Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Blame the Gun

June 13, 2016

Once again the barbarians have attacked the West. This time a gunman named Omar Mateen walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and killed fifty people. Jo Comerford at Moveon.org places the blame for this atrocity squarely on where it belongs, on the gun Mateen used.

Dear MoveOn member,

At least 50 people were killed last night in a horrific mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, FL. At least another 53 were injured.1 As the news continues to peel back the layers on this terrible, tragic shooting and we grieve and mourn with Orlando, we must act now for common sense gun laws and to ban assault rifles. We must stop these mass shootings from tearing apart our communities.Click here to sign the petition, which says:

Military-grade assault weapons should not be used by civilians and have no place in our cities and towns.

Sign the petition

Orlando. Sandy Hook. San Bernardino. Aurora.

What do these horrific shootings have in common? The AR-15.

This military-grade assault rifle was used to murder at least 50 people in Orlando, 26 people in Sandy Hook, 14 people in San Bernardino, and 12 people in Aurora.2

Right now, such a mass-killing weapon is available for purchase on-line, at trade shows, and at neighborhood brokers across our nation.

The AR-15 and automatic assault weapons like it have no place in our cities and towns. They have no place on our streets.

We need to ban all assault weapons now and enact other commonsense gun reform.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Thanks for all you do.

—Jo, Anna, Justin K., Ben O., and the rest of the team

I can make a list of places too: Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris, London, Copenhagen, New York. What do all of these places have in common? They were each the site of a horrific attack by Islamic barbarians intent on overthrowing the West and its ideals of freedom and tolerance. We are at war with savages and the solution that the Moveon.org has is to disarm our population and make us all helpless for the next attack.

This is the only solution people on the left offer after every attack. Appease the Muslims. Don’t make them angry. Don’t publish drawings of Mohammed. Don’t criticize or make fun of Islam. Treat the Koran with respect. Women, cover yourselves lest you arouse a Muslim man and cause him to rape you. Christians, pray in private lest you offend the sensitive ears of Muslims. Don’t suggest that immigration from Muslim countries be curtailed or that perhaps Mosques with ties to radicals should be watched. That is islamophobia. Respect Islamic customs and traditions and don’t expect that respect to be returned. Give in when they demand that Sharia law be imposed. Above all else, do not ever suggest that Islam is not a Religion of Peace or they will attack. Remember it is better to die than to live and be considered an islamophobe.

I expect that in the wake of the Orlando Massacre, the gays will be asked to go back into the closet. Its all very well to stand up to Christians who do not approve of gay marriage. The Christians are not going to start bombing and shooting. Standing up to Muslims who want to kill gays might take real courage. They might target us instead. Better to blame the guns.

 

Advertisements

Some Thoughts on ISIS

November 22, 2015

There has been a lot written lately on what should be done with the growing threat of terrorism sponsored by the Islamic State and about Islamic radicalism generally. I don’t imagine I have anything significant to contribute to this discussion but here are some thoughts, for whatever they are worth.

One reason for the appeal of Islamic radicalism in the Middle East that doesn’t seem to get much attention is that the recent history of the Islamic world, particularly at its Arabic speaking core is largely a history of repeated failure. Generally, the Middle East has had a very difficult time adjusting to the modern world. With the exception of Israel, which doesn’t really count since it is a Western transplant, the countries of the Middle East are backwards and poor with repressive, corrupt governments. They produce almost nothing the rest of the world wants in trade, except for oil. They contribute little to the progress of science and technology. Their militaries may be well equipped with purchases from the United States and Russia, but they are ill trained and not very effective, particularly against any Western power. It must be very humiliating, since Islam promises that the Muslims are the best of men who enjoy Allah’s favor, to see the infidel West enjoying success and prosperity while they languish in poverty and powerlessness, especially for proud, young men.

This may be part of the reason there is so much hatred of Israel among the Arabs. Israel is in the same part of the world, has much the same resources and geography though without oil, and even some of the same culture among the Jews from the Middle East, yet Israel is a vibrant, prosperous country that has contributed far more to the world than one might expect from a country of its size, more than the entire rest of the Middle East combined. There might be a good deal less hatred of Israel if Israel were just another third world sewer.

It is not that the Muslims haven’t tried to modernize. For most of the twentieth century,

various Muslim countries have attempted modernize, secularize, and westernize themselves, with varying degrees of success. Kemel Ataturk in Turkey, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran, the Communists in Afghanistan, and others such as Nasser, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi all tried to transform the states they ruled. Unfortunately, these Muslim leaders picked up all the worst ideas that the West had to offer,  such as socialism, communism, militant nationalism, and others, combined with traditional Middle Eastern despotism created nothing but a series of  repressive failed states. Modernization and westernization didn’t seem to work. It is not too surprising that many people began to believe that the Middle East was going in the wrong direction. . Maybe the failure of the Islamic world was due to them abandoning the ways of Islam.Maybe instead of becoming more Western, they should become more Islamic. One by one these secular dictators have fallen, to be replaced by Islamic rulers. Turkey is something of an exception since it has long had the forms of democracy if not always the realty. However Ataturk’s secular legacy has been increasingly challenged over the last decade with the rise to power of the Justice and Development Party.

It is also worth noting that all these twentieth century efforts to modernize the Middle East were largely the top down efforts of a small, educated, westernized elite and enacted by force, while the more religious and traditional majority have been indifferent or actively hostile to efforts to modernize and westernize their countries. It doesn’t seem as if the westernized elite spent much time or effort trying to educate or change the minds of the masses in the Islamic world nor to try to achieve some sort of synthesis between Islamic and Western values. They have remained nominal Muslims while trying to undermine the influence of Islam in the people’s lives. It should not be surprising that the majority of people throughout the Middle East have tended to resent these efforts as an attempt to force an alien, irreligious culture on them. To make matters worse, the secular modernization efforts don’t seem to have worked. Countries like Egypt, Iraq or Iran have not become as wealthy and powerful as Western nations despite any attempts at westernization. The Westernized elites and despots have failed them.

Considered this way, the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East is not really that different from the revolts against the elite in the West. ISIS and al-Qaeda are not that different in principle from the TEA Party in the United States or the UK INdependence Party in Britain or any of a number of other populist movements throughout the West. ISIS and the TEA Party both seek to revive a former greatness by going back to fundamentals. What makes all the difference is that Tea Partiers study the constitution and run for office. Radical Muslims study the Koran and engage in terrorism. What makes this difference? In the West, we have learned to settle our differences more or less peacefully. In the Middle East, they seem to have not.

It is often said that the Middle East is a tribal society and that is the cause of so much violence in the region. Maybe, but the West is tribal too. Look at a map of any major city in the United States and you may still find neighborhoods labeled “Chinatown”, “Little Italy” or the like, a relic of the days when immigrants came and settled among people of their own nation, or tribe. Every human society is prone to factions. Why is it that in the West the tribes have somehow managed to learn to live in peace and even to blend together while in the Middle East old hatreds continue for generations to the detriment of the common good?

Part of the appeal of Islamic radicalism, as well as the original appeal of Islam in Mohammed’s time, is that it promises to surmount these petty differences between tribes and nations carved out from colonial empires and create a united kingdom under the rule of God. No doubt many Muslims feel that the disaster began when the Islamic community began to fracture into competing sects and empires. In the twentieth century, there was a strong pan-Arab nationalist movement promising to unite the Arabic people. If Arab nationalism didn’t unite the Middle East, perhaps Islamism might.

I don’t think it is very useful to blame one president or another or one policy or another for the rise of ISIS. Something like ISIS would have happened regardless of what we have done. It is tempting to believe that a superpower is the cause of everything that happens in the world but much is beyond our control. The cultural attitudes and societal trends that have led to present conditions have been occurring for a very long time and much depends on how the people in the region resolve, or fail to resolve their problems. Ultimately, we cannot solve their problems for them.

The West has had a violent, tumultuous history on its path to to liberty and democracy, and perhaps some parts of Europe have not quite completed the journey. It took periods of terrible bloodshed, the Wars of Religion during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Napoleonic Wars of the nineteenth century and the World Wars of the twentieth century to make Europe what it is today. It maybe that the Middle East must go through a generation of bloodshed to convince the people to live in peace. If so, than the only thing we can or should do is leave them alone to fight it out, taking care that the conflicts do not spill over outside the Middle East. It  may also be that allowing a generation of Muslims to live under an Islamic State is the only way to sour them on the whole idea. The people in Iran do not seem to be very enthusiastic about Islam these days. They have lived under their own Islamic State and they are sick of it. We would like to think that we can solve the world’s problems, but maybe this time we can’t . Maybe the best we can manage is to protect ourselves and hope for the best.

 

Paris

November 15, 2015

Once again the civilized world has been attacked by barbarians, this time in Paris. I suppose that once again we will have the usual reactions, politicians promising action while carefully refraining from mentioning the religious ideology that inspired this attack, vague condemnations of the work of violent extremists while never noting just how high the actual percentage of the followers of the Religion that Must Not Be Named might be considered “extremists”. The left will, in fact already has, placed the blame squarely where it belongs, the racism and Islamophobia of the right. If only the extreme right in Europe and America were not so hateful, those nice Muslims would live in peace. There will also be the usual round of anti-terrorism rallies and candle light vigils, prayers  and Facebook widgets to express support for France and the rest of the silly, sentimental exercises to show how sad we are over this tragedy.

How about we do something different this time? How about we take action to stop these attacks from happening? To start with, would it be too much to expect for the political leaders of Europe, especially Angela Merkel to reconsider the policy of allowing tens of thousands of refugees from Syria into Europe. This may be the compassionate thing to do, but under current circumstances in the Middle East, it may not be the sensible thing to do. It does not take a tactical genius to realize that masses of people streaming into Europe provides an excellent opportunity to smuggle in operatives. There is no easy way to differentiate between refugees and terrorists and no way to guarantee that even Muslim not currently linked to terrorism might not get religion someday with deadly results.

Can we also at long last admit that we, the civilized world that is, have a problem with Islam. Not violent extremism or radical Islam, but with Islam. It is true that only a small minority of Muslims are actually terrorists and it may even be that only a minority of Muslims support terrorist acts as happened in Paris, though public opinion polls suggest otherwise, but the numbers do not matter. The problem is not individual Muslims who have the same mixture of good and evil as any other population The problem is with Islam. Islam, more than any other religion, justifies violence, particularly against the outsider in its scripture, theology, and doctrines. Yes, Christians, Jews, etc.  commit violence and may even use religion to justify their actions. Yet they will not get the same sort of support from their religious leaders and traditions that a Muslim who commits violence might. A Christian who bombs an abortion clinic and kills people will find himself denounced from every pulpit in the country. Even the most zealous pro-life activist will reject his actions. A Muslim who bombs a nightclub or shoots a theater full of hostages will all too often find himself celebrate as a holy martyr in mosques around the world. The moral equivalency between Islamic terrorism in our time and atrocities committed by Christians, in defiance of Christ’s teachings, in centuries past, which is being ceaselessly offered by progressives ignorant of both history and religion simply is not valid. Islam is a problem in the same way that Nazism or Communism was, a violent ideology deeply hostile to our democratic, liberal values. Yes, there are a great many good Muslims, just as their were a great many good Nazis and Communists, but they are still following an evil belief system.

If this admission is still too politically incorrect to make, then can we at least admit that it is better to be considered an islamophobe than to be dead and that protecting the lives of people living in Europe and America might be more important than protecting the tender sensibilities of those who might want to kill them. Whatever is done, we need to be clear in our minds that we are at war with people who want to destroy us and unless we start taking the threat seriously, a lot more people are going to lose their lives.

 

Related articles

Islam Means Peace

June 19, 2015

I have been called a bigot twice in the past week. To be honest, I am not at all offended. Whatever the origin of the word “bigot” (from French meaning a religious hypocrite, perhaps originally from German “bei Gott” or by God), the contemporary meaning of the word is increasingly one who tells truths the left doesn’t want to hear.

The first time was I was called a bigot was over my insistence that Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner is still a man no matter how strongly he feels that he is a woman. To tell the truth, I am just about over that particular struggle against reality. In fact, I would have nothing to say about Mr. Jenner’s life choices were it not that it illustrates a distressing tendency among our intellectual and media elite to consider that feelings and words determine the nature of reality better than actual, empirical observations and facts.  But enough of that.

The second time, I was not personally called a bigot. A Facebook friend of a friend posted a link and video describing some recent atrocities committed by some practitioners of the Religion of Peace. Someone commented that these people were violent extremists and their actions in no way reflected the real beliefs of the vast majority of peaceful Moslims. After all, he asserted, Islam means peace. I, and several others, including the author of the post, responded by posting quotations from the Koran and pointed out that people in the Islamic State have been following the example of Mohammed. He responded in the usual logical fashion by calling the lot of us bigots. Naturally, I was intrigued by the question of the etymology of the word Islam so I did a little research.

Islam is an Arabic word, of course, and Arabic is a member of the Semitic family of languages along with Hebrew, Aramaic, Amharic, and many others. One thing that the Semitic languages have in common is that most words are formed from roots, usually of three consonants, with express basic concepts. The actual words are formed by adding vowels and affixes. The triconsonantal root that seems to be most often used as an example in textbooks and Wikipedia is K-T-B, which essentially means to write or something written. Some of the words in Arabic formed from the root K-T-B include kataba “he wrote”, yahtub “he writes”, kitab “book”, katib “writer”, maktab “desk” or “office” and many others. Hebrew also forms words from the K-T-B root, such as katabu “I wrote”. The word Islam is derived from the root S-L-M, which does mean peace, among other concepts. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is derived from the S-L-M root as is the Arabic for peace, salaam. Jerusalem and Solomon are names derived from S-L-M. So, etymologically, Islam is derived from the same root as peace.

But, there is more to the meaning of S-L-M than “peace” and the word peace itself often means more than simply the absence of conflict. The full meaning of S-L-M includes the concepts of being whole, safe, secure, in health. Shalom and salaam used as greetings mean more than simply wishing the person greeted to be at peace, but also include a wish that for the person to be in good health and to prosper. And, as we have seen from the words derived from K-T-B, a concept expressed by a triconsonantal root can cover a range of meanings. The more precise meaning of the word Islam is submission to the will of Allah, which brings peace and well being.

Most people in countries that have been attacked by Islamic terrorists believe that these terrorists are monsters, or cowardly extremists who have distorted the peaceful tenets of Islam. Surely, most the majority of Muslims want to live in peace. Only a bigoted Islamophobe would state that all Muslims are violent or that Islam encourages terrorism. This belief may be comforting to those who do not wish to face hard facts, but it is not useful because it is not true.  The terrorists have more support in the Islamic world than many in the West are willing to acknowledge. This does not mean that all Muslims are terrorists or killers, but a large number are on the side of the terrorists and we ought to try to understand why.

Few people fight wars just for the sake of fighting. In almost every case, those who go to war fight to make a peace more advantageous or more just for their side. The allies went to war against Nazi Germany in order to bring about a peace in which the Nazis were destroyed. If the Nazis had been victorious in World War II, there would have been peace, but not the peace that the allies would consider a just peace. When the Muslims say they follow a religion of peace, they are being completely honest. Extremists like the late Osama bin Ladin and the Islamic State do not fight and commit terrorist acts just for the sake of violence. They want peace as much as we do. The difference is that their idea of a just peace is one where the entire world is in proper submission to Allah and Islam is the the dominant, if not the only, religion. A peace in which Islam co-exists peaceably with other religions would not be not a just or honorable peace since it leaves large numbers of people still in rebellion against Allah.

We like to say that the terrorists are monsters and their acts are senseless, but they do not see themselves in that way. They believe that they are fighting for a better world and from their point of view, we in the West, are the aggressors. The West and particularly the United States plays a vastly disproportionate role in setting the cultural and political norms throughout the world and our values are often hostile to the values of many devout Muslims. We believe our values, like treating women like human beings, not stoning gays, democratic governments that protect freedom of religion, are universal value held by all people of good will. They find such such values to be alien and repugnant, an offense against the divine law. When Westerners state that Islam should modernize and become more tolerant, they interpret it as an invitation to return to the state of Jahiliyyah, the time of pre-Islamic ignorance. Imagine how you might feel if your faith and your cherished values were under attack in the books, movies, music, etc put out by a foreign culture that dominates the world of entertainment. (Well, actually if you are a conservative Christian you don’t have to imagine it.) Mark Steyn and others worry about the emergence of Eurabia. Many in the Islamic world worry about the seductions of Western culture.

This is why many Muslims who are good people who do want to live in peace feel sympathy for terrorists and Jihadists. They want a world at peace and in its proper place under submission to Allah and His law. That is also why drawing a connection between Islam and terrorism is not ignorant bigotry but an understanding why many Muslims believe we are an enemy that they must fight. Pretending a problem does not really exist does not make it go away and ignorance is seldom bliss.

Violent Extremism

February 26, 2015

Peter Beinart defends President Obama’s use of the term violent extremism rather than Islamic terrorism in an article in The Atlantic. I think he makes a few good points but missed the reason there is a problem with Obama’s refusal to name the source of the problem.

Sometimes we overlook the obvious. For weeks now, pundits and politicians have been raging over President Obama’s insistence that America is fighting “violent extremism” rather than “radical Islam.” Rudy Giuliani calls the president’s refusal to utter the ‘I’ word “cowardice.” The president’s backers defend it as a savvy refusal to give ISIS the religious war it desperately wants. But, for the most part, both sides agree that when Obama says “violent extremists” he actually means “violent Muslim extremists.” After all, my Atlantic colleague David Frum argues, “The Obama people, not being idiots, understand very well that international terrorism possesses an overwhelmingly Muslim character.”

For Obama’s critics, and even some of his defenders, this is the president being “politically correct,” straining to prove that terrorists, and their victims, hail from every group and creed in order to avoid stigmatizing Muslims. But the president’s survey is fairly representative. Peruse the FBI’s database of terrorist attacks in the United States between 1980 and 2005 and you’ll see that radical Muslims account for a small percentage of them. Many more were committed by radical environmentalists, right-wing extremists, and Puerto Rican nationalists. To be sure, Muslims account for some of the most deadly incidents: the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohamed Ali Hedayat’s shooting spree at the El Al counter at LAX in 2002, and of course 9/11. But non-Muslims account (or at least appear to account) for some biggies too: the Unabomber, the Oklahoma City bombing, the explosions at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and the 2001 anthrax attacks.

If you look more recently, the story is much the same. Between 2006 and 2013, the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD) logged 14 terrorist incidents in the United States in which at least one person died. Of these, Muslims committed four: a 2006 attack on the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, a 2009 assault on a Little Rock recruiting station, the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, and the 2013 Boston Marathon attack (which the GTD counts as four separate incidents but I count as only one). Non-Muslims committed 10, including an attack on a Unitarian church in Knoxville in 2008, the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita in 2009, the flying of a private plane into an IRS building in Austin in 2010, and the attack on the Sikh temple that same year.

Not all European terrorists are Muslim either. According to the Center for American Progress’s analysis of data from Europol, the European Union’s equivalent of the FBI, less than 2 percent of terrorist attacks in the EU between 2009 and 2013 were religiously inspired. Separatist or ultra-nationalist groups committed the majority of the violent acts. Of course, jihadists have perpetrated some of the most horrific attacks in Europe in recent memory: the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the 2005 attacks in the London subway, and, of course, last month’s murders at Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher. But there have been gruesome attacks by non-Muslims too. Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik’s 2011 assault on a summer camp near Oslo, for instance, killed far more people than the recent, awful attacks in France.

Why does this matter? Because the U.S. government has finite resources. If you assume, as conservatives tend to, that the only significant terrorist threat America faces comes from people with names like Mohammed and Ibrahim, then that’s where you’ll devote your time and money. If, on the other hand, you recognize that environmental lunatics and right-wing militia types kill Americans for political reasons too, you’ll spread the money around.

We’ve already seen the consequences of a disproportionate focus on jihadist terrorism. After 9/11, the Bush administration so dramatically shifted homeland-security resources toward stopping al-Qaeda that it left FEMA hideously unprepared to deal with an attack from Mother Nature, in the form of Hurricane Katrina. The Obama administration is wise to avoid that kind of overly narrow focus today. Of course it’s important to stop the next Nidal Malik Hasan or Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But it’s also important to stop the next Timothy McVeigh or Wade Michael Page. And by calling the threat “violent extremism” rather than “radical Islam,” Obama tells the bureaucracy to work on that too.

Instead of assuming that these threats are the same, we should be debating the relative danger of each. By using “violent extremism” rather than “radical Islam,” Obama is staking out a position in that argument. It’s a position with which reasonable people can disagree. But cowardice has nothing to do with it.

I think that Mr. Beinart is correct in saying that it would be unwise to concentrate on the threat from Islamic radicals to the exclusion of any other potential threat.There are many sources of danger in the world, both natural and man-made and it is prudent to maintain at least some vigilance in as many ways as possible. I think that he does not understand that the terrorist threat from  radical Islam is greater than from any other source, either foreign or domestic. Beinart concedes that the attacks from Islamic terrorists, while fewer in overall numbers, have been more deadly, but the greater danger is not because attacks by violent Muslims tend to kill more people.

Timothy McVeigh, Anders Brevick, the Unibomber, and others like them were demented loners. While their actions were dangerous and deadly they acted alone or with one or two accomplices. They had no large network of supporters to give them aid and no one applauded their actions. The environmentalist and right-wing terrorists Beinart mentioned are very much isolated and marginalized, even among supporters of the causes they espouse. While there may be some few people who approve of their violent actions, the number of people willing to give any sort of material support is very low. These sorts of demented loners and extremist splinter cells can be handled by law enforcement.

Islamic terrorists such as the late and unlamented Osama bin Laden and the Islamic State are not demented loners or small groups of isolated extremists and we practice a dangerous self delusion if we believe that they play as insignificant role in in the Islamic world as Earth First! does in the West. These militants are not a small group of extremist who have perverted a peaceful religion. Their actions and ideology are far closer to the mainstream of Islam than our political leaders are willing to admit.

Consider the numbers. There is something like 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. If only one percent are willing to give at least moral support to terrorists, that is 16 million supporters. If only one percent of that number is willing to support the cause materially, than there are 160,000 people in the world willing to help with acts of terrorism against the West. There are not hundreds of thousands or people willing to actually commit acts of terrorism, even most Muslims who think that such acts are justified would rather live their lives in peace, but this should suggest the size of any potential base of support an Islamic terrorist group might be able to exploit. This is a base far greater than any other cause that a terrorist might support. Law enforcement is not enough to handle this problem. We must be willing to admit that we are at war. They certainly believe that they are at war with us and unlike us, they are fighting to win, while we do not even want to name the enemy.

I do not want to suggest that military action is the only, or even the best, option for dealing with the problem of radical Islam. I do not know what the best option is, but I have a feeling that it will require a variety of approaches including military action, law enforcement, diplomacy and others,just as we used a wide variety of tactics to bring down the Soviet Union. But first we have to admit to ourselves the nature of the threat we face. We cannot defeat an enemy we make no effort to understand.

 

Charlie Hebdo Attacked Again

January 7, 2015

On November 2,2011 the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo had its offices fire-bombed. Today gunmen attacked the offices of Charle Hebdo killing 12 people. The motivation for these attacks remains unclear.

One might suspect these attacks might have something to do with the magazine’s history of making fun of Islam, but Islam is the Religion of Peace and surely no Muslim were resort to violence to avenge an insult to his faith.

All kidding aside, here is the story from Sky News.

Three masked gunmen stormed the offices of the controversial publication, which has previously been attacked for its portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed.

They were armed with Kalashnikov rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade during the attack on Wednesday morning.

French President Francois Hollande has declared a national day of mourning tomorrow.

The attackers are said to have called out their victims by name before shooting them. In one video clip, one of them is heard to shout: “We have avenged the prophet.”

They were let into the building by a female employee who was threatened along with her daughter and forced to punch a security code into a keypad to allow them inside.

The editor and a cartoonist for the newspaper, who went by the pen names Charb and Cabu, were among those killed.

Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gilet announced on Twitter that a contributor, Bernard Maris, was another of the victims.

Two police officers were also among the dead, including one assigned as Charb’s bodyguard after death threats were made against him.

Another 11 people have also been injured, at least four seriously.

After the attack, the gunmen returned to their black Citroen getaway car and shouted: “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed, we have killed Charlie Hebdo.”

The vehicle was later abandoned and is being examined by forensics teams.

The response by world leaders seems to be encouraging.

 

President Hollande condemned the attack as “an act of barbarism”.

In a televised address, he said: “We have to respond according to the crime, first of all by finding the authors of this infamy and we have to ensure that they are arrested, judged and… punished very severely.

“Everything will be done in order to apprehend them.

“We must also protect all public buildings… security forces will be deployed everywhere where there could be a threat.

“Our best weapon is our unity, the unity of all our citizens, nothing can divide us, nothing must separate us. Freedom will always be stronger than barbarism.”

Parisiens turned out at 7pm on the Place de la Republique in a show of support for the victims and of the right of free speech.

US President Barack Obama and the Russian leader Vladimir Putin both condemned the shootings.

David Cameron tweeted: “The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.”

Unfortunately, British Prime Minister Cameron and French President Francois Hollande don’t really mean what they are saying. If there is anyone in Europe still clear minded enough and with the intellectual integrity to make logical conclusions based on available evidence, he will have to conclude that Islam, as it is currently practiced, is simply not compatible with democratic values such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press. And if such a person is brave enough to state such conclusions publicly, statesmen like Cameron and Hollande will be quick to attack him as a racist, a bigot , and an islamophobe. I expect that there will be statements on how this atrocity is in no way connected to Islam. The criminals involved are extremists and not at all like the majority of peaceful Muslims. This isn’t actually true, but it keeps them from having to face up to the real issues involved.

Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of Drancy mosque in the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, said: “These are criminals, barbarians. They have sold their soul to hell. This is not freedom.

“This is not Islam and I hope the French will come out united at the end of this.”

I hate to say it, but Hassen Chalghoumi does not seem to hold views typical of most Muslims who live in France. If his Wikipedia article is

accurate, he is more tolerant and westernized than most French Muslims and has become rather controversial for his friendship with Jews and his opposition to Islamism. I am also afraid that he is not being completely honest about the traditions and doctrines of his faith regarding the life and deeds of Mohammed. Mr. Chalghoumi is likely sincere in his desire to reform Islam in a more peaceful direction but the controversy  he is facing illustrate the difficulty of any reform is Islam.

The simple truth is that the gunmen were following Mohammed’s example. Mohammed did, in fact, sanction the murder of poets who ridiculed or opposed him.  Stories about Muhammad’s life and sayings are an important source of Islamic law and doctrine, and many of these stories affirm his violent deeds. Since Mohammad is considered a perfect man whose example every Muslim should follow, this presents a problem. Mohammad cannot be simply dismissed as a man who lived in a violent time and place. His example and the Koran applies universally. In order for Islam to become a true religion of peace, Muslims are going to have to reject what seems to be an essential part of Muhammad’s and ignore those verses of the Koran which seem to promote violence against the unbelievers. I am not sure it is reasonable to expect that of them.

In the meantime, we must not let fear, whether of terrorist attack or of being considered politically incorrect, deter of criticizing or ridiculing Islam when criticism or ridicule is warranted. If we allow the terrorists and the bullies to l us what is acceptable to say or laugh at, we will be giving away the freedoms we have worked so long and hard for. Nobody likes having their faith laughed at. Most of us in the West have learned to respect the right of people to say things we don’t want to hear.  If the Muslim population in the various European countries and here in America cannot learn to respect the freedoms of others,  they are welcome to move back to their home countries where freedom is a distant dream.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day - Mohammed by Hlkolaya

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day – Mohammed by Hlkolaya (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Freedom, Security, and Chris Christie

July 27, 2013

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had something to say about the “strain of libertarianism going through both parties” while attending  a meeting of the Aspen Institute. Here is the story in the Washington Post.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Thursday offered a clear broadside against Republicans drifting toward a more libertarian view of foreign policy, lumping Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in with them and suggesting they explain their position to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The House earlier this week narrowly voted against a reduction in funding for the National Security Agency’s program collecting Americans’ phone records, as libertarian-leaning members from both sides joined together to vote for the amendment.

“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Asked whether he includes Paul — a fellow potential 2016 presidential candidate — in his criticism, Christie didn’t back down.

“You can name any one of them that’s engaged in this,” he said. “I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. … I’m very nervous about the direction this is moving in.”

Christie acknowledged that there will always be mistakes when it comes to national security and protecting privacy, but said Americans need to stay focused on what’s at stake.

He dismissed some of the current privacy/national security debates as “esoteric.”

“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”

We do need to have more of a pubic debate on what balance between freedom and security we, as a nation, want to take. I am nervous about the direction things are moving in, but I am not sure if my concerns are quite the same as Christie’s. While I certainly do not want another terrorist attack on the scale of 9-11, I also do not especially want to live in a country where Big Brother is watching my every move. Frankly, I would rather take the risk of a terrorist attack to having to live with the level of surveillance that would make such an attack impossible. I mean, you never hear about terrorists attacking North Korea, but who would want to live there?

There is also the question of how well the NSA’s surveillance is actually working. They didn’t prevent the Boston bombing. They didn’t prevent the attempted car bombing at Times Square, or the Shoe Bomber, or the Underwear Bomber, or the attack at Benghazi. It is possible that for each one of these acts listed, the NSA anticipated hundreds of attempted attacks, yet how can we know?

I remember how I felt on September 12, 2001. I also know that immediately after a crisis is the worst possible time to consider any legislation to address that crisis. While emotions are still high and everyone’s afraid, stupid and ineffective laws are likely to be passed without close examination. This is why politicians love to pass laws immediately after a crisis. They also love to drag out widows and orphans to pull on the heart strings and evade any rational examination of whether any proposed legislation is working as intended.

Rand Paul struck back.

“Defending America and fighting terrorism is the concern of all Americans, especially Sen. Paul,” Paul’s former chief of staff, Doug Stafford, said. “But it can and must be done in keeping with our constitution and while protecting the freedoms that make America exceptional.”

Paul himself also tweeted a response:

Senator Rand Paul         @SenRandPaul

Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.

I worry about that too.

Christie appeared alongside Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R). The four GOP governors appeared side-by-side at a session hosted by the nonpartisan Aspen Institute.

The four of them — along with Paul — are all considered among the GOP’s top potential presidential candidates in 2016, with each of them ranking on The Fix’s most recent list of the top 10 likeliest nominees.

If Chris Christie keeps going the way he has been, he might not continue to be among the GOP’s top presidential candidates in 2016. He certainly won’t deserve to be.

 

Some Are More Equal

May 26, 2013

In the wake of the brutal murder of a British soldier by Islamic fanatics in London, it is good to learn that British law enforcement agencies are cracking down, on “racist”, “anti-religious remark”s made on Facebook and Twitter. As the Daily Mail reports,

A 22-year-old man has been charged on suspicion of making malicious comments on Facebook following the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.

Benjamin Flatters, from Lincoln, was arrested last night after complaints were made to Lincolnshire Police about comments made on Facebook, which were allegedly of a racist or anti-religious nature.

He was charged with an offence of malicious communications this afternoon in relation to the comments, a Lincolnshire Police spokesman said.

A second man was visited by officers and warned about his activity on social media, the spokesman added.

It comes after 25-year-old Drummer Rigby was brutally murdered on a street in Woolwich, south east London, on Wednesday.

The father-of-one, from Manchester, had fought in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Flatters has been remanded in police custody and will appear before magistrates in Lincoln tomorrow.

The charge comes after two men were earlier released on bail following their arrest for making alleged offensive comments on Twitter about the murder.

Complaints were made to Avon and Somerset Police about remarks that appeared on the social networking website, which were allegedly of a racist or anti-religious nature.

A 23-year-old and a 22-year-old, both from Bristol, were held under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred.

Detective Inspector Ed Yaxley, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: ‘On Wednesday evening, we were contacted by people concerned about comments made on social media accounts.

‘We began inquiries into the comments and at around 3.20am two men, aged 23 and 22, were detained at two addresses in Bristol.

‘The men were arrested under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred. Our inquiries into these comments continue.

‘These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol.

‘People should stop and think about what they say on social media before making statements as the consequences could be serious.’

Police confirmed the two men were later released on bail pending further inquiries.

 

If the British authorities are really interested in stopping the inciting of racial or religious hatred, perhaps they should begin monitoring what is being preached in British mosques. I am certain that the men who committed the atrocity against Lee Rigby did not just decide to commit murder for no particular reason, nor did they research Islamic scripture on their own and decide that killing infidels was the right thing to do. Someone with some religious authority taught them. In fact, according to the Telegraph, one of the men, Michael Adebowale was a convert to Islam. His mother feared that he was becoming too radical so she sent him to a mosque for religious instruction in his new faith.

Michael Adebowale, the 22-year-old son of a Christian probation officer and a member of staff at the Nigerian High Commission, was filmed holding a bloodied cleaver in his hand after Drummer Lee Rigby was butchered in a London street.

Friends said he had been a “lovely boy” but became involved in some “serious trouble” as a teenager and then turned to Islam. He started mixing with some “bad people” and became increasingly extreme in his views.

His mother Juliet Obasuyi, a 43-year-old probation officer, went to her friend and neighbour, a 62-year-old security officer, for help about nine months ago after her son dropped out of university.

She told him: “Michael is not listening any more. His older sister is a good Christian with a degree but Michael is rebelling as he has no father figure, dropping out of university and handing out leaflets in Woolwich town centre.

“He is from a strong Christian family but he is turning to Islam and turning against the family. He is preaching in the streets. He needs spiritual guidance before he radicalises himself.”

His mother was advised by a neighbour to take him to the head of the Woolwich mosque for spiritual guidance. He was converted to Islam by the head Imam, and taken for weeks of “further training” at a centre near Cambridge.

When he returned, however, he was even more “radicalised” and his mother could no longer “get through to him”. A spokesman for the mosque said they did not know if he attended or been converted there.

What exactly was Michael Adelbowale taught during those weeks of further training? Will there be any sort of investigation into whether or not imams at British mosques are preaching hatred against the infidel? Will the imams be arrested and the mosques closed if this proves to be the case? Or, do the laws against inciting hatred only apply to dhimmis and not to Muslims? Are all the people in the United Kingdom equal, but Muslims more equal than others?

 

 

 

Denial is a River

April 22, 2013

Denial is the major river in Liberal Land, at least in regards to Islam as a possible motive for terrorism. It is truly remarkable the mental gymnastics that some commentators will undergo to deny that the Religion of Peace is perhaps not so peaceful. If backed into a corner that will admit that some violence is committed by fanatic Muslims but will assert that other religions have their fanatics that are just as violent. Consider this exchange between Bill Maher and one Brian Levin. I don’t usually have much use for Bill Maher but he has his head screwed on right here.

There are hypocrites and fanatics in every religion, but the Christian or Buddhist fanatics are not blowing people up. I do disagree with one statement of Maher’s, that Christianity may have been more of a problem  in the Middle Ages. The truth is that throughout the Middle Ages Islam was an aggressive expansionist ideology. We must not forget that the Crusades were a belated Christian response to centuries of Muslim aggression against Christendom.

Melissa Harris-Perry does not think the Tsarnaev brothers’ religion is not relevant to their actions.

According to her guests, the only reason why anyone would want to blame Islam for the recent atrocity is the preserve a sense of “otherness”. Why is it so hard for them to connect the dots? Why can they not realize that noticing a pattern that almost every contemporary terrorist attack is committed by Muslims is not being prejudiced or islamophobic.

Marc Ambinder at The Week thinks that it is insane to blame Islam for terrorist attacks committed by Muslims.

We are still speculating about virtually everything right now, but I feel as though I need to explain why I find the quick and easy conversation about Muslims being radicalized in America to be so illogical and laced with bigotry.

Of course, there is a global violent jihadist movement, loosely organized, that wants to recruit young men to influence policies at home and abroad and perhaps usher in the global caliphate. That ideology motivates some Muslims to kill innocent people.

But you’re allowed to be a radical Muslim in America. You’re allowed to believe that the Qu’ran proscribes the most elegant set of laws. You’re allowed to believe that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. And you can say, in America, pretty much anything you want. Not everything, and after 9/11, a little less, but you can still make very unpopular arguments.

So just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the only factor that motivated these two brothers from Chechnya to set off bombs and kill police officers is their decision to accept some form of radical Islamic teachings as their foundational belief system. (I highly doubt this is the case, but let’s just throw it out there.)

We ask: “We have to look at the whole issue of radicalization. What prompts someone raised as an American to cause such carnage?”

I don’t think that he realizes that freedom is the problem for some people. Yes, you are allowed to be a radical Muslim in America, but you are also free to be a more moderate Muslim, or a Christian, or a Jew or even an atheist. To people who believe that sharia law should be imposed, this freedom is hateful and even against the will of God. To them, the only just and good society is one in which either everyone is a Muslim or one in which the Muslims dominate and non-Muslims are submissive.

Let’s move on.

It’s a horrible habit: A Korean-American shoots fellow students at Virginia Tech, and suddenly, we’re forced to pretend that it’s OK to blame Korean-American family structure and culture for putting him over the edge, ignoring the millions of Korean-Americans who have never considered taking up arms.

The murderer Andrew Cunanan was, in Tom Brokaw’s famous words, a “homicidal homosexual.”

See? The gay made him do it.

But when a white kid murders dozens of children, we don’t ask whether the predominant Christian religion in America somehow radicalized him, or whether his upbringing was somehow less American than anyone else’s. Stupid questions! Glad we don’t ask them.

I don’t recall anyone arguing that Korean family structures or homosexuality is a cause of mass murder. There are not large numbers of Korean-Americans or homosexuals flying planes into buildings, placing bombs to kill people, or trying to ignite their shoes. If there were, the question of whether Korean culture or homosexuality encourages violence would be a legitimate one. The predominant Christian religion in America does not preach hatred and violence against non believers. I doubt there is a single priest, minister or preacher, with the exception of Fred Phelps, at any church in America who has called for the extermination of any group. There are any number of Imams both here and abroad who do preach violence at their mosques.

It is far more plausible that American gun culture, the way that Americans are uncomfortable with people who are different, the gaps in the mental heath system, and a hundred other things, some of which cannot ever be controlled, pushed these two men over the edge. If it was Islam, or a hidden network of radical jihadists, then these types of events would not be rare in America. That they are is the answer to whether Islamic radicalization is a problem that Americans can and must contend with by stigmatizing Muslims.

What is it about America that so alienates young men?

What is it about their community — Cambridge, lower-middle class, American popular culture — that isolated them and encouraged their pursuit of a different way to add meaning to their lives?

So, its our fault. We have immigrants from all over the world in this country. Why is it that only people from predominantly Muslim countries feel so alienated that they turn to jihad. There are not large numbers of Mexican-Americans or Chinese-Americans engaging in violence. Surely, someone just arrived from India or Africa would feel a certain culture shock and perhaps some alienation. Young men native to the United States who commit crimes and atrocities are rarely of any religion, McVeigh was an agnostic. Yet, somehow when a young man does turn to religion and commits an act of terrorism, the religion he turns to is Islam, never Hinduism or Rastafarianism.

He concludes.

Bias against Muslims is real and it hurts. And the easiest way to radicalize un-radicalized people is to treat them like enemies.

Bias by Muslims hurts a whole lot more. I do not think it is right to blame every Muslim for terrorism, but there is a connection there that we ignore at our peril. How many more people must be killed before Brian Levin, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Marc Ambinder will admit there is a problem?

 

Good News

April 20, 2013

There has been good news lately. First, the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing has been captured alive.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was discovered by a homeowner lying in a boat in the man’s backyard around 7 p.m. The man noticed blood on the boat, spotted a body inside the boat and called 911, according to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

According to police, a helicopter with infrared technology then located Tsarnaev in the boat and noted that he was moving about within it. The helicopter directed officers on the ground to the boat, where they briefly exchanged gunfire shortly before 7 p.m.

Police halted their gunfire and sent hostage negotiators to try and talk Tsarnaev out of the boat Davis said.

But the suspect was not responsive, and after about an hour and 45 minutes, officers went to the boat and took Tsarnaev into custody.

His arrest sparked a spontaneous celebration in Watertown with people high fiving police, chanting Boston strong and USA.

“We got him,” Boston Mayor Tom Menino tweeted immediately after Tsarnaev was arrested. “I have never loved this city & its people more than I do today. Nothing can defeat the heart of this city .. nothing.”

The Boston police department also sent out a tweet in the aftermath trumpeting, “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”

Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, are believed to be behind the bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday that killed three individuals and injured more than 170.

Tsarnaev was then transported away from the scene in an ambulance, as law enforcement officials and onlookers clapped and cheered.

The alleged bomber had been shot by police during gunfire nearly 24 hours earlier, when he and his brother allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer and then engaged in a shootout with cops.

Police said tonight that there were some 200 rounds of ammunition, as well as improvised explosive devices and homemade hand grenades found at the scene of the shooting. Tamerlan was killed in the gunfire, but Dzhokhar fled on foot into Watertown.

Police locked down a 20-block section of Watertown today and searched door-to-door with heavily armed SWAT team members.

But police said at a press conference after the standoff ended that Tsarnaev had escaped their manhunt and hid himself in the boat just one block outside of the perimeter they were searching.

“We know he didn’t go straight to the boat,” said Watertown police chief Edward P. Deveau. “We found blood in the car he abandoned and we found blood in a house inside the perimeter. We had no information that he had gotten outside the perimeter, but it was very chaotic this morning. We had a police officer who was shot and bleeding.”

“We had a perimeter that we thought was solid and we did that but we were about one block away,” Deveau said.

Tsarnaev is in “serious” condition at a hospital tonight, Davis said.

A senior Justice Department official told ABC News that federal law enforcement officials are invoking the public safety exception to the Miranda rights, so that Tsarnaev will be questioned immediately without having Miranda rights issued to him.

The federal government’s high value detainee interrogation group will be responsible for questioning him.

The Miranda exemption exists to protect the public safety from another attack, according to the official.

The capture was quickly followed by a press conference with a host of law enforcement officials, ranging from the Boston police commissioner to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney who will ultimately prosecute the case, all of whom praised the work of officers and the public.

President Obama condemned the actions of the bombers today, though he warned the public not to jump to conclusions about motivations.

“In this day of instant reporting, tweets, and blogs, there is a temptation to latch onto any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions, but when a tragedy like this happens, with the public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it important to do this right,” Obama said. “That’s why have an investigation, that’s why we relentlessly gather the facts, that’s why we have courts.”

“Whatever hateful agenda drove these men cannot, will not prevail,” he said, “and whatever they thought they could achieve failed because the people of Boston refuse to be intimidated, and we as Americans refuse to be terrorized.”

I am not sure if it would have been better if Tsarnaev had been killed. I hate for him to have the publicity of a trial, but on the other hand it must surely be worth interrogating him. I like what the president said about not jumping to conclusions about his motives. I take it, he does not want us to speculate on whether the Tsarnaev brothers might possibly have been inspired by the teachings of the Religion of Peace. If the bombers had been anti-government Tea Party/militia fanatics, as so many of the left wished, President Obama wouldn’t hesitate to speculate on their motives, and blame the Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and whoever else was even remotely conservative.

The other good news was earlier this week. The Senate easily defeated Obama’s gun control proposals, marking a clear victory for the cause of liberty. This report from the Washington Post seems to be even more biased than usual.

President Obama’s ambitious effort to overhaul the nation’s gun laws in response to December’s school massacre in Connecticut suffered a resounding defeat Wednesday, when every major proposal he championed fell apart on the Senate floor.

It was a stunning collapse for gun-control advocates just four months after the deaths of 20 children and six adults in Newtown led the president and many others to believe that the political climate on guns had been altered in their favor.

The national drive for laws that might prevent another mass shooting unraveled under intense pressure from the gun rights lobby, which used regional and cultural differences among senators to prevent new firearms restrictions.

One by one, the Senate blocked or defeated proposals that would ban certain military-style assault rifles and limit the size of ammunition magazines.

But the biggest setback for the White House was the defeat of a measure to expand background checks to most gun sales. The Senate defied polls showing that nine in 10 Americans support the idea, which was designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” a visibly angry Obama said as he delivered his response to the nation.

The president was flanked by Newtown families, a scowling Vice President Biden and former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in 2011 in Tucson and limped from the Oval Office to join Obama in the Rose Garden.

Anytime Barack Obama is upset and angry is a good day for America. The president and his minions in the media are confused by this defeat, but the matter is not really very complicated. There never was any strong ground swell in public opinion for stricter gun control despite the efforts of Organizing for America and the New York Times. Most Americans have more important things to worry about at the moment, like whether the economy is ever going to get any better or whether they will have a job.

Even when Americans do think about gun control, they are far less likely to support the idea than in past decades. There has been a real change in American public opinion, at least since 9/11 and probably before that. Americans are less likely these days to passively sit back and let the authorities and the experts take care of things. In part this change is the result of a growing realization that the experts don’t really know what they are doing. Compare how many attempts at terrorism have been foiled by Homeland Security as opposed to private citizens paying attention to their surroundings.

Walter Russel Mead has similar thoughts and has manged to tie together these two seemingly separate news items.

Millions of Americans listening to the bulletins on the developing manhunt were either glad they had guns in their homes or thought seriously about getting them. Yet for many professional journalists, and maybe especially those in the Acela corridor in the Northeast, this reaction is incomprehensible.

Put simply, millions of Americans don’t want to depend only on the police for protection. They think about the inevitable interval between calling 911 and the arrival of the cops, and they don’t want to wait helplessly for the good guys to arrive. Events like this one reinforce deeply held public beliefs about the dangerous world we live in and the limits of the state’s ability to protect the people from the bad guys.

This may not strike enlightened and well credentialed Acela liberals as sensible or rational, but that’s not the point. Without understanding the visceral belief that many Americans have, that their “right to bear arms” is about self defense and the right to take care of your own when the State fails you, it’s impossible to understand the politics of gun control in the United States.

The chances of getting 60 votes in the Senate for serious gun control remain slim to none.

I think this is a good thing. The police and Homeland Security cannot be everywhere and as the Tsarnaev brothers, and 9/11, has shown in the War on Terrorism everywhere is potentially a front and everyone is potentially a front line soldier. Rather than trying to take guns away from people, Obama and company would do better to encourage more Americans to be armed.

 


%d bloggers like this: