Congratulations to this week’s winners.
Council: Bookworm Room - Why Tom Friedman is an idiot
Noncouncil: Simply Jews - Angela Merkel, multikulti and “progressives” mental paralysis
Full voting here.
Ockham’s Razor – Since October 2001 – by Scott Kirwin
Archive for October 2010
Congratulations to this week’s winners.
Council: Bookworm Room - Why Tom Friedman is an idiot
Noncouncil: Simply Jews - Angela Merkel, multikulti and “progressives” mental paralysis
Full voting here.
In a week the American political landscape will have changed – to what degree is impossible to tell. I suspect that regardless of the outcome, Obama and his supporters will spin it as a victory. They will trumpet each defeat of a Tea Party-backed candidate while completely ignoring the losses of Democrats. I suspect they will congratulate themselves for “limiting the damage” or “turning the tide” of the Republicans regardless how well the latter does. Politicians call such statements “spin”; the rest of us call them “lies”. So no matter what happens be prepared to be lied to over the next few weeks.
Obama has already touted Clinton’s success at surviving the Republican’s surge in 1994, but at the very least what will follow for the next two years will be a curbing of Obama’s leftist agenda. The problem for Obama is he is no Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was a governor of a Southern state who took office as a moderate after years of moderate policies. The presidency is the first executive experience Obama has had, and rose to the top propelled by a combination of hard Left ideals, liberal racial guilt, and the Peter Principle. Contrary to what Republicans may have thought at the time, it was relatively easy for Clinton to move to the Right to dodge much of their Contract for America. It will be impossible for Obama to do the same because what Obama considers the Right is to the left of center for the majority of voters. Hanging around like-minded liberals for your career will skew your perspective, and from Obama’s performance in office so far it’s clear that the man doesn’t understand the American political landscape as much as he believes.
That is why I believe a replay of the political dynamics of 1994-96 is unlikely in 2010-12. Add in the fundamental fact that History never repeats itself in the way we think and is nearly impossible that Obama will repeat Clinton’s success at re-election.
That isn’t to say that Obama won’t be re-elected. In fact at this point I would have to say that if his re-election were being held next Tuesday, he would likely eek out a victory. Granted, he would squeeze out a win against an amorphous generic Republican opponent, but 21 months is simply not enough time for all but the gravest doubters among independents and Democrats to give up the figure they elected to office in 2008. After all, they didn’t elect a man to office – they elected a symbol, and symbols take a long time to die.
The next 15 months will be Obama’s acid test. He will be forced to govern, instead of mailing it in from a golf course while a Leftist Congress does his work for him. Blaming George Bush will gain even less traction than it does today, although it is likely that he will try to turn the Republicans into a scapegoat. The problem with the latter strategy is that the Republicans will have some power and will be able to enact legislation that forces Obama to act. Some of this legislation will be tempered by a more left-wing Senate than the expected Republican-controlled House, but Obama will be forced to make decisions on legislation that he does not support. And Obama has shown the inability to be decisive – a remarkable deficit in a modern leader.
Governing will be made even harder by the fact that the Democrats who survive the election will have done so in spite of Obama, not because of him. Obama’s political capital deficit is nowhere near as large as the deficit he has created in the federal budget, but it’s significant. Democratic politicians will bear the brunt of his unpopularity this election, and won’t own him any favors for when the time comes for his re-election campaign – which starts in earnest in just over a year or so.
That completely ignores the opinion of my elderly neighbor, a god-fearing woman who had Obama pictures hanging throughout her house. I spoke to her over the weekend. The Obama pictures have been taken down and what remains are the bitter words of a former Obama supporter who regrets her vote and hopes to live long enough to vote him out of office. Are former supporters like her rare in the landscape? Perhaps, but I would guess that they are more numerous than minority listeners of NPR.
It’s worth remembering how we got to where we are today. In her piece Elections Have Consequences Debbie Hamilton reminds us “Obama’s demise is his own doing. Obama’s presidency and policies are the reason for the TEA party and the return to the Constitution by Republicans, some Democrats, and some Independents.” Yep. The political landscape would have been vastly different had Obama governed in a bi-partisan way. But he was never a bi-partisan thinker. It’s difficult to take your opponent seriously if you never listen to his ideas or put yourself in her shoes. Obama never had the intellectual capacity to do that – and still doesn’t judging by his recent statements.
I guess Juan got too uppity for his white bosses at NPR. He was fired today for comments regarding his personal feelings about seeing Muslims board a plane. “”But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous,” Williams said. That pushed NPR CEO Vivian Schiller to state at a news conference that Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims “between himself and his psychiatrist or his publicist.”
She later apologized, saying, “Well it is that time of the month. You know how cranky we girls get with our Monthly Visitor and all.” Well, she didn’t really say that, but that’s the kind of crassness the head of a publicly-funded news network showed by saying what she said about firing Williams. Maybe she’s a Scientologist who let slip her beliefs about psychiatry. Or maybe she’s just an ass.
I disagree with Juan Williams on most issues: his strident and consistent defense of the Obama administration as well as all causes liberal and sundry. But I respect Williams as a thoughtful and insightful opponent, and am happy to see Fox News expand his presence there.
National white-Power Radio or National Politically-Correct radio – the terms blend. All I know is that I’ve already taken it off the radio dial in our cars because if I want mindless group think, I can always tune in to Radio Pyongyang on the shortwave, and hear stories about Kim Jong-il making 18 holes in one in a single afternoon of golf.
Looks like Judenrat billionaire George Soros may have played a role in the firing. It’s no surprise that Soros would return to his totalitarian roots by turning NPR into a propaganda organ for a moneyed elite; as a man ages he often returns to the memories of his childhood. Too bad for us that Soros’s nostalgia is rooted in the 3rd Reich which didn’t tolerate a diversity of opinion.
Michael Barone mentions that lack of diversity at NPR in his piece supporting Williams. As a long-time NPR listener I’ve often been amazed at how slanted the coverage was and how little effort was taken to present contrary opinions. As I have written before such slanted coverage is fine if the news organization doesn’t take public funding and admits its bias. Unbiased news is a post-modern fiction in the United States in Europe. Pick up a newspaper in the 3rd World in one of the few countries that has a free-ish press and it will have a particular point of view. That’s the way it was here before newspapers experienced a wave of consolidation starting in the 1970’s.
NPR liked to portray itself as “public” and representing the diversity of Americans. But the only opinions it offered were those of the upper middle class white liberals. Everything is skewed to that demographic. And that would be fine if it didn’t receive $400 million from middle class white conservatives like me.
CNN and MSNBC have a similar lack of diversity, but these outlets at least survive in the marketplace of ideas without government sponsorship (and the backing of former Nazis). Fox News has liberal commentators on all the time. I see Bob Beckel’s triple chin more than I see Ann Coulter’s “feed me” figure on the network.
For the past several weeks I have been studying Islam as mentioned in this post. The quest started when the Wife asked me during one of our nightly conversations beneath the stars, “Who exactly is Muhammad anyway?” I knew the basics – his late (age 40) revelations, his flight from Mecca to Medina and his eventual return after much butt-kicking and converting – but nothing much beyond that. So I started reading – NOT on the Internet – but these wonderful things called “books” that it seems have become so passe these days. I checked out the sources of the books and read critically – sensitive to the author’s bias’s whether unwritten or not. Many of these books were on the shelf, but those that weren’t were easily found at Amazon.com.
Having studied the era he lived in from other perspectives, the rise of Byzantium and the migrations of Central and Western Europe, the cultural supremacy of China and the nascent state of Japan in Asia, I felt that it was important to approach Muhammad and early Islam from the perspective of the time. I’ve always bristled when Leftists have condemned President Truman as a war criminal for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ignoring Truman’s perspective forged in the ferocity of the Japanese resistance at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Or disregarding the contributions made by American Founding Fathers because they owned slaves and didn’t grant women the right to vote, two standards that were prevalent throughout the world at the time. The Seventh Century was a brutal one by modern standards, and so I wanted to approach Muhammad’s life in that era with that in mind.
And the truth be told I wanted to see Muhammad as many Muslims see him: as the Ideal Man and a great prophet who founded one of the world’s great religions. Having lived and worked among Muslims I found each call to prayer by the muezzin that I heard as sublime as the first. During Ramadan I respected the fasting of the faithful by avoiding food myself or taking it in private. I celebrated Eid ul Fitr with them at Ramadan’s end. I befriended many Muslims over the years, and owe many a debt of gratitude for the kindnesses they showed me – from putting up with my naivete travelling abroad to the kindnesses shown to me by men like Jan Mohamed whom I view as one of the greatest people I have ever been fortunate enough to meet.
I mention this to establish the fact that when I began my study I wanted to believe that Islam as laid out by the Prophet Muhammad was a religion of peace. I had personally experienced the peaceful nature of its adherents, so I wanted to find its basis in the Koran, or the Hadith, and the other writings Muslims view as part of their religion. For the amateur scientist in me, I was going to try to prove the hypothesis that Muhammad was a man of peace and deserved the designation of Ideal Man. Any evidence that contradicted that hypothesis would have to be incontrovertible to turn that bias.
The conclusion of my research left me cold. A billion people, more than one out of every six people on the planet were following a philosophy of brutality, hatred and violence built by a man who was closer to Charles Manson in word and deed than he was to Jesus Christ or Mahatma Gandhi. Christ never preached violence or personally murdered anyone; Mohammad killed at least 700 people, and more likely many, many more. Martin Luther King jr was Christlike by preaching and practicing non-violence. By personally beheading captive Nick Berg, an infidel, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was acting according to the example of the Ideal Man, Mohammad. After all, it’s what Mohammad did when he received the captives of the Qurayzah who were brought to him in batches and he struck off their heads and kicked their lifeless bodies into trenches he himself had prepared.
Islam has not been hijacked by extremists; it was founded by extremists, has resisted moderation for over 1,300 years, and empowers extremists today to act in its behalf. The question is not what causes Muslims to become extremists, it’s why more Muslims don’t pick up the sword and gun and follow Mohammad’s example. As with most religions there is a spectrum of belief, with the vast majority of people in between the extremes of Muslims-in-name-only and Koranic scholars. But even within that majority there are problems from the modern point of view when 2/3rds of Muslims surveyed worldwide support a global caliphate and the imposition of Sharia law.
Mohammad dealt with moderation himself. The Koran blasts Muslims who attempt to moderate Mohammad’s teachings and Allah’s will, viewing such actions as a rejection of the faith: “That is because they believed, then they rejected Faith: So a seal was set on their hearts; therefore they understand not. When thou lookest at them, their exteriors please thee; and when they speak, thou listened to their words. They are as (worthless as hollow) pieces of timber propped up, (unable to stand on their own),” Koran 63:1-8. When a prophet of such stature as Mohammad speaks against moderation, and the Koran – a perfect copy of a book owned by Allah Himself – warns against watering down its teachings, it makes it impossible to find room within its suras for an interpretation of the religion that disregards its violent teachings and intolerance.
Mohammad witnessed how apostasy and heresy weakened other religions: the Arabian peninsula was full of Christian and Jewish sects that deviated from the dogma preached in Jerusalem, Constantinople and Rome. He therefore made it a point for Islam and the word of Allah to be taken literally; there was little room for interpretation – and that fundamentalism carried throughout out the Koran, the Hadith and other Islamic texts.
In so doing he prevents any interpretation of Islam that would allow Islam to compromise with other faiths or for Islam to experience a reformation along the lines that Christianity did beginning six hundred years ago. While Christ may have stopped the stoning of an adulterous woman by crying “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” (John 8:2-11), Mohammad had no such compunction. When a couple were accused of adultery, Mohammad ordered the couple stoned to death. A witness reported “I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones.”
Mohammad built his ideology for the Ages, and after 1300 years, no religion has stayed closer to its founder’s beliefs than Islam. It is that success that allows us to judge his ideology by modern standards because the Islam that Mohammad created carries the 7th century’s attitudes and morality unadulterated into the modern era. By those standards Islam cannot coexist with Christianity or Judaism: it views the former as lied to by its founders, and the latter filth for having rejected Allah’s teachings. It cannot accept democracy when the Koran speaks of nothing but Allah’s will and law. It will not tolerate the equality of women when they are viewed in the Koran as those who corrupt the pious, nor will homosexuality be allowed to exist except under a hail of stones.
National Review editor Rich Lowry once wrote that although Islam is a religion of peace “seems a polite fiction, it is an important one. Influential Muslims believe it to be true, and it is crucial that they prevail in the Muslim struggle for self-definition.” But it is a fiction, and finding a solution to integrating the modern world with Islam requires that we understand the facts no matter how inconvenient or down-right painful they may be.
UPDATE: Here is an attempt by CAIR to embarrass Lt. Col Rep. Allen West in public. As Joshuapundit writes:
This Muslim Brotherhood shill confronted Congressman West and asked him to point out where in the Qu’ran it gives orders to Muslims “to carry out attacks against Americans and innocent people.”
After pointing out that the Koran was written long before America even existed, West cited chapter and Surah from the Qu’ran and then proceeding to list a whole catalog of Muslims acts carrying out exactly what it says in Suras 2-9…where it does indeed tell believers to kill and enslave infidels.
West then mentioned Fort Hood and his own battlefield experiences hearing our country’s enemies yelling ‘Allah Akbar!’ and told Hamze not to “try to blow sunshine up my butt.”
When Hamze played the Islamophobia card, West trumped him by reminding Hamze that he had put his life on the line on the battle field to liberate Muslims.
Lesson? Don’t mess with Lt. Col. Allen West.
Congratulations to this week’s winners.
Council: Joshuapundit - US DOJ Inserts Itself Into Tennessee Mosque Controversy
Noncouncil: The Jawa Report - North Carolina Muslim Admits To Working With Al Qaeda
Full voting here.
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.
Peter Ferrara writing for the American Spectator magazine makes a good point:
Moreover, as the brilliant economist John Lott explained for FoxNews.com yesterday, the base unemployment rate has been stuck at least at 9.5% for 14 months now, over three full percentage points higher than the average unemployment rate during the recession… As Lott summarizes, “For the last couple of years, President Obama keeps claiming that the recession was the worst economy since the Great Depression. But this is not correct. This is the worst ‘recovery’ since the Great Depression.”
Ouch! I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. Obama and most Democrats venerate FDR but the dirty little secret of his presidency is that FDR’s policies actually lengthened and deepened the Depression to the point that it took a world war to end it.
Over the past few weeks I have immersed myself in the study of Islam in order to understand whether it is a “religion of peace” as many people claim or not. During this personal journey I learned much that I hadn’t picked up over the years living and traveling in Muslim countries or had not been taught in my comparative religions classes in high school.
For example, I hadn’t known that the Koran was a perfect copy of a book that Allah possessed, the umm al-kitab. No other book has such a pedigree, thereby giving the Koran special status similar to the host in a Catholic mass after it has been transformed into the body of Christ. Even the most fundamentalist Christians who take a literal interpretation of the Bible do not hold the Bible itself in such high regard. This fact goes a long way to explaining the sensitivity Muslims show towards the Koran; any attack on it is a direct attack on Allah rather than on a religious symbol. The Koran isn’t a symbol at all; it is Allah. The Bible and other holy works such as the Vedas and Upanishads are more similar to Islam’s hadith, inspired by God but written by Man.
And that’s part of the problem Westerners face today. Islam is a unique religion and throwing it into a mental bin alongside the other “Great Religions of the World” does a disservice to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Such actions equating Islam to Judaism, Christianity, or Buddhism highlight the ignorance of those who make such generalizations more than they illuminate the unique characters of these religions.
I had viewed Muhammad as a prophet along the lines of the Biblical prophets including Jesus Christ, and later prophets such as Joseph Smith. However after studying his life in depth I see him as less of a figure talking to God in the desert and more like Julius Caesar or Genghis Khan, a great conqueror wielding the power of the sword just as deftly as the power of God. But even those roles don’t adequately fit Islam’s prophet. The truth is that Muhammad is unique: he is in fact both a holy man and a general. There is simply no one like him in history to compare to.
The New Testament of the Bible encourages Christians to imitate Christ. Paul writes, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27), “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:5), and in Ephesians 5:1 Paul exhorts Christians to be “imitators of Christ as dearly beloved children.”
Similarly in Islam Muhammad is held up as al-insan al-kamil – the Perfect Man – and is viewed as the standard by which all should judge themselves. The Koran states flatly that Muhammad is “an excellent example of conduct,” (33:21).
But that is where the similarities end. Nowhere in the New Testament does Christ kill anyone. In fact when one of his apostles moves drew his sword in defense of him, Jesus rebuked him. “And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword,” (Matthew 26:51-56).
Muhammad participated in 27 battles, and significant passages of the Koran are dedicated to the warfare and the division of the spoils of war. In addition Muhammad personally killed or ordered the killings of at least 700 people as shown in the table below.
|?tens?||Nakhla Raid||Muhammad justifies the killing of women and children (Al-Mushrikun) (1)|
|2||unclear||Muhammad orders an adulterous couple stoned to death. (2)|
|70||Battle of Badr||Muhammad personally leads his warriors into battle against superior forces. (3)|
|1||Battle of Badr||Uqba bin Abi Mu'ait begs for his life. "Who will look after my children, O Muhammad?" "Hell" Muhammad replies and orders Uqba killed.|
|1||Battle of Badr||Abu Jahl beheaded.|
|1||unclear||Jewish poet Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf assassinated on Mohammed's orders for writing verses insulting Muslim women.|
|1||unclear||Jewish merchant Ibn Sunayna killed after Mohammed orders his followers to "Kill any Jew that falls into your power." Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirate Rasul Allah, A. Guillaume trans, 369|
|1||unclear||Sufyan ibn Khalid al-Hudhali killed on Mohammed's orders.|
|1||Uhud Mountain||Muhammad kills Quraysh warrior Ubayy bin Khalaf who had once taunted him.|
|600+||Banu Qurayzah tribe||Muhammad participates in the killing of captives in the marketplace of Medina.|
|?100s?||Banu Mustaliq tribe||Men killed, women, children enslaved.|
|93||Khaybar Raid||Muhammad breaks treaty with Jewish tribe.|
|1||Khaybar Raid||Kinana bin al-Rabi tortured to reveal location of treasure, beheaded by Mohammed.|
|1||unclear||Zaynab bint al-Harith attempts to poison Mohammed (some traditions say she was spared).|
|?100s?||Mecca||Muhammad orders those who resist, and those on a list to be killed.|
|3||unclear||Murder of the Poets. Muhammad orders murders of Abu 'Afak, Asma bint Marwan - the latter of whom was pregnant.|
|700 - 2,000||Total|
Note that these are not people killed in Muhammad ’s name but who were ordered killed by the prophet himself. Karen Armstrong writing in defense of Muhammad states “it is not correct to judge (these incidents) by twentieth-century standards,” and that “in the early seventh century, an Arab chief would not be expected to show any mercy towards traitors such as the Qurayzah,” (Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet). That just points out how even more extraordinary the lives were of Jesus, living 600 years before, and Guatama Buddha, living 400 years before that.
Besides Muhammad ’s actions of the seventh century were unusual in how successful he became. He founded a religion and spread it from a small desert kingdom to encompass a huge portion of the Middle East in just twenty years. His successors then took it and spread it around the world, and today a billion people practice the faith he founded 1,400 years ago. Not too shabby for a former merchant from Mecca.
Islam is many things, but it is not a religion of peace. It’s important for non-believers to see the religion for what it is, and understand how important its founder is to those who practice it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them. Muhammad isn’t Jesus Christ. He is not another Buddha, and the men operating in his name aren’t apostates. They are following his example just as they claim to be.
1. Muhammed Ibn Ismaiel Al-Bukhari, Shih al-Bukhari: The Translation of the Meanings, Muhammed M. Khan trans, Dar Es Salaam, 1997, vol 4, book 56, no. 3012. Note that other traditions in (nos. 3014 and 3015) have Muhammad forbidding the massacre of women and children.
Here is how no. 3012 reads:
The prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa’ or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack Al-Mushrikun (unbelieving) warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, “They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. Al-Mushrikun).”
2. Bukhari, vol. 4, book 61, no. 3635
3. Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, A. Guillaume, trans, Oxford University Press, 1955, p. 301
The American political scientist Mark Alexander writes that “One of our greatest mistakes is to think of Islam as just another one of the world’s great religions. We shouldn’t. Islam is politics or it is nothing at all, but, of course, it is politics with a spiritual dimension, … which will stop at nothing until the West is no more, until the West has … been well and truly Islamized.”
These are not just statements by opponents of Islam. Islamic scholars say the same thing. There cannot be any doubt about the nature of Islam to those who have read the Koran, the Sira and the Hadith. Abul Ala Maududi, the influential 20th century Pakistani Islamic thinker, wrote – I quote, emphasizing that these are not my words but those of a leading Islamic scholar – “Islam is not merely a religious creed [but] a revolutionary ideology and jihad refers to that revolutionary struggle … to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth, which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam.”
Ali Sina, an Iranian Islamic apostate who lives in Canada, points out that there is one golden rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In Islam, this rule only applies to fellow believers, but not to Infidels. Ali Sina says “The reason I am against Islam is not because it is a religion, but because it is a political ideology of imperialism and domination in the guise of religion. Because Islam does not follow the Golden Rule, it attracts violent people.”
The Supreme Court is hearing the first amendment case of Snyder vs. Phelps – the father of a dead Marine challenging those Westboro Baptist Church’s picketing of his son’s funeral.
Instead of limiting freedom of speech by ruling against Phelps, or giving nutjobs like him complete freedom to do what his itty-bitty little brain desires, why don’t people use his own methods against him?
How about following him and his followers wherever they go – to the DMV, to the store wherever – shouting and carrying signs that say “God hates you!” Although his congregation is tiny, one of them will no doubt fall off their perch soon – so crash the funeral. Scream obscenities, carry placards saying “Thank god for dead morons”, or the equivalent. Just be creative and give them a taste of what they’ve been dishing out to the unfortunates who have fallen pray to their twisted whims.
The congregation is so homophobic, and being a gay rights supporter myself I know that can only mean one thing: closet cases. Someone somewhere has photos of Phelps or one of his devotees in the back room of a leather bar. Print them out and carpet-bomb Kansas with them.
I appreciate the fact that people are coming to the aid of the poor souls targeted by Westboro Baptist, but the ultimate solution is to attack them – not ignore them or accommodate them.