Resurrecting Christendom: A Blueprint





Mr. Furnish, whose Ph.D is in Islamic and World History, is a former U.S. Army veteran and college professor, now working as an editor for Praeger Publishing.

Last September Jim Pinkerton penned a brilliant cover story for the American Conservative entitled “The Once & Future Christendom,”1 wherein he argued that Western civilization could only be saved from the onslaught of global radical Islam by uniting under the umbrella of its shared Christian heritage. He illuminated his thesis with trenchant examples taken from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and in fact named his plan the “Shire strategy,” after the homeland of the hobbit heroes of the trilogy.2 This essay constitutes a sequel, fine-tuning of Pinkerton’s ideas and a further laying of the groundwork for re-establishing a political Christendom.

One major reason that immediately springs to mind for doing so is the threat of the creeping Islamization of Western civilization’s original home, Europe—a process no less a figure than the Archbishop of Canterbury deems inevitable.3 How much solace, then, might be found in the fact that on a global scale the world’s largest religion will continue to be, for many years, Christianity? Apologists with their incessant braying about “Islam, the world’s fastest growing religion” fail to recognize the explosive growth of “Southern Christianity” in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Currently there are some 2.1 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims, worldwide. By 2025 Christians will number about 2.6 billion, still hundreds of millions ahead of the Muslim headcount.4 Even so, as Pinkerton points out, an Islamic Europe would be a serious, if not mortal, blow to the political survival of the West.5 What would it profit Christian civilization to hold on to (most of) the whole world and yet lose its European soul?

But is a modern-day Holy League—originally created in the 16th century to stave off the jihad-driven Ottoman Empire—really necessary to save Europe and defend the Christian West? Why not find some less offensive (at least to secularists) and archaic basis for unity? Other bases have been proposed, after all. Last fall Christopher Hitchens in the Wall Street Journal argued for the creation of an “Anglosphere,”6 an idea he in turn borrowed from Robert Conquest.7 In this view the English language could serve as the glue for an alliance of not just the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Conquest) but also even India and South Africa (Hitchens). The Anglosphere, as envisioned by Hitchens, is basically the former British Commonwealth writ larger.8

But could a mere linguistic league hope to survive, let alone counter, a religious and political ideology as potent as Islam? Remember, the Islamic world is already united, to some extent, politically. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, a common front of some 60 majority-Muslim nations, was created almost 40 years ago. The OIC regularly speaks up on behalf of this planet’s Muslims, making political demands on their behalf.9 As Bernard Lewis has pointed out, there is to date no other such religious bloc on earth—in fact, the very idea seems “anachronistic, and even absurd.” But is it? We are in a war of ideas, every bit as much as IEDs, interrogations and Predator drones. Linguistic unity, while not to be dismissed, bespeaks process, not substance. I’m not sure anyone will fight and die for the English language—even if the agenda did include the prohibition of “press 1 for English” by businesses.

What about the United Nations? As Pinkerton points out, “the Blue Helmets have fallen and they can’t get up.” For every alleged U.N. “success,” like Congo, there’s a resounding failure like Somalia or Bosnia. But even if the U.N. were hitting 1.000 in peace keeping, that would be beside the point: the U.N., like the hapless League of Nations before it, was intended to be a world parliamentary body—and thus, by definition, is no more obligated to defend the West than it is the Islamic, Sino, Indic or any of the other potentially clashing global civilizations which Samuel Huntington was so pilloried for correctly identifying.11 In fact, it often seems to operate as an anti-Western body.

We’ll always have NATO, it seems—so why not rely on that organization? It was created to keep Soviet armor from reaching Paris via the Fulda Gap and yet still exists, almost two decades after the USSR was consigned to the ash heap of history—and it’s bigger than ever, the original 12 states now having grown to 26. And since 25 of NATO’s 26 member countries are majority Christian—Turkey being the lone exception—why not make Bin Ladin’s day and declare NATO a de facto Christian alliance? It is, after all, assisting the U.S. in Afghanistan, if not in Iraq.

Because NATO writ large is too Eurocentric. And that would undercut the struggle against the jihadists and caliphists in two ways: it would lay the alliance open to charges of neo-colonialism; and, more importantly, it would geographically limit the trans-continental front required to deal with an Islamic world that stretches from Morocco to Malaysia. Indeed, as distasteful as it may be to secular fundamentalists, the only global civilization with the geographical expanse, politico-economic clout and—face it—military heft to put the genie of Islamic expansionism back into its Middle Eastern lamp, and keep it there, is the Christian one. Furthermore, while Europe’s assumption of post-Christian status may be overstated, the fact is that of the world’s nations with the 22 largest Christian populations,12 only seven are east of the Atlantic and west of the Urals:

  1. U.S.: 235 million
  2. Brazil: 170 million
  3. Mexico: 103 million
  4. Russia: 99 million
  5. Philippines: 84 million
  6. France: 57 million
  7. Germany: 56 million
  8. Nigeria: 54 million
  9. China: 53 million
  10. Italy: 51 million
  11. Ethiopia: 47 million
  12. Congo: 46 million
  13. UK: 43 million
  14. Colombia: 42 million
  15. Ukraine: 42 million
  16. Spain: 38 million
  17. Argentina: 38 million
  18. Poland: 37 million
  19. South Africa: 35 million
  20. Kenya: 29 million
  21. Venezuela: 26 million
  22. Canada: 23 million

Here’s how this data translates onto the world map:13

The orange Islamic world may control the “heartland” of the Afro-Eurasian landmass, but the blue Christian world dominates most of the rest of the planet (“atheist” China and Hindu India excepted), as well as the seas.

Again, as Pinkerton points out, the purpose of the majority-Christian parts of the planet uniting against the Muslim world would NOT be to impose democracy or in any way to change that civilization—much less to wage a new “Crusade” (although we’d better inure ourselves to that inevitable charge): “not conquest, not occupation, not ‘liberation’” but rather “feasible strategies of containment, even quarantine.” A cordon sanitaire would be created around the Islamic sandbox until Muslims learn to play nice and stop inflicting both their near and far neighbors with anti-democratic, anti-women, anti-tolerance, and anti-modernist ideology—not to mention IEDs, assassinations and plane-bombs. And until that violent minority of Muslims obsessed with creating a global caliphate is eliminated, or at least convinced of the fruitlessness of their quest—hopefully by their own co-religionists, backed up by the resolve and non-interventionist support of the larger Christian world.

Pinkerton calls this the “Shire Strategy”—but there’s a better analogy from Tolkien. Other than four hobbits who rode off to help in the war against the arch-expansionist Sauron, the Shire folk stayed home—fat, happy and clueless about the serious and deadly conflict being fought to protect them. Even Frodo, the hobbit who eventually destroyed the Ring of Power, would never have been able to do so had not Men—dedicated survivors of the destroyed Kingdom of Arnor (called, fortuitously by Tolkien, Rangers!) and committed soldiers from the extant kingdom of Gondor—engaged Sauron’s legions in both covert and overt ops. As Boromir put it at the Council of Elrond: “it is by the blood of our people that your lands are kept safe.” Rather than Pinkerton’s Shire Strategy, we should envision the rather more muscular Gondor Strategy, which would entail setting a “Watchful Peace” upon the bloody borders of Islam, as in Tolkien the most poweful human kingdom did against Sauron’s land of Mordor.

This strategy would be implemented by a Global Christian Alliance, formed by representatives from the aforementioned countries with the largest Christian populations, minus the problematic ones: Nigeria (as many Muslims as Christians, thus on the fault line between the civilizations); China (officially Marxist); Congo (too politically weak and unstable); and Kenya (see “Congo”). At first perhaps only one or two official delegates from each nation would be sent to the formative meetings in the de facto, working “capital” of the GCA. Rome is undoubtedly the best location, since the only other truly viable candidate, Jerusalem, might be deemed too hot a political potato (although meeting there would demonstrate the GCA’s dedication to the preservation of Israel). Eventually, as the mechanics of the alliance are ironed out, some sort of proportional representation might well be incorporated, with the U.S. getting the most delegates, followed by Brazil, Mexico, Russia, etc. This would acknowledge the reality of the power differential between the nation-states involved—for this is not a revamped World Council of Churches, but a political and military alliance grounded in a shared Christian culture.

Note, too, that Pinkerton’s four main Christian blocs—Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and African—would all be represented (as, for that matter, would the Mormons, largely subsumed under the Protestant American category). The foundational membership for the GCA would, under this plan, include a majority of Roman Catholic nations, several Protestant ones (including the largest and most powerful, the U.S.) and two Orthodox ones (Russia, Ethiopia), with African Christianity represented by South Africa as well as Ethiopia. Also, borrowing boldly from Conquest, very early on the GCA would create both permanent Foreign Policy and Military Committees, each of which would have as its purview, unlike NATO, the entire planet14—or at least the non-Muslim parts of it. Perhaps most importantly “these two committees would also provide a unified approach to political warfare—concentrating information and expertise and insisting on the major role of this side of the struggle.” Indeed, the GCA, like Conquest’s posited Anglosphere, “might eventually…raise or sponsor its own forces on a limited scale.”15 Unlike Conquest’s Anglosphere, however, the GCA would not have as its stated ultimate aim the total political unification of its constituent members—although it would not rule that out—but rather the goal would be to preserve, protect and defend Christian civilization against those who would destroy or subvert it, primarily Muslim enemies. Other civilizational blocs, as they continue to unite politically—the Indian/Hindu one most obviously, but also the Buddhist one—could be accorded “observer status” at GCA meetings for discussing joint counter-Islamic strategies.

But it would be the GCA, in effect, protecting itself and the rest of the planet from the one civilizational bloc that contains powerful elements opposed to modernity. Won’t the Muslim umma feel itself surrounded and marked out by the rest of the world? Perhaps. But the cold, hard, irrefutable fact is that the Islamic world’s jihadists drew the religious scimitar first, with too many of their co-religionists standing by and—still--holding the scabbard. And as Eowyn, the only martial heroine of The Lord of the Rings, said “the women of our country learned long ago that those without swords can still die upon them.” (Indeed, it should be women most staunchly in favor of a GCA, since it is Christian civilization that has accorded women more rights than any in history.) It is time for the Christian West to draw its own broadsword, first and foremost to defend itself but also to defend the rest of this planet from the threat of the caliphate. But make no mistake, there will be blood before the idea of a global caliphate is abandoned.

This politically-reunited Christendom would, at a minimum, be worth the effort required to create it for the following reasons:

  1. most importantly, staving off the creation of a global caliphate and the destruction of Western civilization as we know it that would follow
  2. marrying the superior ELINT (electronic intelligence) and SIGINT (signals intelligence) of the U.S. to the better HUMINT (human intelligence) of member states more used to dealing with the Islamic threat on the ground, such as Russia and Ethiopia
  3. reducing tensions and possible hostilities between member states, in general between the four Christian sub-blocs and in particular between neo-Orthodox Russia and the rest of the West
  4. subsuming, to some extent, American foreign policy into a joint GCA one might help tame the interventionist, “cowboy” strain of the world’s only hyperpower and allays fears of the dreaded “American Empire” on both the domestic Left and Right and in the rest of the world.

In the final book of Tolkien’s trilogy Aragorn, once enthroned as King of the West, did not launch reprisal counterattacks on the East and the South for those lands having supported Sauron’s invasions. Rather “the King pardoned the Easterlings that had given themselves up, and sent them away free and he made peace….”16 But that was only after such violent fighting that to the former belligerents “came only a tale from far off: a rumour of the wrath and terror of Gondor.”17 The disparate factions of the Christian world can no longer afford to stumble through history politically scattered, divided and leaderless. We must rally around our common religious core and demonstrate to the followers of Muhammad that we are determined, as fellow monotheists, to become their good friends—even if we must, to get there, first become their unvanquishable enemies.

NOTES

1http://www.amconmag.com

2 I will assume some familiarity on the reader’s part with the trilogy, either the books or the blockbuster movies, lest this article turn into a disquisition on Middle-earth.

3http://www.telegraph.co.uk

4 See Philip Jenkins’ writings, in particular The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (2007), especially pp. 2-6.

5 The “West” of course encompasses parts of the planet that really aren’t, geographically, such as Australia and Russia—the term having become primarily a cultural one now.

6http://opinionjournal.com

7The Dragons of Expectation ( 2005), Appendix B, “An Anglo sphere in the Neosphere (A Political Exercise),” pp. 221ff.

8 “When Your Only Weapon Is Shame,” The Economist, Nov. 24, 2007.

9http://www.oic-oci.org/oicnew/

10The Crisis of Islam (2003), pp. 13-14.

11The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1993)

12http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki

13http://www.catholic.org

14 Conquest, p. 223

15Ibid., pp. 223-24

16The Return of the King (1955), p. 305.

17Ibid., p. 151.



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omar ibrahim baker - 4/1/2008

Still waiting Mr Craigen for your "More on your other points later.";


omar ibrahim baker - 3/23/2008

Mr Craigen
Waiting for your "More on your other points later."; hoping they will make more sense than your last aimlessly rambling post.


R. Craigen - 3/22/2008

More on your other points later.
-----
I wish you well for Easter and take this opportunity to tell you that neither Islam, nor I, has anything to do with (Nowruz) if by that you mean the Iranian spring festival !
-----
As you and I both know Nowruz is the ancient Persian new year festival -- so, yes, it is most commonly associated with Iran -- which is marked in many lands in the middle east. Wikipedia gives a partial list: Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bahrain, Armenia, Georgia, countries of Central Asia such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, Iranian and Turkic peoples in Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Northwestern China, the Caucasus, the Crimea, and the Balkans.. One can easily add to this. I find Nowruz greetings in Jordanian government websites, on Egyptian websites, and so on. I greet my islamic friends from many countries this way, and those from different lands mention their own traditions associated with the festival.

If you choose to have nothing to do with Nowruz that is your business, but you know the greeting is almost universal in that part of the world and always given in goodwill.

(You may be interested that Easter is also, a Spring festival that predates Christianity, taken from the ancient Romans. Unlike Nowruz, it has been incorporated into a major faith, but the name "Easter" itself has nothing to do with Christianity: it is pagan in origin.)

Your accusations here border on the ridiculous. I write very long posts covering a wide swath of territory, but you accuse me of writing narrowly, concentrating only on points on which I have a strong argument, and avoiding answering most of your questions.

Your posts, Omar are long lists of Islamic trivia, standard Islamist "talking points", questions, accusations and red herrings. Many are off topic. Do you expect me to fully respond to every single one? I think I am already guilty of being a bandwidth abuser -- I am not prepared to write an "encyclopedia of responses to Omar".

I'm sorry you regard me asking questions to be offensive. As far as I'm concerned questions are the key to focussed dialogue. Without this you just have two people talking past each other. In any case, you ask dozens of questions yourself, even just in your last few posts (and then complain that I'm not answering them!) Do you think you are an inquisitor, and that it is a crime to ignore your questions?

Many of my questions are rhetorical; they require no answer. That is one reason I don't come back two posts later and complain that you haven't yet answered them.

It seems your main tactic is to just get offended at everything (I ask too many questions ... but I don't respond to yours ... you detect some elusive but nevertheless unbounded hatred in my writing, and on and on). You speak of good faith in dialogue; I do not consider your behavior thus far to be in good faith. (But I won't presume to judge whether it is motivated by hatred. In any case, its a charge for which, unlike Taqiyya and Kitman, there is no way to demonstrate.)

Instead of meandering, let us concentrate on points relevant to the topic, namely Furnish's suggestion that Christendom ought to, as Islamic states have done, form a block to defend the interests of its own heritage against a hostile ideological block of Islamism.

Things relating to the Islamist threat and how it plays out in our world are thus relevant.

You say there is no such threat, I have disagreed. Indeed, I have pointed to your own words on a number of points to demonstrate that even muslims who consider themselves moderate, pluralistic and tolerant (as I believe you do) may exhibit an Islamist threat, but have difficulty recognizing how their views play out as part of the Islamist agenda. I think our discussion here has, thus far, been quite enlightening on this point.

After the weekend let's try to find some time to dig in to specific elements of "reforming sharia" on points relating to the relations between muslims and nonmuslims and Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Kufr (or Dar al-Harb ... "the West") and we'll see how this plays out.

I won't offend you with more Nowruz greetings; instead I'll (once more, sincerely) wish you salaam aleikoum.


omar ibrahim baker - 3/22/2008

Mr Craigen
You seem to want a Question and Answer exercise !
Although I am NOT against it in principle I believe a “dialogue” is much more appropriate in the, this, context in which we meet.

RE dialogue; I have grave reservations about your total
approach thereto and hereto!
My reservations were expressed previously seemingly to no effect. So I repeat them in “xxxxxxx”!

1-"Once again I note that you fail to face and respond to substantial points made, in good faith, to your arguments such as the necessity to DISTINGUISH and separate what are the authentic teachings and principles of Islam from the latter, and some present, practices made in the name of Islam."

Sadly this charge still stands.

To indulge in a real dialogue demands that you recognize and discuss, not necessarily accept, points made and NOT simply to ignore them.

2-"Your posts abound in fabrications and out right falsehoods such as your contention in an earlier post, that I chose to ignore at the time, that it is FORBIDDEN to build churches in Moslem countries.
This last month, it so happens, witnessed the inauguration of two churches that I know of; one in Amman/Jordan and the other in Doha /Qatar."

It, dialogue, also stipulates recognition and admission, or negation, of one's claims veracity or falsehood.

3-You seem to dwell on certain points where you believe you have a “winning argument” by, childish as that is, ignoring, bypassing, the major principles underlying other's arguments.
An outstanding example is your failure to address the “personal freedom” and “religious freedom ” dimensions of allowing cultural minorities the RIGHT, the CHOICE to be adjudicated, solely in private/personal matters, by courts cognizant of and friendly to their indigenous culture/faith.”

Instead of addressing this point of personal choice and freedoms, that I consider important, you choose to make an irrelevant argument......

There is no point in a true
"dialogue" unless and until arguments made are recognized then either accepted or disputed; otherwise it will turn into a litany,a“diatribic “
reiteration of one's opinions.

I have reacted, initially in what I deemed it to be a potentially good willed dialogue, to your earlier, initial, post by a “point by point” rejoinder/discussion (in two parts) and some counter srguments.

Your failure to reciprocate in kind threatens to make our discussion a "dialogue of the deaf"; which is totally pointless and futile for both of us and is unacceptable to me.

4- Re your unbounded ill will and hate I (which earlier included something about the absence of “conscience”, that I chose, in good will, to ignore at the time) I can only reiterate the example I made which, I believe, unfortunately reflects your over all attitude.
That being the hypothetical case in which:

"When someone approaches another person it could easily be said that:
**he approached him to hit him
OR that
**he approached him to ask a question!

With boundless and overflowing ill will and hatred Mr Craigen chose, as far as I am concerned, the former; that is his prerogative and his obsession."

That is exactly how you reacted to my posts by accusations of "kitman" and "takkiya", that I, not you, first CHOSE to define, in an “undictionary” like manner, for a rational and common understanding of the meaning of both terms.!

Should you wish to indulge in a RESPECTFUL dialogue ( Not a tit for tat) I am game.
Then later , NOT NOW, we could proceed to a mutually agreed “Question and Answer “
exercise!
I wish you well for Easter and take this opportunity to tell you that neither Islam, nor I, has anything to do with (Nowruz ) if by that you mean the Iranian spring festival !





R. Craigen - 3/22/2008

Omar, on this occasion I wish you Nowruz Mubarak and a happy Easter. In view of our coinciding festivals I'll keep my response brief.

-----
With boundless and overflowing ill will and hatred Mr Craigen chose...
-----

What an interesting charge to make immediately after arguing that subjective appraisals of another person's motives should carry no weight. You certainly cannot draw this inference from anything I've written here. In any case it is simply false.

Omar, perhaps you have difficulty understanding the Western concept of "loving the sinner but hating the sin" (as I understand it is very different from the Islamic concept of "al wala wal bara"). But I assure you that I harbour no ill will toward you, let alone hatred. I do have grave concerns about the ideology of Islamism. This does not color my concern for and interest in the rights and welfare of muslims in the East or West, whether they adhere to the more virulent forms of Islamist thought or not.

As for your subsequent charge,
-----
However it is indicative of a general “atmosphere” to which the imperialist/Zionist axis always takes recourse.
-----
I am neither a Zionist nor an imperialist.

I have no argument with Zionism in its most basic form (recognition of Israel's right to exist) but am not actively involved in the movement, and know very little of it beyond the basics.

I have no interest in colonizing other nations, and would actively oppose my government if it ever threatened to do so. The age of Western colonialism is long over, and good riddance to it.

But the application of the adjective "imperialist" by one who, by appearances, supports the Islamist ideology, is a clear example of projection, ironic in the extreme.

For, while western Imperialism is largely dead, Islamist imperialism, among those who hold this view, is alive and well. It is perhaps, now that the main communist world power has vanished, the only remaining form of true imperialism alive today, in its dream to restore and extend the Caliphate to rule the entire world.

...and so we return to the main theme introduced by Furnish's article. For the sake of discussion, Omar, perhaps you could clarify for us where you stand on the program of Islamic world domination through the caliphate, as articulated by -- oh, let us say, the Ikhwan. This may help us to put the charge of "imperialism" into its proper context for this discussion. After our festivals are over we can take up the subject again.

In the meantime I wish you salaam (and mean it sincerely!)


omar ibrahim baker - 3/21/2008

Re my reference to "Kitman" and "takkiya" above( in #121067) I must indicate that the above mentioned post was written and on the air before I was aware that Mr Craigen did in "Re: Thin Pickins so far (#121023)by R. Craigen on March 19, 2008 at 1:03 PM"
respond to the challenge.
(It is not easy to keep abreast with the present HNN format. Perhaps an email computer generated notification re direct responses could simplify the task for all.)


All that he had to say there, in his response to my challenge, is his own personal subjective appraisal of what I wrote; to which he is welcome but is, nevertheless baseless and totally unrelated to my words and/or my intentions.

When someone approaches another person it could easily be said that:
**he approached him to hit him
OR that
**he approached him to ask a question!

With boundless and overflowing ill will and hatred Mr Craigen chose, as far as I am concerned, the former; that is his prerogative and his obsession.
However it is indicative of a general “atmosphere” to which the imperialist/Zionist axis always takes recourse.




omar ibrahim baker - 3/21/2008

Mr Craigen
I note you have failed to indicate WHEN Al Shafii ROT was formulated; is it that you do not know or that you do not want others to know??
I guess it is the latter!

However If your point is that Al Shafii ROT should be revised, reformed and updated I will agree unhesitatingly.
Such revision and update will only be in response to the Prophets injunction "Antum aalam bi shouun dunyakum=you know better the exigencies of your world (as a time and a place)";
(Are you familiar with this command or is it news to you? )

However if your point is that they. Al Shaafii’s ROT, are the final word on the matter then you would be gravely mistaken and/or intentionally misleading your readers.
Al Shafii's is only one among four schools of Jurisprudence in Islam; in principle there nothing in Islam that forbids the emergence of a fifth, or nth, school or, as the trend is now, to reform and update these.

Once again I note that you fail to face and respond to substantial points made, in good faith, to your arguments such as the necessity to DISTINGUISH and separate what are the authentic teachings and principles of Islam from the latter, and some present, practices made in the name of Islam.
Is that due to intrinsic cowardice cum ignorance or to the demands of your "mission"??

Your posts abound in fabrications and out right falsehoods such as your contention in an earlier post, that I chose to ignore at the time, that it is FORBIDDEN to build churches in Moslem countries.
This last month, it so happens, witnessed the inauguration of two churches that I know of; one in Amman/Jordan and the other in Doha /Qatar.
Once again is that due to cowardice or ignorance or, as in case, to both??

You seem to dwell on certain points where you believe you have a “winning argument” by, childish as that is, ignoring, bypassing, the major principles underlying other's arguments.
An outstanding example is your failure to address the “personal freedom” and “religious freedom ” dimensions of allowing cultural minorities the RIGHT, the CHOICE to be adjudicated, solely in private/personal matters, by courts cognizant of and friendly to their indigenous culture/faith.
Instead of addressing this point of personal choice and freedoms you choose to make the following absurd argument:

“Let us try one more angle: You argue for Islamic "religious courts" in the west, which we both know are a limited form of sharia. Can you point me to a manual of Sharia that is seriously being proposed for use here? What training will be required of the practitioners, if not credentials in the four Schools of Jurisprudence?”

The absurdity, actually the vacuity, of your argument/question springs from the fact that you seem to claim that these courts should be agreeable, acceptable to YOU!
That they should be vetted and sanctioned by YOU!!
It is NOT for YOU neither to choose , to vet nor to determine.
It is for the concerned people themselves, for the people who choose that their private /personal affairs should be regulated according to their, NOT your, cultural heritage to decide and to determine which school of Shariaa to follow!
(Am I to understand here that you are for the abolition of CHRISTIAN religious courts in Arab countries??
HAVE the COURAGE to answer that.)


One last thing; you state:
“Please don't play silly word games here, Omar, we're not ignorant. Kitman only works on those who don't already know the truth.”

1-I have challenged you in an earlier post to indicate what and where “kitman” and /or “taqqiya” is/are involved in my posts.
You failed to point out any. Simply because there is none
( Re your “ we're not ignorant. Kitman only works on those who don't already know the truth.” You should recall here that it was me NOT you who, out of respect for the general reader, gave the definitions of those two terms.
However your inappropriate use of the term(s) brings to my mind the image of a child who fell on something “new” that he boastfully brandishes around without ever saying what it is.)

2-I note a creeping incivility in your mode of address (silly word games); that is a cheap and relatively easy road to tread normally denoting failure and ignorance. I sincerely hope you will avoid it in the future; unless, of course, it is part and parcel of your “mission”.


R. Craigen - 3/21/2008

Good to see you're still around Omar. We've many things to discuss.

For instance, you say:
"As to your recent point re Ash Shafii-ROT I only urge you to consider WHEN, which year in time, at which era in history, were those rules formulated."

No, the relevant issue is whether or not these are currently considered valid for use, and whether they are acceptable according to the Ulema (consensus of Islamic Legal scholars).

As you well know, ROT was recompiled recently and received the imprimatur of fhe scholars at Al-Azhar university, generally considered the highest scholastic and legal authority in Sunni Islam, for use in CONTEMPORARY applications of sharia, and translated into English specifically for wider use among the Islamic diaspora.

It is also approved for use in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and (I'm guessing) other jurisdictions among the ones you have proffered as examples for the west to follow in treatment of religious minorities.

Perhaps you have disdain for this book because it is Shafi'i, Omar? Would you prefer a manual of one of the other three schools of Sunni jurisprudence? Please cite one that (a) is available in English translation, (b) is approved by the Ulema, and (c) is actually in use somewhere in the world. (ROT satisfies all three conditions.)

Perhaps it is the age of the book you don't like. As you know ROT is a relatively recent compilation of rulings by Shafi'i scholars and those of the other schools -- it is used by scholars of all four (Sunni) schools, and cites authorities from all four schools. The translation I have is from 1991, and contains appendices that are less than 100 years old. Maybe you'd rather we disregard the Qur'an itself, seeing as it was written before ROT, and before any of the four schools.

Are you proposing that rulings based on early scholars are invalid in Islam? Can you name for us a widely accepted Islamic scholar who holds to this view (point us, if you will, to his ruling on the matter)? Are you prepared to open the gates of ijtihad once more? If so, why do you cite as examples Islamic states where the scholarly consensus is against this?

Or...perhaps you think ROT too recent? Should we, instead, cite only the Sira, Qur'an and the Sahih Sittah?

Or do you think I've picked the Shafi'i school because of its intolerance? Tell us, Omar, what is the penalty for leaving Islam in the Hanafi, Hanbali and Maliki schools? Or, if you prefer, the Jafari (Shiite) school? Which of these schools does not prescribe the humiliation (Jizya) tax for dhimmis? Which permits Christians or Jews to openly proclaim their faith, performing the duty corresponding to Da'wa for muslims? How would you feel about a Western country that made Da'wa illegal, or punishable by death?

Let us try one more angle: You argue for Islamic "religious courts" in the west, which we both know are a limited form of sharia. Can you point me to a manual of Sharia that is seriously being proposed for use here? What training will be required of the practitioners, if not credentials in the four Schools of Jurisprudence? Or, would you say instead that there should be a blank cheque to these folks, and they should make any rulings they dang well like, without any rules or regulations?

Please don't play silly word games here, Omar, we're not ignorant. Kitman only works on those who don't already know the truth.


omar ibrahim baker - 3/20/2008

Mr. Craigen
I did not have the impression that you were after a "reply"; your failure to address the specific points I discussed in my response to your “Thin Pickins so far “ post of (March 3, 2008 at 12:55 PM) “ confirmed that impression.
The impression I had was that you will go on with your diatribes no matter what is presented and whatever is said .
To cite one example only: your response to the proposal of "religious courts" to accommodate the different cultural/religious private/personal requirements of non Christian communities in Christian countries was an all out diatribe against the issue of marriage in Islam and not a single word about the proposal itself.

Never the less I hope I was mistaken.

However I fail to see why would anybody oppose in good faith the principle that if, say, those, only those, Moslems residing in Europe who choose to be married according to the Shariaa and regulate all matter resulting there from including the possibility of divorce and inheritance should be denied that choice.
Would NOT that be denying them both their personal freedom and religious freedom??

As to your recent point re Ash Shafii-ROT I only urge you to consider WHEN, which year in time, at which era in history, were those rules formulated.
I also urge you to consider what rules, say, Catholicism adopted and applied at that same period, era, in time.
(Would you then care to tell us about what your findings??)

I concluded my initial post about the shortcomings of many historical approaches to Islam, including Furnish’s with the statement that:
“Any presumptions to the contrary are either based on any of the following or a combination thereof” i.e. Is due to, inter alia:

“3- Failure to distinguish, or deliberate collation, between the demands of the Divine mission as dictated and practiced by the Prophet during his lifetime and the subsequent demands, and practices, of an old empire then under development; as with many Western "scholars".”

Which point, that I was hoping you and others will address, is that in any discussion of Islam a clear distinction should be made between
-the religious requirements and stipulations of and the practices ordained by Islam
AND (versus)
-the requirements and the practices due to, attributable to, the exigencies of empire building by Moslems, or others, as perceived in that ERA in time and history.

The spread of Christianity in South America was preceded by the most horrific practices including the whole sale extermination of some communities; that, in fairness and historical logic, is solely attributable to the then perceived exigencies of building the Spanish and Portuguese empires and NOT by Christian ordained ( though ,regrettably, historically “religiously” sanctioned) requirements/practices.



Should a similar approach be adopted re Islam many of the accusations leveled against it, including yours will be discarded as irrelevant.
I am NOT out to compare and contrast Islam and Christianity ; my only concern is that Islam should be known and recognized for what it truly is versus the ignorant , and quite often intentionally malignant, portrayal it receives from many “scholars” in the West particularly recently .


R. Craigen - 3/20/2008

I only noticed a subtle part of Ms Gee's reply to Dr. Furnish on rereading this discussion today:

Furnish: "You're the one reading your post-modern Jew hatred into..."

Gee: "... it is more Aquinian than post-Modern..."

Perhaps I misunderstand, Ms. Gee. Are you saying you subscribe to Aquinian Jew hatred, but not post-modern Jew hatred? Can you be a bit more explicit here, or perhaps clarify?

I'm not sure what would constitute "Aquinian Jew hatred". I confess I'm not very knowledgeable about the life and writing of Aquinas, but I believe he waded into the controversy regarding forced baptism of Jews by declaring that it was contrary to God's will to force conversion and that belief must be free. He also argued that forcibly baptizing (Jewish) children against the will of their parents would be a violation of the divine natural order.

But perhaps he had a judeophobic as well...


R. Craigen - 3/19/2008

While we're waiting for Omar to reply, perhaps it would be helpful, though distasteful, to try a small sample of the exercise I suggested above.

NOTE: such a proposal can only be hypothetical; thankfully there is no Western nation that would allow this kind of blatant discrimination against minorities. The point of this exercise is to clarify the nature of the threat of Islamism by reversing the terms of the "social contract" they propose for us.

From Reliance of the Traveller, the authoritative Shafi'i manual of Sharia Law:

----
9.11.5 Rules for non-Muslim subjects

There is an obligation upon Non-Muslim subjects to comply with Islamic rules
that pertain to the safety and compensation of life, reputation, and property.
In addition, they:
1. are penalized for committing adultery or theft, though not for drunkenness;
2. are distinguished from Muslims in dress, wearing a wide cloth belt (zunnar);
3. are not greeted with "as-Salamu 'alaykum";
4. must keep to the side of the street;
5. may not build higher than or as high as the Muslim buildings, though if they acquire a high rise home, it is not razed;
6. are forbidden to openly display wine or pork, to ring church bells or display crucifixes, recite the Torah or Evangel aloud, or make public display of their funerals and feast-days;
7. and are forbidden to build new churches.
----------

How would this section be reworded to reflect equivalent conditions upon Muslims in a non-muslim land as Reliance of the Traveller (hereafter referred to more briefly as "ROT") proposes for non-muslims in a muslim land?

I'll leave that to people's own imagination, unless someone would like to have a go at actually rewording Section 9.11.5 above into a "reverse-ROT" passage.

I have selected one of the less offensive passages about non-muslims from ROT. I suppose we could have started with Section 9.9, which deals with the obligatory nature of making jihad against non-Muslims who refuse to submit to the rule of Islam, but I find it hard to even fit a reverse-ROT version of this into terms of Western thought. Also, some readers might find the resulting document pretty offensive. Indeed, it would be. Similarly for Section 9.8, which deals with the penalty for leaving Islam and several variations. A true reverse-ROT version in the West of that section would be basically unthinkable.

But...if the reverse-ROT version is unthinkable, what does that tell us about ROT itself?

And so -- as Furnish asks by way of his proposal -- how should the West respond to this threat? (Certainly not by enacting a reverse-ROT manifesto, or the Bush government's solution of arbitrarily making war against extremist aggression while ignoring the actual nature of the threat, which might nevertheless be the two most reasonable alternatives to Furnish's proposal)


R. Craigen - 3/19/2008

(Sorry I took so long to reply -- my time for this sort of thing is limited.)

Thank you Omar, for your definitions:
-----------
*“Kitman “:silence about one’s true beliefs etc
**”takiyya”: deliberate hiding of one’s true beliefs and conscious misrepresentation, misdepiction, of same.
-----------

Not quite dictionary perfect but quite servicable for our purposes here.

Briefly, Taqiyya (the usual English transliteration) is dissimulation, while Kitman refers to deception by way of omission. I'll fill in a bit for other visitors...

The distinction is subtle; Taqiyya is outright lying, whereas Kitman is omission of part of the truth but technically is not lying. In both cases the purpose is to gain strategic advantage (for Islam).

For example suppose you plan to attack a nation to conquer them, with the goal of total subjugation and eventually turning them into a peaceful police state under your iron-fisted rule. If you tell them "We have no such plans", that is Taqiyya. If you say "our only goal is to make peace" that is Kitman.

Both terms might be used for other things. In particular, Kitman might refer to other kinds of "omission", such as not paying one's Islamic tithe (zakat). But the common Islamic meaning of both terms refers to Islamic tactics for dealing with non-muslims (Kuffar); they are strategems of war (in the most general sense -- including ideological or sociological warfare.) They are used both offensively and defensively.

Generally muslims are taught that one must not lie to fellow muslims, so taqiyya "against" muslims is forbidden, whereas it is encouraged in speaking to non-muslims if a clear advantage is gained for the islamic agenda. I don't know if there is a similar prohibition of using the tactic of Kitman "against" fellow muslims.

Both doctrines have a strong Islamic pedigree -- they go back to the traditions of Hadith, their sacred literature. It may surprise those unfamiliar with Islam to know that the religion regards itself as continually at war with unbelievers, and not only permits lying, but encourages it when this advances the Islamic cause in this war (which is not necessarily military in nature but is regarded as a war -- "jihad" -- nonetheless).

If anyone finds the thought that a major religion (as opposed to a subset of its adherents) encourages enmity against unbelievers far-fetched, I recommend reading any translation of the Qur'an, front to back. If you find this prospect daunting, go to any online collection of Hadith and search the terms "Christians", "Jews" and "mushikroon" (or "polytheists").

Omar challenges me to show "which of my post is infected with "kitman" and/or"takkiya"?"

I'm happy to comply, but my problem is where to start?

So I'll just mention two things.

The title of Omar's message "The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing" (...as an Islamic threat against the West) is pure and simple, and pretty feeble, Taqiyya.

One needn't even consider the 9/11 or 7/7 bombings or Bin Laden's fanatical (yet Islamically correct) ranting to deconstruct this simple falsehood. One needs only read between the lines of any number of Western Islamists such as Tariq Ramadan or, for that matter, Omar himself, to understand that they do not regard themselves as guests or part of a religious or cultural mosaic, but as Omar Ahmed, co-founder of CAIR, the largest Islamist organization in the U.S., said, "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant."

Or listen to many prominent Islamic leaders throughout the world (reading between the lines is unnecessary in this case), then matching up their words to the actions of Islamic terrorists and Islamists around the world. Or read the writings of those who have set the paradigms of contemporary islamist thought, such as al-Banna, Qutb or Qaradawi.

No such threat? I say "Taqiyya".

Omar makes the following statement:

-------
Europe will loose nothing if such intensely private matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance etc are regulated by sub laws in accordance with the cultural heritage of those that voluntarily choose to be adjudicated by them!
-------

This is, of course, in reference to the aggressive Islamist campaigns to introduce a "limited" version of Sharia "for their communities" in the West. Seems all very benign to those unfamiliar with the program and its goals. (Note the use of western hooks like "intensely private" and "cultural heritage" ... charming but transparent.) This is Kitman...I'll explain.

The program of "peaceful Islamization", or more properly "civilizational jihad", is clearly laid out in the documents of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) and other umbrella Islamist groups: One gains a platform for "Islamic issues" through human rights complaints, lawsuits and demanding various religious concessions. Then "limited sharia" is installed within the legal structure of the non-muslim country. Its powers are then expanded as muslims become more populous and gain positions of political power. Finally, when a critical mass is reached, full Sharia is implemented.

If the process is blocked then, as Omar has described for us, one resorts to military methods.

One needn't speculate on these things -- it is all well-laid out in tiresome detail in the documents of such groups. Even a cursory look at the progress of the Islamic agenda in Europe confirms that a good part of the Islamist community understands this agenda and is following it in lockstep.

Omar's bald assertion is Kitman when it omits that the main purpose of "limited implementation" of sharia Law is to create a wedge, a beachhead from which to eventually introduce full sharia. Knowing this background sheds a completely different light on Omar's statement. (It's kind of like the lady killer asking his naive date into his apartment to "visit for a while".)

(It is possible, of course, however unlikely, that Omar is not aware of the Ikhwan's stated agenda. Then I apologize; his statement is not Kitman -- it is then, perhaps, mere naivety.)

The proposal is worded to sound benign. It is telling, however, that the main opponents of such "limited sharia" are fellow muslims who have come to the west to escape Islamization. These folks understand the agenda.

The virulence of the ideas and the threat to society is understood by fellow muslims. This is one reason that the Ikhwan have been banned for decades in their homeland, Egypt. The western ignorance of this agenda, as indicated by several commenters here, is our greatest peril and a good reason why suggestions like Furnish's proposal need to be taken seriously.

I'll discuss a few more extracts if I can find a block of time but I doubt I'll exhaust Omar's kitman.


R. Craigen - 3/17/2008

"We have had in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan etc for quite some time Christian religious courts that deal with...in no way does that...divide society" -- Omar

No Omar, you have various forms of Sharia all of which have the common feature that certain religious minorities are "privileged" enough to operate in restricted domains as long as they remain strictly subject to, and regulated by, the Islamic hegemony, as dictated by Islamic Sharia Law. "Dividing society" is precisely what it does!

"...such intensely private matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance"? Non-muslim men may not marry muslim women but muslim men may marry christian women. If they do not convert to Islam and are divorced, the wives cannot retain custody of the children, who must be raised as muslims, and every effort is made to convert the wife to Islam. A large cash bounty, in some areas, is offered to Muslim males who succeed in marrying a christian woman and converting her to Islam. Muslims (such as converted Christian women) are not permitted to leave an inheritance to non-muslim relatives.

Christians may not openly proclaim or teach their faith, ring bells as a call to worship on Sunday or put large crosses on their buildings, new church construction is prohibited, mobs assault christian groups, kill their leaders and burn their buildings for petty reasons, invented reasons, reasons that have meaning in Islam but no meaning to anyone else ... or for no reason at all.

In Saudi Arabia a year ago there was a legal debate over the possible introduction of legislation to ban the letter "t" in English signs because it looks too much like a Christian cross (the measure was narrowly defeated, but not out of concern for the treatment of Christians).

Christians are taken in front of Sharia courts for "Insulting Islam", as if that were a crime (well, apparently it is a capital offense -- yet there is no such crime as "insulting Christianity", in these lands) and inflicted with rulings and punishments designed to humiliate non-muslims under muslim law by reminding them of their second-class status.

Everyone has their religion printed on their identity cards (for the purpose facilitating institutionalized discrimination based on one's faith), and muslims converting to another religion may not have their cards changed -- they are imprisoned at the request of families and, if their changed lives inspire other muslims to convert, they may even be executed. In Egypt, even offspring of converted parents a generation later are sometimes legally barred from having their identity changed to "christian". Etc.

Christian's cultural heritage is "sustained", as you say, by ancient graveyards being desecrated (as in a couple of recent cases in Egypt), women being kidnapped and forcibly converted (compassdirect.org reports many instances, particularly in Egypt), their properties stolen, all public expression of their faith suppressed.

"Multicultural society", indeed. "personal choice/freedom", no. If you believe dhimmitude constituted "full citizenship" (your words), you mean something very different than we do in the West, Omar. But I would agree that this gives a "new and broader meaning and a new dimension" to these concepts, but perhaps not in the way you intented.

You say "I believe it is a good system". I dare say you do.

Well, if this is what you'd like in the West, Omar, I have a proposition for you: I have a copy of "Reliance of the Traveller", the classic and authoritative manual of Sharia law (Shafi'i), in use today in the countries you mention.

Shall we propose together that the treatment of non-muslim people, as described in that book, become the model for the treatment of Muslims in the West? Let us suppose it is as wonderful as you say ... are you willing to call for muslims in the West to be treated exactly as your law prescribes for dhimmis in Dar al-Islam?

"Do unto others...", as the "Prophet" Jesus says. If you agree, let us continue this discussion here.


omar ibrahim baker - 3/16/2008

Mr. Furnish
Re your questions:

"1) my article mentions Israel a total of ONE time. Why do you (and folks like Gee, et al.) persist in making it about Israel and Zionism?"

Neither Israel nor Zionism has to be mentioned at all for their pervasive influence to be detected in many articles about the Middle East; including yours.

The short answer to your question is:
The only party with an entrenched interest in the further alienation, the hostility, between the (Christian) West and the Arab/Moslem world is Zionism/Israel.

Zionism has come to the inevitable conclusion that its regional colonialist implant, Israel, could only be defended and sustained by a joint Christian/Jewish, as distinct from solely Jewish/Zionist, common front.

Christendom HAD to be enlisted in the fight otherwise Israel would last only so long before Palestine is deZionized and regains its original national/cultural identity.

I fail to see any real, genuine, intrinsic interest for Christendom and/or the West to wage the war; it is daily waging, against the Arab/Moslem world.
(I guess and hope that you will NOT revert to the fake Democracy issue or the as phony WMD.)

A major bogey developed to further this Christian/Western -Jewish/Zionist alliance ,whose only aim is to nurture and intensify Christian-Moslem enmity, is the Islamic, or Islamist, threat that you and others came to believe in and propose counter measures against.

It does not take a lot of effort to conclude that the only BENEFICIARY from this, sadly escalating, enmity is Israel.
AS a historian I hope you will appreciate the fact that anti (Christian) West, as represented by the USA post WWI, is a relatively very recent development.

When, post WWI, queried by the US government appointed KING-CRANE commission, about which mandate is acceptable to the Arabs, the overwhelming reply was:
If at all and inevitable, it should be a USA mandate over the region of greater Syria with special stress on Palestine.

No greater proof of the immense genuine GOOD WILL of the Arabs, both Moslems an Christians including of course the Palestinians, towards the USA could ever be presented or manifested.
(I expect that you are familiar with the KING-CRANE commission report.
The commission report is on the WEB: http://www.hri.org/docs/king-crane/)
This overwhelming pro USA attitude was reversed because of two major US policy decisions;
1- US acquiescence to the return of Anglo-French hegemony to the region, through their mandates, and the consequent Sykes-Picot arrangements
AND
2-US adoption of the establishment of a "Jewish homeland" in Palestine against the EXPRESS RECOMMENDATION of the said commission.

The reprehensible outcome, except for the political fragmentation achieved through Sykes-Picot, of (1) were eventually overcome through hard fought independence movements .

The ruinous, the devastating, outcome of (2) has dominated and ruined , and STILL DOES, the whole life and development of the region by the demands of the efforts to decolonize Palestine and repulse an alien invader.

It has also transformed the, inially, genuinely friendly Arab disposition towards the USA into the present state of implacable enmity and relentless hostility.

USA policies, since Truman, did NOT, however, confine it to supporting the establishment of a "Jewish homeland" in Palestine but escalated into empowering Israel into its present status of regional super power via practically unlimited and unconditional US financial, political and military support of Israel.

Hence, and thence, the basically correct present overwhelming PUBLIC perception of the USA as the alter ego of Israel and of Israel as the, regional, alter ego of the USA .

(9/11 being its criminally “loony" but flagrant manifestation.)

Patently the only BENEFICIARY from these developments is the Zionist colony of Israel in Palestine and the only party with an intrinsic INTEREST in the continuation, and further deterioration, of this state of affairs and relations is ISRAEL/Zionism.
Failure to see that denotes total ignorance of the overwhelming PUBLIC perception of the basic issues confronting Arab/Moslem-USA/West (Christian) relations that has propelled the Islamist movement(s) into their present public support predominance.
(I will later address question 2)


Tim R. Furnish - 3/16/2008

Ms. Gee,
I fully expected you to read that--did I misrepresent your position? I think not. Like Omar, you took a piece which had almost nothing to say about Israel or the Palestianians and turned it into a club with which to bludgeon anyone you think exudes even a whiff of "Zionism."
And I observe that, once again, you answer a factual, historical question (albeit a slightly rhetorical one) with a clever, but ultimately vacuous, quip about "the company I keep."
Let me try one more time: here, go read this, if you're serious about actuallly intellectually discussing the topic of "Islamophobial:" http://www.meforum.org/article/713
It is a piece I wrote about the Islamic nature and basis of decapitations in the Middle East. I quote the Qur'an, major MUSLIM commentators like al-Zamakhshari, Yusuf Ali and Mawdudi, and I use historical examples. I'm curious to see if you would brand that piece "Islamophobic." Please just deal with the scholarship evinced therein, not with where it's published or some conspiracy theory or any other extraneous red herring you might wish to adduce.
Ditto for you, Omar, if you're game.


Sally Gee - 3/15/2008

I hope that you are not mentioning my name in vain with intent, Mr Furnish, just because your think I have turned my back for a moment. Not the act of a gentleman, I think.

As for: "For the life of me I don't understand why I'm called an "Islamophobe" for pointing that out."

I think it may be something to do with the company you keep, don't you, Mr Furnish?


Tim R. Furnish - 3/15/2008

It certainly sounded as if you were lumping me with the "loony" crowd.
If you were not, I apologize.
Omar, two questions:
1) my article mentions Israel a total of ONE time. Why do you (and folks like Gee, et al.) persist in making it about Israel and Zionism?
2) why do you persist in labeling folks who do research in, and quote from, Islamic sources (including the Qur'an, Hadith and historical records) as "Islamophobic?" I have no inordinate fear of Islam, which is what that word means. I merely note, in my writings, that the main ideology used as a justification for political-based terror in the modern world is, unfortunately, Islam. I said the same to you when you savaged my article on anti-Semitism's Muslim roots, when I quoted biographers of Muhammad who recounted the story of the liquidation of the Jewish Banu Qurayzah tribe. I did not write that story. It was not made up by Vice-President Cheney's staff, or by the CIA, or by a vast right-wing conspiracy. It's an Islamic source. Ditto for observations quoting the Qur'an about beating of wives or beheading of unbelievers. I hope you Muslims learn to take those verses as figurative, not literal--but the fact is that for most of Islamic history, throughout the ummah, such passages have been interpreted and acted upon literally. For the life of me I don't understand why I'm called an "Islamophobe" for pointing that out.


omar ibrahim baker - 3/15/2008

Mr.,Professor ? Furnish
Good for Academia ??
I did write twice here ; as distinct from a "direct" response:
1-What IS Israel
2-What did Zionism Achieve?
You claim:
"And as usual you engage in personal attacks,"
Where ever did you note that in my recent post to which you respond??

I see no "personal attacks" there.
Are we witnessing here a nascent
"persecution complex"?
By the way I do not consider you or Professor Gill, though both of you are undeniably Islamophobic, as "loony".
(Thanks for the link; will look it up)


Rodney Huff - 3/14/2008

There you go with your "defensive" argument again, even though I destroyed it at least three posts ago.

I understand what you advocate. My reference to the Middle Ages is not a commentary on church-state relations. I say this alliance would bring us closer to the Middle Ages because it would undoubtedly INCREASE EXPONENTIALLY the sense of tension, insecurity, fear, and hostility throughout the entire world, not just in "Muslim" and "Christian" countries, and thereby make peace an even more unlikely prospect.

Meanwhile, you're the one who's being closed-minded. You don't want to give my third side proposal a try. You're biased against it because you think you have the answer already. People who think they have the answers are usually the source of big time problems - even the ones their "answers" are supposed to help fix.

I don't profess to know what will work for sure; but having a grasp of human nature, I at least know what won't work.



Rodney Huff - 3/14/2008

Friedman - You not only fail to stand corrected; you've also abandoned logic.

Pray tell, how does your obvious statement that "elections and polls are two different things" justify your maintaining that this society is both democratic and undemocratic?

For you, it's undemocratic when we consider polls which show nearly maximum variation in beliefs concerning peace negotiations, which contradict your assertion that there's no will or "sufficient" will to peace. You say we cannot trust this poll because it was taken in an undemocratic society.

Then, suddenly, this society becomes democratic when we consider Hamas's rise to power. How convenient for you! because, for you, these democratic elections must reflect the will of the people. The people, by electing Hamas, express no desire (or insufficient will) to enter peace negotiations on reasonable terms with Israel.

Again, you cannot have it both ways!

Moreover, saying that the election of Hamas means there's no will (or "insufficient" will) to peace is like saying that, because the American people elected George W. Bush, there's no will to pull our soldiers out of Iraq.

I'm not saying that there's sufficient will (whatever that means) one way or the other. I'm just pointing out that there is a will to peace, despite Hamas's election, and that there's no way of telling in adavance what's sufficient and what isn't. You seem to have your mind made up already but have no persuasive reason for doing so.

So, as long as we are unable to determine in advance what's sufficient, why not try out my third side proposal?





Tim R. Furnish - 3/14/2008

Omar,
I am not in academia. Actually, if you want indications of the "overal configuration of the American...academic scene," go to MESA. Or read my critics on here.
And as usual you engage in personal attacks, since you are never able to refute my research.
Why don't you try writing something for publication on here--or anywhere, for that matter? Then we shall see which of us can stand up to intellectual scrutiny.


omar ibrahim baker - 3/14/2008

The Gills and Furnishes on this site are, I believe, necessary reading for anybody interested in the overall configuration of the American political/"academic" scene.

I would rather that they be published, exposed and discredited here than confining them to the loony Islamophobic sites where they will be idolized by their likeminded colleagues and followers.

An other NOT insignificant advantage is that they bring out the Nakhaees; the, hopefully, other and more substantial face of this same scene..

The more they publish the more they are exposed; that is, ultimately, good and healthy.


Navid Nakhaee - 3/14/2008

And I, sir, nowhere in my piece suggested that your view of Islam as inherently violent was MY MAIN Issue. Indeed, my main criticism of you, and what I feel to be the foundation for the rest of your bizarre philosophical system, is your reduction of an immensely diverse group of cultures and identities to this monolith of "ISLAM".

Furthermore, while you did not spell it out in this piece, in your "7 myths of Islam" piece you argue that "But verses such as these (urging violence) are arguably outweighed by others (which urge non-violence)".

Of course you go on to speak about the numerous ways that it COULD be contextualized, a way of qualifying your original claim in order to give off the appearance that you've taken methodological questions seriously, but you, yourself, do not take this stance. In the end, it boils down to the TEXT, rather than the context.

Next, if there are only a minority of Muslims who are "obsessed with creating a global caliphate", then why do you call for a Christian Empire to counterbalance it? It's only some type of apocalyptic showdown between Christianity and Islam that would require such an absurd suggestion. Before you go on writing about the extremities of certain Islamic eschatologies, I suggest you reflect on your own.

The literary interpretation that critics such as yourself employ (that verses in the Quran are the source of agency) is absurd in that it already denies the agency of (violent) Muslims (for it is the text- the pure idea) that generates their action. For you, it is not their circumstance, not poverty and not other semantic issues that cause terrorism and violence. You have an undying commitment to text over context without taking the complex and nuanced reltionships that may exist between author-text-audience and the larger context that is constitutive of and constituted by. Indeed, I think you are treating those violent sections as more of a holy writ that even some of the most extreme terrorists ! (Interesting how that works out)

I can already anticipate your objection to my urgings of contextualization: that poverty does not create terrorism (again pointing to the power of the text and what you take to be the warped nature of the idea itself)- Indeed you said as much in your "7 myths about Islam": claiming that 9/11 and London Bombers (exercising a clever synecdoche where the part is serving in place of the whole) "were university-educated and at least middle-class".

Nevertheless, not only does it take a small sample and project it for the whole-- I feel as if in your dismissing of the idea of a connection between poverty and terrorism, you forget that about the larger structure that these ideas come to fruition.

Sure it may be the middle class who may carry it out (I don't know- again, I'm a Europeanist whose job is to critique your theoretical/methodological shortcomings rather than to critique the positivity of your facts from the point of view of a specialist), but nevertheless, these ideas gain their power in a structure where economic opportunities are sometimes scarce.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not a crude materialist about it; cultural sentiment and ideas about relationships to the other are huge factors as well (indeed, I priviledge this over the economic factors by 1000 fold). Yet to hold steadily to the text itself is, as I suggested, not only bad scholarship, but as exemplary of a mind who is determined to deny the agency of the other.

To answer the other claims quickly, as they are marginal, I read two pieces you wrote about what you felt to be your colleagues marginalizing you at conferences (resorting to your own ad hominems against the graduate student who is some type of "birkenstock" hippie- lol) [For the record, if there is one, I think ad hominems have their place and can even be elements of comic relief]. Did I take a psychoanalytic and focus on the totality: the relationship between what I take to be "you"- your two texts- the current historical situation- and history in general? - absolutely. But I think you have not grown out of this adolescent "Me-against-the-world" activity, and I was suggesting one of the ways you can overcome it is to take theoretical positions seriously, even if you don't agree. Ultimately, you respond back to them (those positions) on your own terms, not theirs.

And my mention of Campus Watch was connected to my larger claim that I don't think you deserve a place to speak so terribly about Muslims in this forum, but rather in a place where that political opinion is accepted. However, I do not make claims to scholarly objectivity- I know we live in the era of "power-knowledge", and I know this complicates questions of academic integrity/freedom...nevertheless, I hold on to the idea that there are bounds to speech (limited by the context- i.e., you can say "bomb" in your own home, but not on a plane), and I feel as if you've transgressed them for the History News Network (I cannot speak on behalf of my peers, but I presume a large majority would agree).

In the end, I have a HUGE problem with your "scholarly" outlook. In your conceptual model- since the text is the ultimate source of agency (in producing the identity of muslims) and the text is ultimately violent (making muslims violent), then I am only lead to conclude that you allow no place for Muslims in your worldview. They must be eradicated. How can I be told be tolerant of such views when you, yourself, have underwritten such tolerance?

I do not wish to drive you out of academia, but I believe in bounds of speech, and I do not feel like work like this belongs on the History News Netowrk. It is my feeling that if you write like this, you should write on Campus Watch. And again, if you are going to remain in academia- treat arguments/theories on their own terms instead of searching for that one earth-shattering fact that you feel would destroy the entire basis of the argument.

I wish to finish with a pointing out of a passage that I found deeply troubling- one that comes close to urging collective punishment and I think speaks for itself:

"But the cold, hard, irrefutable fact is that the Islamic world’s jihadists drew the religious scimitar first, with too many of their co-religionists standing by and—still--holding the scabbard....It is time for the Christian West to draw its own broadsword, first and foremost to defend itself but also to defend the rest of this planet from the threat of the caliphate. But make no mistake, there will be blood before the idea of a global caliphate is abandoned"

I ask my colleagues and friends- does this fall within the bounds of discussion that we take to be remniscent of History News Network? As the blogosphere takes on stronger qualities of a public sphere, the History News Network will become one of the main sites where "history" is. Do we start setting bounds for this institution, or is everything allowed?


Tim R. Furnish - 3/14/2008

I nowhere in my piece said Islam was monolithically violent. In fact my exact phrasing was that Christendom should come together as a political and, yes, military alliance "until the violent MINORITY of Muslims obsessed with creating a global caliphate is eliminated, or at least convinced of the fruitlessness of their quest." Can you read English, good sir? Or do you just read what you wish to project onto writers you don't like?
"Shunned at conferences?" Do you know something that I don't? I have absolutely no problem speaking at conferences. I did have a problem obtaining an academic job at at place where dhimmis are in charge, it seems, since they argued that I should, ahistorically, never mention what jihad means what al-Bukhari, Ibn Taymiyah and Sayyid Qutb say it means.
And I have never in my life worked for Campus Watch, sir. They did print a piece I wrote about the dhimmification of the American academy, if that is what you refer to, in your sly ad hominem attacks on CW and me.
I'm not sure where you live, sir, but in the USA we have something called the First Amendment and if you don't like my writings on here you are free NOT to read them. However, you seem to want to find some way to censor them. Typical of a Saidian (or Geertzian, too, it seems). Feel free to contact Rich Shenkman, who runs HNN, and see if he agrees with your totalitarian view of what should and should not be posted on here.
It's people like you that make me glad I got out of academia.


Frodo Baggins - 3/14/2008

Thanks for deleting my post. But seriously, you need to explain this.

"But it would be the GCA, in effect, protecting itself and the rest of the planet from the one civilizational bloc that contains powerful elements opposed to modernity. Won’t the Muslim umma feel itself surrounded and marked out by the rest of the world? Perhaps. But the cold, hard, irrefutable fact is that the Islamic world’s jihadists drew the religious scimitar first, with too many of their co-religionists standing by and—still--holding the scabbard."


Navid Nakhaee - 3/14/2008

What I am most shocked about is that you may be the first human being with a Ph.D, since the dawn of the 20th century, to see the "Muslim World" as a rigid and fixed monolithic block-not even your beloved Bernard Lewis saw it in this way.

How on earth have you been able to convince yourself that this extremely diverse set of cultures and identities can be boiled down to the lowest common denominator of Islam- whose essence you seem to suggest is inherently violent?

The answer, I can only be led to believe, is your lack of historiographical training and your resistance to theory (historical and otherwise). Did you, sir, ever take a methods/theory course while you were getting your Ph.D? Have you never been taught to take an ideographical approach? Have you read Clifford Geertz to see the benefits of a thick description, or to know the theoretical issues involved in analyzing foreign cultures?- or is that also "A Post-modern claptrap"?).

The reason you are being shunned at conferences isn't because your colleagues dislike you for being conservative...it's that you've built such a rigid system for yourself that you have no choice but to consistently dismiss legitimate theoretical concerns as hogwash and "claptrap".

They don't wish to fraternize with you because you refuse to speak the same language and have the same discussions as your community (which is ultimately what a discipline is: community). For your colleagues to speak to you, in your current guise, is to be in conversation with the worst of Colonial officers. It's to be engaged with a 19th century worldview that has created no space for difference. You don't need to agree with Edward Said's politics, but you should fairly acknowledge the theoretical questions he opens- I fear that in your attempt of not letting yourself be influenced by his politics, you've closed up any space of dialogue with him. You sir, are what Edward Said directed his criticism at.

Don't be fooled in thinking that while many Middle Eastern scholars found theoretical currency in his work, they subscribe to his politics (some may be conservative, some liberal, some leftist, some post-modern)

Finally, in order to further establish my own ethos- I do not speak as a disenfranchised Muslim (I am niether disenfranchised nor a Muslim), but as someone concerned about what can be accepted as scholarship. Feel free to do your work at campus watch, but this, sir, is not History. This is a political manifesto for a dualistic world war that would make the ancient manichaeans cheer with zeal.

Indeed, I urge the HNN community to come together to think about how we should react to this type of speech- or if indeed this type of speech should warrent a response. Do we reproduce the power of his deep-seated prejudices by responding to it? I don't know- maybe I shouldn't have even posted.

Nevertheless, Mr. Furnish, I hope you could take some of these ruminations to heart.







Frodo Baggins - 3/14/2008

Would you mind explicating the following passage from what I consider to be your candidate commentary for the forthcoming Norton Critical Editions publication of the LOTR trilogy?

"But it would be the GCA, in effect, protecting itself and the rest of the planet from the one civilizational bloc that contains powerful elements opposed to modernity. Won’t the Muslim umma feel itself surrounded and marked out by the rest of the world? Perhaps. But the cold, hard, irrefutable fact is that the Islamic world’s jihadists drew the religious scimitar first, with too many of their co-religionists standing by and—still--holding the scabbard."

I am not even attacking your absurd call for a united Christian front against the Mordor hordes. I am merely questioning this curious inferential move from "too many of [the general Muslim population's] co-religionists" to against the Muslim world generally. This is essentially the hinge of your argument, and you don't spend any time establishing this. Might I suggest the advice stressed in my family in my upbringing, that of "one bad apple..." While you might disregard my upbringing as not encompassing the GCA's principles of believing in resurrected messiahs who can physically ascend to heaven, I still think that this simple truism holds.

And, if you are to argue that in fact, yes, these "jihadist" co-religionists do in fact spoil the whole bunch of Muslims, then I recommend you to seek an undergraduate course in Logic, which presumably you find to be a crowning achievement of your logocentric Western cult of the One.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/13/2008

Mr. Nakhaee,
Please explain what about my views "upset" you. Frankly, I'm simply calling for the Christian world to unite itself as the Muslim world has done.
Frankly, there are more upsetting things for you to be disgusted by in today's news: just for two, I mention the killing by Muslim fanatics of the Archbishop of Mosul, and the severed fingers of Western hostages in Iraq sent by the Muslim captors to the authorities.
But yet you find time to be upset by my geopolitical piece. Amazing.


Navid Nakhaee - 3/13/2008

I am more upset at the HNN editorial board for publishing this than at the author. Such views exist, it's just sad to see them validated as speech.


N. Friedman - 3/13/2008

Mr. Huff,

Elections and public opinion polls are two different things. So, yes, I can cite an election as evidence that a public opinion poll is wrong.

My point about Palestinian Arabs is that there is insufficient interest in settling the dispute to settle it. The evidence you claim supports your view does not. If such evidence is actually investigated, it supports something different than what you claim, namely, that Palestinian Arabs seek an interim arrangement. That means they do not accept the two state solution as resolving the dispute.

Of course, that assumes something I do not assume, namely, that the polling data are worth the paper on which they appear. I do not believe such data are useful for reasons I have stated. Nonetheless, even if such data were useful, they do not show what you claim.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/12/2008

What about a defensive alliance against the greatest ideological threat to the world is "idiotic," Mr. Huff? You're so blindly arrogant that you equate ideas with which you disagree as "idiotic." I thought such close-mindedness was only the province of that much-pilloried "right wing."
This is the last time I'm going to say this: I am not advocating the destruction of the separation of church and state, nor any sort of theocracy. None. Zip. Nada. Zilch. I am lobbying for the majority-Christian nations of the world to stand up for their civilization before it's too late. Because it's for damn sure atheists like you won't do it.


Rodney Huff - 3/12/2008

HA! You say that polls can't be trusted in non-democratic societies. Then, in the same breath, you cite the apparently democratic elections that supposedly ruin the researchers' credibility. You can't have it both ways, Mr. Friedman. It is you who has lost credibility.

Anyway, I cited the poll to counter your assertion that there was no will on the part of Palestinians to negotiate a peaceful solution. That nearly half of those polled said that there could be no peace is indeed troubling. On the other hand, that the other half said that they do support peace negotiations is promising and enlightening, for it shows there IS a will where you said certainly there isn't.

And now you say only 15% of the population all that's needed to doom any chance of peace. 15%? Really? Why 15%?

Now, what will you say when I tell you that this 15% is a totally arbitrary number, and that you really have no idea? How do you know this? How can ANYONE know this? No one can possibly know this.

Besides, whatever the odds are, remember that many great things have been done agianst the odds - American independence, for instance.

And now you equate a majority subsample in Egypt and Jordan - a slight majority at best - with the vast, vast majority of the entire Muslim population? Why not equate the minority subsamples in Iran and Indonesia with a minority population of Muslims?

This is just more magical thinking on your part. You seem to not have the slightest grasp of statistics. Perhaps you've heard you can lie with them, but that's about all, apparently.

Besides, the point of me alerting you to the poll was to show you that there seems to be more variation in the Muslim community concerning beliefs about governance than you asserted. Again, you seem to have no solid reason for believing what you do except to preserve your own cherished assumptions about what other people believe.

I apologize for saying that, with this idiotic proposal, you and Furnish would be pushing us back into the Middle Ages. The two of you became one there for a split second, and I was wrong to sloppily merge you two. I stand corrected. Now why don't you?


N. Friedman - 3/10/2008

Mr. Huff,

I read the evidence you cite very differently than you do. I am of the view that polling from groups which predicted a landslide by Fatah over Hamas to be particularly suspect given how far off such polling was. My view is that such polling has two serious flaws: (1) polling taken in non-democratic societies has inherent difficulties and (2) the polling universe tends to be wrong - which is why Fatah was expected to win a landslide but lost decisively.

Assuming, however, that the views are somehow accurate - which they probably are not -, I take issue with your interpretation. I am of the view that if a mere 15% of a population does not want peace under any circumstances and is willing to resort to violence on a repeated basis without regard to the preferences of the vast majority in order to prevent peace, there can be no peace. In the case of Palestinian Arabs, the numbers far exceed 15% who refuse any peace that leaves Israel intact.

I note this point because the rejectionist on the Palestinian Arab side won the most recent election. That makes the rejectionist view the view that counts, because the Hamas rejects Israel as being anathema against Islam, not merely on pragmatic grounds that can be resolved.

I might also note that your assumption here is that it really matters that the majority of Palestinians may, on your reading of the evidence, have terms they might accept. The fact is that the supposed minority will not accept the view of the majority on this issue - Palestinian Arab territory not being New England - as there is no tradition supporting that approach, other than in Israel, in that part of the world.

In any event, according to the polling you cite:

65% of the Israelis and 49% among Palestinians agree with the proposal that after reaching a permanent agreement to all issues of the conflict, there would be mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people. 32% and 49% respectively disagree to this step.

(Emphasis added). Which is to say, 49% of Palestinian Arabs are not willing to recognize Israel as a state for Jews as part of a final resolution. Which is to say, such people believe in an interim settlement.

In fact, it is possible, if the polling were to inquire into the issue at more length that the word "hudna" would come up for a very substantial group. And, that the issue refers to an interim, not a permanent settlement becomes clear even if one accepts the reasons set forth in the polling, which indicate:

Presumably this is a reaction to the Palestinian leaders’ public statements against the recognition of Israel’s Jewish identity which came in response to Israelis’ attempts to raise this issue as a precondition to the resumption of the peace talks.

Which is to say, the problem, as the pollster sees it, arises when the fact that a permanent settlement means recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

As for the recent Gallup poll, I do not think you read it carefully. According to Professor Esposito, to whom you cite:

Most surprising is the absence of systemic differences in many countries between males and females in their support for Sharia as the only source of legislation. For example, in Jordan, 54% of men and 55% of women want Sharia as the only source of legislation. In Egypt, the percentages are 70% of men and 62% of women; in Iran, 12% of men and 14% of women; and in Indonesia, 14% of men and 14% of women.

So, in Egypt and Jordan, Sharia' is seen as what ought to be the sole source of legislation by a very substantial majority. No doubt that another substantial group wants it to be an important source of legislation. I should add that other polling, noted by scholar Martin Kramer, puts the numbers in Egypt, Jordan and the PA at 65% who want Shari'a to be the sole source of legislation. I suppose there is room for some fluctuation here. In any event, as I noted, I do not trust polling in places where the underlying political assumptions differ radically from in the West.

I might note lastly, I see that you have me agreeing with Professor Furnish. I think I was somewhat critical of his proposal, but thought it very interesting. I am not necessarily against it or for it. However, I think it important to read what he wrote and react to what he wrote, not to turn what he wrote into something he did not write. I think, by contrast, you have changed what he wrote into something you project onto him and then onto me. Please respond to my views, not to what you imagine they are.


omar ibrahim baker - 3/9/2008

Professor
You contend:
" I can assure you that a dedicated, violent MINORITY of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are dedicated to Islamizing the world. And they have the willing acquiesence of far too many of their co-religionists, as well as hundreds of billions of $$$ of Saudi (and Iranian) oil money to extend this da`wah."
I respond:
1-No way could they ever force their way by violence.
2-The most they can do is preach!

In the extremely unlikely event that they get ,through preaching, a majority they might impose, democratically, Sharia .

THAT IS Extremely unlikely , practically impossible because:
a- "they" themselves will change under the influences of Western life
AND
b- there is no way they can ever manage a majority.
Cool down Prof !



omar ibrahim baker - 3/9/2008

Mark
We have had in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan etc for quite some time Christian religious courts that deal with "...such intensely private matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance etc " of our fellow Christian compatriots.

These courts are "regulated by sub laws in accordance with the cultural heritage of those that voluntarily choose to be adjudicated by them!"

I believe it is a good system in that it sustains , at their own request,the
private cultural heritage of our Christian compatriots and gives
"... a new and broader meaning and a new dimension to the concepts of “personal choice/freedom” and “full citizenship” in a multicultural society."

In no way does that system curtail national sovereignty nor divides society.

If any thing at all its makes all, minorities in particular, feel more at home in a system that respects their cultural distinctness.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/9/2008

In a country where Harvard has now instituted (Muslim)women-only gym hours, the Univ. of Michigan is installing--at taxpayer expense--ablution fountains for Muslims, and where a Pentagon analyst who studies Islamic sources and concludes that lo and behold! "Jihad" does really mean "holy wa" is fired--I am afraid that it is a real possibility.
But beyond that, having studied for years (in primary sources) the mindset and activities of the ideologues of Islam (jihadists, caliphists, Mahdists), I can assure you that a dedicated, violent MINORITY of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are dedicated to Islamizing the world. And they have the willing acquiesence of far too many of their co-religionists, as well as hundreds of billions of $$$ of Saudi (and Iranian) oil money to extend this da`wah.
In light of these challenges, I think the majority-Christian world uniting to fend off Islamic encroachment and conquest is NOT unreasonable.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

Well, sir, we simply disagree.


Rodney Huff - 3/8/2008

Mr. Furnish,

Again you misrepresent me. I do in fact acknowledge that their is an extremist movement that self-identifies as Muslim. Stop saying I refuse to acknowledge this.

What I do say: A Christian military alliance set up to quarantine Muslims and patrol borders is indeed an aggressive act, no matter how YOU justify it. And there is certainly no counterpart in the Muslim community. The OIC is NOT a military alliance bent on quarantining Christians and patrolling borders. You know this.

Viewed as an aggressive act (regardless of how YOU justify it), this alliance can only spread fear and suspicion in the Muslim commuinty. How can it not? And this will empower the extremists who promise protection to ordinary people.

Predictably, it will drive ordinary people to support strongmen they otherwise wouldn't support, while alienating more moderate voices in the community. Thus, it will increase the very threat you intend to counter.

Filled with fear, the people will say, "Look, the Radicals were right all long. We're under siege. We might as well take up arms with the strongmen. Those moderates must be possessed. Let's get them first."

The positive feedback relationship between violence (or the threat of violence) and extremism is plainly visible. How can you refuse to acknowledge this? We see this dynamic clearly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in Iraq.

While my "third side" proposal may or may not bring peace, your propsal can only lead to more violence, thus ruling out the possibility of peace in advance. (NOTE!: That's why I say "you insist on violence as a solution.")

Meanwhile, my proposal incorporates a strategy that remains untested. Again, why do you insist on not testing it? Are you not interested in peace?

Or are you like Mr. Friedman, who says he's interested in peace but still clings to a baseless conviction that the Muslim community won't allow it?

Sharing the results of sytematic survey research into the attitudes of Palestinians and Muslims worldwide, I showed Mr. Friedman how he drastically underestimates the amount of variation in Muslim beliefs concerning the possibility of peace and the imposition of Islamic law as the "sole source" of governenace worldwide.

You'd be surprsied at the amount of variation there is, which proves my point: You can't rely on scholarly words or the headline-grabbing actions of a few extremists to approximate the thoughts and feelings of an entire population of people. You can't even rely on the word of God!

People vary. As individuals, that's what they do. They are not religious automatons. They are not mere reflexes of their environment, although we can still identify the conditions under which people are more likely to do something (e.g., supporting strongmen). (Human behavior is probablistic, not deterministic.)

Even when they do predictably support strongmen, people may do so for different reasons. Someone joins the radical group because their older brother is doing it. The older brother is doing it to impress a girl. Some may see it as an opportunity to get revenge. Others may sign up to get fed and clothed. Still, others may be seduced by the writings of some dreary Islamic scholar, while others may be coerced into joining.

The reality is certainly this: People get involved in radicalism for different reasons. You and Friedman ignore this simple truth whenever you inflate the power of the extremists by using the statements or actions of a few rabid extremists to generalize to a much larger group of people, most of whom may be eager to withdraw their support of the warlords, if only they weren't forced to join or frightened by the threat of more violence. Meanwhile, more moderate voices prevail in other corners.

Thus, peace appears to be a very real possibility. But there's no chance of achieving it if we dismiss it in advance as the dream of a "useful idiot." Certainly, there's no chance if we resurrect a Christendom.






Sally Gee - 3/8/2008

But you are not suggesting this is a realistic possibility are you, Mr Furnish? If so, on what sort of timescale? Do you anticipate the adoption of Shari'ah by a process of constitutional amendment and legislation at federal and local level? Under those circumstances I wouldn't see the transformation as equivalent to destruction. I would be more inclined to see it as business as usual in a democracy where both the law and the constitution is subject to amendment and change if so willed by the people.

I did not delay my response to your post to test your patience. I needed time to consider your question carefully and to think through my answer.

Can I apologise for the Monty Python joke I made earlier? Too late a night and too little sleep, I'm afraid. And it was uncalled for.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

If the Constitution of the United States is replaced with Shari`ah, that is transformation as equivalent to destruction, yes. You would think it not?


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

Anyone who refuses to acknowledge that jihadist Islam is violent and expansionist, much more so than any other world religion, is frankly a useful idiot for that side.
You continue to misrepresent my position. I do not "insist on violence as a solution." But I reserve the right to use violence to deter suicide bombings, honor killings, forced polygamy, the subjugation of women, the imposition of shari`ah and the caliphate.


Rodney Huff - 3/8/2008

I'm not saying the U.S. should simply hold hands with Palestinians and be nice. I've said repeatedly that the U.S. ought be the honest broker that is desperately needed. And that means holding no one's hands. Or, if you insist on holding hands, we ought to hold the hands of both Israelis and Palestinians. That actually sounds better.

I've been pretty clear about how the Bush admin needs to be impartial in shepherding a peace process in order to build confidence in it, thereby not dooiming it before it even begins. It seems that you're reading your prejudices into what I've written, Mr. Furnish. You're attacking a straw man.

Now please make a sincere effort to understand what I'm saying and tell me why you insist on violence as a solution? We already know it doesn't work.




Rodney Huff - 3/8/2008

Ad hominem attacks, Mr. Furnish? Please...

You obviously don't espouse Christianity, Mr. Furnish. That's the problem. You just use Jesus and the Christian brand much like politicians to attract uncritical support for your crackpot ideas.

A "defensive" alliance? Again, what act of aggression isn't done in "self defense?" It's a term that's been hollowed out for political purposes on both sides of this conflict.

Yes, I do read the papers, Mr. Furnish; and I see how the Bush administration and Hamas and Al-qaeda are using violence and fear to create the conditions under which we can expect more and more people to buy into radical ideologies and crackpot ideas like your own, thus empowering the warlords.

Moreover, the OIC is not a military alliance devoted to quarantining Christians and patrolling "bloody borders." You couldn't be amping up the fear factor to scare people into accepting your Middle-earth proposal, now could you?

It seems your committment to violence is just as irrational as the extremist's. Again, why not give my hypothesis a shot? Are you afraid of being wrong? I'm not. C'mon, let's test my hypothesis and try to prove me wrong.


Rodney Huff - 3/8/2008


Ad hominem attacks, Mr. Furnish? Please...

You obviously don't espouse Christianity, Mr. Furnish. That's the problem. You just use Jesus and the Christian brand much like politicians to attract uncritical support for your crackpot ideas.

A "defensive" alliance? Again, what act of aggression isn't done in "self defense?" It's a term that's been hollowed out for political purposes on both sides of this conflict.

Yes, I do read the papers, Mr. Furnish; and I see how the Bush administration and Hamas and Al-qaeda are using violence and fear to create the conditions under which we can expect more and more people to buy into radical ideologies and crackpot ideas like your own, thus empowering the warlords.

Moreover, the OIC is not a military alliance devoted to quarantining Christians and patrolling "bloody borders." You couldn't be amping up the fear factor to scare people into accepting your Middle-earth proposal, now could you?

It seems your committment to violence is just as irrational as the extremist's. Again, why not give my hypothesis a shot? Are you afraid of being wrong? I'm not. C'mon, let's test my hypothesis and try to prove me wrong.


Sally Gee - 3/8/2008

"...the defense of Western civilization in the face of a foe determined to destroy (or at least transform, which amounts to the same thing)..."

I think, perhaps, you live in hope that Monty Python will re-form in order to take advantage of this line, Mr Furnish. Pomposity and parody do have a tendency to go hand in hand.

One question: do you really believe that detruction and transformation amount to the same thing, or is it merely a failed rhetorical device which, on reflection, points us to a previously unconsidered dimension to the notion of ludicrous?


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

How would a defensive alliance based on a shared Christian culture and history be "resurrecting ancient hatreds?" Do you not read the news daily? There is an expansionist, violent religious ideology derived from Islamic scripture, tradition and historical precedent. And the Islamic world is already united under the banner of the OIC. I fail to see how a DEFENSIVE alliance to counter that is inflammatory.
And once again: I AM NOT ARGUING ON THE BASIS OF WWJD!!!! In fact, I don't espouse Christianity at all in my article. You and Ms. Gee seem to be reading your own prejudices into what I wrote.
Frankly, Mr. Huff, you're starting to sound like one of the jihadists' useful idiots. "Just be nice and they'll join hands with us and sing 'Imagine.'" Tell that to Theo Van Gogh.


Rodney Huff - 3/8/2008

Mr. Furnish,

I'm not on the Christian Left or Right. I'm not Christian at all. I'm atheist.

Furthermore, if we take the Bible literally, then we know that Jesus came to reform Judaic law (among other things), reducing the hundreds of commandments in the Old Testament -there weren't just 10 - to a few simple, yet very demanding, behavioral prescriptions.

My pointing out the discrepancy between what's written in the Gospel (the Word of God) and how most Christians actually conduct themselves was intended primarily to show Mr. Friedman that just because some crazed scholar wrote about moral duty based on "his" interpretation of Islam, doesn't necessarily mean anything; therefore, he can not admit this as damning evidence that the "vast, vast majority of Muslims" are closet extremists, if not flaming, waiting for and supporting the institution of Islamic law as the "sole source" governance worldwide. Lots of things get written. Lots of things get ignored.

Friedman offers nothing but gut feelings and casual observations. While I, too, have my gut feelings and casual observations, I also offer systematic empirical research which discredits Friedman's arguments.

In resurrecting this Christendom, you and Friedman would be pushing Christian and non-Christians alike back into the Middle Ages and closer to a Middle-earth bloodbath. But unlike the Middle Ages, we live in a much scarier Nuclear Age. This should give us pause.

Now, we've tested the violent solution hypothesis numerous times. Violence obviously isn't working. Violence has only brought more violence. We need to reject this solution. Cooler heads devoted to non-violence must now prevail.

All this belligerent talk about a Christian military alliance and baseless assertions (prejudices) about the "vast, vast majority of Muslims" can only intensify the conflict and endanger everybody on this planet.

So, if you're so certain my "third side" hypothesis is wrong, then why not help test it? (We need intelligent people like you on our side, this third side.) That way we can know for sure whether I'm totally stupid.

I know some details remain to be worked out (and that's where the devil resides), but I imagine the Bush administration taking a fraction of the billions in military aid promised to Israel and using it instead to make some remarkable good will getsures to win greater confidence and build even greater support throughout the entire world for a fairly shepherded peace process. And that's just for starters.

So, instead of resurrecting ancient hatreds, driving wedges between people, and endangering everyone with some crackpot military alliance, shouldn't we be working together for a peaceful solution? Isn't that what Jesus would do? Remember, "Blessed are the peacemakers."


Rodney Huff - 3/8/2008

Mr. Furnish,

I'm not on the Christian Left or Right. I'm not Christian at all. I'm athesit.

Furthermore, if we take the Bible literally, then we know that Jesus came to reform Judaic law (among other things), reducing the hundreds of commandments in the Old Testament -there weren't just 10 - to a few simple, yet very demanding, behavioral prescriptions.

My pointing out the discrepancy between what's written in the Gospel (the Word of God) and how most Christians actually conduct themselves was intended primarily to show Mr. Friedman that just because some crazed scholar wrote about moral duty based on "his" interpretation of Islam, doesn't necessarily mean anything; therefore, he can not admit this as damning evidence that the "vast, vast majority of Muslims" are closet extremists, if not flaming, waiting for and supporting the institution of Islamic law as the "sole source" governance worldwide. Lots of things get written. Lots of things also get ignored.

Friedman offers nothing but gut feelings and casual observations. While I, too, have my gut feelings and casual observations, I also offer systematic empirical research which discredits Friedman's arguments.

In resurrecting this Christendom, you and Friedman would be pushing Christian and non-Christians alike back into the Middle Ages and closer to a Middle-earth bloodbath. But unlike the Middle Ages, we live in a much scarier Nuclear Age. This should give us pause.

Now, we've tested the violent solution hypothesis numerous times. Violence obviously isn't working. Violence has only brought more violence. We need to reject this solution. Cooler heads devoted to non-violence must now prevail.

All this belligerent talk about a Christian military alliance and baseless assertions (prejudices) about the "vast, vast majority of Muslims" can only intensify the conflict and endanger everybody on this planet.

So, if you're so certain my "third side" hypothesis is wrong, then why not help test it? (We need intelligent people like you on our side, this third side.) That way we can know for sure whether I'm totally stupid.

I know some details remain to be worked out (and that's where the devil resides), but I imagine the Bush administration taking a fraction of the billions in military aid promised to Israel and using it instead to make some remarkable good will getsures to win greater confidence and build even greater support throughout the entire world for a fairly shepherded peace process. And that's just for starters.

So, instead of resurrecting ancient hatreds, driving wedges between people, and endangering everyone with some crackpot military alliance, shouldn't we be working together for a peaceful solution? Isn't that what Jesus would do? Remember, "Blessed are the peacemakers."


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

Plus, you're conflating two distinctly different issues. Pacifism is not a core doctrine of Christian teaching, never has been. I recite one of the Creeds every Sunday and neither the Apostles' nor the Nicene Creed says that the total renunciation of violence is a required belief. Again, I am not in my article talking AT ALL about any Christian doctrines; I am talking about the parts of the world that are majority Christian banding together in a defense pact against a religious ideology that threatens them. I have no wish to enfore any sort of doctrinal unity on the various sects of Christianity; in fact my proposal clearly eschews any such Church Council role. So your points about doctrine are simply, frankly, irrelevant and once again indicate that you either cannot or will not understand what I wrote.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

Ms. Gee, for all your dazzling virtuosity with the King's English, you're really weak at logic and at understanding what another person writes--or perhaps you just are too iin love with twisting what people whose ideas you don't like actually say. It has long been understood in Christian thought that there is exists the cleavage I identified between one's personal pacifism and what one is sanctioned to do by the state in its military defense. If you're that ignorant of history and Christian intellectual tradition, I cannot help you. But see, I am actually trying to engage in discussion herein, whereas you seem more enamored of cheap rhetorical tricks and even cheaper point-scoring. I have no truck with sophistry; I am posing real questions (and answers) and trying to explain my positions clearly. I am afraid the same cannot be said about your postings on here.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

Ms. Gee, for all your dazzling virtuosity with the King's English, you're really weak at logic and at understanding what another person writes--or perhaps you just are too iin love with twisting what people whose ideas you don't like actually say. It has long been understood in Christian thought that there is exists the cleavage I identified between one's personal pacifism and what one is sanctioned to do by the state in its military defense. If you're that ignorant of history and Christian intellectual tradition, I cannot help you. But see, I am actually trying to engage in discussion herein, whereas you seem more enamored of cheap rhetorical tricks and even cheaper point-scoring. I have no truck with sophistry; I am posing real questions (and answers) and trying to explain my positions clearly. I am afraid the same cannot be said about your postings on here.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

How about you simply answer the question "yes" or "no" then feel free to wax on ad nauseum to your little heart's content? Here's an idea, too, Ms. Gee: you write something on HNN then let me engage in vacuous sniping at you and see what it does for your disposition. And my disposition is my own affair, madame. Actually, considering the semantic quibbling that you engage in over a serious topic--the defense of Western civilization in the face of a foe determined to destroy (or at least transform, which amounts to the same thing)--my disposition has been remarkably restrained and polite. And I note that I engage in far fewer cheap shots and ad hominem attacks than you.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

How about you simply answer the question "yes" or "no" then feel free to wax on ad nauseum to your little heart's content? Here's an idea, too, Ms. Gee: you write something on HNN then let me engage in vacuous sniping at you and see what it does for your disposition. And my disposition is my own affair, madame. Actually, considering the semantic quibbling that you engage in over a serious topic--the defense of Western civilization in the face of a foe determined to destroy (or at least transform, which amounts to the same thing)--my disposition has been remarkably restrained and polite. And I note that I engage in far fewer cheap shots and ad hominem attacks than you.


Sally Gee - 3/8/2008

"Zionism is the most distant mutant strain of the most perverse and materially instrumental and morally and spiritually marginalised elements of the Judaic tradition."

Note I very carefully do not say or suggest or in any way concede that Zionism is "a strain of Jewish thought". A more exact analogy would be that it is an involuntary spasm of the colon. And you're absolutely right, it's all so bloody sensible when you think about for a moment.


Sally Gee - 3/8/2008

"We can argue all day long about the ideal of Christian pacifism, but the fact remains that in history, once the Empire became Christian, there was no realistic way for that to remain the ideal."

Isn't this the reason why the central doctrine the Christ offered is the insignificance of individual physical death compared with the prospect of eternal life? It strikes me that you assume a religion can flip-flop and twist around 180 degrees according to organisational need without distorting its central beliefs as long as it continues to pay lip service to them, Mr Furnish. Interesting, but not very Christian I would have thought. I think Mr Huff, to his credit, journeys down a much more difficult path than you have the courage and strength to muster.


Sally Gee - 3/8/2008

Oh dear, I'm afraid Vulgate (or any other form of) Latin is neither common, nor native nor popular in the United Kingdom - although cursing with great frequency is considered perfectly normal.


Sally Gee - 3/8/2008

Ah, Mr Friedman, are you attempting to make a very subtle point about the meaning of meaning or is this just another self indulgent gust of wind on your part?


Sally Gee - 3/8/2008

No, Mr Furnish, YOU required a simple yes or no - after all, that is the purpose of weak rhetoric - but the question itself requires a serious, considered and highly qualified response. Perhaps you should take up ballroom dancing - it may well improve your disposition whilst engaging your intellectual energies a little more than my response, sadly, proved able to do.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

Mr. Huff,
If you don't mind me horning in....
Yes, Christ seems to have mandated personal pacifism for his followers (although I find it ironic that taking the Bible literally is supposed to be the province of those buffoonish members of the "Christian Right," isn't ? Seems both the Christian Left and Right pick and choose which parts to take literally and which not to). BUT as St. Paul points out in Romans 13, even the Roman imperial state was ordained by God and wields the sword for good reason. We can argue all day long about the ideal of Christian pacifism, but the fact remains that in history, once the Empire became Christian, there was no realistic way for that to remain the ideal. Then of course eventually the just war concept was developed by the Church to at least circumscribe state-sanctioned violence and a cleavage between personal pacifism and state non-pacifism developed. But at root Christianity is a non-violent religion. Islam, however, is anything but non-violent (which is one reason I keep asking Ms. Gee if she's ever actually read the Qur'an) and in fact its founder himself led armies in battle and ordered killings of his/Allah's enemies. Your argument would seem to be that majority Christian societies should go like sheep to slaughter. But besides being suicidal, wouldn't THAT actually be imposing one view of Christian morality (that of the Christian Left) on folks (non-Christian and Christian) who don't share it? If President Bush (or any President) should NOT ask "What Would Jesus Do" in matters of personal morality (abortion, homosexuality) then by the same token he should not ask that question in foreign/defense policy--right?


Rodney Huff - 3/8/2008

Mr. Friedman,

This is a response to your last two responses.

That the U.S. is not an honest broker is precisely my point. A major obstacle to peace is the distrust between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That's why an impartial third party is needed to shepherd peace negotiations (i.e., to establish a level platform for both parties, to give each a fair hearing, and to reach a compromise acceptable to both).

Now, if the Bush administration wants to be the shepherd it says it wants to be, then it cannot give $3 billion in military aid every year for the next 10 years to one side. This clearly shows the U.S. has drawn its sword with Israeli’s, and this won't do much to assure Palestinians that the U.S. will be a sincere partner in the peace process.

Clearly being the weaker of the two parties, the Palestinians desperately need reassurance. By putting down their weapons, the Palestinians expose themselves to much more risk than the Israelis do when they put down theirs - i.e., their standing army, their air force, their nuclear arsenal. Thus, by supplying Israel with more weapons (not to mention economic aid), the Bush administration dooms the peace process before it can even begin.

(Yes, I know the Bush administration sends a message to other countries by arming Israel, but it would do a lot more to ease tensions in that region by being an honest broker and helping to bring peace, not more guns and bombs. Haven't we had enough of those?)

Still skeptical? Me too. Let's test my hypothesis. It's never been tested before. The leaders have tested their violent solution hypothesis numerous times, and we've seen the results. Butchering innocent women and children just doesn't seem to get the job done on either side, yet the hypothesis keeps getting tested. Should we let them go on making these deadly Type II errors?

Ok, you're still skeptical: Bringing Israel to the table in good faith isn't enough; Palestinians simply don't want to settle this thing and live in peace like normal people.

You write:

"I do not claim the Israelis are angels in the dispute. I merely claim that there is not any serious will or interest on the part of Palestinian Arabs to settle it. In this regard, I think our dear Omar is exactly correct. He is truly representative of Palestinian Arab opinion."

Why do you consider Omar (should I know this person?) to be truly representative of Palestinians? It's statistically impossible to draw any conclusions about a population of 4 million people from a sample of one.

And why do you think that Palestinians have no will to settle this thing? Because of this Omar? Because of what some Hamas leader said? Well, I'm not so sure that someone with a vested interest in continuing the violence really represents the will of the people who suffer most from it.

Out of curiosity, I googled "Isrealis Palestinians polls peace" and found a couple opinion polls conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Concerning the permanent settlement package presented as part of the Geneva Initiative by Bill Clinton, the latest poll found that:

Among Palestinians 47% support and 49% oppose the whole package combining the elements as one permanent status settlement. This level of support is similar to that obtained in December 2006, when 48% supported and 49% opposed such a package.

This stability in the level of support for the package among Palestinians deserves attention given the official and publicly endorsed Hamas position toward a permanent peace agreement with Israel. In this regard it is also important to stress the four percentage point increase in the “end of conflict” component which stands in open contradiction to Hamas refusal to such a clause and its willingness to grant Israel only a long-range Hudna.

The poll also found that:

69% of the Palestinians and 74% of the Israelis will support the efforts to reach full reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinian state if a peace agreement is reached, and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by Israel.

Total Palestinian sample size is 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between December 11 and 16, 2007. The margin of error is 3%.

http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2007/p26ejoint.html

So, about 70% of Palestinians express a will to peace while nearly half accept Bill Clinton's settlement package. And you say the Palestinians lack the will or interest to settle this thing?

It’s also interesting to note how the hard-line policies of Hamas do not reflect the attitudes of many ordinary Palestinians. That’s something to keep in mind the next time you hear a Hamas leader speaking about the impossibility of peace.

Ahh, but you’re still skeptical.

You write:

"Your assumption is that religious ideology will be trumped by reasonable behavior of Westerners, as in: we shall live (sic) you alone and trust that you will do the same."

But this is not my assumption. Rather, I believe that religious extremism on both sides will be trumped by the reasonable behavior of both "Westerners" and Muslims.

Although I agree that humans are basically irrational, they still have the capacity for reason and critical thought. Warlords use fear as a political tool to shut down this capacity. Fear sends people running to the warlords who promise them protection. Of course, they don't deliver protection, just more violence. This makes everyone less safe, less reasonable, and more likely to support the warlords. That's why the warlords have a vested interest in perpetuating the violence. The violence empowers them by creating an atmosphere of fear which drives people to support them. Without this support, Hamas, Dick Cheney, and George Bush would be nothing.

(Example: Before Bush invaded Iraq, you'd be hard pressed to find someone swearing allegience to Al-qaeda. But since the invasion and the start of this bloody occupation, Al-qaeda has found a new home. Why? Because the U.S. failed to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis and, well - just like anyone else - Iraqis just don't like waking up to bombs in their living rooms. The people are traumatized and frightened and so many are turning to strongmen and extremists for protection.)

However, if you stop the violence and remove that fear, I guarantee you'll see support for the warlords begin to dry up, and you'll see people behaving more reasonably, cooperatively, and generously.

(I say “more cooperatively and generously” because fear tends to suppress our most benevolent impulses. Without fear, we have greater freedom to act on those impulses. I say “more reasonably” because it's in everyone's best interest to create the conditions for peace and not live under the constant threat of violence. Show me someone who disagrees with that, and I'll show you a warlord or someone from the Carlyle Group.)

Furthermore, I don't want Muslims and non-Muslims to live in separate worlds and leave each other alone. Where did you get that idea? Anyway, it's impossible. We all share just one world. I also enjoy the company of my Muslim friends. I shouldn't have to say goodbye to them just because a bunch of fear mongers want to draw up a new Christendom and quarantine Muslims like a bunch of animals and patrol the “bloody borders.”

You also write that the "vast, vast majority of Muslims" believe that the "religious aim of Islam includes making Islam the sole source of governance throughout the world."

This sounds to me like another baseless assertion. Why do you believe this? Have you done independent research that solicits views from a representative sample of Muslims worldwide large enough to draw statistically significant conclusions? No? Well, Gallup has. (I’m not sure how scientific it is, but it sounds pretty impressive.)

The Gallup poll findings are described as:

Based on the largest and most in-depth study of its kind, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think presents the remarkable findings of the Gallup Poll of the Muslim world, the first ever data-based analysis of the points of view of more than 90% of the global Muslim community, spanning more than 35 nations.

Not too shabby…. The poll found that:

In only a few countries did a majority say that Sharia should have no role in society; yet in most countries, only a minority want Sharia as "the only source" of law. In Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, majorities want Sharia as the "only source" of legislation.

The poll also found that:

Cutting across diverse Muslim countries, social classes, and gender differences, answers to our questions reveal a complex and surprising reality. Substantial majorities in nearly all nations surveyed (95% in Burkina Faso, 94% in Egypt, 93% in Iran, and 90% in Indonesia) say that if drafting a constitution for a new country, they would guarantee freedom of speech, defined as "allowing all citizens to express their opinion on the political, social, and economic issues of the day.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/104731/Muslims-Want-Democracy-Theocracy.aspx

The evidence here does not support your assertion that the vast majority of Muslims want Islam to be the “sole source of governance throughout the world.” Instead, it shows quite the opposite. It suggests that many ordinary Muslims disagree about more than just tactics. Clearly, there is more variation in Muslim beliefs than you seem willing to admit.

Ok, you still disagree with me. You’re still clinging to what "the most famous Islamicist of all time" wrote about moral duty based on his interpretation of Islam. So what? Oh, it’s being taught in a big university? Ok, what does that mean exactly?

Given what the most famous Christian of all time said in the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew as the Word of God Himself, you’d think Christians would have a moral mandate to resist not evil, love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, and spread peace and love throughout the world. And this gets taught in elementary schools and Sunday schools and Universities and summer camps all over the world. It’s also the Word of God! This isn’t some dreary scholar’s interpretation of moral duty.

But apparently, this hasn’t meant much to a great many Christians throughout history; and while there are good Christians out there doing good deeds, they must be vastly outnumbered by people who profess Christianity but know nothing about taking up a cross or loving one’s neighbor or turning the other cheek or spreading peace and love. For we haven’t seen much of that, now have we? The more I look around, the more I’m inclined to agree with Nietzsche that the last Christian died on the cross.

So, just because something’s written and is being taught at a university doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

And if you’re still skeptical, then why not help put my honest broker or “third side” hypothesis to the test? That way we’ll be able to reject the hypothesis once and for all if a lasting peace isn’t the result. And I’ll stop bugging everyone about this third side business.


N. Friedman - 3/8/2008

Ms. Gee,

Now you are reverting to your original views about Zionism being a strain of Jewish thought. That is something different than the view you expressed above, which suggested that it is not a strain of Jewish thought but, instead, something else.

Either way, what you have writen is called BS'ing.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/8/2008

Ms. Gee,
I asked you a question that required a simple "yes" or "no." You failed to provide either.
I really don't think how the Brits--or any people, for that matter--"feel" about anything is relevant to any issues posed here.
And you have proved yet again that you either will not or can not understand my point. I at no time advocate for "the state to be at the service of faith." I would tell to try reading it again but I won't waste my time. You can't even get my honorific correct (Dr., not "Mr.").


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

You asked me what I thought of the questions you asked me in your posting, Mr Furnish, not for a considered critique of your article, and I obliged.

As to the specific points in your latest post: no, I do not assume that you are calling for a seperation between church and state, because it is evident that you are not - you wish the state to be at the service of faith; secondly, the Brits live in a state where the state is seperate from the government, but is nonetheless linked, and is combined with the Anglican Church, but is nonetheless seperate. A potent brew for liberty, it would seem to me - a matter which seems to be the marginal to your concerns.

Interesingly, the Brits (apart fron the Scots and Welsh) seem to feel that Americans are much less free than they are. Odd that, innit, in Britspeak?

I'm off to a midnight ballroom dance to foxtrot and tango (most, anyway) the night away so:

Shalom, Mr Furnish. Shalom.


N. Friedman - 3/7/2008

Ms. Gee,

I think you read a different article than Professor Furnish wrote. He was merely speaking of a means for collective identification, not a church organization dedicated to pushing a particular religious doctrine. He hopes, by means of that identification, to provide a means for collective defense against religious fanatics who want to spread Islamic rule by means, most particularly, of violence.

Your response posits notions that were not, as I see it, raised.


N. Friedman - 3/7/2008

Ms. Gee,

You are welcome to take my comment anyway you like - as a compliment or an insult or neither. However, my comment was not legalese so your interpretation of its meaning might need to be reconsidered.


Peter Kovachev - 3/7/2008

My only guess is that a coffee grind reading or a coin-toss (alas, only two sides to such) might yield better results. She did congratulate you for something, though, not sure what but take it to the bank and don't look back. Have a good weekend.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/7/2008

Peter,
Your answer is as good as mine. I think I can discern, through the miasma of verbiage, a faint "no." (But then again, I am a "fantasist," of so it's been rumoured.)
Ms. Gee still seems to think that I am calling for an end to the separation of church and state (ironic, since she would appear to live in a nation-state that does not have it--England). I'm not sure if that's a willfull or involuntary misreading of my article. But who could tell?


Peter Kovachev - 3/7/2008

There you have it, Professor Furnish, short and clear. Since you are the professional here, with experience in marking students, please let us know if Ms Gee's answer is a yes, no or a maybe.


Peter Kovachev - 3/7/2008

Perhaps you are mistaking "vernacular" with "vulgate Latin," Ms Gee. Vernacular typically denotes common, native or popular language, and in humour it's sometimes used to describe cursing.


N. Friedman - 3/7/2008

Ms. Gee,

If not that, what?


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

Hi Mr Furnish,
The Islamic world is organised most efectively as a religious based entity (or two, or more, depending on how you look at it) to the extent that it is one, as is the Christian world, from the bottom up. I'm not sure I see the OIC as a religious based entity, with all the range of meanings that term may have, as you do. Eucumenisism is probably a very good thing in any religion but, as Kant says, we are as crooked timber, and experience indicates that, once whole, religions soon fragment. My understanding of Christianity is that it has a greater schismatic potential than most other religions because of the simplicity of its offer which, crudely put, is eternal salvation in return for belief that Christ is your Saviour. Is that offer best accepted and renewed through a process of intermediation (in which case, the willingness to believe as opposed to belief itself may well become the key criterion for salvation), or not? If so, what or who, and if not, how? Observe the consequences of differing answers in, say, Northern Ireland.

Islam certainly has a more substantial body of rules for living revealed by Mohammed as its founding Prophet than has Christianity as revealed by Christ. This, in itself, makes it more likely that the Islamic world will appear to be much more organised than the Christian world because the basic framework of Islam is much more clearly defined and codified in rules of conduct. Despite this, the OIC is much less of an effective integrating mechanism than, say, the EU, NATO before George Bush or, indeed, any multinational corporation running a common promotional strategy in a multiplicity of countries, and the conflicting regional and national interests of the OIC's members will become more significant and schismatic, in organisational but not necessarily in religious terms, the greater its actual success. I think it is a problem intrinsic to any successful international institution which evolves from a religious base to an interests base.

Historically, the development of Christian organisation first results in the development of, usually disputed, rules of conduct, and then in their imposition, often in forms and circumstances which give rise to internal as well as external opposition. I think it is a problem intrinsic to Christianity as a revalatory religion.

I do think that, in some ways, England's established church developed a realistic solution to the problems rising in an age of strong belief - a solution which, sadly, has gone out of fashion in England as Christian belief systems have become less strongly held. The loss of belief in itself may be a good thing - many think so - largely because of the potential for conflict. As I suggested earlier, though, the Anglican solution may well be adapted to a world of religious diversity. Again, as I have said, I am quite taken with Prince Charles' idea that the Monarch should not be merely the Defender of the Faith, but the Defender of Faith. I suppose this suits me because I have little faith in any one faith, although I place a great deal of faith in the virtues, social, personal and spiritual, of faith. But where I talk of faith, I get the impression that you are speaking of belief. And that's what worries me about your proposal and why I thought it useful to make my initial comment. I certainly did not expect the blog to snowball like this, nor to focus on the issues which arose early in the debate and took over from the basic theme. I do think it does demonstrate, though, the relevance of the issue you have raised to the world as it actually is and I must congratulate you on achieving that.

Have a good weekend.


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

He's English so I don't think he speaks Vernacular (the English are generally very poor linguists although what they lack in expertise they make up for with their endless capacity for ever slower repetition at increasing volume) but he does have a thing about translating verse from the Latin for me.

Oh, silly me. You jest. You are pretending to think that Vernacular is the language of love! How droll.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/7/2008

Ms. Gee,
Here's a simple question, if I may:
Since the Islamic world is already organized as a religious-based entity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, should or should not the Christian world be entitled to do the same?


Peter Kovachev - 3/7/2008

I'm not aware of any language on this planet which would interpret "merely an ideologue who spouts BS", as anything but what the sentence says. Perhaps your boyfriend has you also convinced that the vernacular expressions he directs at you now and then are really terms of endearment?


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

Isn't it just truly amazing how easy it is for you not to be able to read my mind, Mr Friedman?


N. Friedman - 3/7/2008

Ms. Gee,

Presumably you have a point other than to show that you have heard of the word "Orientalist."

Let me guess. You are going to claim that anyone you label "Orientalist" is subject to criticism of the type maintained by Edward Said and his followers. My suggestion, in reply, is that the point I quoted Goldhizer for - even if such a criticism were correct generally speaking - is not open to serious dispute.


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

I think you must be mistaken, Mr Kovachev. Lawyers seem to have their own international language, a bit like Esperanto, I think, and what Mr Friedman said when using it certainly sounds absolutely right to my ears.

Perhaps Mr Friedman might see his way to paying you a compliment also and that will go some way towards rewarding your attention seeking behavior. Let's way and see what comes in the next post, heh?


Peter Kovachev - 3/7/2008

That you need a lawyer to explain a simple sentence to you is bad enough, Ms Gee. That you can be so easily hoodwinked by your man to accept the opposite meaning as "proper English" may be something your parents and your local constabulary need to look into.


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

I think, perhaps, Mr Kovachev needs you to write the bubbles for his matchstick cartoons, Mr Friedman.


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

I must admit, for a few moments, you had me wondering what you meant when you said I am "merely an ideologue who spouts BS", but then my boyfriend, who has just started practising law, translated it from your version of "normal" English into proper English. He says that it is the greatest possible compliment to me for having a clear and consistently applied set of moral and intellectual principles and you have clearly registered the fact that I speak "bloody sense" in a world where so many do not.

Thank you, Mr Friedman, I accept your gracious and apposite compliment with equal grace.


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

Oh, an Orientalist Islamicist before his time, perhaps?


art eckstein - 3/7/2008

Gee, that doesn't answer the question. Do you support a government that "blesses" such an operation? Do you have no opinion about the actions of a population that celebrates the intentional kiling of students in a library by handing out candy to children?

Do we all have any doubt what you would say if ISRAELIS intentionally murdered students in a mosque, and the Israeli government announced its "blessing" on the act, and the Israeli population celebrated by shooting guns in the air and handing candy to children. Doesn't the term "NAZI" sound familiar to you?


Sally Gee - 3/7/2008

"...you are now contradicting your earlier views that Zionism is a strain of Judaism". Utter tosh, Mr Friedman. Zionism is a form of Jewish Nationalism, not unlike each of the many distinct (and competing) nationalisms straining, somewhat more effectively, at the sinews of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Other than that the Jews tended to practice the religion of Judaism in its various forms, and the Zionists made claim to the Jewish people, as the Nazis did to the German people, and - not initially but subsequently - laid claim to the land of the Palestinians which the Jewish doctrine held had been given to the Jews by God.

Zionism is the most distant mutant strain of the most perverse and materially instrumental and morally and spiritually marginalised elements of the Judaic tradition. My views have remained remarkably clear and consistent on this matter for many years.

God, Mr Friedman, you do love to flip and flop and twist and lie when it suits you, don't you? But, the, you're a Zionist, aren't you?


Peter Kovachev - 3/7/2008

Mr Friedman, if I may impose, I'd appreciate your thoughts on a historical and artisic project I've been working on, one very much related to the topics we're chewing over here. The art bit, although time-consuming, turns out to have been the pleasant and easy part; what to do with it and how to go about it, though, has me stymied. Should you be interested, please contact me at p.n.kovachev@gmail.com and I'll send you a link to my online gallery.


N. Friedman - 3/7/2008

Ms. Gee,

You are free to be your own lexicographer. I think that the correct term for Jewish or Arab citizens of Israel is Israeli. However, I see nothing wrong with referring to them as Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis.

I note that the term "Palestinian" is not a term that has local roots in what is now Israel. That term is a European Christian term, as you perhaps know, derived from the Christian name for the region.

Hence, my historical reason for referring to Palestinian Arabs by that terminology is so that it is clear that such people are Arabs who hold specific political views that are in sharp historical contradiction to Arab political thought as it has been known over the course of nearly 1,400 years. However, I certainly do not deny that there are Arabs who come from the land on which Israel was founded and which is known, at times, in Christian thinking as Palestine.


N. Friedman - 3/7/2008

Mr. Huff,

I understand that the noted $30 billion dollars is over 10 years. That is $3 billion dollars per year. And, that relates, as I understand it, to issues raised in relationship to Iran with aid of $20 billion dollars going to Arab states, including the incredibly rich Saudi Arabia - a country that needs no money from anyone - to defend themselves against Iran.

So, I do not see your concern. That is not taking sides. It was a balanced matter, with the concerns of all of the surrounding states, other than Syria, that have arguably good relations with the US.

Further, aid to Palestinian Arabs actually runs about that much money, although much of it is from countries other than the US.

Consider, Mr. Huff, that the US and Israel are allies. It is not entirely clear that the US is a true broker nor is it clear that the US ought to be a true broker. However, since the US is the dominant power and has considerable influence over Israel, the US can be of some assistance in resolving the dispute - if the parties want to resolve it.

Note: I do not claim the Israelis are angels in the dispute. I merely claim that there is not any serious will or interest on the part of Palestinian Arabs to settle it. In this regard, I think our dear Omar is exactly correct. He is truly representative of Palestinian Arab opinion. But you are free to ask him whether he supports a permanent settlement that leaves Israel a viable country along side a Palestinian Arab state - one state a homeland for Jews; the other state a homeland for Arabs. I think you will find that he rejects that idea on principle.


Peter Kovachev - 3/7/2008

Actually, Rodney, I didn't mean to insult your your writing, at least not from a technical point, and I'm all for liberal use of commas, which I suppose, identifies both of us as "old school," in modern parlance. I'm not a fond of fluffing-up cliched concepts, however, or of applying simplistic and out-dated ideological templates to complex situations, using false comparisons or unrealisting.

For example, one cannot play an honest broker between a man who intends to commit murder and his intended victim. There is no middle ground, as in "ok, how about you just chop-off his legs as a compromise?" The only option is to stop, or defeat the murderer-to-be. In the case of Israel, where the Arab authorities openly call for a total destruction of Israel, and which have again and again shown that all concessions are treated as a weakness and an invitation to more blood-letting, the option is the same.

An example of a false comparison is your reference to Christianity's supposed "bloody borders." Islam's "bloody borders" are plain for anyone to see, be it in Israel, India, Thailand, Philipines, Darfur, or anywhere else there is a significant Muslim population neighbouring Christian, Buddhist, Jewish or Animist populations. The same cannot be said for Christian states or populations today.

As for the term neocon, I'll take your word that you use it strictly in a political context. In this case you are in a shrinking minority, as more often than not it is being used to refer to conservative or Zionist Jews, with hints or blatant charges of world domination conspiracies. Given that the term has changed meanings, perhaps to avoid the you need to clarify your interpretation of it whenever you use it.

And yes, there are evil-doers on both sides, and all sides, and everywhere in the world and throughout history. By itself this observation is meaningless, though, since in the real world it's often that one faction has many more evil-doers than another. While you may have some nasty lawyers and accountants out there, and some reasonable and friendly bikers, I'm willing to bet that you would worry less about your teenage daughter wandering into an accountants' convention as opposed to a biker beach party.


N. Friedman - 3/7/2008

Ms. Gee,

In fact, Goldhizer is referred to as an Islamicist. Why? Because that was his expertise.


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

An advocate, an Orientalist but surely never an Islamicist? Isn't that what they call in Britspeak, "a bit previous"? A little like Mr Multi-Awarded's notorious claim (since withdrawn, I understand) that the sho'ah always referred to the Sho'ah even before the Sho'ah actually happened (although, if this were the case, Professor Popper's ideas may well prove to have long been refuted by empirical experience). Perhaps both you and Mr Mult-Awarded belong to the select circle of Time Lords given traipsing the wormholes of the Universe in your personalised and guaranteed fact and logic-free Tardis'. Messrs Who, perhaps?


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

And Israeli Jews would be even more accurate, and Palestinian Jews even more accurate than that. Brooklyn exiles, I suppose. Strangers in a strange land might prove the most accurate of all. Nominalism offers us many such interesting diversions.

I think I prefer, simply, Palestinians, if only for the sake of truth and transparency in argument.


N. Friedman - 3/6/2008

Yes, Ms. Gee. You have this one correct. Goldhizer is renowned and considered somewhat of an advocate for Islam's place alongside Christianity - in way superior, on his reading, to Christianity.


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

Am I right in assuming that "the most famous Islamicist of all time, Ignaz Goldhizer" you refer to is the Hungarian Orientalist of the same name, Mr Friedman, or perhaps they are related in some way?


N. Friedman - 3/6/2008

Ms. Gee,

I refer to Palestinian Arabs as Palestinian Arabs because, historically speaking, that is a more accurate statement.


N. Friedman - 3/6/2008

Ms. Gee,

Thank you for your opinion of my knowledge. In this case, you are, once again, mistaken about the limits of my reading. In any event, if I did not actually know about Popper, I would look in my copy of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I do not, however, have to because I am reasonably familiar with his views.

As for your view about Zionism, you are entitled to your view - although they are backed by no facts. By contrast, at least Omar, who has trouble with his facts, has a personal stake in the dispute so that he represents a particular type of rejectionist. You, however, have no stake and are merely an ideologue who spouts BS.

By the way, you are now contradicting your earlier views that Zionism is a strain of Judaism. So, I take it that you are, once again, BS'ing.

I am not at all sure that Jews are turning on Israel. I think that is a view commonly stated as the wish of Antisemitic Europeans but which is not supported by empirical evidence. And, it surely is not true at all in the US. So far as I know, support for Israel is as strong as it was before, as in the vast majority of Jews support Israel but also favor finding a solution that permits Palestinian Arabs to form a state along side Israel - so long as that state brings an end to the dispute, not merely a new dispute.


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

Mr Friedman, you consistently refer to Palestinian Arabs but you never seem to refer to Israeli Jews. Would you mind telling us all why you think you do this before I offer my analysis which demonstrates that I know why you do this?


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

Mr Friedman, I trust you are not saying that the genial Mr Furnish is no historian?

I think your view of Popper is as tragically limited as everything else you have mustered the intellectual ingenuity and physical dexterity to google. Try reading his books - why not start on The Poverty of Historicism and then work on The Open Society and its Enemies - and, then, perhaps, I might explain how many of his arguments he deploys can be countered, with a little twist here and a little twist there, by other arguments he has deployed: what the Great Man himself might well have referred to as the Paradox of Popper, if only he had thought of it first.

As regards my "ridiculous assertions about Zionism and Israel and Jews", I can only say that my view is as it has been since first visiting Israel many years ago. Simply, Zionism is a fascist nationalist transplant from the butcher's yard of Central Europe; it is a grubby butcher's apron which has all too easily be allowed to conceal a great world religion, which grew as a vessel of truth and justice; and Israel is its vile corrupt and logically genocidal, historicist spawn, as evidenced by this week's events in Gaza. Not an uncommon view amongst Jews nowadays, as I'm sure you will be the first to agree.


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

I regret the loss of life and any other injury to non-military personnel, Mr Multi-Award.

As a matter of simple transparency, I much prefer to see an entire article copied on this site for the simple reason that both you and Mr Friedman seem to feel quite comfortable abusing your fellow debaters by using quotations highly selectively in order to materially distort or reverse the meaning of the material quoted.


Rodney Huff - 3/6/2008

Thanks for reading my long reply. I'll be sure to reply to yours soon.

I'll also make sure to ask my friends all those questions you ask.

One quick comment: If this administration wanted to achieve a balanced negotiation process in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, then it wouldn't deliver $30 billion in military aid to one side. That tips the balance quite a bit , I think.


Rodney Huff - 3/6/2008

Peter,

I didn't realize my writing was so bad. Sorry about those commas.

Thanks for summarizing for the lazy, but I think you missed the point.

Of course, there's a problem. There are evil-doers on both sides who contribute to this problem. In fact, they have vested interests in perpetuating the problem, instead of solving it.

Neocon is not code for "politically conservative Jews." Specifically, the term refers to W. Kristol, G. Schmitt, D. Cheney, D. Rumsfeld, P. Wolfowitz, and all other members and supporters of the Project for a New American Century, which provides a blueprint for American military domination of the world. (http://www.newamericancentury.org/)



art eckstein - 3/6/2008

Answer these questions from N.F, Gee.

Do you approve of this operation? Do you "bless" it, as Hamas does? Do you "understand" it, though of course...tsk-tsk?

In ANY case, how is Israel supposed to deal with a Hamas government that overtly "blesses" the murder of seminary students in a library, or a population that celebrates the slaughter of innocents by shooting guns in the air?

Same questions to Mr. S.


N. Friedman - 3/6/2008

A further post, Ms. Gee, about the question of abuse by means of religion. Note this point from today's news:

Two gunmen infiltrated a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem and opened fire in a library Thursday night, killing at least seven people, police and rescue workers said.

Note that such attack is in violation of the Geneva Convention but is alleged by Islamic apologists also to be in violation of Islamic law - which apologists claim precludes attacks on clergy of infidel religions unless such people are specifically involved in attacking Muslims. So, we have an attack directly on people in a religious institution.

This is what Hamas says about the incident: "In Gaza, Hamas welcomed the terrorist attack. 'We bless the [Jerusalem] operation. It will not be the last,' Hamas said in a statement." (Emphasis added). Do you also "bless" the operation? Is that your idea of legitimate freedom fighting? Is that your idea of legitimate warfare? Is that not wanton barbarism?

Is that sort of attack acceptable to you? Yes or No?

Note also the reaction of Gazans: "In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in celebration in the air after hearing news of the attack on the seminary." Do you also celebrate?

Note also, Ms. Gee, that it is possible to quote from news articles without merely copying the entire article.


N. Friedman - 3/6/2008

Ms. Gee,

Actually, I do think you are pretty dopey - a BS artist as well. You are posting on a history site without ever posting historical facts or the views taken by historians.

As for Popper, you can humor those who have not, unlike me, studied philosophy. Assuming that I understand the point you think you are making, what Popper claims is that there cannot be a predictive science of human history. I take that comment by you to be a BS observation which does not remotely explain the unremitting string of nasty, unsupported, contradictory posts under your name. The same for your discussion about abusing religion, which is a topic you have violated yourself on a number of occasions. I should add that your comments apply against you with respect to your ridiculous assertions about Zionism and Israel and Jews.



Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

What, precisely, do you mean by the terms "worldview" and "rational"? Do you mean different things by them in other, perhaps different, contexts?


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

I think my initial post says it all, Mr Friedman. Unlike you, I am not convinced that a repetitive rant represents "normal" English discourse, nor does it constitute effective argument. I think you have made that point often enough, and clearly enough, by example.

If people do not choose to take my posts seriously, that is their right. My assumption is that if someone comes forward with a sensible argument which bears relation to some form of evidence in the real world, I will respond in kind. I may even ask questions which I feel may help add to my understanding and knowledge. I am not inclined to be tolerant towards pro forma religio-ethnic abuse and specious historicist (in the Popperian sense) nonsense. Nor do I feel that chop-logic is an acceptable alternative to the rational and logical development of an idea, insight or thought. If you do not understand that, perhaps a friend will translate it into your preferred version of "normal" English for you.

And if you think I'm a dope, perhaps you will nominate me for Dope of the Year, 2008. Perhaps I can give Mr Eckstein a good run for his money before that prize also joins his enviable collection of Multi-Awards.


N. Friedman - 3/6/2008

Ms. Gee,

I suggest that if you find difficulties with the Professor's article, state them in normal English, without insults and with real supporting evidence. Then, people will take you seriously, rather than a dope.


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

"...I happen to love the United States of America and I swore to protest her against her enemies and uphold the Constitution".

I have also sworn to protest her against her enemies, Mr Furish, which is why I feel so free to attack your views.

I did not question your service to our country in the armed forces - too many of my friends back home with much your intent have found that they voluntarily graduated straight into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although I can't think of any one of them who would share your views of American benevolence in either country - I merely sought to contrast the differing points of emphasis in two seperate accounts on two seperate occasions, both of which you made available on HNN.

I certainly did not mean to question your integrity, your honesty nor your motives in serving our country. I apologise if I have inadvertently given you offense by appearing to do so.

I do, however, question the premises, the analysis and the conclusions you reach in "Resurrecting Christendom: A Blueprint", as you already seem to have inferred from my comments.


N. Friedman - 3/6/2008

Mr. Huff,

I read your long explanation of your point of view.

First, I too desire peace. I do not doubt that your Muslim friends want peace. The issue, however, is the terms upon which people are willing to have peace.

Let me take your thought that somehow US support for Israel is the problem, which, I gather would mean that the US ought pressure Israel to do something toward settling the dispute. Your proposition is that Palestinian Arabs would take "Yes" for an answer. Otherwise, clearly there is no peace.


One question, however, is what offer would be need to be presented for Palestinian Arabs to say "Yes." And, the next question is whether Israel can say "Yes" to what Palestinian Arabs think they need while protecting the interest of Israel's people with the country's stated reason for existing.

I note, in this regard, that the dominant Palestinian Arab group is Hamas. That group's position is that there will be no peace for between Muslim Arabs and Jews unless the land of Israel becomes a Muslim waqf - i.e. it ceases being Israel. Such, I should note, appears in the Hamas Covenant - the founding document of that group. I trust that you do not think Jews have an obligation to live under Muslim rule just to make peace with Palestinian Arab Muslims. Am I wrong in thinking that?

Perhaps you should ask your Muslim friends whether, in fact, they are willing to admit that Israel is a legitimate nation directed to be, as provided by International law - in this case, the UN Charter - a homeland for Jews. And, would your friends agree that a Palestinian Arab state, not Israel, ought be the homeland for Palestinian Arabs? And, ask them whether any refugees ought to go to that proposed homeland for Palestinian Arabs, not the Internationally recognized homeland for Jews? And, ask your friends whether a settlement that leaves Israel as a homeland for Jews with refugees going to a Palestinian Arab state, not Israel, is acceptable as a final settlement, not just an interim settlement, to the dispute.

If they are not willing to do so, what is the basis for peace between Muslims and Jews? Or, does peace for you mean that the rights of Jews are less important than those of Muslims?

My point here is that more is required here than good faith from Israel. And, that is even assuming that the violence from Muslims is directed at Israel. And, it is assuming, as you wrongly believe, that only Jihadis believe that the religious aim of Islam includes making Islam the sole source of governance throughout the world. In fact, the vast, vast majority of Muslims believe that.

So, the dispute - to the extent one really exists - between Jihadis and many, albeit far from all, ordinary Muslims is over tactics, not the agenda. And, for a great many Muslims, the issue over the use of violence is not whether such is permissible to extend the portion of the world governed by Islamic governance but whether now is an appropriate time to use violence. In this regard, I note the classical statement of the doctrine in question, as it appears in the writings of the most famous Islamicist of all time, Ignaz Goldhizer:

In addition to the religious duties imposed upon each individual professing Islam, the collective duty of the "jihad" (= "fighting against infidels") is imposed on the community, as represented by the commander of the faithful. Mohammed claimed for his religion that it was to be the common property of all mankind, just as he himself, who at first appeared as a prophet of the Arabs, ended by proclaiming himself the prophet of a universal religion, the messenger of God to all humanity, or, as tradition has it, "ila al-aḥmar wal-aswad" (to the red and the black). For this reason unbelief must be fought with the force of weapons, in order that "God's word may be raised to the highest place." Through the refusal to accept Islam, idolaters have forfeited their lives. Those "who possess Scriptures" ("ahl al-kitab"), in which category are included Jews, Christians, Magians, and Sabians, may be tolerated on their paying tribute ("jizyah") and recognizing the political supremacy of Islam (sura ix. 29). The state law of Islam has accordingly divided the world into two categories: the territory of Islam ("dar al-Islam") and the territory of war. ("dar al-ḥarb"), i.e., territory against which it is the duty of the commander of the faithful ("amir al-mu'minin") to lead the community in the jihad.

For the record, Goldhizer was the first non-Muslim ever to attend al-Azhar Univerity and was known to pray with Muslims. His writings do much to show the virtues of Islam versus Christianity as it traditionally was understood. In short, his is a friendly voice toward Muslims.

Please read Goldhizer's words carefully. Please understand that a religious duty is an important thing to a devoutly religious person. So, when a devoutly religious person is taught what Goldhizer has explained - and I note that such point of view is, to this day, taught at al-Azhar -, such means something.

That does not mean - so that you understand what is written correctly - that, classically speaking, Islam teaches terrorism. That would be a misreading. Rather, what is described is an understanding of the world in which Muslims live under a theocratic government. And, in that context, the leader - Caliph (or the commander of the faithful) - of the government has a moral obligation to increase the part of the world governed by Islamic law, using force. And, Muslims are called upon to serve in violent activity that advances the noted objective.

The issue that, as I understand it, divides many Muslims over the tactics of today's NGO Jihadis is that there is no theocratic government with a caliph to declare Jihad for Muslims to participate in. Nonetheless, the moral mission to spread Islamic governance remains.

So, what ought a devout Muslim do, consistent with the moral imperative that exists to spread Muslim rule and Muslim law, where there is no Caliph? The radicals say: let's claim the entire world is fighting us, even by means of Western culture, which the radicals claim is part of the West's war. In that circumstances, all Muslims are required to fight in order to defend the faith. Further, the radicals say: let's create a new caliphate. Why? Because a caliph could recreate the proper theocracy.

Your assumption is that religious ideology will be trumped by reasonable behavior of Westerners, as in: we shall live you alone and trust that you will do the same. My suggestion to you is that the world does not work that way. People are irrational and religious people who fall prey to religious fanaticism will see a reasonable West as a West in retreat. And that will not result in any substantial change for the better. In fact, it might make matters worse for you and me. Why? Because our reasonableness might be seen as weakness or might be seen as a sign that the violent NGO jihad is a practical strategy to advance Islamic aims.

Lastly, I note that I do not accept your premises regarding the US playing a one sided role in favor of Israel. I think the US balances Israel's interests as well as those of the other countries in the region.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/6/2008

Yes, Ms. Gee, I joined the U.S. Army just for that all-important Christian jihad oath which we took when we were sworn in....the one about killing Muslims, pagan, liberal, infidels, feminists and all the other victimized, oppressed groups.
Wait....that didn't actually happen. In reality I joined VOLUNTARILY because I happen to love the United States of America and I swore to protest her against her enemies and uphold the Constitution. You, for all your semantic arrogance and snide carping, cannot say the same. You can attack my views presented herein all you want, madame, with all the savagery you can muster. But you are a cheap trick artist when you start questioning my service to this great nation in her armed forces. So crawl back into that Huffingtonesque cave you emerged from--I'm not going to waste any more time on your drivel.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/6/2008

It is, no doubt, in your worldview--but not that of most rational humans.


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

Silly boy.


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

Isn't that why Mr Furnish - and many others - join the armed forces?


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

Mr Furnish, isn't that the essense of being a woman in a male dominated world?


Sally Gee - 3/6/2008

I think you wil find it is more Aquinian than post-Modern, Messrs Furnish and Craigen. Perhaps if you spent more time studying the history of Western thought and less on bothering Muslims who merely seek to go about their business without the distraction of a "war" with the more cultish Protestant sects and self-styled Zionist Christians, you will find grappling with the concepts which lie at the heart of Western civilization a little easier than you do. And Mr Craigen, I think the word you are most likely searching for is "Gibbonish".

Mr Furnish, I would have thought that, on the basis of your premises and argument, Islam, Judaism and Christianity lie on the most important of any conceivable initial boundary for your cordon sanitaire in Palestine. Or do you too think that Palestine is an illusion which can be magicked away by ignoring the need to take a few steps toward realty?


Peter Kovachev - 3/6/2008

Here's a summary for anyone who fears the onset of a coma after struggling through the third or fourth sentence of Mr Huff's soporiphic pedantry:

There is no problem, and if there is one, we are the problem and always will be.

Bare your neck, roll over and purr, and don't do anything to make the jihadists mad.

Beware of the "neocons" (the codeword for politically conservative Jews; i.e., the modern Elders of Zion).

Find a way to "broker" Arab and Iranian desire for a total destruction of Israel with Israel's maddening resistance to such an evidently sensible final solution.



Rodney Huff - 3/6/2008

Would Christians be drawing a sword in self defense by forming a military alliance to quarantine Muslims?

Well, I'm not so sure about that. Why? Because "self defense" is a lot like "the national interest" or "the common good" - hardly anything isn't done in the name of it. So, when "self defense" gets thrown around in a political struggle where each side justifies all violence as retaliatory, as necessary for self defense, it loses its meaning.

As a person who stupidly desires peace, I propose that we start working on a blueprint for peace rather than follow Furnish's blueprint for a Middle-earth bloodbath.

So in order to get started on this blueprint, I'll have to make some common sense observations and use terms like "blowback," "positive feedback," and "self-fulfilling prophecy" - terms that should figure in any nuanced discussion of how people in groups try to fuck one another over - politics, I mean. (As Henry Adams pointed out, politics is the systematic organization of hatred. Well, he was talking about politics in antebellum Massachusettes, but I think his definition can be applied universally - at least in politically-organized societies).

So here's my question: What sword would the "West" be unsheathing in self defense if the sword is already out?

The Bush administration drew a sword when it chose to invade Iraq, a policy that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people (and the expatriation of many more). This disastrous policy has created the conditions under which radicalism can be expected to flourish. According to our own National Intelligence Estimate, it's our drawing of the sword in Iraq that has increased the very threat that the neocon warlords want to firmly fix in our minds - the very same threat that they "intended" to counter (or create).

These are the unintended consequences that follow attempts to change the world without understanding it. It's called blowback. (Of course, it's open to debate whether these consequences were really unintended. Sometimes failure can be more profitable than success, in which case success IS failure.)

Meanwhile, this administration has drawn another sword. In August of last year, this administration agreed to give Israel $30 billion in military aid. So, instead of playing honest broker between the Palestinians and Israelis to facilitate peace, this administration chose a side to facilitate more violence. (Hey, when has a U.S. administration NOT supported Israel? This sword has been drawn for quite some time.)

Besides being dishonest and immoral, this administration's uncritical support of Israel may also confirm the fears and suspicions that the U.S. harbors a lethal bias against Muslims, Palestinians in particular, thus strengthening the hand of Jihadists and other radicals (another consequence of unenlightened self-interest).

Does Furnish not see the positive feedback relationship here? Does he not see how merely choosing a side serves only to ensure that the violence continues?

Every violent exchange in this conflict is justified as retaliation for a previous act of violence. So, every retaliation is a response to a retaliation. The result is one long series of retaliations: retaliation after retaliation after retaliation, ad infinitum. Until someone simply stops, these violent exchanges will go on repeating themselves, and bodies will continue to pile up. Most of these bodies will belong to innocent people caught in the crossfire. The only ones who have an interest in perpetuating this violence are the ones being empowered by it - i.e., the warlords on both sides.

This is why I find Furnish's proposal to simply add more fuel to the fire in the name of "self defense" so maddening. (If all the violence is retaliatory, then what isn't done in self defense?) This plays wonderfully into the hands of those who have an interest in escalating the violence, (e.g., the neocon warlords who are always looking to pour more of our tax dollars into the defense industry - i.e., the military-industrial complex).

Yes, I agree with Mr. Furnish: There are definitely villains on the side he opposes. But there are also villains on the side he supports. That's why I oppose both sides in calling for an end to the violence. (And that's how an atheist like me can out-Jesus any nominal Christian.)

Remaining focused on the wickedness of the "Other," Furnish criticizes non-violent Muslims for standing by as Jihadists do their dirty work, i.e., for holding the scabbard. YET, Furnish, too, holds a scabbard when atrocities are committed in his name and he says nothing. Why doesn't he rail against the despicable crimes of the Bush administration or the meddling CIA or even previous administrations?

The wickedness on both sides of this conflict has led me to conclude that peace cannot be achieved by choosing to support the villains of one side. To begin building a platform for peace, we must reach for a third side, one that transcends the two partially blinded sides in the conflict.

You know the eye that tops the pyramid on the dollar bill? That's supposed to represent the role of the U.S. in international conflicts: the enlightened eye that sees all sides. Since at least WWI, we've abandoned that role. I think in order to begin working towards peace, we need to restore ourselves in that role. We need to be an honest broker between the Israelis and Palestinians in order to get the peace process back on track.

A Middle-earther objects: Why should we Christians in the West or Israel be the first to put down our sword?

Reponse: Well, why not? Someone has to be the first, right? Why not do what the Prince of Peace would do? If you really think you're morally superior, then why not prove it? Why not be the bigger religion and put down your sword first?

Objection: But the Jihadists! They won't rest until they set up their worldwide Caliphate!

Response: Look, you've already acknowledged that these Jihadists represent a small minority of the Muslim population. The marginal power they do have is derived only from the support they get from Muslims who resent having their country invaded and occupied, from Muslims who have had family members killed by U.S. bombs, from Muslims who resent America's unconditional support of Israel, and of course from CIA patronage.

If we win the allegiance of the Muslim community by drastically changing our foreign policy, by making amends for the wrongs we've perpetrated, and by being an honest broker in the Middle East peace process, support for the Jihadists would certainly dry up. Only the hardcore Jihadists would remain, and the remaining few would be marginalized to the same extent that terrorist groups in the U.S. have been marginalized (e.g., KKK). Furthermore, their anger would most likely be directed at their fellow Muslims who withdrew their support.

Look, since most Muslims are NOT Jihadists, and while others may temporarily join radical groups just to improve their chances of surviving a deadly occupation (while still others may be coerced into signing up), I think it's reasonable to conclude the vast majority of Muslims sense that the doctrines of the Jihadists are untenable and really don't set much store in a worldwide Caliphate.

I have friends who are Muslim. We play soccer, shoot pool, and drink beer together (though not during Ramadan). They are with me in reaching for a third side. You should try reaching with us instead of trying drive a wedge between us with your fear-mongering!

Objection: But the Muslims have their own league of nations, the OIC! We need a countervailing Christian alliance!

Response: Settle down. Yes, they do; but the OIC is not a military alliance bent on patrolling the bloody borders of the Christian world, now is it?

Remember what I said about blowback and positive feedback? Good. Keep them in mind, because here comes the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now, if the "West" were to set up a military alliance charged with quarantining Muslims and patrolling borders, how would the Muslim community react?

The fear and unease generated by this provocative Christian alliance would drive many Muslims to support radicals who promise them armed protection and security, thus empowering the strongmen. This hostile move by the West would certainly confirm in the minds of many Muslims that the radicals were right all along - that they needed to take up arms and fight their "oppressors." So, being sensible, many Muslims would probably throw their lots in with the Jihadists and other strongmen who seem prepared for a showdown with something like a "Holy Union."

You see, a Holy Union, then, would only strengthen the Jihadists. Then, a Middle-earth bloodbath perhaps wouldn't be that far off; thus, blowback from your crackpot theory would result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I want no part of it. And neither do my friends Mohamed, Islam, and Badr.

Meanwhile, I supsect the reason why we don't see many blueprints for peace is because there isn't much money to be made in peace....



mark safranski - 3/6/2008

Omar,

Western democracies can either be democracies where all citizens are equal under the law or they can be something else. Granting "home rule" to ethnoreligious enclaves to oppress some of their unwilling co-religionists turns them into something else. If A Muslim woman in the U.S. or Britain wants a divorce, it's her right, not some Imam or her husband's or father's.

If Western Muslims wish to live privately according the Sharia as their personal beliefs -great. If they want the state to enforce the sharia on everyone else then they can expect the rest of society will view them with hostility and tell them to move to some other country where such laws are the norm.


omar ibrahim baker - 3/6/2008

Professor
I have absolutely no objection to a Christian international organization.

My only concern is about the persistent false and alarmist depiction of an Islamic threat...which exists only in the minds of those who developed it, namely Zionism and Imperialism, to serve their ulterior motives.
Christian nations could organize and reorganize themselves for all they want; that is their privilege and right as much as Moslem's nations.


R. Craigen - 3/6/2008

"Postmodern claptrap" is a bit generous; I think Ms. Gee's keyboard engaged before here brain -- I read her latest three times and can't make head nor tail of it. "Gibberish" would be more accurate.

Hmm...sarcasm, self-assessment as having "penetrating" thought, ad hominem, judeophobic sloganeering, and finally gibberish: a predictable trajectory. I think Ms. Gee is just trolling.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/6/2008

Ms. Gee,
You still have not grasped my point at all. It is that the West needs to unite under a banner or it will likely perish before the expansionism of Islamic ideology and, indeed, violence. I am not proposing to turn anyone into Christians or to impose a theocracy or anything of the sort. I am proposing a united front against jihadism. Are you too bloody dense to grasp that?
Or just too willfully obstinate and ignorant?


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

The circumstances being A BUNCH OF CARTOONS??? Gee, Ms. Gee, you indeed are beyond the pale.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Oh, I know, maybe they mean it figuratively or poetically...as in body parts flying on gossamer wings to Smetana's Blue Danube or something. Kind of like jihad being a struggle for self-betterment.


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

Angry young men. And why not, in the circumstances?


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

Angry young men. And why not, in the circumstances?


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

Because whichever way you wrap it up - and you deny that this is the case - it would be, to all practical intents and purposes, a crusade, as Mr Baker has rightly divined from your words:

"Again, as Pinkerton points out, the purpose of the majority-Christian parts of the planet uniting against the Muslim world would NOT be to impose democracy or in any way to change that civilization—much less to wage a new “Crusade” (although we’d better inure ourselves to that inevitable charge): “not conquest, not occupation, not ‘liberation’” but rather “feasible strategies of containment, even quarantine.” A cordon sanitaire would be created around the Islamic sandbox until Muslims learn to play nice and stop inflicting both their near and far neighbors with anti-democratic, anti-women, anti-tolerance, and anti-modernist ideology—not to mention IEDs, assassinations and plane-bombs. And until that violent minority of Muslims obsessed with creating a global caliphate is eliminated, or at least convinced of the fruitlessness of their quest—hopefully by their own co-religionists, backed up by the resolve and non-interventionist support of the larger Christian world."

A Christian cordon sanitaire imposed on the Muslim world is just another, more insidious form of Crusade, nothing more and nothing less. I must admit that Dr Williams was moving in a much more useful direction for all of us when he encouraged the recognition of difference within the same society, in part through the acceptance of Shariah as a means of mediation and settlement of disputes within the overall framework of English law, as it has been accepted for Jews, and a celebration of our similarites, our common humanity before our differing perceptions of the Supreme Divinity.

In fact, and I know it may be the novelty of not long having been in England, it strikes me that Dr Williams' solution may contain the seeds of an Anglican Church of many English faiths, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, amongst others, as it has contained so many doctrinally conflicting Anglicanisms over the centuries. And did not Prince Charles suggest that when King, he should be the Defender of Faith rather than the Defender of the Faith? Perhaps the Anglicans will, after all, take over the world under King Charles leading a Crusade for Faith in which the Anglican aim is to represent each world faith to the others as openly, as clearly and with as great an understanding as possible.

And the beauty of the Anglican church is that, within reason, it doesn't demand you believe in things you do not wish to believe to belong. Loving, or simply wishing to enjoy the ritual of membership is good enough, or just to have it in your bones as habit without any other supporting belief. Certainly, as an American Jew I have found comfort in Anglicanism whilst in London.

Maybe that's the answer to your problem, Mr Furnish?


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

What a devastating come-back, what a powerful counter-argument. I think I'll go lick my wounds now.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Here's the latest from the adherents of the "religion of peace," in their own words (translated):

Following are excerpts from a press conference held by Abu 'Abir, spokesman for the Salah Al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, in Gaza. The press conference aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 18, 2008.

To view this clip, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1702.htm .

"Burn Down the Offices Of The Newspapers That Affronted Our Prophet... Bomb Them so Body Parts Go Flying, and With These Body Parts, Allah Will Quench the Believers' Thirst for Revenge"


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Here's the latest from the adherents of the "religion of peace," in their own words (translated):

Following are excerpts from a press conference held by Abu 'Abir, spokesman for the Salah Al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, in Gaza. The press conference aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 18, 2008.

To view this clip, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1702.htm .

"Burn Down the Offices Of The Newspapers That Affronted Our Prophet... Bomb Them so Body Parts Go Flying, and With These Body Parts, Allah Will Quench the Believers' Thirst for Revenge"


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Madame, I volunteered for the military and to learn Arabic. What is the sum total of your denial of self for the greater good?


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Post-modern claptrap, madame.
Simple question: where in my article do I even broach the topic of the Palestinians and Israelis? I have one reference to Jerusalem as a hot spot. That's it. You're the one reading your post-modern Jew hatred into an article about an entirely different topic.


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

You seem to have a profound understanding of - and, I suspect,a genuine fondness for recounting - creative fiction, Mr Kovachev. Perhaps you draw some of your inspiration as well as your extraordinary depth of historical knowledge from the collected works of Philip K Dick?


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

You seem to have a profound understanding of - and, I suspect,a genuine fondness for recounting - creative fiction, Mr Kovachev. Perhaps you draw some of your inspiration as well as your extraordinary depth of historical knowledge from the collected works of Philip K Dick?


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

Mr Furnish, even I, with my modest learning, understand the universal principle of dhimmi and its application to every particular. Again, with my modest knowledge, I can take the particular and apply the universal principle to it and gain an understanding of other particulars, perhaps even all particulars. Of course, I do not think the ideal comparator for any Palestinian is a red herring. Oh, perhaps it is a post-post-Cold War joke that is beyond the reach of my all too human understanding.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Well, Ms Gee, I take it you accept my speculations on China and India, seeing how quickly you moved on to the fashionable form of antisemitism some refer to as "palestinianism." Really, if you cared one bit about the "Palestinians" as people, rather than as cheap fodder to destroy Jews with, you and your like-minded friends would have been upset over (or even cognizant of) Lebanon's recent incursions into the refugee camps there, or about the Arab-on-Arab honour killings, child abuse and fascistic tyranny in Gaza and the West Bank.

As to how "Palestinians" can be both fictional and have a sense of (confused) self, it's actually fairly simple, if you were to take historical facts into account. Until about the mid sixties, the Muslim Arabs in what was formerly an Ottoman province and then a British protectorate, called themselves either Syrians, South Syrians, Egyptians (ones in Gaza) or just plainly Arabs. They would have lopped your head off if you had refered to them as "Palestinians" back then, since they dreamed of pan-Arabic empire and the only ones who called themselves that were the Jews. But when the new Arab nation states tried to manfully annihilate the Jews and learned that it may be a little harder than they originally thought, they created a fictional people, or I should say "nationhood" since "people" confuses you--the "Palestinians." As for the "self-imposed" bit, if you believe logic is your forte, you might agree that someone can still have a sense of self eventhough he may be totally confused about his national identity and historic origins. And no, I don't totally discount them; they are free to call themselves whatever they wish, as long as they don't confuse that right with an obligation on our part to take them seriously.

It's quite predictable of you to reverse reality and to attempt to stain vicitms of Nazis and other genocidal maniacs with those same labels. You and modern neo-Nazis are on the same page with this strategy...just check out their websites. Tired old stuff, really, and while no one with a brain buys into such obscenities anymore, it tells us quite a bit about you. If your aim was to nauseate me, you can chalk up your first victory.

But allow me, for the sake of others, as you are quite an ideological goner I'm sure, to focus on the real world again. The only genocides committed and planned by anyone in the ME were and continue to be by Muslims, who in British Paplestine (don't get excited, just a name of an administrative territory) allied with the Nazis...the real, goose-stepping sort, I might add. Five or six "wars of annihilation" against Jews and Israel; ongoing rapes, robberies and expulsions of Christians and other non-Muslims from the West Bank through most of Asia and all the way to the Phillipines; chemical warfare against Kurdish civilians (Iraq); using tens of thousands of children as landmine sweepers (Iran during the Iran-Iran war), etc. But I'm sure you know these things, they're just some "inconvenient truths" that get in the way of your hoped-for destruction of Israel, either by Ahmenedijad's anticipated nukes or by a piece-meal carving away of Israel. That's one dream you, your friends and old Adolf have in common.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Well, Ms Gee, I take it you accept my speculations on China and India, seeing how quickly you moved on to the fashionable form of antisemitism some refer to as "palestinianism." Really, if you cared one bit about the "Palestinians" as people, rather than as cheap fodder to destroy Jews with, you and your like-minded friends would have been upset over (or even cognizant of) Lebanon's recent incursions into the refugee camps there, or about the Arab-on-Arab honour killings, child abuse and fascistic tyranny in Gaza and the West Bank.

As to how "Palestinians" can be both fictional and have a sense of (confused) self, it's actually fairly simple, if you were to take historical facts into account. Until about the mid sixties, the Muslim Arabs in what was formerly an Ottoman province and then a British protectorate, called themselves either Syrians, South Syrians, Egyptians (ones in Gaza) or just plainly Arabs. They would have lopped your head off if you had refered to them as "Palestinians" back then, since they dreamed of pan-Arabic empire and the only ones who called themselves that were the Jews. But when the new Arab nation states tried to manfully annihilate the Jews and learned that it may be a little harder than they originally thought, they created a fictional people, or I should say "nationhood" since "people" confuses you--the "Palestinians." As for the "self-imposed" bit, if you believe logic is your forte, you might agree that someone can still have a sense of self eventhough he may be totally confused about his national identity and historic origins. And no, I don't totally discount them; they are free to call themselves whatever they wish, as long as they don't confuse that right with an obligation on our part to take them seriously.

It's quite predictable of you to reverse reality and to attempt to stain vicitms of Nazis and other genocidal maniacs with those same labels. You and modern neo-Nazis are on the same page with this strategy...just check out their websites. Tired old stuff, really, and while no one with a brain buys into such obscenities anymore, it tells us quite a bit about you. If your aim was to nauseate me, you can chalk up your first victory.

But allow me, for the sake of others, as you are quite an ideological goner I'm sure, to focus on the real world again. The only genocides committed and planned by anyone in the ME were and continue to be by Muslims, who in British Paplestine (don't get excited, just a name of an administrative territory) allied with the Nazis...the real, goose-stepping sort, I might add. Five or six "wars of annihilation" against Jews and Israel; ongoing rapes, robberies and expulsions of Christians and other non-Muslims from the West Bank through most of Asia and all the way to the Phillipines; chemical warfare against Kurdish civilians (Iraq); using tens of thousands of children as landmine sweepers (Iran during the Iran-Iran war), etc. But I'm sure you know these things, they're just some "inconvenient truths" that get in the way of your hoped-for destruction of Israel, either by Ahmenedijad's anticipated nukes or by a piece-meal carving away of Israel. That's one dream you, your friends and old Adolf have in common.


Rodney Huff - 3/5/2008

Thanks, Sally.


N. Friedman - 3/5/2008

Peter,

And welcome back to you as well.


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

So, Mr Kovachev, you think it a topical question, whereas Mr Furnish considers it redundant in the light of the wise words in his article. I think I can see the join now.

Nice touch with, "..a lot of undeserved boo-hoos for a fictional people, the "Palestinians," and their self-imposed problems...". If they are fictional how do they have a self with which to impose their problems? But leaving your diffuculties with logical thought on one side for a moment, I think you have a political axe to grind, Mr Kovachev, and it is one which discounts an entire people: an appropriate mind-set for genocide, I am sure you will agree, and one which you would appear to share with the highest echelons of the IDF and the Israeli cabinet. Oh, and the Nazis, of course.


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

"...but the blue Christian world dominates most of the rest of the planet (“atheist” China and Hindu India excepted), as well as the seas". Duh?


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

For the neocons, and, it would appear, Mr Furnish as well, there is always too much scabbard and never enough blade, Mr Huff.


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

You obviously follow debates as carelessly as you construct your arguments, Mr Furnish.

And as for taking the trouble to learn Arabic, I understand you learned it out of necessity when you in the service of the American taxpayer - or is that also fantasy?

And perhaps you are right to hint that I am sometimes a little tetchy with timewasters and those who seek to make light of genocidal threats. I shall try to be more restrained in future and wait at least ten seconds before putting fingers to keyboard.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Omar,
There is an Organization of the Islamic Conference. Why should the Christian (or Hindu or Buddhist) world not have a similar arrangement?


omar ibrahim baker - 3/5/2008

Is that the herd is at a loss what to do, where to stand and what to say.
On the one hand the proposal being primarily conceived to resist, stop and reverse Islam is heartily welcomed.
On the other it being a Christian coalition and with a slight rear look at their history of relations one better be careful and wary!


Rodney Huff - 3/5/2008

(Posted in response above, perhaps lost in the shuffle)

We would be drawing our swords in self-defense, Mr. Furnish? But our sword has already been drawn. And, according to our own National Intelligence Estimate, it's our drawing of the sword that has helped increase the threat that neocons want firmly fixed in the minds of Americans.

For instance, this administration chose to invade Iraq, a policy that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people (and the expatriation of many more). Do you think Jihadists will now find stronger footholds in places like Iraq?

Meanwhile, this administration has drawn another sword. In August of last year, this administration agreed to give Israel $30 billion in military aid. So, instead of playing honest broker between the Palestinians and Israelis to facilitate peace, this administration has chosen a side. And, by refusing to see both sides of the conflict, this administration has chosen to help perpetuate the cycle of violence and reprisal.

Besides being dishonest and immoral, this administration's uncritical support of Israel may also confirm the fears and suspicions that the U.S. is lethally biased aganist Muslims, thus strengthening the hand of Jihadists.

Do you not see the positive feedback dynamic here? Do you not see how merely choosing a side serves only to ensure that the violence continues?

Every violent exchange in this conflict is justified as retaliation for the previous violent exchange. So we see retaliation for retaliation for retaliation for retaliation ad infinitum. Until someone simply stops, the exchanges will continue to pile up, along with the dead bodies, mostly innocent people caught in the crossfire.

The only ones who have an interest in perpetuating this violence are obviously the ones who are being empowered by it. That's why I find your proposal to simply add more fuel to the fire in the name of self-defense so maddening; it plays wonderfully into the hands of those who have an interest in escalating the violence.

Yes, I agree with you Mr. Furnish: There are villains on the side of this conflict you oppose, but there are also villains on the side you support. We cannot hope to achieve peace by choosing to support the villans of one side or the other. We must reach for a third side, Mr. Furnish, one that transcends the two partially blinded sides in the conflict to begin building a platform for peace.

You know, on the dollar bill, that eye on top of the pyrmaid? That's supposed to represent the role of the U.S. in international conflicts: the enlightened eye that sees all sides. Since at least WWI, we've abandoned that role. We need to restore ourselves in that role and start working for peace.

But since there's little money to be made in peace, you can expect the neocons to insist on remaining blind; and they'll continue to look to writings such as yours to fuel the fear that drives ordinary people to blindly accept their violent "solutions" in exchange for a false sense of security.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Perhaps you are right about the IQs. So, perhaps the ability to connect geometric shapes and complete mathematical puzzles for a questionable test needs to be adjusted to the ability to acknowledge reality.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Now, now, professor, let's not quibble. Having read what one criticises is not a requirement for "progressive thought." And as Ms Gee's generation expects, we must be supportive, positive, nourishing, encouraging, and empowering whenever we detect the slightest sign of cerebral activity.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Ah, a topical question finally, Ms Gee. What an honour that I should be the first to benefit from what must be such a rare statistical event for you.

The PR Chinese with their superiority complex will do what they always do; they'll side with whoever butters their bread. The moment Middle Eastern oil becomes less important, they'll dump Arabs and Iranians whom they consider as barbarians anyway. Besides, China has its own Muslim problem which it has been solving somewhat viciously and without international commentary. I.e., a lot of undeserved boo-hoos for a fictional people, the "Palestinians," and their self-imposed problems, but not a single peep for the Xinjiang Muslims under the heals of the glorious People's Army.

As for India, which I trust you know has had its own issues with Islam and continues to be under attack, it will no doubt gladly ally in a defense pact with any effective alliance capable of actually stopping or even rolling back jihadist gains.



Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Oh, they have high IQs, no doubt (at least in the case of Huff and Gee)--which makes their inability, or refusal, to acknowledge reality all the more perplexing and irritating.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

I dealt with that in my article, Ms. Gee. Try actually reading it, rather than just skimming it for ammo for your snide remarks.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Ms. Gee,
Are ad hominems one of your inveterate traits, or must you cultivate hurling them?
Where for God's sake in my article do I discuss Israel and the Palestinians? That is a total red herring.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Glad to see you're still publishing here, Professor. But can't you call in do something about rustling-up a more interesting oposition here? The combined intellectual wattage of Gee, Huff and Omar still add up to an IQ of a boiled potato.


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

Quite deranged in an amusing kind of way, Mr Kovachev, much like Mr Furnish's original article. Where do, say, the Chinese and the Indian fit into all of this, then? Are they going to stand on one side as mildly indulgent observers, heh?


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

If he'e on your side, Mr Furnish, thank God I'm playing for a different team.


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

A dimmy calling the dhimmi... well... more protected than the Palestinians facing genocide at the hands of the IDF in Gaza, perhaps?


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Professor Furnish,

Greetings and congratulations on a fine essay.

I have to admit that in view of the splits among Christians and the attitude and the non-confrontational posture of many...e.g., the meek Eastern Orthodox Church, or the slowly expiring "liberal" denominations...I don't see the possibility of such a block in the near future. Add to that the visceral fear by the secular establishments…some of it well-founded, but much of it merely an expression of ideological faith… the West or Christendom (a good example of our inability to agree on a definition of "us"), doesn't appear to be even willing to upset anyone by voicing the problem, much less to seriously consider strategies and tactics. Witness how few Christians are even willing to call attention to the fact that their own coreligionists are being systematically targeted and slaughtered by Islamists all over the world, while the big issues for the leadership are pseudo-Marxist divestment campaigns and gay marriage.

On the other hand, your proposal is not an impossibility. What fuels militant Islam today is, of course, oil, agreat boon to nations with no skills to show on their resumes, but a deceptive and ultimately finite resource which will yield less and less to the growing Muslim populations and the funding requirements of the Islamists. And while the mainstream churches may have turned into near empty union halls, Protestant Evangelism is relatively unified and growing even in written-off “Eurabia,” and a confident Christianity is emerging in the former Eastern Block. So, difficulties notwithstanding, it may be just a matter of time when an unabashed Christianity and an economically weakening Islam converge for a Christian alliance to coalesce and to begin pulling its weight. I just hope that the new Sword of Constantinople will treat those who never threatened it, like the Jews and the animists, with more Christian charity than was the case in the past.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Peter,
Glad to see you're back in the game!


Rodney Huff - 3/5/2008

We would be drawing our swords in self-defense, Mr. Furnish? But our sword has already been drawn. And, according to our own National Intelligence Estimate, it's our drawing of the sword that has helped increase the threat that neocons want firmly fixed in the minds of Americans.

For instance, this administration chose to invade Iraq, a policy that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people (and the expatriation of many more). Do you think Jihadists will now find stronger footholds in places like Iraq?

Meanwhile, this administration has drawn another sword. In August of last year, this administration agreed to give Israel $30 billion in military aid. So, instead of playing honest broker between the Palestinians and Israelis to facilitate peace, this administration has chosen a side. And, by choosing a side instead of seeing both sides of the conflict, this administration has chosen to help perpetuate the cycle of violence and reprisal.

Besides being dishonest and immoral, this administration's uncritical support of Israel may also confirm the fears and suspicions that the U.S. is lethally biased aganist Muslims, thus strengthening the hand of Jihadists.

Do you not see the positive feedback dynamic here? Do you not see how merely choosing a side only serves to escalate the violence?

Yes, I agree with you Mr. Furnish: There are villains on both sides of this conflict. But we cannot hope to achieve peace by choosing to support the villans of one side. We must reach for a third side, Mr. Furnish, one that transcends the two partially blinded sides in the conflict to begin building a platform for peace.

You know, on the dollar bill, that eye on top of the pyrmaid? That's supposed to represent the role of the U.S. in international conflicts: the enlightened eye that sees all sides. Ever since WWI, we've abandoned that role. We need to restore ourselves in that role and start working for peace.

But since there's little money to be made in peace, you can expect the neocons to insist on remaining blind; and they'll continue to look to writings such as yours to fuel the fear that drives ordinary people to blindly accept their violent "solutions" in exchange for a false sense of security.







Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Ms. Gee,
You, who engage in a litany of ad hominem attacks, are lecturing us on "practical decency?" Amazing.
Still waiting for you to answer if you've ever actually read the Qur'an, even in English--since I seriously doubt you can read it in Arabic. Only "fantasists" like myself bother to take the time to learn Arabic in order to do that.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Ms. Gee,
Better a "Crusader" than a dhimmi.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Mr Huff,

You have done a fine job establishing your political correctness with all the proper noises, and you even managed to snag an eager groupie with Ms Gee. I particularly enjoyed your attempt to stain a very apt and factually unassailable term, "Islam's bloody borders" as paternalistic or something like that (I imagine that would be b-a-a-a-d thing?).

Nevertheless, after all that snooty huffing and the creaky old cliches, what exactly makes your presumably cool and hip worldview so much better than that of others? Other than perhaps being a pretty good chick magnet on campus.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Ms Gee,

Considering everything I've read from you so far, i.e., a lot of rude and vapid attitude-babble with no substance, anyone would be forgiven for dismissing you as just a "tool." And not a particularly useful one at that.


Peter Kovachev - 3/5/2008

Hello N,

Sorry to drop four dots and run, as it were; I'm getting back online and wanted to see if my passwords still work. What better way then to test things on fellows I know?


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

We so rarely catch the voice of commonsense and practical decency on these pages that I it is something of a shock to come across the spendidly rational and realistic Mr Huff's comments. Excellent, but over the heads of Messrs Friedman and Furnish, I fear.


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

Mr Furnish, if what you say is the case, I think the neo-cons might well consider you "a useful fool".


Sally Gee - 3/5/2008

Oh dear. Talk about the blind, uncomprehending fantasist leading the blind uncomprehending fantasist.

"I do not think Europeans have secularism. That is what we have in America. Europeans have nihilism - as in they do not believe in anything." And certainly not in Israel's genocidal policies or the virtues of losing their own human treasure in self-defeating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which serve only to increase the number of young Muslims who believe that their values are under attack from Western Crusaders like Mr Furnish and Zionist apologists for genocidal policies like Mr Friedman.


N. Friedman - 3/5/2008

Mr. Huff,

Do you believe in a right of self-defense?

And, if you do, do you believe that you and I have a right to defend against those who are fighting a jihad against us? If so, what may we do? If not, why not?

Do you deny that there is a religious movement among Muslims which seeks to kill you and me or to dominate you and me? If not, what is the factual basis for that denial?


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

I'm glad you at least thing my prose is "colorful." Thanks.
Well, I would submit that drawing one's sword in defense is qualitatively different from drawing it to attack first.
And I note that you put the burden on the West--or perhaps just American "neocons"--of creating a "constant state of emergency." No fault ascribed to the legion of Islamic ideologues, faciltators, apologists, murderers, assassins and suicide-bombers. I guess Theo Van Gogh's killing was Bush's fault, too?


Rodney Huff - 3/5/2008

Mr. Furnish:

"It is time for the Christian West to draw its own broadsword, first and foremost to defend itself but also to defend the rest of this planet from the threat of the caliphate. But make no mistake, there will be blood before the idea of a global caliphate is abandoned."

Now compare 3 of the 4 core missions for U.S. military forces established by The Project for a New American Century:
(1) Defend the American Homeland,
(2) fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars,
(3) perform the contabulary duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions.
(From "Rebuilding America's Defenses")

The language isn't as colorful as yours, Mr. Furnish, but it says the same thing: We must draw our sword.

Your belligerent writings can only be a gold mine for neocons who want to justify pumping up an already bloated military budget.

Meanwhile, have you considered the near certainty of blowback associated with executing your Middle Earth solution? Such an aggresive act would exacerbate the very threat you intend to counter. (Much like Bush's Iraq war, which has served as a recruiting tool for Al-qaeda.) The appeal of the Jihadists would certainly be enhanced if potential recruits in the "Muslim world" suddenly found themselves surrounded by a military alliance calling itself "Christendom." Perhaps that violent minority you fear so much would then turn into a violent majority, if it was learned that such a military alliance meant to patrol the "bloody borders of Islam" (that phrase just smacks of paternalism and ethnocentrism).

This is a neocon's dream come true: the creation of a constant state of emergency.


N. Friedman - 3/5/2008

Professor,

Thanks, most especially since I think you are a very good scholar.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

I sit corrected. Good point.


N. Friedman - 3/5/2008

Professor,

As I understand it, Secularism is a government policy that does not favor one religion over another and that allows people to practice religion freely.

I do not think Europeans have secularism. That is what we have in America. Europeans have nihilism - as in they do not believe in anything.

In any event, whatever it is called, if Europeans - or at least some of them - are ready to face up to reality, so much the better.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/5/2008

Mr. Friedman,
I'm not so sure that the Euros--even those in the Western part--would find returning to Christendom anathema. The French and the Dutch, as well as the Danes, would seem to be finally realizing that you can't beat something (Islam) with nothing (secularism).


N. Friedman - 3/4/2008

Mr. Craigen,

I am not religious. By heritage, I am Jewish.

My point was not that Professor Furnish favored some form of Christian nation thing, Christian imperialism or anything of the sort. I know his writings to well to think that. I merely note that a defense that in any way ties in with Christianity will be an anathema to most Europeans. At present, Europeans have not even really faced up to the fact that there is a war against them.

As for your first point, religious ideology is, as you say, ideology. However, religious ideology is likely the most potent form of ideology. So, it is potentially far more dangerous than a secular ideology. After all, secular ideas like Fascism and Nazism died off. Communism, at least its Marxist version, has largely died off too.

By contrast, a religious movement - such as the Islamic revival movement aka Islamism - will not readily die off. It is something one that a devout person can believe in with his or her whole being, not just to advance this or that agenda.

I make a point of noting that the relationship between Islamism and Islam the religion as it has manifested itself in history. In my view, the movement is an authentic religious movement to revive Islam as it was understood prior to the time that Islamic military power began to crumble. That is why I prefer to speak of an Islamic revival movement and to deny that there has been, as some say, a hijacking of a religion.

That does not deny borrowings from, for example, the Nazis - which Islamists have surely done. It is not to deny some rethinking of certain Islamic concepts in order to adjust for the world as it is today. What I do mean is that we are dealing with an authentic religious revival movement that is well within the Islamic tradition - as it has manifested itself historically -, not a hijacking of it, as some people allege with facile disregard of the historical record.


N. Friedman - 3/4/2008

Mr. Huff,

I did not say religion is being used by the Jihadis to achieve political ends. I said religion is being used to achieve religious ends. A caliphate is a religious institution.

I do agree with you that religion is a means for achieving and holding power for some. However, it is different than a secular ideology - far more interesting and far more difficult to counter. It is more difficult to counter because its adherents not only believe it but believe it in a way that secular ideologies are rarely believed.

As for sides, I am not on the side of the Jihadis. They have made their message clear. They aim to kill you and me or otherwise dominate us. So, why would I side with them?

On the other hand, I do not know how best to resist the aims of the Jihadis. So, I am interested in understanding Professor Furnish's ideas as one possible manner of resistance. And, I know for a fact that he is very knowledgeable about Islam because I read his excellent book, Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden. So, I take him seriously.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/4/2008

Mr. Huff,
Yes, it is obvious which side I am on, if you actually read and understand what I wrote--and I most most decidedly NOT on the "neocon" side. I take pains to point out that the GCA I propose would NOT meddle in internal affairs in the Islamic world. So that makes me, if anything, an anti-neocon.
To paraphrase Dr. Henry Jones: try actually reading articles before you critize them.


R. Craigen - 3/4/2008

"Mr Craigen, I'm being sarcastic and penetrating whilst Mr Furnish is not."

...just in case nobody else noticed how brilliant your comments were, of course. Is "penetrating" is another example of your sarcasm? Now that would indeed be penetrating!


Rodney Huff - 3/4/2008

I know what Jihadists claim and I explain why they claim it.

Religion, as you say, is used to justify violence used to achieve poiltical ends - power, control, domination, hegemony. That's all there is to it. Religion doesn't explain much. Religion needs to be explained.

The goal of Bible-thumping neocons is no different from that of Jihadists. Both groups feel they have God's special attention and both use fear and violence to fuel the conflict that wins adherents for both sides.

It's obvious which side you and Mr. Furnish are on.


R. Craigen - 3/4/2008

I think, Mr. Friedman, that the key is not so much religion, as general ideology. The threat of the Caliphate is indeed political and religious, but the essence is the virulent and uncompromising ideology of the Caliphate movement. Ideological threats of this nature rarely back down in the battlefield, even when met with overwhelming force. Adherhents are prepared to be mowed down like grass, and more just keep coming -- as we see in Afghanistan.

The only long-term defence the west can muster -- and arguably a more humane, moral, and reasonable one than simply accellerating violence as the pitch of worldwide military and "civilizational" jihad grows -- is to rally around a core of shared values and a common vision clearly superior to that of the caliphate.

Trouble with antijihadism in a vacuum is that while it is clearly AGAINST something it is not really FOR something. Furnish makes a proposal -- which I think begs refinement -- for one possible central paradigm. His proposal surely beats that of Hitchens, in any case.

While it sounds self-serving for a Christian to propose "Christendom" be such a unifying principle, Furnish is not talking about religious imperialism, proselytization or theocracy, only reinforcing something that's already there -- a heritage, if you will -- and making it a flag for freedom-loving nations to rally around.

There is a significant distinction to be made here between "Christendom" and "Christianity". You and I both live in (the modern remnants of) Christendom. But perhaps we are not both Christians. The distinction is not at all insignificant.

Let us not allow words and their connotations to cloud the issue. Furnish has left the door open for others to refine the proposal; perhaps a different choice of words is in order?


N. Friedman - 3/4/2008

Mr. Huff,

Well, I do not know what Christians are supposed to act like. I do know that turning the other cheek is only one part of Christianity - among the more interesting parts. At the same time, I note that religion has been the justification for much violence by Christians - although no worse, except toward Jewish people - about which Christianity has historically treated abominably -, than other religious groups.

As for the conflict being a mere political one, I think that is contrary to fact. I think it is primarily a war by people of one religion against other groups, the goals and justification for which are mostly religious in nature. That is why Muslims speak of the dispute as a Jihad.

A Jihad is a quintessential example of a religiously based war. It is something specific to Islam. While a Jihad is superficially akin to a Crusade - which is discarded relic from Christianity's violent past -, Jihad is a living institution of Islam. Were the dispute with the west a political war, it would not be called a Jihad because Jihad is not, in Islamic parlance, the same as an ordinary war. Rather, as its literal meaning suggests, it is not just a war but a religious struggle. The Arabic terminology for this struggle is Jihad fi sabil Allah or, in English, striving in the path of Allah.

And, we have substantial evidence that those who lead the Jihad - not to mention their followers - have religious aims in mind. Among them, there is the goal of the reinstatement of the Caliphate, a religious institution akin to the Pope except that the Caliphate also has political power. Which is to say, this is a war by religiously inspired group who aim to create a theocracy.

I might suggest that you read a bit more about Jihad in history and that you read a bit about the views of the Jihadists. So far as today's Jihadists are concerned, you might begin with their own writings. The most complete collection thus far - with writings addressed by Jihadists to their own - is Raymond Ibraham's collection of their writings, which he calls The Al Qaeda Reader. After reading that book, you really will not be able to say that the Jihadists have mere political aims because the Jihadists claim otherwise.


Rodney Huff - 3/4/2008

No, most so-called Christians have not acted in the way that "I describe," which is merely the way prescribed by Jesus Christ the Lord, their savior (not me). To the extent that they have not acted like Christians, they have contributed to the cycle of violence and reprisal that threatens everyone, not just Christians and Muslims.

The people who are becoming empowered by this violence have an interest in fueling it, not ending it. Mr. Furnish, by advocating some kind of fantastic Middle-Earth military showdown, unwittingly (or knowingly) speaks on behalf of the warlords who want the killing to continue.

If the killing does continue, then fear of retaliatory violence will drive people to support the warlords, because they think that the warlords will protect them. The warlords don't; they make sure the violence continues so that the common people will keep running to them. And who suffers most as the violence escalates? The common people, of course.

On this side, it's the neocons who benefit politically and economically from the violence. You can be sure they'll continue to do their part to keep the violence going. This "War on Terror" is really profitable!

On the other side, you have the Jihadists. Since they, too, are becoming empowered by the violence, you can expect them to do their part as well. They, too, will eventually seduce the ordinary, peace-loving people who feel threatened by this political conflict.

And here it is important to keep in mind that this is not essentially a religious conflict; it's a political one. The people benefiting from this political conflict try to convince the common people that it's a religious conflict, not a political one, thus appealing to their emotions and making them feel as if it is their moral duty to support the warlord, as if they are under attack for being who they are. They hate our religion! Now we must unite under this strongman who promises us security! They hate our freedom! Now we must unite under this cowboy who promises us security!

On both sides, you see the same tactics. And on both sides, you see the same results.

The common people on both sides are tired of the same old results and want to reach across the political divide for reconciliation. But the warlords in charge prevent this from happening. They use their authority and sensational rhetoric to define the terms of the conflict (it's all about religion, it's a war between civilizations! East against West! It's Jihad! It's a War on Terror!). They vilify people who desire peace - they're stupid, they're naive, they don't understand the nature of the threat, they don't understand the "enemy." They inflate the enemy, exaggerate threats, and inspire fear every opportunity they get.

But it's all B.S., served up by elites on both sides to keep themselves in power.



Tim R. Furnish - 3/4/2008

Well, Ms. Gee, you're half-right: I'm avoiding your dripping sarcasm. We'll let the public decide who's more "penetrating," however.


N. Friedman - 3/4/2008

Omar,

You write: "a-IT is simply nonfactual and erroneous to claim that ” while the Crusades ended centuries ago “ ; that is the antonym, the exact opposite, of historical truth in that it goes contrary to the still plainly remembered by all facts of recent history.
Islamdom , from Indonesia to Morocco, was only recently liberated from Western/Christian (Dutch to French) colonialism, which is the essence of the Crusades, that has lasted for some three centuries and lingers on under many forms."

Actually, the Crusades and the imperial period have between them the invasion of Europe by the Ottoman Empire. And that invasion brought Ottoman troops as far away from Istanbul as Poland and Austria (i.e. up to Vienna). It had the Ottoman Empire ruling Greece, ruling the Balkans, ruling chunks of Russia and the Ukraine. As a result of such wars, Muslims colonized many parts of Europe, with disputes remaining to this day due to disputes between groups in the Balkans who define themselves, at least in part, by religion.

So, while it is true that Muslims gained greater independence from Europe after being under attack - actually a counterattack against the Ottoman Empire and the Persian empires -, it is not true to suggest that such was part of the Crusades - a specific movement from a specific period of time. I would suggest that you align your "plainly remembered" events with a knowledge of the actual historical events.

You write: It is accurate and historically correct to portray the liberation wars/movements of Islamdom from this colonialism as “, the Jihad to which they (colonialist aggression) were a response,”; that would be “liberation Jihad”.

I do not think that is accurate either. I think the freedom won by Muslims after WWII had little to do with Jihad and everything to do with the inability of Europe to continue its more imperial policies, not to mention the fact that the US opposed Europe's imperial policy. Hence, it was the US which drove Britain and France out of the Suez Canal.

Jihad of liberation had exactly nothing to do with the creation Pakistan - which was a secular movement by a very secular man. The freedom of the Arab regions was part of the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. The demise of the empire resulted from the empire's stupid decision to participate in WWI which resulted, moreover, in Ottoman rule being driven out of Europe and, with the support of Europeans, out of Arab lands as well. Note: the aftermath of WWI and WWII created today's Arab states.

The modern jihad of importance today may trace back to Arafat. But, it also gathered steam with the Afghanistan war.


Sally Gee - 3/4/2008

Think of it this way, Mr Craigen, I'm being sarcastic and penetrating whilst Mr Furnish is not. And I'm neither as pessimistic nor as aggressive in my opinions as you appear to be. Perhaps I'm just too Enlightened for my own good. Who can tell? But do try to be a little more cheerful about the day after next... After all, it may never arrive.


R. Craigen - 3/4/2008

Sally, I'm sorry you find my reasoning "inelegant and banal." you write:

"I've never, ever suggested that Christianity is the biggest threat to world peace. It isn't, nor is it ever likely to be...Still, I don't see why you feel it appropriate to put stupid suggestions in my mouth "

I apologize, I was being hyperbolic in my stream-of-consciousness scratchings; it is quite true that your statements did not say you thought Christianity was the BIGGEST threat to world peace. Perhaps you feel it is poverty, or American Imperialism, or Global Warming, or whatever.

Let us deal instead with what you HAVE written:

"So we oppose the fearsome prospect of a potential Islamic theocracy with the even more fearsome prospect of revivified Christian theocracies"

From this I assumed that (i) you were engaging in the popular hysteria about some proposed conspiracy to bring in a Christian Theocracy in the west; and (ii) a clear pronouncement that you feel that a revived Christian Theocracy is a more "fearsome prospect" than, say, an Islamic Theocracy.

In response:

(i) It is an unfair extension of your words to insist that you are promoting this popular and ridiculous conspiracy theory. It is just as unfair for you to read into Mr. Furnish's words a proposal to set up or revive a theocratic government system.

As I read his piece, Furnish is making a loosely-formed proposal for "Christendom" to be revived as a cultural and political alliance -- that is, for a large block of nations who broadly identify with the cultural values the west has acquired through the influence and shaping of centuries of Christianity. The idea is for the "West", or what remains of it, to rally around a central cultural and ideological "flag".

(ii) But, for the moment, let us suppose that he is suggesting we return to a Theocracy, say of the sort that was operative in southern Europe around the time of the inquisition, let us say during the lifetime of Galileo, which may be some people's ideas of a worst case scenario.

Now compare it to the Taliban and Islamic Courts' ideas of a Theocracy, as illustrated recently in Afghanistan and Somalia. I can find plenty of horrid, spine-chilling things from the centuries of christian theocracy, but nothing like we saw in these two recent examples-in-hand. For example, particularly enthusiastic mayor in Somalia promised to behead anyone in his domain not performing the five daily prayers. There are dozens of similar stories (that have made it to the West) from the few weeks they had power. You don't need my examples from the longer-term Taliban regime.

But nobody, least of all Furnish, is proposing any return to medieval christian theocracy. Those proposing "modern" Christian theocracy are, if you can find them, a scattered and marginalized group with not a whisper of a hope of bringing such an agenda to the forefront in the West. The same is not true by any stretch, regarding those who strive for theocracy in Dar al-Islam.

Do you really stand by the qualifier "even more fearsome"? You don't seem this crazy, Sally.

As for the block of nations idea, okay, suppose you think it's a really bad idea to use our common heritage, loosely described as "Christendom" as a flag. Would you stand with Hitchens in suggesting that we need an "English world alliance"? Do you have something better to propose?

Or do you think that western nations should eschew any ideological or common reference points all together, forget about any clash of civilizations, and let this enormous, ideologically unified and increasingly aggressive political block continue to impose its agenda on the world with clear opposition?

"Just ignore it, and it'll go away"? or as Omar argues, "Jihad threat? What Jihad threat? Nothing to look at here, folks...move along!"


omar ibrahim baker - 3/4/2008


5-Mr Craigen makes a good and valid point by stating:

” The tactic works because we have what i call a "confessional" culture -- we publicly announce and condemn our society's sins, and the sins of our fathers -- a twisted, surreal version of a central ingredient of Christianity, confession of sin, which has become seared into the personality of our culture to an extend that we generally don't recognize whence it comes.”

True enough there is no equivalent to the Christian "Confessional culture" in Islam neither for private sins nor for community “sins”, nor has there ever been a “market” for absolution decrees!

All that a Moslem can do to absolve himself from his sinful deed(s) is to address himself privately, directly and intermediary less, to God and ask for his forgiveness in a one to one relation and dialogue/
supplication.
This could explain the rarity of “ private confessions” made voluntarily in the public domain in Arab and Moslem life in general.

The “confession” due, but unmade, to Arab/Moslem “ communal/societal/ historical sins” though markedly below the Christian, not Judeo/Christian, level is another matter altogether!

Thisis mainly due to the enshrinement
of the “confessional” in Christian ideology and life and the historical PHASE in which it is/was/will be made!

A successful conqueror, such as the West at this phase in history, can afford to be magnimanious and confess to his sins particularly if that is part of a PR campaign to soothe the vanquished.

The defeated, conquered party can NOT afford it, at this stage, while the battle is still raging with the conqueror.
It will only sap energy from his camp at the stage where every iota of it is needed.

Not that there is nothing to be” ashamed” of in Arab /Moslem history; there is plenty but , for the times, some were "excusable" and most were much less, in quality and quantity, than their counterparts'.

Here, Mr. Craigen, I urge you to reconsider my conclusion that
” Any presumptions to the contrary ( about Islam) are either based on any of the following or a combination there of “.
In which case:
“3- Failure to distinguish, or deliberate collation, between the demands of the Divine mission as dictated and practiced by the Prophet during his lifetime and the subsequent demands, and practices, of an old empire then under development; as with many Western "scholars".” seems to apply.


However neither the medieval Crusades, nor the Christian Conquest of South America nor Islamic conquests were "abnormal sins" AT THE TIME they were undertaken.
That was the norm and the normal due process for empire building adhered to by all then.

Conversely the Zionist colonization/usurpation of Palestine that gave birth to Israel and the conquest and destruction of Iraq by the USA are, undisputably, abnormal cardinal sins for the standards of the, "modern", times in which they were committed.


N. Friedman - 3/4/2008

Mr. Huff,

When I spoke of a Christian based response, all I meant was a response by groups who define themselves, in some sense of the word (e.g. belief, history, ancestry, culture) by their Christianity.

As for what to do about people who claim a right to kill you, Christians have not generally responded, historically speaking, as you describe. Some have, of course, but most have taken up arms - and, looked to religion for solace and support for so acting.


Rodney Huff - 3/4/2008

I'm not a Christian, but I understand what "Christian-based response" would be:

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. ....Do to others as you would have them do to you.

—Luke 6:27-31. NIV






omar ibrahim baker - 3/4/2008

Mr Craigen
Just to make sure that we understand each other, or that I understand you, and for you to better equip and arm your onslaught on Islam pray:

1-Indicate what, where, which of my post is infected with "kitman"* and/or"takkiya"**? And how that is or should be in a very short, for the subject, article?

2- Re your pivotal sentence/claim that:
"while the Crusades ended centuries ago, the Jihad to which they were a response, in the minds of many muslims today, perhaps even a majority -- still goes on! “

a-IT is simply nonfactual and erroneous to claim that ” while the Crusades ended centuries ago “ ; that is the antonym, the exact opposite, of historical truth in that it goes contrary to the still plainly remembered by all facts of recent history.
Islamdom , from Indonesia to Morocco, was only recently liberated from Western/Christian (Dutch to French) colonialism, which is the essence of the Crusades, that has lasted for some three centuries and lingers on under many forms.

b-It is accurate and historically correct to portray the liberation wars/movements of Islamdom from this colonialism as “, the Jihad to which they (colonialist aggression) were a response,”; that would be “liberation Jihad”.

c-However had you had the present efforts to combat , oppose and resist Zionist colonialism of Palestine and American imperialism in Iraq as the Jihad which is still
“in the minds of many muslims today, perhaps even a majority -- still goes on! “
you would be right and correct; for both are definitely forms of “LIBERATION” Jihad!

3-Your sentence :
“While the Crusades were about reclaiming historic lands of Christendom, the Jihad is about conquering the whole world and creating a monolithic worldwide superstate with a single controlling ideology.)”
IS intriguing:

a-:” While the Crusades were about reclaiming historic lands of Christendom,”
You are obviously intent here on refighting 15 centuries old battles
(Both President Bush and Israel seem to, though.)

b-You persist in misrepresenting the goals of the present Islamic revival movement as:

” about conquering the whole world and creating a monolithic worldwide superstate with a single controlling ideology”.

However far from aiming at a :
” worldwide superstate with a single controlling ideology”.

The essence of the present Jihad, as perceived by Islamists supported by the mass of Moslems, is to repulse aggression as in Palestine and Iraq etc, and achieve truly “independent” states; unless of course you entertain the notion that Moslem states will soon “out arm” with modern technology and weapons the, say, USA!

4-RE your sentence:”
The object of this form of Jihad is to use the pen and word to force capitulation, through demanding concessions (headscarf exemptions, dietary accommodations, special immunity against "blasphemy" or fair but critical commentary, of the sort not granted to any other religious sensibilities, etc);


Pray tell us what is wrong with a Jihad of mind and word aiming at:
“….demanding concessions (headscarf exemptions, dietary accommodations, etc “
a-Are you on the record as being against wearing a “yarmulke” or the “Cross” in public and in schools?
b-Are you, in principle, against religious/cultural “ dietary accommodation” for ALL?
c -Have NOT the WEST been careful about NOT presenting Jews with pork! Was that wrong or just plain civilized!
However the key words here, and I note with appreciation your specific choice of these words,: “is to use the pen and word”.
d-Are you against the use of the “pen” and the “word” in principle or just in this case?

However I also note that you have not disputed my claim that:
“Europe will loose nothing if such intensely private matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance etc are regulated by sub laws in accordance with the cultural heritage of those that voluntarily choose to be adjudicated by them!
If any thing it will give a new and broader meaning and a new dimension to the concepts of “personal choice/freedom” and “full citizenship” in a multicultural society.”




5-Re “The tactic works because we have what i call a "confessional" culture -- we publicly announce and condemn our society's sins, and the sins of our fathers…etc etc”
The point is very important and quite interesting to which, and others, I will come back later..
Enough for now; work calling!
…………………………….
•*“Kitman “:silence about one’s true beliefs etc
•**”takiyya”: deliberate hiding of one’s true beliefs and conscious misrepresentation, misdepiction, of same.
•(Both my own, personal, understanding and interpretation of the words)



N. Friedman - 3/4/2008

Hi Peter.


N. Friedman - 3/4/2008

Professor,

These are fair points from you. I would could it an alliance of all nations having had any Christianity in the past and still having significant Christian populations uniting against lunatics.

The problem I see is that religion is unlikely to unite the West in any way. It is much more likely to divide off Europe, which will run away from anything that has a hint of religion to it. This, of course, is not to be confused with appeasing demands by being made by Muslims, which will be supported on any imaginable ground - but always on the false premise that the demands of the radicals can be sated.


Peter Kovachev - 3/4/2008

....


Tim R. Furnish - 3/4/2008

Ms. Hamilton,
This is not an argument for a Christian theocracy; it is an argument of an alliance of the majority-Christian nations against the threat of the caliphate. I'm not sure how you get from anywhere in my article that Jews would be expelled from anything. I am not talking about making the U.S. or Brazil or Russia more Christian, but simply advancing a case for them acting in concert, geopolitically, based on their common status and history as majority-Christian nation-states.
I agree about fundamentalists being a problem in all monotheistic faiths (they are also a problem for polytheists, as Hindu fundamentalisms in the BJP in India attest). But, again, nowhere do I argue on behalf of any denigration of the separation of church and state in the U.S. or in favor of any particular brand of Christianity coming to power in any of the majority-Christian states of the globe. I simply maintain that if they don't all hang together, on the basis of their shared Christianity, they will perhaps all hang separately--or get beheaded.


Carol V. Hamilton - 3/4/2008

1. If Christianity had a "common religious core," it would not have splintered into various denominations and sects.

2. What about the Jews? Would Mr. Furnish expel them from our government and other places of authority?

3. Fundamentalists of the three major monotheistic religions have too much in common, notably their belief in the subordination of women.


N. Friedman - 3/3/2008

Professor,

If you have not already read it, you should read Walter Laqueur's The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent. On his telling, the die is already long ago cast so far as Europe's future is concerned although it does not follow, based on Laqueur's analysis, that Europe will become Islamized, as your article worries.

On his analysis, Europe will continue toward a state of religious division and, due to substantial population contraction all around, general decline in many ways. And, on his telling, more of the Muslim population is, in fact, adopting more and more of western culture than is generally realized so it is not at all clear where the Muslim population is really heading - notwithstanding the lunatic religious fanatics who sit comfortably therein.

I am not all that sure that religion is the best answer to those who make religious war. I do recognize that there are many non-religious people - perhaps even most - who find it nearly impossible to get their minds around a religiously directed war such as a Jihad. Such people keep thinking that religion could not be involved in any substantial manner and that the religious talk from the Jihad fanatics is just a cultural or other such type peculiarity that does not explain the behavior involved.

That point, I think, cuts both ways. Christianity is not an attractive rallying cry to those who are not religious - a growing group in Europe, whatever it might be in Africa, etc. So, they do not understand a Christian based response to Jihad any better than they understand a Jihad. And, there are significant groups of non-Christian peoples who see the same threat from Jihad as you see.


Sally Gee - 3/3/2008

Sorry to break in on your febrile and over-active imagination, Mr Craigen, but I've never, ever suggested that Christianity is the biggest threat to world peace. It isn't, nor is it ever likely to be.

Still, I don't see why you feel it appropriate to put stupid suggestions in my mouth just because you can think of nothing better on which to hang your inelegant and utterly banal "arguments". Nice to know, though, that you have learned that Islam is an evangelical religion and, also, that you are generous enough to wish to share that knowledge with us.

I promise you faithfully that I will quake in horror at the prospect of the "larger Islamist agenda" you warn us against every time I think about it.


R. Craigen - 3/3/2008

Not much intelligent commentary so far: Sally and Cory echoing that fatuous, ironic slogan that the biggest threat to world peace is Christianity.

Omar tries a different tact: denial of an "Islamist Threat" -- notwithstanding that his own letter provides a perfect example of that very threat...I'll get to this later.

There's a simple answer to both big lies: head to thereligionofpeace.com and read the scoreboard. Taken from verifiable news sources, Islamic Jihad violence for the last week:

42 attacks
253 dead
334 critically injured.

Over the last month:

174 attacks in
14 countries involving victims of
5 different religions, leaving
1318 dead and
1460 critically injured.

Since 9/11 there have been 10,666 such Jihad attacks, and the number continues to accellerate.

What is a "Jihad attack?" thereligionofpeace.com has a strict criterion, published on their site. In brief these are attacks:
(i) carried on by Muslims against those of other faiths or fellow muslims not belonging to their group;
(ii) explicity in the name of their religion (random or merely criminal violence does NOT qualify! Most military engagement on the battlefield does not qualify.);
(iii) for the express purpose of "spreading Islam" as defined by the perpetrators (this does not mean simply "conversion" -- the Islamic concept of spreading islam means cultural, religious and political dominance, not so that everyone BECOMES muslim but so that the whole world becomes SUBJECT TO an Islamic hegemony, "Dar al-Islam").

To the "no greater threat than Christianity" folks: Please -- make a list of all the recent terror attacks by fundamentalist Christians, meeting all of the above criteria. Let's see how many attacks, dead and wounded you find.

Let's talk about the Ku Klux Klan. Vicious, violent hate-mongers, I agree, and among the worst of the so-called "Christian" extremists. Sorry, Islamic extremists EVERY DAY kill more people in the name of their religion than the KKK did over the last 50 years. Each year Jihadists kill more than the total killed in the 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition.

The Crusades? Okay, I'll agree: Horrible atrocities in the name of Christ worthy of condemnation, many centuries ago. But if we must throw these into the equation let's also figure in the massive Imperialistic Jihad campaigns to which the Crusades were a response (Oh, yes -- how often we forget that the Crusades were a largely defensive response to even worse and bloodier violent conquests...and that, while the Crusades ended centuries ago, the Jihad to which they were a response, in the minds of many muslims today, perhaps even a majority -- still goes on! While the Crusades were about reclaiming historic lands of Christendom, the Jihad is about conquering the whole world and creating a monolithic worldwide superstate with a single controlling ideology.)

Omar weighs in with what is perhaps a textbook example of Kitman (please, anyone look this term up before diving into this discussion; it's critical to understanding Islamist dialogue in the west!), and perhaps a bit of Taqiyya.

Omar precisely, and effectively illustrates the biggest threat of Islam in the west, which is not Jihad violence, but what the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (the "Muslim Brotherhood", the largest Islamist movement in the world) calls "Civilizational Jihad" -- destroying a culture from within.

The object of this form of Jihad is to use the pen and word to force capitulation, through demanding concessions (headscarf exemptions, dietary accommodations, special immunity against "blasphemy" or fair but critical commentary, of the sort not granted to any other religious sensibilities, etc); through overblown victimization (such as by portraying "Islamophobic attacks" as the #1 form of hate crime (??) in the west whereas simple, accessible statistics bear out that the Jewish community, experiences almost twice as many attacks, and of greater severity, than the Islamic one); through coopting the language of human rights for purposes (such as instituting Sharia Law in Western countries) at odds with western notions of human rights; through abuse of process, including "Lawfare" (the use of aggressive, even frivolous, lawsuits to marginalize, demonize and intimidate opponents (as in two recent cases in which a wealthy Saudi managed to get Academic publishers to destroy books in which he was named -- in fully documented claims -- as a funder of terrorism).

The tactic works because we have what i call a "confessional" culture -- we publicly announce and condemn our society's sins, and the sins of our fathers -- a twisted, surreal version of a central ingredient of Christianity, confession of sin, which has become seared into the personality of our culture to an extend that we generally don't recognize whence it comes.

Islam contains no equivalent, not on the personal level, not on the societal level, and not on the historical level. Thus, while Westerners are (truthfully, at least partially so) saying, "Yes, Western, JudeoChristian culture is responsible for terrible, terrible things, and we're really, really sorry!", Muslims in the west (and even more so in the East) are saying "That's right, you are! But Islam is not. The Jihad is great, there was nothing wrong with our centuries of conquest and slaughter in the name of Allah. There's nothing better for the world than Islamic domination. We've got the best solution to your corrupt, inferior western culture."

Omar isn't the first to offer this line, and he won't be the last. He illustrates very effectively that Islam has no conscience -- it has no sense of it's own evil history, of the shame of the horrors it has perpetrated (Oh, muslims do speak of shame -- it is the shame of not being the conquerers their scriptures tell them to be -- of not enforcing Islamic civilization over the world -- the shame of being too weak and backward when they believe they should be dominant over all -- it is the shame of supremacists who understand that they haven't yet become supreme.)

...but all Sally and Corey can offer is the idiocy of "Go back to sleep everyone -- the real threat is those evil, violent, theocratic christians!"

In case there's any doubt about Omar's meaning, read his bit under the heading "IN PRACTICE", where he abandons the Kitman and gives the story (almost) straight up: Jihad is preceded by requests to spread Islam (strictly speaking, it is preceded by an "invitation to Islam" accompanied by threats of violence, as laid out in great detail in Islamic source texts). When they encounter resistance, the answer is Jihad...

...but in fact, an act of Jihad itself begins with the "invitation to Islam". After that, as attested in several places in the Qur'an, in 1400 years of Islamic writing, and in the most prominent Islamic spokesmen today, for those who refuse Islam, the only alternatives are subjugation as a conquered people -- or war.

In spite of his attempts at dissimulation, Omar makes it clear that he not only accepts this agenda, he approves of it and regards it as heroic.

Still think Christian Theocracy is the greater threat, Sally and Corey?

We can contain pathetic terrorist movements with the bumbling military actions we see today because of overwhelming force. But it is this against larger Islamist agenda that we must strengthen the foundations of our society.


omar ibrahim baker - 3/3/2008

Sorry that last paragraph should have read as:
"3- Failure to distinguish, or deliberate collation, between the demands of the Divine mission as dictated and practiced by the Prophet during his lifetime and the subsequent demands, and practices, of an old empire then under development; as with many Western "scholars" such as, with maximum goodwill, Professor Furnish."


omar ibrahim baker - 3/3/2008

Had there been a genuine Islamic threat the idea would only be realistic if not inescapable.

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing!

At "worst", from a European perspective, the USA is another proposition, there is the actual need and potential of further European opening to the de facto multiculturism of their present societies with its many "new comers".
The need for this further opening is essential NOT only to accommodate the diverse cultures, mainly the Islamic, the pan Indian and the black African that migrated into Europe with departing colonialism or came in, soon after, looking for better employment opportunities but to preserve a major source of European strength: its , relative ( to the USA), Enlightment.
Attempts at curtailing manifestations of the multiculturism of European societies have only verged on the ridiculously superficial, such as the banning of the Islamic scarf in schools, while further alienating its Moslem component without any real benefit accruing to France.
Attempts to forestall the voluntary application of culturally based laws regulating "personal lives" and “private affairs” will fare no better but threaten to further alienate those intent on integration without sacrificing their own intrinsic cultural identity or, which is worse, for them and for the society they live in, propel them into an adversarial confrontation with that society.
Europe will loose nothing if such intensely private matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance etc are regulated by sub laws in accordance with the cultural heritage of those that voluntarily choose to be adjudicated by them!
If any thing it will give a new and broader meaning and a new dimension to the concepts of “personal choice/freedom” and “full citizenship” in a multicultural society.

Why the PERCEIVED THREAT??

However the indispensable question is “WHY the PERCEIVED Threat”?? Where none genuinely exists??
For one thing it is the usual, natural apprehension from the new; be that Islamic, Hindu or Confucian etc.
But evidently it is the Islamic factor that is causing most of the presumed concern, some being sincere other being in the service of other ulterior, undisclosed but obvious, goals.
Until recently nonMoslem “Indians” outnumbered Moslems in the UK but there was no issue, and JEWS despite their marked propensity and declared will NOT to integrate fully outnumbered both all over Europe!

The IMPERIALIST/ZIONIST AXIS:

The answer lies in the old and vigorously revived imperialist / Zionist axis who managed to formulate a new policy , and create the perception of a threat, of an identity of interests and purpose.
This joint perception of an identity of interests and purpose is based on the imperialist desire for oil domination, a good proportion of which is in Moslem countries, and from Israel’s , artificially planted in the heartland of the Arab/Moslem world, Zionist quest for regional supremacy and further Israeli expansionism.
It is no coincidence that “war” was first openly declared on the Moslem world and Islam by Mrs. Thatcher, the British arch imperialist, during the Regan Administration, her American counter part, immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and communism, at a time political Islam, Islamism, was a tiny fringe movement and much before 9/11.

The ERRONEOUS DEPICTION and GENERAL WESTERN PERCEPTION of JIHAD

A considerably effective weapon in the arsenal of the IMPERIALIST/ZIONIST axis was/is the development and wide propagation, mainly in the West, of an intrinsically defective and erroneous perception of an Islamic corner stone: JIHAD!

JIHAD was depicted by the said axis as the blood thirsty, war like desire to impose Islam on non Moslems through force and violence.
This depiction fundamentally contradicts the theoretical provenance and historical application of the concept as far as its political implementation is concerned.
To preach and spread Islam is, undoubtedly, the duty of every Moslem man, woman and institution and is a form, among many others, of JIHAD.
However if anything the general Western , axis propagated, perception as defined above goes against the very fundamentals of the concept in both theory and practice.

In THEORY:

Islam was primarily conceived as the divinely mandated mission to combat polytheism and paganism (bil kalima alhassana = with the good “word”) hence excluding all forms of coercion except for the Godless.

However another fundamental cardinal Islamic rule, which nullifies the use of coercion, is based on the undoubted Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) which unmistakably mandates:
“Antum allam bi shooun dinyakum= You (Moslems) know better the “affairs/demands”of your world, both as time and place)
This Hadith would definitely preclude any form of coercion even with the Godless, the agnostic etc now that any religious affiliation, or absence of, in this “Dunya=world ; both as time and place) is an indisputable personal choice.

Equally Islam was primarily conceived as the Divine mission to “complete” the earlier monotheistic Jewish and Christian missions.; hence the undoubted veneration of both and the ordained “protection” and respect due their adherents and the Prophet’s strict instructions to protect and venerate the peoples “of the Book” ,particularly the religiously ordained among them.

In PRACTICE

At the pinnacle of the Islamic mission, during the LIFETIME and worldly guidance of the Prophet, all Islamic missions into foreign countries were PRECEDED by a peaceful delegation to the head of the power in question requesting PERMISSION to preach Islam in their respective domain(s).Only when denied that permission were those countries invaded.(Most of the delegates were beheaded.)
Conclusion:
Any presumptions to the contrary are either based on any of the following or a combination thereof
1- Ill will and a deliberate attempt at disinformation and denigration for ulterior political aims, as with the IMPERIALIST/ZIONIST axis, mainly in the Western World
2- A faulty and/or superficial comprehension of Islam, as with some Islamist movements
3- Failure to distinguish, or deliberate collation, between the demands of the Divine mission as dictated and practiced by the Prophet during his lifetime and the subsequent demands, and practices, of an old empire then under development; as with many Western "scholars".



Corey Mondello - 3/3/2008

Christianity is more dangerous than all other religions at this time.

With such a wide range covering the world, the many sects and denominations, allows it to be followed by more fanatical fundamentalist who have a history of wars and corruption to point out as ways their god wants them to "save" people, and those who can't be "saved" must die.

It’s sad to know that, MOST of the world laughs at America, when they see how we focus on religion during this election season.

Other countries have been through hundreds and thousands of years of wars motivated by religion.

One need only look at the most unstable reigns to see what religion does when it is the focus of fighting; the Middle East.

Corey Mondello
Boston, Massachusetts
www.CoreyMondello.com
3-3-08


Sally Gee - 3/3/2008

Oops, sorry Jonathan. Next time I'll get your name right the first time round. Promise. Anyway, your posting is spot on. Very impressed.


Sally Gee - 3/3/2008

Jason, don't be too hard on Mr Furnish. I have no doubt that he is really trying very, very hard. Anyway, for all we know it may well be the ultimate inspiration in the latest ever so subtle Bushite plot to effect regime change on the grandest possible scale when China's policymakers die laughing as they pass the link from one to another.


Jonathan Dresner - 3/3/2008

H.L. Menken said, "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is clear, simple, and wrong."

This, then, is that solution in a nutshell.

Let's start, shall we, with the fact that many of the most powerful members of this New Christendom are secular states, and the internal politics of joining such an alliance could be devastating. Let's face it, some of the countries on this list would be more likely to side with the Arab League than with NATO....

Let's then move on to the problems of migration, trade and communications: these are not just marauding hordes, and there are significant minorities of Muslims in many (perhaps even most) of the states on Mr. Furnish's list. Also how would immigration and trade be handled? Would there be trade restrictions? Tourism?

Let's finish up, for now, with the likelihood that this alliance would, indeed, intensify the political unity of the Islamic nations, bringing to pass the very problem it is supposed to solve.


Sally Gee - 3/3/2008

"The disparate factions of the Christian world can no longer afford to stumble through history politically scattered, divided and leaderless. We must rally around our common religious core and demonstrate to the followers of Muhammad that we are determined, as fellow monotheists, to become their good friends—even if we must, to get there, first become their unvanquishable enemies."

So we oppose the fearsome prospect of a potential Islamic theocracy with the even more fearsome prospect of revivified Christian theocracies. Interesting point of view. I wonder if it has ever crossed Mr Furnish's mind to maybe read a little European history and perhaps think about its potential to splinter and generating competing - and, historically, warring and murdering and maiming and torturing, not disimilar to Israeli conduct now, in fact, and US practices in Iraq and Afghanistan - theocratic movements. Didn't we have an Enlightenment to help us get away from all this? Indeed, I would assume that the Enlightenment is the real fruit of Western Civilisation and its values will protect us from competing theologies and looney toons like Mr Furnish who wish for nothing more than to tip us all back into the Dark Ages whether we like the idea or not.

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