28 August 2010
26 August 2010
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
Andrew C. McCarthy
August 24, 2010 4:00 A.M.Inventing Moderate Islam It can’t be done without confronting mainstream Islam and its sharia agenda.
‘Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.” The writer was not one of those sulfurous Islamophobes decried by CAIR and the professional Left. Quite the opposite: It was Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide and a favorite of the Saudi royal family. He made this assertion in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah, an excerpt of which was published by the Saudi Gazette just a couple of months ago.
This was Qaradawi the “progressive” Muslim intellectual, much loved by Georgetown University’s burgeoning Islamic-studies programs. Like Harvard, Georgetown has been purchased into submission by tens of millions of Saudi petrodollars. In its resulting ardor to put Americans at ease about Islam, the university somehow manages to look beyond Qaradawi’s fatwas calling for the killing of American troops in Iraq and for suicide bombings in Israel. Qaradawi, they tell us, is a “moderate.” In fact, as Robert Spencer quips, if you were to say Islam and secularism cannot co-exist, John Esposito, Georgetown’s apologist-in-chief, would call you an Islamophobe; but when Qaradawi says it, no problem — according to Esposito, he’s a “reformist.”
And he’s not just any reformist. Another Qaradawi fan, Feisal Rauf, the similarly “moderate” imam behind the Ground Zero mosque project, tells us Qaradawi is also “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.”
Rauf is undoubtedly right about that. So it is worth letting it sink in that this most influential of Islam’s voices, this promoter of the Islamic enclaves the Brotherhood is forging throughout the West, is convinced that Islamic societies can never accept secularism. After all, secularism is nothing less than the framework by which the West defends religious freedom but denies legal and political authority to religious creeds.
It is also worth understanding why Qaradawi says Islam and secularism cannot co-exist. The excerpt from his book continues:
As Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (Ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions. It is indeed a false claim that Shari’ah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: “Say! Do you know better than Allah?” (Qur’an, 2:140) For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari’ah is downright apostasy.
Apostasy is an explosive accusation. On another occasion, Sheikh Qaradawi explained that “Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished.” He further acknowledged that the consensus view of these jurists, including the principal schools of both Sunni and Shiite jurisprudence, is “that apostates must be executed.”
Qaradawi’s own view is more nuanced, as he explained to the Egyptian press in 2005. This, I suppose, is where his vaunted reformist streak comes in. For private apostasy, in which a Muslim makes a secret, personal decision to renounce tenets of Islam and quietly goes his separate way without causing a stir, the sheikh believes ostracism by the Islamic community is a sufficient penalty, with the understanding that Allah will condemn the apostate to eternal damnation at the time of his choosing. For public apostasy, however, Qaradawi stands with the overwhelming weight of Islamic authority: “The punishment . . . is execution.”
The sad fact, the fact no one wants to deal with but which the Ground Zero mosque debate has forced to the fore, is that Qaradawi is a moderate. So is Feisal Rauf, who endorses the Qaradawi position — the mainstream Islamic position — that sharia is a nonnegotiable requirement. Rauf wins the coveted “moderate” designation because he strains, at least when speaking for Western consumption, to paper over the incompatibility between sharia societies and Western societies.
Qaradawi and Rauf are “moderates” because we’ve abandoned reason. Our opinion elites are happy to paper over the gulf between “reformist” Islam and the “reformist” approval of mass-murder attacks. That’s why it matters not a whit to them that Imam Rauf refuses to renounce Hamas: If you’re going to give a pass to Qaradawi, the guy who actively promotes Hamas terrorists, how can you complain about a guy who merely refuses to condemn the terrorists?
When we are rational, we have confidence in our own frame of reference. We judge what is moderate based on a detached, commonsense understanding of what “moderate” means. We’re not rigging the outcome; we just want to know where we stand.
If we were in that objective frame of mind, we would easily see that a freedom culture requires separation of the spiritual from the secular. We would also see that sharia — with dictates that contradict liberty and equality while sanctioning cruel punishments and holy war — is not moderate. Consequently, no one who advocates sharia can be a moderate, no matter how well-meaning he may be, no matter how heartfelt may be his conviction that this is God’s will, and no matter how much higher on the food chain he may be than Osama bin Laden.
Instead, abandoning reason, we have deep-sixed our own frame of reference and substituted mainstream Islam’s. If that backward compass is to be our guide, then sure, Qaradawi and Rauf are moderates. But know this: When you capitulate to the authority and influence of Qaradawi and Rauf, you kill meaningful Islamic reform.
There is no moderate Islam in the mainstream of Muslim life, not in the doctrinal sense. There are millions of moderate Muslims who crave reform. Yet the fact that they seek real reform, rather than what Georgetown is content to call reform, means they are trying to invent something that does not currently exist.
Real reform can also be found in some Muslim sects. The Ahmadi, for example, hold some unorthodox views and reject violent jihad. Witness what happens: They are brutally persecuted by Muslims in Pakistan, as well as in Indonesia and other purported hubs of moderation.
Meanwhile, individual Muslim reformers are branded apostates, meaning not only that they are discredited, but that their lives are threatened as well. The signal to other Muslims is clear: Follow the reformers and experience the same fury. As Qaradawi put it in the 2005 interview, public apostates are “the gravest danger” to Islamic society; therefore, Muslims must snuff them out, lest their reforms “spread like wildfire in a field of thorns.”
Today, “moderate Islam” is an illusion. There is hardly a spark, much less a wildfire. Making moderation real will take more than wishing upon a star. It calls for a gut check, a willingness to face down not just al-Qaeda but the Qaradawis and their sharia campaign. It means saying: Not here.
— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.
25 August 2010
I took great umbrage at your suggestion that a heroic bishop who confronted papal tyranny should be subjected to the rack and thumbscrews. I would expect nothing less of a cave dweller like yourself. Yours, Mr. N. Leitend
Dear Mr. Leitend, I should always put a disclaimer in my remarks for the humor impaired. I didn’t really mean that we should return to threats of physical torture. We no longer starve and brutalize people for their own good, using frightening looking machines meant to stretch them and leave them aching in every bone of their body. We have health clubs for that. What was the inquisition and did it really use torture? Heresy comes from the Greek word “haeresthai” meaning “to choose.” Heresy is usually an overemphasis of one Christian teaching to the neglect of other teachings. The Catholic Church struggled against heresy from the first. Just read St. Irenaeus of Lyon’s “Against Heresies” (written around 180 AD). Local bishops always investigated reports of doctrinal error. Perfectly reasonable. The problem arose when the state got involved. Rulers of nations, be they kings or presidents, rarely deal well with people who disagree with them. The trouble started when Constantine the Roman emperor accepted Christianity. He’d had a conversion and wanted to favor Christianity. After all, one God, one Church, one emperor. It all fits together nicely. He soon realized that there were lots of different kinds of Christians, so he got bishops from all over the world together in a town called Nice and asked, “What do we believe?” They came up with the Nicene Creed. (The process is really a bit more complicated, but why should I bore you?) The Roman emperors, who used to persecute people for being Christian, soon started to persecute people for not being Christian, or at least not the right kind of Christian. It has been a mess ever since. The inquisition had four major manifestations: First there was the Medieval Inquisition (1184–1230s). Heretics might be imprisoned, but were rarely tortured or killed, and that only happened when some local politician decided to be helpful. Things changed when the Cathar heresy infested southern France. Cathars were a gnostic sect. Gnosticism is a belief that one is saved by secret knowledge. The Cathars believed that procreation was evil since matter was evil. The Church believes that marriage and family life are sacred. So the battle lines were drawn. In January 1208 the papal legate, Pierre de Castelnau was sent to meet Count Raymond VI of Toulouse, who supported the Cathars. Castelnau excommunicated Raymond after a heated argument and Raymond had Castelnau ambushed and killed on his way back to Rome. It’s downhill from here. The pope asked the king of France to launch a Crusade against the Cathars, or Albigensians as they were also called, and the northern French aristocrats thought it would be a fine thing to take over the south. The pope sent St. Dominic to try to win the battle by prayer and preaching, but to the barons, swords seemed a more direct method. The Inquisition was established in 1229 to uproot the remaining Cathars. Enter St. Peter of Verona. He preached the Catholic faith so eloquently, criticizing both the heretics and the Catholics who professed faith, but didn’t live it. As a result of his preaching, many Cathars returned to the Church. This caused Cathars to eventually assassinate St. Peter. It was April 6, 1252, when two assassins ambushed Peter and killed him. Carino, the assassin, later repented and confessed his crime. He converted to Catholicism and became a Dominican. Now he’s known as Blessed Carino of Balsamo. So much for the swift revenge of the Inquisition. The death of St. Peter prompted the pope to issue a papal bull (Just a note on the word “bull.” It comes from the Latin word “bulla” meaning “a seal.” Hence a papal bull is a letter sealed with the pope’s seal. It has nothing to do with the veracity of the contents or any other modern sense of the word “bull”) In 1252,“Ad exstirpanda” (Latin for “In Order to Root out a Few Things...”) was published. The bull argued that heretics are “murderers of souls,” they are “...to be coerced — as are thieves and bandits — into confessing their errors.” People really believed that their souls were important. We moderns know better. We’ve sold ours at a good price. The bull limited the use of torture. It could not “...cause loss of life or limb, it could be used only once if the investigator deemed the evidence against the accused to be virtually certain.” Thus ended the medieval Inquisition and 1000 years of mostly nonviolent persuasion. What most people think of as the Inquisition is more about the other three forms of the Inquisition: the Spanish, Portugese and Roman Inquisitions,. (the Spanish Inquisition 1478–1834, the Portuguese Inquisition 1536–1821, the Roman Inquisition 1542 – c. 1860)King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile set up the Spanish Inquisition in 1478. In contrast to the previous inquisitions, it operated completely under royal authority, independently of the pope. In fact, the pope wanted to disband the Inquisition, but the Spanish government refused. In its three and a half century career, the Inquisition managed to execute between 2 and 4, 000 people, not the millions for which it is blamed.“What!” I can hear you gasp, “Are you trying to say that it wasn’t that bad? Only 2,000 - 4,000 people? How barbaric!!!” Yes! The public burning of thousands of people by the Spanish government or any government is barbaric, even at the leisurely rate of 5 or 10 a year. My point in all this is that ,yes, Catholic Christians have been complicit in the torture and deaths of thousands. The papacy tried to stop the madness, but politicians wouldn’t have it. In the Church, it finally ended 200 years ago. However, the United States is still doing it. The public burning of heretics was called an auto da fe, an act of faith. A public execution of the murderer of souls was thought to be edifying. So it is with the public burnings conducted by the American state. The most recent American victim of an auto da state was Paul Powell on March 18, 2010. He was burned alive not at the stake, but at in the electric chair, while solemn witnesses looked on. The surviving victims of his crime, who were present to witness his death by burning, forgave him. He apologized to them. Still, said the witnesses, it was better that he be executed, so that they could go on with their lives. Thus, it was better for the well being of society, just as the Inquisition claimed to be. Electrocution really is burning alive and it is preceded by months and years on death row, years of fear and psychological torture, sleepless nights and pointless days. If you don’t think of it as burning, listen to this account of the first judicial electrocution. “Men accustomed to every form of suffering grew faint as the awful spectacle unfolded before their eyes..... (the current) slowly, disintegrated the fibre and tissues of the body through which it passed...The heaving of a chest..., the foaming of the mouth, the bloody sweat, the writhing shoulders and all the other signs of life. Horrible as these were they were made infinitely more horrible by the premature removal of the electrodes and the subsequent replacing of them for not seconds but minutes, until the room was filled with the odor of burning flesh and strong men fell like logs upon the floor. And all this done in the name of science.” We have burned 4,458 people in the years between 1890-2002. That’s a brisk rate of about 50 a year. Torquemada could have learned a thing or two from the black robes who preside over the state religion of modern America. Can we judge a nation which Islam wanted to devour and a time when religious diversity was not an affordable luxury? The Church has learned her lesson. The state has not. Speaking of the black robed clergy of the state religion, a couple of Chicago judges are railing against the Catholic Church, saying that displays of pomp should be curtailed by pope and clergy in repentance for Catholic sins. According to a 2006 National Review Online column Dr. Charol Shakeshaft reported that 290,000 students in public schools had been victimized by those who in effect are employees of the state. Four and a half million had been approached or harassed!!! Where is the outcry? Where is the press whose sole concern is the protection of children? How many more have been put at risk by the inaction of the government since then? I am deeply ashamed of the sins committed by Catholics, but perhaps it is a bit hypocritical of some who don black robes in the service of the state to criticize the papal vestments.Rev. Know-it-all
17 August 2010
Big Hollywood » Blog Archive » ‘LA Times’ To Hollywood: Please Ignore the Box Office Success of ‘The Expendables’
***clarification update below.
Last week, film writer extraordinaire Christian Toto fell under the delusion that yours truly was interesting enough to interview, and if you’re under the same delusion you can read the two-parter here and here. Among other things, Toto asked me about the clout critics wield and the most common mistakes they make. Here’s a combination of my answers:
Critics aren’t dumb, they know the public doesn’t much care which way their thumbs point. But critics do know that based on their opinions and reviews they can enjoy an influence over what kind of films get made. And that’s not a small amount of power. Culture is upstream from politics, after all.
If you have 95 percent of critics savaging a faithful retelling of the Gospels as anti-Semitic, no matter how successful “The Passion” is, no one’s going to go near that subject matter again. And that’s the goal. Same with anything that comes close to patriotism or conservatism. Such cinematic rarities are frequently labeled “jingoistic, fascist or simple minded.” This is all done consciously and for a desired effect.
You have to understand that when I look at the critical community I only see it for what it really is: a journolista cabal of left wingers deeply engaged in a cultural and ideological war, deeply committed to shaping the powerful messaging of sound and fury that emanate from our pop culture masters.
As if to prove my point, this very morning Left-winger Steven Zeitchik of the L.A. Times ran this propaganda piece; a not very subtle attempt on his and the paper’s part to tamp down any enthusiasm development execs might have to copycat what made “The Expendables” such a box office success and cultural phenomenon: [emphasis mine]
But the Stallone picture — with its hard-charging, take-no-prisoners patriotism unbothered by the vagaries of the real world (it takes place in a fictional country, for starters) and its caricature of freedom-hating enemies (”We will kill this American disease,” as the TV spot enticed us) — planted itself squarely in the old-school genre. And this weekend, the movie showed that there’s life in that category yet. …
On one hand, it’s understandable that a movie of easy American heroism (OK, first-world Western heroism) would catch on. In fact, it’s surprising it didn’t happen sooner. Apple-pie-patriotism already is behind the success of a cable news network and supports large sections of the contemporary country music industry. Why not a film hit too? ….
Political eras are, of course, rarely just one thing or another, and the movies we want to see in a given period are hardly monolithic. But as tempting as it is to infer that the success of “The Expendables” shows a deeper cultural need, it may well be the wrong inference. When times are confusing, we want movies to reflect that confusion, and even to make sense of it. But we probably don’t want to pretend that confusion doesn’t exist.
If you’re wondering why Hollywood is so out of touch with the 80% of their audience who aren’t liberal, part of the reason is certainly because much of the industry takes pride in being so, but you also have this kind of constant pressure from cultural enforcers like Zeitchik who disguise themselves as journalists. What Zeitchik’s quite purposefully doing here is toxifying ”The Expendables” by ridiculing its simple worldview — as though the nihilism found in the moral equivalency preached by the likes of George Clooney and Paul Haggis is somehow “complicated.” He’s essentially sending out the message that whoring yourself to the movie-going rubes and their desire to see good conquer evil makes you dumb, uncool, and unsophisticated. So don’t do it.
And the timing is perfect. Zeitchik wants to slap some of the excitement out of a box office success and affect the narrative before the Monday morning development meetings begin. He’s also offering talking points to his fellow travellers who attend those meetings. Therefore, even though Zeitchik is factually wrong, facts won’t much matter. No one wants the L.A. Times calling their movies uncool and simple-minded, and regardless of how big the hit, no one wants to have to defend “hard-charging, take-no-prisoners patriotism unbothered by the vagaries of the real world.” Not in this town.
But again, Zeitchik is simply wrong. From an artistic point of view, “The Expendables” is a much more impressive achievement than the likes of the flood of “Syrianas” that have been bombing one after another at the box office over the past few years. A simple straight-forward story that’s actually about something is much more difficult to successfully craft than a confusing and muddled story that’s believes in absolutely nothing. Paint-by-numbers might not be Rembrandt but it takes more skill than throwing monkey shit at a canvas.
The other false narrative Zeitchik tries to poison the development well with, is the false one that says the success of ”The Expendables” is something of a fluke:
Until this weekend, old-school action movies — defined, for argument’s sake, as films with a slew of explosions, a shortage of moral ambiguity and a triumph of physical effects over digital ones — had seen better days. It’s been nearly two decades since pictures of this sort were produced with any regularity by the studio system, and a lot longer since they were stateside successes.
“Until this weekend?” Ah, no.
Laughably, to bring home this point, after mentioning Stallone’s most recent “Rambo” and “The A-Team,” Zeitchik then offers up Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “JVCD” as further proof that films lacking in moral ambiguity “have seen better days.”
Really? The one-location, self-referential piece of crap that is “JVCD” is Zeitchik’s Exhibit C in this closing argument? But this is what happens when you’re in possession of a laughably biased theory in search of proof — especially when the surprise successes of “300″ and “Taken,” not to mention “Salt,” the first “Transformers,” and “Gran Torino” — make a total fool of that moral ambiguity theory.
That would be like me ignoring the “Bourne” trilogy while making some sort of argument that un-American, shaky-cammed action films starring hardwood don’t make money.
There’s plenty of room at the multiplex and plenty of box-office cash for everyone’s worldview. Unfortunately for our side, the Zeitchik’s of the media world will stoop to pulling the “JVCD” Card in order to remove our seat at that table.
UPDATE: A commenter quite correctly points out that in his closing paragraph, Zeitchik talks about action films with heavy CGI effects and explosions, not just moral ambiguity — and that my counter-examples of “300,” “Transformers,” and “Gran Torino” don’t refute that point. Though I close my paragraph to explain that I’m specifically refuting Zeitchik’s moral ambiguity statement (which is most of the overall argument of his write up, and where I was most focused in my response), I could’ve been much clearer in that regard. As far as Zeitchik’s full argument, “Salt” and “Taken” are still better examples than “JVCD.” I would also add the hits “Man on Fire,” “Vantage Point,” and “Inglourious Basterds.”
16 August 2010
15 August 2010
“It is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invader’s hearth.”
14 August 2010
“Obama has shown his true sentiments now, after weeks of concealing them, on an issue of deep significance to not only the families and loved ones of 3,000 slaughtered Americans but of the vast majority of his fellow citizens. He has once again revealed himself to be divorced from the values and concerns of his countrymen. He is entirely—and to too many Americans, horridly—a creature of the left with little ability to make moral distinctions. He sympathies for the Muslim World take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens. This is nothing short of an abomination.”
13 August 2010
A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).
When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there -- and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated.
That's why Disney's early '90s proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition fearing vulgarization of the Civil War (and wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It's why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It's why while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.
And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place, it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.
Even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who denounced opponents of the proposed 15-story mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero as tramplers on religious freedom, asked the mosque organizers "to show some special sensitivity to the situation." Yet, as columnist Rich Lowry pointedly noted, the government has no business telling churches how to conduct their business, shape their message, or show "special sensitivity" to anyone about anything. Bloomberg was thereby inadvertently conceding the claim of those he excoriates for opposing the mosque, namely, that Ground Zero is indeed unlike any other place and therefore unique criteria govern what can be done there.
Bloomberg's implication is clear: If the proposed mosque were controlled by "insensitive" Islamist radicals either excusing or celebrating 9/11, he would not support its construction.
But then, why not? By the mayor's own expansive view of religious freedom, by what right do we dictate the message of any mosque? Moreover, as a practical matter, there's no guarantee this couldn't happen in the future. Religious institutions in this country are autonomous. Who is to say that the mosque won't one day hire an Anwar al-Aulaqi -- spiritual mentor to the Fort Hood shooter and the Christmas Day bomber, and one-time imam at the Virginia mosque attended by two of the 9/11 terrorists?
An Aulaqi preaching in Virginia is a security problem. An Aulaqi preaching at Ground Zero is a sacrilege.
Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history -- perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed.
Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi -- yet despite contemporary Germany's innocence, no German of good will would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka.
Which makes you wonder about the good will behind Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's proposal. This is a man who has called U.S. policy "an accessory to the crime" of 9/11 and, when recently asked whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, replied, "I'm not a politician. ... The issue of terrorism is a very complex question."
America is a free country where you can build whatever you want -- but not anywhere. That's why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn't meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.
These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz -- and no mosque at Ground Zero.
Build it anywhere but there.
The governor of New York offered to help find land to build the mosque elsewhere. A mosque really seeking to build bridges, Rauf's ostensible hope for the structure, would accept the offer. It was refused.
Mr. Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist.
12 August 2010
I wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph this week in which I talked about a crucial aspect of Apple’s appeal: the way good old Steve Jobs relieves us of the burden of installation and other tedious tasks by making his designers and engineers do the intermediary work for us. No Protestant work ethic for straight-out-of-the-box iPad users! We leave that to PC customers, who peruse their tiny-print instruction manuals as intently as Calvinists poring over their well-thumbed Bibles. And that rang a bell…
Back in 1994, Umberto Eco declared that Mac was Catholic and the intimidating MS-DOS operating system was Protestant. Windows, meanwhile, was a sort of half-way house: Anglican, in fact. Here’s what Eco wrote in Espresso magazine:
The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counterreformist and has been influenced by the “ratio studiorum” of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach – if not the Kingdom of Heaven – the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.
DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.
You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counterreformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It’s true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions…
And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is Talmudic and cabalistic.
It’s just the last bit that doesn’t ring true these days – at least, not judging by the Hasidic Jews playing delightedly with iPads in the new Apple Store in Covent Garden this week.
Giant Mecca clock seeks to call time on Greenwich
For more than a century, a point on the top of a hill in south-east London has been recognised as the centre of world time and the official starting point of each new day.
By Adrian Blomfield, Middle East Correspondent, and Martin Beckford
Published: 6:30AM BST 11 Aug 2010
But now the supremacy of Greenwich Mean Time is being challenged by a gargantuan new clock being built in Mecca, by which the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims could soon be setting their watches.
Due to start ticking on Thursday as the faithful begin fasting during the month of Ramadan, the timepiece sits atop the Royal Mecca Clock Tower which dominates Islam’s holiest city.
It is at the heart of a vast complex funded by the Saudi government that will also house hotels, shopping malls and conference halls.
Bearing a striking resemblance to both St Stephen’s Tower, which houses the bell of Big Ben, and the Empire State Building, the Saudi upstart aims to outdo its revered British rival in every way.
The clock’s four faces are 151ft in diameter and will be illuminated by 2million LED lights along with huge Arabic script reading: “In the name of Allah”. The clock will run on Arabia Standard Time which is three hours ahead of GMT.
When a glittering spire is added, topped with a crescent to symbolise Islam, the edifice will stand at nearly 2,000 ft, making it the world's second tallest building.
The clock of Big Ben, by comparison, is just 23ft in diameter, while its tower stands at a mere 316ft.
Residents of Mecca will also be reminded that it is time to pray when 21,000 green and white lights, visible at a distance of 18 miles, flash five times a day.
But Islamic scholars hope the clock’s influence will stretch far further than the sands of Saudi Arabia, as part of a plan for Mecca to eclipse the Greenwich Observatory as the “true centre of the earth”.
For the past 125 years, the international community has accepted that the start of each day should be measured from the prime meridian, representing 0 degrees longitude, which passes through the Greenwich Observatory.
A standard time by which other clocks were set was needed to organise global travel and communications, but in the Islamic world the idea that it should be centred on a part of London is seen as a colonial anachronism.
As Mohammed al-Arkubi, manager of one of the hotels in the complex, put it: "Putting Mecca time in the face of Greenwich Mean Time. This is the goal."
According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric known around the Muslim world for his popular television show "Sharia and Life", Mecca has a greater claim to being the prime meridian because it is "in perfect alignment with the magnetic north."
This claim that the holy city is a "zero magnetism zone" has won support from some Arab scientists like Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed of the Egyptian National Research Centre who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca.
"That's why if someone travels to Mecca or lives there, he lives longer, is healthier and is less affected by the earth's gravity," he said. "You get charged with energy."
Western scientists have challenged such assertions, noting that the Magnetic North Pole is in actual fact on a line of longitude that passes through Canada, the United States, Mexico and Antarctica.
The very idea of building a mosque there is a dangerous sign of Muslim demands on Western societies, says British authority Douglas Murray—and it shows that the U.S. must make a stand.
“Islam is a religion of peace.” That is what every Western leader says every time a Muslim sets something off.
They never tell us which ones they think are the violent religions. But for Islam it’s a win-win. Knock down a tower and everyone in government says how terrific Islam is. Build a tower and everyone in government says how terrific Islam is. Either way it’s a gain for Islam.
My country, Britain, has led the way in this. But it is fascinating watching Mayor Bloomberg and Co. following the British curve.
Subway bombs? “Peace.” Airline plots? “Peace.” Car bombs? “Peace.” It must be hard these days being a violent jihadi. No one in power believes what you say. It’s just impossible to get your message across.
• Asra Q. Nomani: A Muslim Questions the MosqueThe U.S. authorities are making the same mistakes, and in exactly the same order, as those that the British government has made. Violent Islam is the problem and therefore some other form of yet to be decided upon peaceful Islam is the solution. Either way, win for Islam. Whatever the question, the answer is “Islam.”
In my experience this is a terrible mistake. The answer to violent Islam is not Islam. And contra every liberal pundit practicing their religion of peace and acceptance speech, building a mosque by ground zero is not a counter-argument to violent Islam. It is an apology, and an offering, to it.
If the people who are building the ground zero mosque cared about improving Islam’s image they would have taken their mosque elsewhere.
The answer to radical Islam is liberal, pluralistic, democracy. There’s a reason for that. Islam itself is screwed. No major Islamic leader in the world today preaches a message even remotely close to what most of the new American “let’s build the mosque” crew would find even barely tolerable.
Let me do this the short way. Al-Azhar is the world’s leading center of Islamic scholarship. I was mooching around there the other month myself. One of the faculty there, for want of a better term, has just given an interview in which he mentions the ground zero mosque. As it happens he is one of those “Islamophobes” who is opposed to the building. But not for the obvious reasons. Dr. Abd Al-Mu'ti Bayumi, a member of Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy, said that the mosque's construction was a mistake because it could link Islam to 9/11. The good doctor says it's a mistake to make that link, and suggests that even the building of the mosque is yet another extension of an ingenious plot organized by—come on, you can guess it—the Jews.
I could go on. He isn’t alone. He’s not an embarrassing one-off. He’s not a fringe figure. The story is repeated around the globe, the story of Muslim denial, self-pity, and demands for extraordinary sensitivity from others even whilst trampling on every sensitivity of absolutely everyone else.
And it is repeated at ground zero. But even if the imam of that mosque didn’t have questionable affiliations. Even if he’d never addressed an event organized by the revolutionary empire-building far-right bigots of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Even if the imam behind the ground zero mosque was the nicest, most peaceable, most out-on-a-limb progressive Muslim anyone had ever heard of, the building would still be wrong and it should still be possible to oppose it without being branded—nonsense-term of the hour—an “Islamophobe.”
When the pope comes to London next month, he is going to be greeted by substantial numbers of protests organized by people calling for his arrest and accusing him of the wildest hatreds. Yet we do not hear that critics of the pope are bigoted, “Christianophobic.” Nor even if they were should it cause any alarm. But Islam is different.
Why? It goes back to the “phobia” business. Arachnophobia is an irrational fear of spiders and claustrophobia is an irrational fear of small places. They are irrational because most small spiders and most small spaces do not kill you. There are, however, very sensible reasons to be fearful of many forms of Islam. Commuters in London and Madrid know why. As do Dutch filmmakers. And so do the numerous Muslim-born writers, artists, and musicians who spend their lives in hiding for fear of murder from their erstwhile co-religionists for “crimes” like “apostasy” and literary criticism.
But the cowardice in identifying this and cringing stupidity of what passes for intellectuals and commentators in America, like the U.K., today is staggering.
I regard myself as pretty much color blind and religion blind. And I expect the favor to be returned. When I go into a mosque, I take my shoes off. When I go to Muslim countries, I behave in the manner they expect. But religious toleration is a two-way street. America is not a Muslim country.
Islam however has never been historically very good at understanding this. For all leading Islamic scholars the whole world belongs to Islam. Non-Muslims don’t have a say in it.
Except we do.
It is not illegal, and nor should it be illegal, to pray in a building of your choice to whatever god you pick. But, as with the claims for minaret building in Switzerland, more is being demanded by Muslims. In point of fact, Muslims do not have to pray in a building with a tall tower that spoils the surrounding landscape. Nor do they have to pray in a large purpose-built multiplex in a place that treads very painfully across many peoples’ raw grief.
If the people who are building the ground zero mosque cared about improving Islam’s image, they would have taken their mosque elsewhere. If they cared about cultural sensitivities, reciprocity or freedom of religion, then they wouldn’t be trying to provoke people by building a mega-mosque at ground zero.
The very idea is stupid and offensive. Needlessly provocative, needlessly offensive or, at the very best, entirely needlessly thoughtless.
For Muslims, the answer to radical Islam may well be some nice official version of Islam that hasn’t yet been discovered. But for free and open societies, the answer to radical Islam is not Islam. It is free and open societies. It doesn’t matter what Muslims believe, anymore than anybody else. But it matters how they behave. If the New York mosque is anything to go by, that test at least is being failed by some American Muslims very conspicuously indeed.
&amp;lt;a href="http://www.qwanz.com/newpoll/2245" mce_href="http://www.qwanz.com/newpoll/2245"&amp;gt;Is the Ground Zero Mosque Harmful to Islam's Image?&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;
Douglas Murray is the Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, a nonpartisan think tank founded to promote human rights, tolerance and greater cohesion among the U.K.'s ethnic and religious communities. A bestselling author, political commentator ,and columnist for Standpoint magazine, Murray writes for many other publications including the Spectator and appears regularly across the British and foreign broadcast media.
For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Right, Boys, Let’s Go Dance
Thursday, August 12, 2010
If one is both Muslim and gay it is difficult to have a good time. Greg Gutfeld has an ingenious solution to "reduce deadly homophobia in the Islamic world".
Countering the controversy over the proposed Ground Zero mosque, Gutfeld has declared his own plan to build a gay bar catering to Muslims next to the Islamic center to be built near Ground Zero.
Will the mosque's supporters show the same tolerance toward his bar that they've demanded from their critics who say the mosque's location is insensitive to victims of the 9-11 attacks?
“The goal is not simply to open a typical gay bar, but one friendly to men of Islamic faith. An entire floor, for example, will feature non-alcoholic drinks, since booze is forbidden by the faith. The bar will be open all day and night, to accommodate men who would rather keep their sexuality under wraps—but still want to dance.”
Islamic law teaches that homosexuality is a vile form of fornication, punishable by death. According to Hadith al-Tirmidhi, Sunan 1:152—[Muhammad said] "Whoever is found conducting himself in the manner of the people of Lot; kill the doer and the receiver."
Interestingly, the same rules don't apply in paradise, where martyrs for the cause of Allah enjoy an orgy of virgins and "perpetual youth" Qur'an (56:17) (otherwise known as "boys" Qur'an (52:24)). Qur'an (76:19) bluntly states, "And immortal boys will circulate among them, when you see them you will count them as scattered pearls." Technically, the mere presence of boys doesn't necessarily mean sex, however it is strongly implied from the particular emphasis on the effeminacy, handsomeness and "freshness" of the boys. The female virgins of paradise are also compared to pearls (56:23).
So, if the mosque does eventually get built, Gutfeld has a way for pearls to be cast before swine.
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Read more: http://nosheepleshere.blogspot.com/2010/08/all-right-boys-lets-go-dance.html#ixzz0wP9G7dyD
August 11, 2010 10:30 AM
By Peter Kirsanow
The contempt for ordinary Americans displayed by the ruling class is reaching critical mass. There may never have been a time in American history when the governing, academic, cultural, and media elites have been more manifestly disdainful of the country’s values, traditions, principles, and people.
Individuals who express sincere concerns that the polices and practices of the elites are imperiling the nation’s economy and security are branded as racists and xenophobes by the anointed: A diminutive mayor who appears to conflate a talent for acquiring wealth with omniscience lectures that anyone who opposes the erection of a mosque on the site where 2,700 Americans were slaughtered by radical-Islamic terrorists must be motivated by religious intolerance; tea-party activists who protest the federal government’s insane spending spree are motivated not by horror at a $13,300,000,000,000 debt but by racial animus toward the chief fiscal incontinent residing in the White House; those who voted to maintain the central institution of civilization were actually voting for bigotry and oppression.
The same elites who lecture incessantly refuse to listen to the racist rabble populating flyover country. They have no problem listening, apologizing, and bowing obsequiously to our declared enemies, but insist on acting imperiously toward their fellow Americans.
When thousands flooded town-hall meetings to express opposition to Obamacare, they got Obamacare shoved down their throats. When twenty states sued, calling Obamacare’s dictatorial provisions unconstitutional, legal elites scoffed that the Commerce Clause permits the federal government to compel the unenlightened to eat their vegetables. And when 71 percent of Missouri voters rejected the abominable bill, Robert Gibbs proclaimed that the vote meant “nothing.”
It’s certainly evident that it was, indeed, “nothing” to the ruling class. That class will pass a 2,000-page, $800 billion spending bill without even reading it. They will “redistribute” billions from disfavored groups to favored constituencies.They will rack up ethics charges like frequent-flier miles. They will take over giant car companies and financial institutions despite never having run so much as a pop stand. They will drop missile defense and open our borders because we’ve been on the wrong side of history all these years. They will shut down oil drilling in the Gulf, thereby sacrificing the livelihoods of thousands, without any empirical justification whatsoever. They will abandon our nation’s allies and embrace our enemies for no other reason than that it’s a different policy than George W. Bush’s. They will prosecute Navy SEALs but wink at the release of convicted terrorists. They will exhibit galactic ineptitude in cleaning the Gulf but assure us they can completely reorder the economy in response to the non-debateable evidence of global warming. They will raise our taxes so that our comparatives in the federal government can be paid twice as much as we are. They will sue Arizona for doing the job they refuse to do themselves. They will grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants by bureaucratic fiat. They will tell us what light bulbs to use, how much fat we may have in our diets, and how much water we may have in our toilets . . .
They’ll do this because they’re smart. They went to the best schools. And they agree with Rep. Pete Stark that “the federal government can do anything.”
Perhaps in the recent past, with a compliant, JournoList-infected media providing cover, they could do anything. Not anymore. Americans have had enough.
Average citizens are showing remarkable levels of engagement — more than in 1994. They seem to actually like America. They will fight against spending the country into bankruptcy. They will fight against erosions of our freedom. They will fight against slow-motion surrender to our enemies. They will fight against corruption of our values. They will fight for what’s best about America.
This is a fight about first principles. I’ll bet on the great unwashed.
11 August 2010
August 11, 2010
The Ruling Class vs. the PublicBy Tony Blankley
The cheerful, jaded, sneering question de jour from liberal journalists and Democratic Party commentators (I know, there's a pretty fine distinction) is, "What will the Republican Party do if it gets back the House?" The question is phrased along the line of what a car-chasing dog would do if it caught the car.
As a conservative tea party Republican, I am not particularly worried about that eventuality. Despite itself, a majority GOP, driven powerfully by the unambiguous vox populi of such an election, almost certainly would go about trying to repeal Obamacare and put serious, current-fiscal-year spending cuts into place -- necessarily including "entitlements." Republicans would try to reduce some taxes and start serious oversight of federal regulatory intrusions into traditional American freedoms -- including a powerful pushback on administration regulatory efforts on climate change, illegal immigration and other left-wing agenda items. With sufficient votes in the Senate, they would block future liberal judicial appointments -- from the trial court to the Supreme Court.
If they didn't go all-out for such a basic conservative agenda in 2011 after such an election as is possible, Republican Party leaders would know that across the nation, even 50-year party regulars such as I would walk out and seek a third party to carry out the people's business.
No, what worries me is a scenario in which the GOP does not take back the House and at least make major gains in the Senate, or takes it back but fails to find the power to begin having a serious check on administration policies and actions. I don't say that with a mere partisan, boostering mentality.
Rather, if the upcoming election results fail for any reason (including GOP campaign incompetence) to empower the public's overwhelming desire to stop and reverse the "fundamental transformation" of the United States -- I suspect the country will be rocked to its core within the following months and few years.
A foul and dangerous brew is heating up that is composed of: (1) The economic collapse that started in 2008; (2) the radical, "fundamentally transforming" left-wing agenda of the government; and, (3) the thwarting of the public will -- with glee -- by the entrenched, non-elected powers (in the courts, media, colleges and government bureaucracies) as they get into the face and under the skin of the cultural and political majority.
It is insufferable (and will not long be suffered) to be lectured to and imposed upon by a ruling class that loathes our nation's history, values and accomplishments; by those who are not, in fact, our genuine betters. They are neither better educated nor more profoundly morally versed.
In fact, they are our intellectual and moral inferiors -- not superiors. Constantly grinning Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan didn't think the Declaration of Independence's proclamation that human beings "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" should in any way affect her understanding of our constitutional rights -- presumably, if any.
Part of the building danger derives from the fact that Americans now tend to self-select our news, opinion and entertainment sources based on our political beliefs and cultural and religious preferences. As a result, the nation no longer shares a common database of civic reality. Many liberals have no sense of how deep and roiling this no-longer-just-conservative passion is. Or they assume it involves some small, mendacious, ideological faction rather than a broad-based, nonideological, building national majority, which it does.
Just one trivial example of the disconnection between the elites and the nation was the Newsweek headline "We Are All Socialists Now," published last year (before the magazine was sold for $1 to the billionaire husband of a leading Democratic congresswoman). Two months ago, though, a poll by the Democracy Corps, a polling group run by Democratic operative James Carville and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, asked how well the term "socialist" fit President Obama. Fifty-five percent of all Americans said "well" or "very well." In that same month, the Gallup poll reported that Americans self-identify themselves as 42 percent conservative (a historic high), 35 percent moderate and 20 percent liberal. That would seem to leave 3 percent for socialists, communists, anarchists, fascists, monarchists, Nazis, ultramontanists, Falangists, klansmen, etc.)
I guess that Newsweek headline's meaning depends on what the definition of "we" is. As military experts would say, the upcoming struggle for America's future between the socialist powers and the rest of us would seem to be "asymmetrical."
Much more profoundly, the gap between the consciousness of "we socialists" and "we the people" can be seen in the assertion by some liberals recently that the president's collapse in the polls is part of this current reaction to events is but a passing thing. If they think that, they understand nothing of the forces they have unleashed by their tragically imprudent effort to fundamentally transform our country.
In 1856, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, in analyzing the causes of his country's revolution, observed, "Evils which are patiently endured when they seem inevitable become intolerable when once the idea of escape from them is suggested."
A year ago, it seemed possible that a majority of Americans -- rattled by economic collapse and under the sway of a popular, charismatic president -- might buy in to plans to fundamentally transform America away from liberty, prosperity and greatness and toward security and a massive, protective state. At first, many of us were hesitant to speak out when we thought we might be but a few. (Of course, some of us saw what was coming and spoke out before the 2008 election. See my columns from the spring, summer and fall of '08.)
But as the first details of the transformation were revealed to the nation -- in Obamacare, the stimulus, bailouts, nationalizations and running roughshod over the Constitution -- it became clear that the price for security turned out to be our birthright of liberty. Americans were not that rattled.
Now that we who cling to our liberty know we are a majority -- and potentially a very large majority -- we are aroused to the defense of our ancient rights -- and we will not slacken in our efforts until that repulsive plan for transformation has been expurgated from the body politic -- to quote Franklin D. Roosevelt -- "so help us God."
Copyright 2010, Creators Syndicate Inc.