhammad’s death, violent jihad conquests-achieved by religiously sanctioned massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation-Islamized a vast swath of territory, extending from modern Pakistan to Portugal. The permanent goal of jihad is to bring humanity, en bloc, under the jurisdiction of Sharia-a totalitarian system of religious governance, particularly oppressive to all non-Muslims, and women.
American Presidents John Quincy Adams and Theodore Roosevelt each possessed a remarkably clear, uncompromised understanding of the permanent Islamic institution of jihad war-both its doctrinal basis, and history. Regarding jihad, Adams states in an 1829-30 essay series,
…he [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.
Roosevelt offered this historical perspective in 1916 on the consequences for Western civilization of succeeding, or failing to repel jihad conquerors:
The civilization of Europe, America, and Australia exists today at all only because of the victories of civilized man over the enemies of civilization…[including] those of Charles Martel in the 8th century [over Arab jihadists] and those of John Sobieski in the 17th century [over Ottoman Turkish jihadists]. During the thousand years that included the careers of the Frankish soldier [Martel] and the Polish king [Sobieski], the Christians of Asia and Africa proved unable to wage successful war with the Moslem conquerors; and in consequence Christianity practically vanished from the two continents; and today nobody can find in them any ‘social values’ whatever, in the sense in which we use the words, so far as the sphere of Mohammedan influence [is]…concerned.”
Also writing in 1916, C. Snouck Hurgronje, the great Dutch Orientalist, underscored how the jihad doctrine of world conquest, and the re-creation of a supranational Islamic Caliphate remained a potent force among the Muslim masses:
…it would be a gross mistake to imagine that the idea of universal conquest may be considered as obliterated…the canonists and the vulgar still live in the illusion of the days of Islam’s greatness. The legists continue to ground their appreciation of every actual political condition on the law of the holy war, which war ought never be allowed to cease entirely until all mankind is reduced to the authority of Islam-the heathen by conversion, the adherents of acknowledged Scripture [i.e., Jews and Christians] by submission.
Hurgronje further noted that although the Muslim rank and file might acknowledge the improbability of that goal “at present” (circa 1916), they were,
…comforted and encouraged by the recollection of the lengthy period of humiliation that the Prophet himself had to suffer before Allah bestowed victory upon his arms…
Thus even at the nadir of Islam’s political power, during the World War I era final disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Hurgronje observed how
…the common people are willingly taught by the canonists and feed their hope of better days upon the innumerable legends of the olden time and the equally innumerable apocalyptic prophecies about the future. The political blows that fall upon Islam make less impression…than the senseless stories about the power of the Sultan of Stambul [Istanbul], that would instantly be revealed if he were not surrounded by treacherous servants, and the fantastic tidings of the miracles that Allah works in the Holy Cities of Arabia which are inaccessible to the unfaithful. The conception of the Khalifate [Caliphate] still exercises a fascinating influence, regarded in the light of a central point of union against the unfaithful (i.e., non-Muslims).
Nearly a century later, the preponderance of contemporary mainstream Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia, apparently share with their murderous, jihad terror waging co-religionists from al-Qaeda the goal (if not necessarily supporting the gruesome means) of re-establishing an Islamic Caliphate. Polling data released April 24, 2007 in a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 4384 Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007-1000 Moroccans, 1000 Egyptians, 1243 Pakistanis, and 1141 Indonesians-reveal that 65.2% of those interviewed – almost 2/3, hardly a “fringe minority” – desired this outcome (i.e., “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate”), including 49% of “moderate” Indonesian Muslims. The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 65.5% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition “To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Sharia law in every Islamic country.”
Such Caliphate dreams — to be achieved through jihad conquests — have always been nurtured in mosques. The authoritative Brill Encyclopedia of Islam entry on “masdjid,” or mosque, highlights the mosque’s primary socio-political functions — including holding war councils — since the advent of the first Muslim polity under Islam’s prophet-warrior and ruler, Muhammad, in Medina:
The mosque was the place where believers assembled for prayer around the Prophet, where he delivered his addresses, which contained not only appeals for obedience to God but regulations affecting the social life of the community; from here he controlled the religious and political community of Islam…From the Medina mosque was developed the general type of mosque.
It was inherent in the character of Islam, that religion and politics could not be separated. The same individual was ruler and chief administrator in the two fields, and the same building, the mosque, was the center of gravity for both politics and religion. This relationship found expression in the fact that the mosque was placed in the center of the camp, while the ruler’s abode was built immediately adjacent to it, as in Medina.
[W]ar was inseparably associated with early Islam and the mosque was public meeting place of ruler and people…councils of war were held in the mosque.
Richard Mitchell’s seminal analysis of the contemporary Muslim Brotherhood-the prototype modern fundamentalist organization-state’s simply, that from its advent,
Throughout the history of the [Muslim Brotherhood] movement the mosque continued to be its principal recruiting office.
This doctrinal and historical context explains why the “Sharia and Violence in American Mosques” study results-while immediate, justifiable cause for alarm-are unsurprising, even predictable. Moreover the current findings were augured by a qualitative assessment of US mosques by Sheikh Hisham Kabbani described in 1999, and the localized Detroit area survey of mosques conducted in 2003.
During a 1999 State Department presentation entitled “Islamic Extremism: A Viable Threat to U.S. National Security” Sufi Sheikh Kabbani, who heads The Islamic Supreme Council of America, based upon personal visits to mosques across the US, asserted that 80% were run by “militant,” i.e. fundamentalist clerics. “The Detroit Mosque Study: Muslim Views on Policy and Religion,” was conducted by Ihsan Bagby an Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at thye University of Kentucky and a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy Understanding-a Muslim organization. Data were gathered during the summer of 2003 and published online in 2004. These portentous findings were described on page 37 of the report:
Mosque participants were asked, whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “Shari’ah should be the law of the land in Muslim countries?”
Apply Islamic Law in Muslim Lands
Strongly Agree – 59%
Somewhat Agree – 22%
(i.e., collectively = 81%)
Somewhat Disagree – 8%
Strongly Disagree – 3%
Don’t Know – 8%
Such data supposedly reflected the Detroit area Muslims views of “Islamic countries,” only. But given the intrinsic, universally supremacist nature of Islam and the global umma (i.e., as stated in Koran 3:110, and the Orwellian-named Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, “Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah”), once an area has a Muslim majority it is assumed by Muslims that Islamic Law should prevail-hence the “enclave” phenomenon, even here in the United States.
Publication of the “Sharia and Violence in American Mosques” study provides irrefragable evidence that the overwhelming majority of American mosques — consistent with mainstream Islamic doctrine and practice since the founding of the Muslim creed — are inculcating jihadism with the goal of implementing Sharia here in America.
Finally, Whittaker Chambers’ autobiographical opus “Witness,” which chronicles his apostasy from Communism, offers these searing insights that elucidate how American Muslims could rationalize such seditious behaviors — consistent with Islamic doctrine — and why this phenomenon remains largely incomprehensible to American non-Muslims, despite its existential threat to them.
What went on in the minds of those Americans…that made it possible to betray their country? Did none of them suffer a crisis of conscience? The question presupposes that whoever asks it has still failed to grasp that Communists mean exactly what they have been saying for a hundred years: they regard any government that is not Communist, including their own, merely as the political machine of a class whose power they have organized expressly to overthrow by all means, including violence. Therefore the problem of espionage never presents itself to them as problem of conscience, but a problem of operations…
The failure to understand that fact is part of the total failure of the West to grasp the nature of its enemy, what he wants, what he means to do and how he will go about doing it. It is part of the failure of the West to understand that it is at grips with an enemy having no moral viewpoint in common with itself, that two irreconcilable viewpoints and standards of judgment, two irreconcilable moralities, proceeding from two irreconcilable readings of man’s fate and future are involved, and hence their conflict is irrepressible.
Administrator’s note: In truth the perception of wolves is myth and misinformation. We don’t need to worry about wolves. We’ve almost exterminated them from the face of the earth. The most cunning, the most deadly, the most tyrannical of all beings on this earth is man. Do not beware the wolf. Beware the man with soothing, cunning words and hollow promises you are convinced he can fulfill. A beast is coming, but it will not a wolf. It will be a man the world falls in love with. this will be the world’s mistake. It’s last grave error. We are already in the throes of tyranny but most are to blind, to dumb, to pre-occupied, to self involved to see it or admit it. They refuse the truth. That path will be their eternal demise and anguish.
We see, if we are looking, and we hear, if we are listening, a tidal wave of anti-semitism and anti-Christian rhetoric and policies growing daily in our nation and around the world. It will not be long now since most refuse to so much as grunt in acknowledgment let alone take a stand against such tyrannical and evil works.
A Subtle Tyranny
Tyranny does not always initially come like the wolf on the fold, red in tooth and claw. Sometimes it comes tip-toeing on velvet little feet, quietly, one soft step at a time.
It often comes in simple guise, as seemingly reasonable requests made one at a time. Incremental demands accumulate, build up noiselessly and slowly, but eventually with increasingly rapid pace.
All we want is for you to register your ethnicity. What is the harm of putting down the fact that your parents are Jews? Now all we want is for you to wear a gold star. Everyone should be aware of who you are. Next, all we want is for you to practice your separate ways within a small section of the city. (Never mind it is a ghetto — and by the way, fork over your possessions, as you are too rich and others could use your wealth.)
All we want is for Germans to live under one national entity. After all, the Sudetenland has millions of Germans living under Czech rule who are yearning to be part of das Volk. When we have that piece of land, Germany will be satisfied. (Never mind that you Czechs, including the Jews among you, have no say in the matter.)
All we want is for Israel to return to the pre-1967 borders. Palestinians have a right to their ancestral homelands. (Never mind that such a return would render Israel indefensible and open to another Holocaust.)
Honestly, that’s all we want. We’re only being reasonable.
And now, a subtle tyranny, an unhealthy smog has crept in on little cat’s feet, and sits on silent haunches overlooking San Francisco Bay.
“Reasonable” folks in San Francisco want an end to circumcision of infant males. That’s all we want! It’s such a simple and rational thing. A mere proposal for a referendum set for a November ballot. Let the public have their say. Let the people rule on this matter. We’re only proposing that circumcision be prohibited among males under 18. After all, babies have no choice against a practice of mutilation that serves no discernible purpose. We believe in adult choice. Further, we think a fine of $1,000 and up should be enforced as a deterrent measure. And — ahem — by the way: There will be no religious exceptions.
Those who are familiar with Jewish history, which obviously San Franciscan Lloyd Schofield, who spearheads the effort against circumcision, either doesn’t know or care about, know Jews have much at stake concerning his obviously anti-Semitic proposal. (See this shocking anti-Semitic literature from the campaign editor.)
What is at risk for American Jews and America itself? It’s what has been at stake for millennia; namely, the forcible Hellenizing of Jews and all Americans, all of whom must resist the attempt to force a unified world view on everyone.
That lure of a unified world view enforced by elites on entire populaces has never died.
The name Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.), whose humble last moniker means “God made manifest,” usually doesn’t ring a bell except among scholars of Hebrew and Greek history, but his actions have been typical of rulers, ancient and modern, whose desire has been the eradication of Jewish culture and faith and the establishment of a mono-culture.
Antiochus, an heir to Alexander the Great’s dream of unifying the entire world by means of the extant Greek culture, was gripped by what he saw as the sophisticated and indubitably intellectually superior Greek culture. Unlike Alexander, who generally tolerated the Jews, Anitochus decided the Jews were to be forcibly assimilated into the Hellenistic practices of the day. Ultimately, assimilation would be good for them, he believed, for it would rid them of their superstitious and outdated religious practices, bringing them into the light of progressive Greek civilization, whose mentors included enlightened and elite rulers who knew what was best for everyone.
To that end, Antiochus, The Divinely Enlightened One, began to enforce anti-Jewish laws. He forbade the observance of the Sabbath. He declared that the Torah could no longer be studied. He also banned the practice of circumcision, which he saw as mutilation and thus utterly abhorrent, as Greeks worshiped the body as beautiful, particularly the male body. Antiochus culminated his persecution of the Jews by erecting a statue of Zeus in the temple and sacrificing a pig on the sacred altar, by so doing not leaving any possibly offensive stone unturned.
Lest anyone think accession to Hellenizing forces was optional or that Jewish religious rites could continue to be practiced within the privacy of one’s home, the Jewish historian and Rabbi Berel Wein makes clear in Echoes of Glory, no exceptions were allowed. When incremental laws and persuasion did not achieve the desired conversions to Greek culture and religion, Antiochus and his henchmen became as vicious as Nazis when it came to enforcing their anti-Jew campaign:
Women who allowed their sons to be circumcised were killed with their sons tied around their necks. The scholars of Israel were hounded, hunted down and killed. Jews who refused to eat pork or sacrifice hogs were tortured to death … Even the smallest hamlet in Judah was not safe from the oppression of the Hellenists. The altars to Zeus and other pagan deities were erected in every village, and Jews of every area were forced to participate in the sacrificial services.
Not to be outdone by the Greeks, whose culture they admired and imitated, many Roman rulers followed in the footsteps of the Greeks they conquered, making persecution of the Jews a staple of their governing policies. For instance, in 40 A.D., Caius Caligula ordered the erection and worship of his statue in the Temple, ordering the governor of Syria to carry out the desecration even if it meant war with the Jews. While more sensible heads such as Petronius temporarily prevailed over the emperor’s insanity, “Little Boots” Caligula most assuredly would have persisted had it not been for his timely demise at the hands of his Praetorian guard.
Caligula’s hostility was imitated by the emperor Hadrian, who also forbade circumcision, putting his law in terms eerily similar to the proposed ban on circumcision now before San Franciscans for ratification. Simon Be Kosiba, a Jewish historian, writing around 130-136 A.D., made note of the decree, writing:
Hadrian forbade castration and circumcision, making a law against a practice that had offended Greek and Roman sensitivities for a long time. There are indications that he did not forbid circumcision as such, but only the circumcision of boys who had not yet reached the age to consent with the operation; but whatever the precise meaning of the measure, the Jews explained this law as directed against them.
Given their past history, how could the Jews see the measure as anything but “against them”? After all, the rulings of Antiochus IV and the wars of the Maccabees still lingered in Jewish memories. But the law seemed entirely rational to Hadrian. After all, it was a reasonable law, unworthy of a kerfuffle.
Recent history also should give Jews pause, as attacks against their 4,000-year-old foundational religious ritual, believed to be a sign of the covenant between Jehovah and his people, have also been a characteristic of fascist and communist regimes, with both the National Socialist and Communist parties of Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia adamantly opposed to circumcision.
While secularized Jews such as Schofield — himself a Jew — may shrug off or even support the proposed ban on circumcision, observant Jews and Christians should take note of and adamantly resist the efforts to forcibly demolish the foundations and symbols of their faiths, now ongoing for at least two generations under the increasing domination of contemporary Hellenists, the Progressives.
The fact is that contemporary Progressives are indeed like the Hellenists of old in thought, word and deed. Convinced of the superiority of their generally godless worldview, committed to the principle that their view of change and progress is inarguable as well as ineluctably triumphant, Progressive hostility toward Christians and Jews alike has manifested itself in increasing degrees.
Contemporary Hellenists vigorously and unceasingly attack sacred festivals such as Christmas and Easter, try to silence public prayer, especially in schools; attempt to eliminate the Ten Commandments from display, and seek to ban religious jewelry. Constant attempts to intimidate and/or silence priests, rabbis, and pastors are evidenced in the convoluted tax codes forbidding political speech, spurious and malicious interpretations of the principle of separation of church and state; and in increasing regulation of church properties by means of zoning laws and “green” regulations.
In and of themselves, one or two isolated incidents of Progressive/leftist attacks on Jews and Christians may seem insignificant; but there is a pattern which has developed over the last several generations which is cumulative in its effect.
The result, should the “progress” continue, will be, and in some cases already is, a sort of dhimmitude, whereby Christians and observant Jews are consigned to second-class citizenship, kept out of public dialogue and influence, and relegated to the fetid and smothering backwaters of civilization, effectively ghettoized.
Velvet step by velvet step, little by little, freedom of religion is being eroded while people of faith are largely silent, acceding to the diminution of their rights as equal citizens.
In the end, will the religious be vanquished by “reasonable” people who only want “reasonable” measures to be followed? Will they continue to be intimidated by authorities who say, “That is all we want. Honestly. If you just do this, we’ll be content.”?
A new Hellenistic worldview of a unified, global civilization has invaded the Western world, and its progressive proponents desire that civilization be completely unified by their weltanschauung. Like Alexander, Antiochus, Caligula, Hadrian, and a roster of contemporary tyrants including Hitler and Stalin, their desire that their view prevail is being gradually forced on our country, bit by bit, piece by piece, regulation by regulation.
It may be that Progressives won’t resort to burning Torah scrolls, as did the Roman military leader Apostomus in 50 A.D. just before the Bar Kokhba revolt. Such means as burning Jews in order to enforce their worldviews and eliminate Jewish practices are certainly not yet in mind. But extermination of a people and their faith traditions does not have to happen by such measures. What may not be achieved by ferocity can be achieved just as assuredly by incrementalism.
It is time for Christians and Jews alike to recognize and to rise up against the tyranny being smuggled into our culture on soft little velvet cat’s feet.
Otherwise, they may find themselves faced not with a soft little kitten, but with a Spiritus Mundi that will trouble their sight, a hideous chimera whose gaze, as W. B.Yeats wrote, is as blank and pitiless as the sun — a rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.
Muslim billboard campaign that declares Jesus a ‘prophet of Islam’ causes
Last updated at 9:27 PM on 4th June 2011
A provocative billboard advertising campaign launched by an Australian Muslim group claiming that Jesus was a prophet of Islam has outraged Christians in Sydney.
The group, Mypeace, says its aim is to inform, not to offend, with Islamic awareness campaign, featuring four different slogans.
But one Catholic bishop said the assertions – made on roadside hoardings – are ‘a direct assault on Christian beliefs’.
The slogans read ‘Jesus: A Prophet of Islam'; ‘Holy Qur’an: The Final Testament'; ‘Muhammad: Mercy to Mankind'; and ‘Islam: Got Questions? Get Answers’.
The posters invite people to get in touch by phone or online to obtain literature and a free copy of the Koran.
Mypeace says they will stay up for four weeks and will later be placed on the city’s buses, Australian website cnsnews.com says.
A day after it appeared one of the billboards featuring the Jesus slogan was vandalised, according to the website.
Mypeace said its aim was to ‘address the many misconceptions on Islam, to educate fellow Australians on Islam, invite them to ask any questions that they may have’.
Jesus is sometimes invoked to assert some sort of commonality between Muslims and Christians, implying that Muslims, too, ‘believe in Jesus’.
But Muslims, and the Koran, deny the central Christian beliefs of Jesus’ divinity, crucifixion and resurrection.
Elsewhere on its website, Mypeace states that ‘the Qur’an repeatedly reminds that Jesus was a human prophet sent by God, not part of God Himself’.
Julian Porteous, auxiliary bishop at the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, told the website: ‘In Australia with its Christian heritage a billboard carrying the statement ‘Jesus A prophet of Islam’ is provocative and offensive to Christians.’
‘Central to Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ is more than a prophet,” he said.
‘He is the Son of God. He is acclaimed Lord and Savior of humanity. This statement is a direct assault on Christian beliefs.’
Urging Mypeace to take down the posters, Bishop Porteous said that religions should avoid offending people of different faiths.
Crisis meeting is called as drought leaves crops dying in the fields
Rising food prices and restrictions on power and water use are likely to result from a lack of rain in the south and east of the country, experts believe
Ministers, farmers, supermarkets and utility companies will meet this week to assess a worsening dry spell in much of southern and eastern England that is threatening to become an agricultural and environmental disaster.
Britain’s second-driest spring in 100 years and the warmest since 1659 has left soil in parts of East Anglia and south-east England concrete-hard, with many rivers shrunk to trickles and crops withering at critical times in their growth.
Some eastern counties have had only 5mm of rain since the end of February, with most regions seeing no more than 60% of average rainfall in the past four months, usually one of the wettest times of the year.
“The next few weeks are critical,” said National Farmers Union water adviser Jenny Bashford. “We had some rain last week but all it did was stop the situation worsening in some places. If we get a heatwave now, and the forecast is for above average temperatures and only sporadic showers in June, we are in a different situation. The north and north-west is largely OK but there are already significant problems in the south and east.”
The meeting is at the request of the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, who asked the Environment Agency two weeks ago to report on how a drought might affect food production and prices, water and power supplies.
Water companies, which have been upbeat so far about supplies, are likely to warn that some reservoirs in the south and east are beginning to empty but that no hosepipe bans will be needed for several months. Food prices will rise.
Farming leaders warned Spelman last week that production across much of southern Britain was likely to be down by 15% if normal rains resumed immediately and by much more if prolonged rains did not come soon. An increasing number of farmers predict that yields will be be reduced by 50% or more, warning that the impact of a continuing dry summer could last well beyond the harvest into next year.
The government’s Centre for Hydrology and Ecology reported soils in many areas were at their driest for 50 years. “The exceptional aridity of the early spring, following a relatively dry 2010, has resulted in agricultural and hydrological drought conditions affecting large parts of southern Britain,” it said.
George Dunn, a farmer near Winchester, Hampshire, said: “It’s too late now for many crops. Some farmers have destroyed their spring barley crop and replanted. We can expect the wheat harvest to be 10%-20% down and the barley to be 30% down. It will get very serious soon for livestock farmers. We’re starting to see farmers sell their cattle because they don’t have grass to feed them. The number of animals going to abattoirs is increasing. Wheat is going up but most farmers have already sold a lot of their harvest in advance for a low price.”
Fruit growers and farmers who have invested in their own reservoirs are benefiting from high prices and an early harvest, but many vegetable growers have resorted to measures usually seen only in midsummer droughts. In Cambridgeshire, farmers have started to spray crops only at night and not in windy weather.
Food prices are expected to rise and a further prolonged spell of dry weather or a heatwave could result in restrictions on water use by the public, including hosepipe and sprinkler bans. The government could declare a drought within weeks. “At this point a whole range of powers could be invoked, from allowing farmers to take more water from rivers, to water restrictions on consumers,” said Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency.
He admitted ecological damage had already been done. “We are seeing a significant impact on rivers like the Tone in Somerset and Frome in Dorset which are at their lowest levels in 50 years. We are having to rescue fish and have started pumping [underground] water into rivers to increase the flows,” he said.
Concern is growing across Europe that the drought will be disastrous for economies, affecting tourism, electricity supplies and food prices. And last week brought more bad news for the agricultuaral sectors of countries such as Spain and Holland as the E.coli outbreak saw shipments of fruit and vegetables hit hard. The Dutch industry association Productschap Tuinbouw said it estimated the cost of the infection scare to farmers at 50m euros per week.
Meanwhile, with the promise of loans for French farmers, European wheat stocks are expected to hit a 30-year high, after prices rose 36% in the past two months. The spike – caused by pressure on supplies after three consecutive years of low wheat yields – will raise fears that Europe will have to lift import restrictions on GM foods. Last year, a massive drought ruined a third of Russia’s crops.
Administrator’s Note: As you worry daily about your job, paying the bills, buying food, inflation in America in double digits and increasing overnight – remember the government does NOT include food costs and energy costs in determining the very skewed inflation numbers they tell the public – and your taxes increase, your standard of living decreases, and an endless war that will NEVER be won – no one, NO ONE, not any Ceasar of Rome, not Alexander the Great, not the Huns, or the Vandals, or Ghengis Khan, or the Soviet Union, NO invader has EVER defeated Afghanistan. Ever – isn’t it comforting to know the Afghan’s are thriving and living the good life on U.S. taxpayer dollars and as the U.S. government pours hundreds of billions of dollars into Afghanistan?
Kabul enjoys a new prosperity but fears for a future without the coalition
Business is booming in Afghan capital, but as the west prepares to ship out, ordinary citizens worry about what lies ahead
Under the trees, the Karimi family have spread out a rug. The Afghan summer sun filters through the leaves. There is chicken, fried potato cakes, salad and water melon.
This is a Friday afternoon ritual, at least since the security improved enough to allow the family to drive the 10 miles from Kabul without fear of insurgents or robbers. The Karimis came back to the city in 2002, after living as refugees in Iran through the civil war of the early 1990s and the rule of the Taliban that followed.
Now three generations live together in Kabul: 70-year-old Syed Hussein, Fatima, 29, a student teacher, her husband and her two children. And every Friday they come to this patch of riverside woodland on the outskirts of the city. “When we came back, life was very hard,” Fatima says. “But every year that has passed things have got better.”
Syed Hussein, her father, smiles when asked when times were best in his long life – the average life expectancy for Afghans is still only 44, two years more than a decade ago.
“Afghanistan is a wonderful country… the only problem is the Afghans!” he says and chuckles at his own joke. “The best times were when I was a teenager. Since, it has been just trouble after trouble.”
Physical reminders of those troubles surround the family’s picnic site, known as Daoud’s Garden after Mohammed Daoud Khan, the president deposed and assassinated in a communist coup in 1978. There is a large military base less than a mile away. Once manned by Afghan auxiliaries fighting alongside the Soviets, it is now full of Afghans being trained to fight with, or instead of, US-led coalition forces. A major American base is close by too. An Afghan commando unit guards the approaches to the gardens.
“Without these soldiers we could not come here,” says Fatima. “In fact, we could barely go anywhere.”
For behind the bucolic scene lies deep anxiety. Every year in Kabul there is a different theme to the interminable conversations about “the situation”. In 2008 it was the apparently inexorable advance of the Taliban, almost to where Fatima and her family were picnicking. In 2009, it was the new “surge” of troops and money announced by President Barack Obama. In 2010, it was the success or failure of the expanded campaign. Now, without exception, talk is of the withdrawal of western troops, aid and attention from Afghanistan.
Within weeks, Obama is expected to announce the first departures. David Cameron has already said he wants 450 of Britain’s 9,500 men out within months. The international community has agreed that all foreign combat troops are to be gone by 2014, leaving the Afghans to fight the Afghans.
“This is a very worrying thing,” says Fatima, and the festive atmosphere of the picnic cools. “If the west go, then it will all fall apart and the Taliban will come back.”
The Karimis are from the Hazara ethnic minority, persecuted under the largely Pashtun Taliban’s rule. They are also Shia Muslims, whom the Taliban once saw as heretics. Their moderate traditions – Fatima wears a simple white headscarf rather than the all-covering burqa – meant they suffered greatly when the radical movement were in power. Now there are functioning universities, schools, relative law and order and even improving electricity.
“But we still have much to fear,” Mousa, Fatima’s husband, said.
Many in Kabul are more worried about their wallets than persecution. The 10-year international effort has seen Kabul change from being a moribund city of fewer than 400,000 to a bustling metropolis of 4.5 million flush with cash. The last two years have seen an explosion in conspicuous consumption. There are blocks of luxury apartments under construction, giant video hoardings advertising energy drinks, BMWs and Hummers blasting their way through the traffic with overpowered horns. Miralam Hosseini, 56, sells at least two $140,000 4x4s every week. Across the street from his showroom, an electronics shops stocks the latest 52in flat screen.
“We sell one every few days,” said Mahmud Shah, who returned to Kabul earlier this year after seven years in London. Cars and televisions alike are always paid for in cash.
“Narc-hitecture” – vast and garish villas built by those said to be involved in Afghanistan’s $4bn drugs trade – is becoming increasingly visible. There are also the new restaurants where lunch is 30 times the average daily wage. If soaring food prices pose a huge problem to millions in the city, they do not bother those who have profited from the boom.
But there is a sense now that the party is over. Little of the money in Kabul – other than the profits of the narcotics trade – has been created here. Beyond drugs, Afghanistan still produces very little.
Profits from the country’s vast mineral or metal deposits are a distant prospect. “No one is within a decade of even beginning to successfully mine, process, transport and sell all the copper and iron that is here,” one European diplomat admitted.
Much of the economy has thus been built on the tens of billions poured into Afghanistan by the west. Huge sums have been embezzled, vast wasteful contracts have fuelled a “construction sector on speed” and the main bank is alleged to have made $500m in undocumented and potentially fraudulent loans, many to associates or relatives of the president, Hamid Karzai. Once much disappeared to Dubai. More recently, following the global turndown, the cash has stayed in Kabul. Land prices have risen fivefold.
Then there are the tens of thousands of consultants, translators and office staff working for international NGOs or foreign government contractors. Salaries of $3,000 are common, an enormous sum locally. The best paid earn much more.
“I vetoed a contract giving a local consultant a salary three times that of the president of my country,” said the diplomat. “Then I found out it had been done anyway behind my back.”
The new money and the westernisation that has gone with it is most evident in places like the Gulbahar Centre, a recently opened complex of luxury flats, shops and fast-food restaurants in the heart of Kabul, only a hundred metres from the new main mosque.
Last week Samer, 18, and Zohour, 21, were having lunch in Big Chief Burger on the ground floor of the complex. One was a “cultural adviser” for the US embassy; the other a business student and son of a major government transport contractor.
“It’s a stressful place to live. I relax by going to the gym or hanging out. This is an Islamic country so there are no bars or clubs,” said Zohour, wearing a sweatshirt, baggy shorts and flip-flops. “I’m worried about when the Americans go. Now the war is a long way from here. We don’t want it any closer.”
Some observers have noted a parallel with the 1980s, when Kabul benefited from Soviet aid, reconstruction projects and jobs while the war continued in the countryside. As early as 2005, a World Bank report noted that “the main beneficiaries of [overseas] assistance have been the urban elite”. There are bombings and attacks in Kabul but few casualties and little destruction compared to the south or east. A Nato military intelligence officer told the Observer that the economic “rural-urban divide” was one of the biggest drivers of the insurgency. When the Soviets left, Afghanistan was plunged into civil war and much of Kabul destroyed. Now all in Kabul are worrying what the departure of the most recent batch of foreigners to intervene in their country will bring.
“The whole of the American effort and that of our allies is starting to be framed around this concept of 2014 and the need for an Afghan lead by then,” a US official told the Observer. “Is there a rush for the exit? Absolutely not. Too many people have lost their lives, too many valuable things have been gained.”
This at least is a sentiment Fatima and her family would agree with. “They can’t leave, they simply can’t,” said Mohammed, Fatima’s brother-in-law. “It’ll be chaos, anarchy. The Taliban will be back. Everything that has got better will get worse. I am certain the foreign troops will still be here in many, many years.”
Don’t believe we’re in the last days? Don’t believe Humanism and secular ideologies have overtaken the Word of God and Scriptures truth in churches around the world? Don’t believe how invasive and pervasive this is? Don’t believe Satan is actually in control and calling the shots of most “professed believers”? Then you aren’t paying attention…
Gay or straight, allow clergy to reflect the rest of us
We can’t have one morality for laity and one for clergy. An ordination checklist would be inhumane and hypocritical
The question: How should gay bishops be chosen?
A rainbow ribbon in support of gay clergy. Photograph: Richard Lewis/AP
As far we know, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. He did, however, talk about hypocrisy and endlessly challenged those (usually priests and lawyers) who used the rule book more than their imagination. His arguments were often with those who failed to see the dignity of those who were different to the men in charge. If the bishops were to follow their lawyers’ checklist in deciding on new colleagues, history will repeat itself as religious leaders make themselves both inhumane and hypocritical.
Why inhumane? Well, gay people have no choice as to their sexual orientation but, when recognised, they do as the rest do – try to find someone to love and grow old with. Although some are drawn to a celibate life, most feel that it is not good for them to be alone and they seek intimacy and a togetherness that, as married people know, is easier to make stable when celebrated and supported publicly and without fear. Priests and bishops are no different. To stop such people being ordained because a group doesn’t like the fact that some people will always be homosexual would be as unjust as not having made John Sentamu the Archbishop of York because there was a theological argument going round for a white man. If talk of unity is to have any authenticity there has to be diversity and bishops should be signs and enablers of both. Instead, to make gay Christians even more afraid to be honest about who they are, and their need to love and be loved by someone, is not only inhumane but shameful.
Why hypocritical? Putting aside the fact that the present bishops were not questioned on their own sexual pasts, it would be an extraordinary policy to pursue this checklist when so many bishops know and privately support gay clergy in partnerships as well as those who are single who have been partnered at some stage. It would be equally duplicitous to imply that such gay bishops would be an innovation. Truthfulness would be the innovation.
It is nonsensical to have one morality for laity and one for clergy. A few years ago the bishops made it clear that the church did not want to exclude from its fellowship those lay people of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and instead chose to enter into a committed relationship. There needs to be one standard for all the baptised. If in a relationship, a Christian’s priorities should be permanence, stability and faithfulness and the sooner the church can bless people on their way to this end the better. Finally, it would be hypocritical to say a discriminating code such as this is valid because of a few bits of scripture when on so many other issues (women, slavery, the disabled and mentally ill etc) an engagement with the Bible, the cultural conventions of the past and scientific understandings of the present has led to fresh insights that seem to resonate with goodness.
There came a point when Martin Luther King Jr, having had many Christians hurl abuse at him and his desire for equality, was able to say: “Today we know with certainty that segregation is dead. The only question remaining is how costly will be the funeral.” To deepen the rift between gay and straight people by a series of inhumane and hypocritical questions will be to prolong the funeral of a division that most parents, friends and colleagues no longer see or want.