The gaps between what authorities say they believe about Islamic jihad, and what they believe, what we can say, and what everyone knows, is dangerously wide.
Daniel Pipes, for whom I have high respect, tried to distinguish Islam from Islamism, and tried to make the latter into some kind of modern political construct. He then attacked Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali as “essentialists”, people who held that Islam, not some modern deviation from it, is the probblem. His is a well-argued position. I do not believe it for a moment. He writes:
Islamism accurately indicates an Islamic-flavored version of radical utopianism, an -ism like other -isms, comparable to fascism and communism. Aping those two movements, for example, Islamism relies heavily on conspiracy theories to interpret the world, on the state to advance its ambitions, and on brutal means to attain its goals.
Supported by 10-15 percent of Muslims, Islamism draws on devoted and skilled cadres who have an impact far beyond their limited numbers. It poses the threat to civilized life in Iran, Egypt, and not just on the streets of Boston but also in Western schools, parliaments, and courtrooms.
Our killer question is “How do you propose to defeat Islamism?” Those who make all Islam their enemy not only succumb to a simplistic and essentialist illusion but they lack any mechanism to defeat it. We who focus on Islamism see World War II and the Cold War as models for subduing the third totalitarianism. We understand that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution. We work with anti-Islamist Muslims to vanquish a common scourge. We will triumph over this new variant of barbarism so that a modern form of Islam can emerge.
1. I do not propose to make Islam my enemy; Islam has made me its enemy; I have no choice in my heretical and subordinate status under Mohammed’s religion.
2. While Islamist ideology is attractive to some 10-15% of Muslims, we do not know at any time which 10-15% are atracted to it. A man might go through his jihadist period and renounce it in later age, as he matures. Neither is the distinction denominational. Muslims do not segregate themselves into Islamist mosques and Islamic mosques. Even to say so exposes the fact that the distinction is something adjectival, something we feel the need to make, not something inherent in the religion.
3. I think we gain greater clarity about Islam when we frankly admit its doctrines call for our suppression, enslavement, and eradication. It is like rabies; where we know the population is susceptible but we do not know which of its victims has been bitten. We know for sure that, having joined the Party, so to speak, they are more inclined (statistically) to violent rejection of their non-Muslim surrounding society than others.
4. At a basic level of male behaviour, non-Muslims adolescent and young men go on a tear, wrap a car around a tree, drink themsleves into oblivion, rob a store, do drugs, join ludicrous protest groups, but, on the whole, do not seek to destroy the society around them with explosives and massacres. Muslim males have before them the ready-made excuse and legitimation of jihad.
I do not think there is much difference between me and Daniel Pipes in terms of actual measures we would take to suppress the jihaddicts, oops, jihadists in the world. But, my lingering concern with people such as Pipes is that they would seek to suppress frank discussion of Islam in the name of social peace.
And this is a key point: if Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (both, not incidentally, ex-Muslims) are right that there is a “consistency from Muhammad’s life and the contents of the Koran and Hadith to current Muslim practice,” and they most certainly are, as Daniel Pipes apparently acknowledges when he says that “certain continuities do exist, and Islamists definitely follow the Koran and Hadith literally,” then attempts to prescind from Qur’anic literalism in order to reform Islam and create a more peaceful version of the faith will always be challenged by the literalists (who are and have always been the mainstream in Islam) as heretics and apostates.
Kurt Eichenwald’s 500 Days, Secrets and Lies of the Terror Wars, is a deeply researched account of the basic legal and policy decisions of the Bush regime in relation to the events subsequent to the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the twin towers in Manhattan. For a hardened anti-Islamist such as myself, it was a necessary enlightenment, and I commend it to your attention, regardless of your position on George W. Bush and his regime.
Eichenwald has composed a highly readable account of several sets of decisions that were made in the wake of 9/11. They were three trains of decisions:
- the lead-up to the invasion of Afghanistan
- the treatment of captives from Afghanistan and other terrorist roundups following 9/11
- the weapons of mass destruction issue and the consequent invasion of Iraq.
Eichenwald’s research is so intensive that he can relate the various legal and bureaucratic confrontations as if he had been there. These are my take-aways from the book.
- Tony Blair was much more effective than might have been supposed in moderating several US positions, though ultimately Vice-President Cheney and President Bush determined that there would be war with Iraq, whether or not WMD’s were found.
- Hans Blix and Mohammed El-Baradei (President of the UN’s Atomic Energy Authority) were given impossible conditions by the US government in relation to Iraq: find WMDs and there would be war, or fail to find WMDs and there would be war.
- The treatment of prisoners by the US administration elicited profound debates about the limits of executive authority inside and outside the US administration.
- Essentially, the crime fighters, the FBI, fought extensive battles with the Armed Forces and the CIA about the appropriate degree of duress to which captives should be subjected.
- Canada’s Maher Arar was taken by the US on false evidence procured by the torture of another two Canadian Arabs, Abdullah Almalki and Ahmed El-Maati, who had been rendered to Syria on the flimsiest of coincidental evidence and bad intelligence work. Each was tortured relentlessly for months by Syrian secret police in order to produce a script that would assist Syria to claim political credits with the United States in the wake of 9/11, for Syria’s strategic gains.
- The debate about the treatment of prisoners rested on the notion that harsh treatment would elicit confessions; the truth was that the effectiveness of interrogation is much more akin to a patient visiting a psychiatrist than to a heretic in the hands of the Inquisition.The patient must want to overcome the shameful condition (of being a terrorist), and only sympathy, trust and patience will cause him to confess (his shameful condition).
- Torture will make anyone confess to anything, but usually after weeks and months of it. The FBI had much greater and quicker success in eliciting information by the ordinary process of making the encounters with the cops the most interesting part of the prisoner’s day, and by the ordinary business of developing human relationships.That more flies are caught by honey than by vinegar, is not just an expression, but a truth of the human condition.
- The rules of interrogation may be fabricated by learned professors of law, but by the time they reach the torture chamber they are being interpreted by sergeants and young ignorant dolts, who fail to respond to the recondite distinctions of the professors.
- Every failure of torture only summons further demands that more harsh techniques will elicit the required answers from the prisoners.
The question of harsh treatment, which often went over the line into pure torture, is the interesting core of the book.
Eichenwald’s research is so thorough that I, ever ready to nuke Mecca if called upon to do so, must confess that I have been forced by evidence to change my mind about the effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques in the treatment of Islamic terrorists. Many will have thought me to have gone soft on the issue. I can only say in my defence that torture is ineffective, and that the psychological processes normally employed in police interrogations work better.
Further, I will confess that my lingering suspicions about Maher Arar’s guilt have been proven baseless, and I apologize to you, Mr. Arar, for my evil thoughts and my ignorance of how badly Canadian intelligence services, and the US administration, failed in the basic business of ferreting out the guilty and distinguishing them from the innocent, and, moreover, whether guilty or innocent, of sending anyone to torture in an Arab country. The same goes with almost more force to Abdullah Almalki and Ahmed El-Maati, hapless victims both. It is salutary to be proven wrong occasionally. Sorry it came for you three at such a terrible price.
Any book that can change one’s fixed ideas on the basis of evidence is to be treasured. Fellow counter-jihadists, read this book. It will not change your ideas about Islam. It will change your ideas, perhaps, about how to gather evidence and intelligence from captives.
If perceiving differences and acting against the different is the primary sin of man, then babies are all profound sinners.
In an article entitled ”Babies show inherent dislike for those who are different”, it was revealed that babies as young as nine months show preference for those who bring harm to people different from themselves – in this case, the difference concerned a taste for graham crackers over green beans, and vice versa.
Psychology professor and lead author Kiley Hamlin found infants who were as young as nine months old favoured those who brought harm to people who were different than themselves.
She said adults, similarly, tend to like people who harm individuals who are different.
“We wanted to see if we could tell whether infants had that same kind of judgement,” said Hamlin in an interview.
“It was shocking how robust the results were.”
Nothing surprises me about this. Tolerance is a virtue not because it is natural, but because it is an acquired habit of civilization. By contrast, those people who call themselevs “liberals” tend to believe that the natural state of man is acceptance, and only perverse educations make us racist, sexist, nationalist, tribalist, other-ist.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, looked at two groups of infants aged nine months and 14 months and the food they preferred — green beans or graham crackers.
The infants watched a puppet show, with two puppets demonstrating a like for green beans or graham crackers.
More puppets then joined the production, demonstrating nice, neutral or mean behaviour towards the original two puppets.
The study showed that the babies later preferred the puppets who harmed the puppet with the opposite food preferences.
One baby even gave a kiss to the harmful puppet.
The study said the desire to treat badly those with differences was more widespread in the age group of 14-month-old infants, suggesting an increase in bias with age.
Hamlin said almost all of the babies tested acted the same, which was an unexpected result.
“(Babies) like nice puppets really strongly. That’s in line with our intuition. Other studies have shown they like punishers if somebody was bad before, but that’s also in line with our intuitions.
“If someone’s bad they might deserve punishment. This one is not in line with our intuitions.”
Lady, it is not in line with your “intuitions” because you think people are naturally good, tolerant, accepting. They are not. They are naturally racist, tribalist, differentist, nationalist. They think people from the next valley are feckless swine, unless they have cousins over there, in which case they may know that some people in the next valley are okay, or not, on the basis of real knoweldge.
Man’s innate “differentism” is not something that is going to be fixed by talking about the problem differently, or by different social arrangements, though improvements are possible. Discriminations are at the core of existence. Every cell of my body is locked in a life and death struggle to determine what belongs in that cell and what does not. They all discriminate. I can only hope they discriminate in a way suitable to my survival. Likewise, every person discriminates, and has to for the organism to survive. One can only hope that discrimination takes place on bases suitable for the survival of civilization. That is the best we can do.
“This brings me to the second major topic of my speech. The nature of Islam.
Is it not strange that we, who are not Muslims, are punished by Islam for breaking Islamic rules? Religious rules do not apply to people who do not belong to a specific religion, do they? Indeed, a religion — every religion — should be voluntary. Yet, Islam imposes its rules on everyone.
Why does sharia law alter our Western secular legal system in such a dramatic fashion? The answer is that rather than a religion, Islam is a totalitarian political ideology which aims to impose its legal system on the whole society.
Islam is an ideology because it is political rather than religious: Islam is an ideology because it aims for an Islamic state and wants to impose Islamic Sharia law on all of us.
Islam is totalitarian because it is not voluntary. It orders that people who leave Islam must be killed.
Contrary to all the other religions — real religions — Islam also lays obligations on non-members.
Your fellow Australian, the theologian Mark Durie has said — I quote: “Islam classically demands a political realization, and specifically one in which Islam rules over all other religions, ideologies and competing political visions. Islam is not unique in having a political vision or speaking to politics, but it is unique in demanding that it alone must rule the political sphere.” — end of quote.
We can see what Islam has in store for us if we watch the fate of the Christians in the Islamic world, such as the Copts in Egypt, the Maronites in Lebanon, the Assyrians in Iraq, and Christians anywhere in the Islamic and Arab world. The cause of their suffering is Islam. Indeed, the only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe to be Christians is Israel. Israel is also the only democracy in the Middle East, a beacon of light in an area of total darkness. We should all support Israel.
My friends, I always make a distinction between Muslims and Islam. Most Muslims are moderate, but the ideology of Islam is dangerous. The moderates are the captives of a totalitarian system. If only they could liberate themselves from the Islamic culture of fatalism and apathy, then the most beautiful things could happen to them and the whole world.”
…here I am, Stuck in the middle with you.
First it was the Muslims with their Muslim patrols, created ‘No Go Zone’, “where the state cedes all sovereignty to hostiles and accepts the moderately paced erosion of the nation state, selectively applying all of its own laws only against the indigenous Western minded people to the advantage of the violent invaders.”
Not be left out Latinos in LA now follow suit. In LA “Latino gang is intimidating blacks into leaving the city that was once an African American enclave. ”
The resident blogger Dalwhinnie asked, in a post relating to “identity politics”, if “you can figure a way for identity politics of this nature to be a good thing, please let me know.”
Well we can all sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch liberal politics degenerate.
Statements of faith are not intended to be statements about material reality.
The proposition “God is almighty” combines a transcendent subject (one of which we have no innerwordly experience, only an experience of faith) with an “idealized,” infinitized, innerwordly predicate.
The proposition is therefore meaningless if both the subject and the predicate are taken literally; it makes sense only if the predicate is added analogically to the extrapolated subject of the experience of faith.
What the men of the 18th-century Enlightenment held against Christian dogmatics (enlightened thinkers are repeating it today), namely, that theological statements–unlike statements concerning sense perception–are meaningless because they cannot be verified, is the very starting point of Christian theology.
Eric Voegelin was an Austrian Catholic classicist who fled Hitler -not without reason – during the Anschluss and who taught philosophy for many years in the United States.
If you are speaking of verifiable propositions, you are not speaking of transcendent religious experience, and on this Dawkins, Hume, Voegelin, Aquinas and I would all be in agreement.
The Wikipedia entry captures this well:
One of Voegelin’s main points in his later work is that a sense of order is conveyed by the experience of transcendence. This transcendence can never be fully defined nor described, though it may be conveyed in symbols. A particular sense of transcendent order serves as a basis for a particular political order. It is in this way that a philosophy of politics becomes a philosophy of consciousness. Insights may become fossilised as dogma. The main aim of the political philosopher is to remain open to the truth of order, and convey this to others.
His New Science of Politics and Science, Politics and Gnosticism will re-organize and inform your thinking about politics and history. They are strongly reccommended to people who try to think about political movements. They will enable you to perceive phenomena like Hitler, Robespierre, Lenin, Rousseau, Baboeuf, Trotsky, and Arun Smith in their proper light.
In contrast to John Searle’s materialist interpretation of why consciousness is generated from the meat, I want you to look now at Peter Russel’s view that consciousness is primary. He goes into the implications of modern physics to justify his views.
Our problem is this: we have been living in the era of quantum physics since the 1920s, but we still have minds formed in the physics of Newton. We still believe that the universe is made of space, time and energy. So we try to examine consciousness as if it were made of space, time and energy. After all, is that not what real science does? How can it be possible that consciousness is not the result, rather than the cause, of evolution?
Take Shakespeare as an example. He knew for a fact that the earth revolved around the sun; his cosmology was Copernican, but his inherited mental furniture was still (Ptolemaic) Greek. He still wrote of rulers waxing strong under the influence of Mars, and the stars in their courses shaping events – even if he did not actually believe any such thing. It was just the language he had to communicate with.
So it is with us.
Immanuel Kant, who first proposed the idea of mind 250 years ago spoken about by Peter Russell in his video, has finally found his confirmation in contemporary physics.
Hence I find all the discussion by Dawkins, Dennett, Searle, and the legions of materialists attempting to explain consciousness as arising from the evolution of meat under the influence of natural and sexual selection as another example of trying to pick up the Gross National Product with a set of tongs. They are not even wrong Of course, my view may be not even wrong too.
Mark Mercer, Chairman of the philosophy department at St. Mary’s University, lets us all know how superior he feels to the religious impulse today in today’s Ottawa Citizen.
He tells us that religion is horrid because:
First, because a person can have no good reason of evidence or argument for holding a religious belief, a person cannot hold religious beliefs except on faith, that is, in violation of his or her standards of belief worthiness. Religion is horrid, then, because it depends on and encourages self-deception, wishful believing, and contempt for evidence.
Immediately, one can see there are two errors in this statement. The first is his assumption of error on the part of those who believe in unprovable propositions, such as, there is a God. He states: Because – by his definition - ”a person can have no good reason of evidence or argument for holding a religious belief”, there can be no good argument for holding a belief except on faith. This is the assertion of precisely what he needs to prove, it seems to me. Petitio principi – begging the question – is to assume the truth of what one argues.
Second, faith is not a violation of belief-worthiness. It is an essential element of belief-worthiness. If I did not have to believe something, faith would be superfluous. Faith and belief in this sense are the same things.
I do not believe in the law of gravity. I do not have to. I know it. If I jump off a window, I know that gravity will draw me down to the earth at an increasing rate.
Believing in the law of gravity is superfluous.
If, by contrast, I believe you will show up at lunch today despite the fact you had to drive a hundred miles to get to town, then the use of the word believe is appropriate. I do not know that you will show up; I believe you will based on my knowledge of your character and history with me.
Belief is different from knowledge; they are different acts or states. I amtempted to add that belief is an act of the soul, knowledge of the mind. But since, on materialist grounds, we have no souls, that is an argument for another place.
Maybe saints know God. For the rest of us, belief will have to suffice. Any God whose existence could be proven to the satisfaction of materialist doctrinaires would be unworthy of belief.
Second, religion involves, perhaps necessarily involves, self-abasement. In worshipping something, a person assumes an attitude of inferiority to the object of worship — not just inferiority of talents, but inferiority in worth, inferiority as a person.
If a transcendent divine power governs this universe, it would be no diminishment of my ego to acknowledge its superiority to me. I am not diminished, I am enhanced, and this has always been a well spring of religion: to partake in something greater than ourselves by acknowledging its greatness.
Third, religion involves the attitude that all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds. (This must be the best possible world, as it is God’s handiwork.) Thus, everything happens for a reason, including suffering and sorrow, and is ultimately justified by its reason. But to take this attitude (again, against the evidence one has) is to be contemptuous of actual suffering and sorrow.
Not all religions take this attitide, but leave that aside. Volumes could be written about the problem of evil. The Book of Job is a good start. Of all the things one might say about the problem of evil, one of the stupidest I have ever heard is that believers are compelled to be contemptuous of actual suffering and sorrow. They are as mystified as anyone else, but they are not contemptuous. Perhaps our professor friend is attributing to believers what he feels himself.
Much of reductive materialist philosophy partakes of this sophomoric superiority to the concerns and feelings of ordinary humans, including the religious impulse, but so much also partakes of this second-rate thinking dressed up as deep thought. Christmas brings them out, like zombies from the grave.
is very Masonic, in case you are interested in that sort of thing. Note, in the third paragraph:
to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Science, virtue and religion are best fostered when all of them are fostered. The dependence of man on the Divine Being is not just a form of speech; they believed it.
George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted’ for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.