Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year, 2007


Yes, it's New Year's Eve again. I usually hate that. It takes me 365 days to remember what year it is, and then they go and change it to something else. I tella ya, it ain't easy being an old guy. Here I am, dressed up to the nines to go out to boo gee, and my spats are yellowed. Luckily, all my friends are half-blind and mostly deaf, so things should work out nicely anyway. I must remind myself not to tell any jokes this year. Last time poor old Edith peed herself. Well, OK, maybe it wasn't from laughing at my joke.

Now that Prohibition is over, and thank God for that, I can bring out the bottle of hard stuff I've been saving all this time. There's nothing I like better than a bottle of Hershey's 100% Hard Stuff to bring in a new year, and this is one vintage year I have. I'll need it, hearing that some Roosky shot the President.

To all you young whipper-snappers and kids who have new fangles, I look forward to staying in touch further this coming year and catching up on those who stopped long enough for me find you among all this rushing about. This business with Ford and his damned horseless carriage! It won't last, believe me. Take my word for it, invest in kerosene. It's the coming thing. And eat your vegetables. I hate 'em myself, so eat mine.

Where was I? Oh, damn, why are they bothering me? Is it time for my nap? Nurse, give me pudding. I want my damned pudding or I won't sleep.

Happy New Year to those of you still awake this time of night.

No New Year's Fireworks For Brussels

The Terror Threat hanging over Belgium since December 21st has cost Belgians their traditional New Year's fireworks celebration in Brussels: it is canceled. No exhilarating light show will now ring in the New Year for Belgium's capital city... a sad symbol of the decline of Western Europe, falling ever deeper into darkness and despair.

A spokesperson for Freddy Thielemans, infamous socialist mayor of Brussels, explained that "The goal is not to create panic or to barricade the entire city, but we do not want to take any unnecessary risks..." Better that the entire nation be deprived of their inspiring New Year's Eve tradition, than 14 suspected islamist terrorists remain behind bars. All this due to "insufficient evidence".

A Belgian news outlet, "La Derniere Heure", did some investigating on the reasons for the arrests and quick release of the suspects, and were able to identify three incredible pieces of the puzzle, offering some important context to the legal rorschach test followed by Belgian authorities on this case... a context that had been missing in most of the coverage of the story to date.
What follows is my loose translation of their report, "The Terrorists' Plan":
It all started, a few months ago, with a plan to free [Nizar] Trabelsi. In the middle of the month of December, however, the deal changed. Investigators learned that the plan had evolved. No longer was it a question of a prison break but of an attack.

"You know, it's always hard to predict if the threats will be carried out or not. If we act too soon, we risk not having enough evidence. If we act too late, we risk having dozens of deaths", confided one investigator.

Therefore Friday December 21st, anti-terror police led a series of searches and arrested 14 people. These were released the following day... because of insufficient evidence and also due no doubt to the suspects' explanations. The telephone conversations and emails.... it was all a joke. And yet...:

One: in one of the conversations, the suspects talked of staking out the subway ["metro"] while making reference to the London bombings (four explosions striking the city's public transportation, leaving 56 dead and 700 wounded). They wanted to test the efficiency of the police by placing small bombs in the trash bins.

Two: Naima, the wife of Nizar Trabelsi, confirmed that her daughter, who is studying chemistry, was ready to make bombs.

Three: Naima's son clearly told his step-father, Trabelsi, that he wished to become a "kamikaze". [Their word; not clear by the report if that is a direct quote or not]

A few days ago, the Belgian news site 7sur7 offered a short biography of Malika el-Aroud, one of the 14 suspects who were arrested and released due to "insufficient evidence".
"Widow of Mahmoud assassin arrested":

Malika el-Aroud is 48 years old, a belgian of afghan origin, widow of Abdessater Dahmane, one of the two assassins who killed anti-taleban Norther Alliance warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud in a suicide bombing on Sept 9 2001.

She was acquitted in 2003 by the Brussels criminal court that was investigating a network channeling jihadi candidates for Afghanistan. She left for Switzerland at the side of her newest husband, she had been judged in June of this year in Geneva for supporting islamic terrorism on internet websites. She had received six months of a suspended sentence "for support of a terrorist organization and complicity in representations of violence."

According to the charges, her husband, Moez Garsallaoui, a 39 year-old Tunisian living in Switzerland, had created and maintained several different websites used by terrorist organizations, al-qaida among them. These sites mostly spread formulas for building explosives, according to the charges. His wife Malika, "thanks to her notoriety within the islamic world, offered a legitimacy to the criminal efforts of her husband", the case maintained.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The age of transparencies

Since we've been voted "most obtusely anachronistic and semantic" blog by Sean, the anti-Les Nessman of a groovy, post-coo-ool blog, I've gone looking for truer signs of the times about which to wax runic:
It must be hard being Facebook. When you’re not being accused of endangering the privacy of people who’ve posted their life stories on the web, or of providing a forum for paedophiles, you’re deleting the profiles of Lib Dem MPs, claiming that they don’t exist. It must be hard being a Liberal Democrat too.

Steve Webb, 42, who has been an MP for ten years, used his Facebook profile [to] keep in touch with constituents, but some people, it seems, began to doubt his credentials. When Facebook received complaints, they took prompt action and removed the profile.

"I was essentially accused of impersonating a Member of Parliament," Mr Webb told Reuters.

He accepted that Facebook’s doubts may have arisen because he had more than 2,500 friends – a suspiciously large number for an MP.
Now, when I was trapped in nostalgia, studying history and counting all the Gladstone vs. Disraeli streets in Canada (it's a sad tale), I remember reading about the growth of liberty and how many millions of active, voting, candidate-choosing members the British Conservative, Liberal, and Labour parties came to have. They were a fundamental part of the network of everyday life in British society. Now that British politics has been outsourced to Brussels and what's left is dominated by an increasingly tyrannical Prime Minister, and the other party leaders, there really are only a few people an ambitious MP needs to have on speed dial. So, no wonder Mr. Webb was taken for a fake. At the very least, maybe he is the one truly deserving of the Obtusely Anachronistic-Becoming Transparent award. Mr. Webb even has a nice blog where I found this ditty from the land of Shakespeare:

Once upon a time in England
Stood a very good MP
His election was a landslide
It's North Avon History
But now his very existence
Has encountered resistance
He has helped us all and gladly
Now we come to rescue Steve
Facebook friends, unite and stand up
To make everyone believe
Steve is real, so tell your president
Give him back to North Avon Residents
And one day, in the near future
All this will feel like a dream
Steve will have his Facebook friends back
And Lib Dem's will reign supreme
Until then, we'll do our best
To keep up our Facebook protest!
And here's Steve with his face back.

Tis the Season to be Mo Jolly (2)

Am I pissed off? Naw....

Only Muslims Can Use The Word Allah

CAN you make this up? No: "A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the government after it decreed that the word 'Allah' can only be used by Muslims.

"In the Malay language 'Allah' is used to mean any god, and Christians say they have used the term for centuries."

Jehovah…

"A spokesman for the Herald, the newspaper of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, said a legal suit was filed after they received repeated official warnings that the newspaper could have its license revoked if it continued to use the word.

"We are of the view that we have the right to use the word 'Allah'," said editor Rev Lawrence Andrew."

http://www.anorak.co.uk/twitterings/178852.html#comment-167761
****

Yes, we are aware of this controversy even here in Vancouver, Canada; but we didn't take it kneeling down: I am personally leading a campaign to ensure that no Muslim is allowed to use the name Coca Cola. Yes, it is true that Muslims invented Coca Cola thousands of years ago, but Coke is a Christian icon, as we all know, that is misused by Muslims to further jihad against us; therefore, it is only just and reasonable that Muslims forever and anon forego the further use of, and even the infidel imbibing of, Coca Cola.

I pronounce this a fatwa, a thinwa, a deathwa, and not to forget the important things in life, I pronounce this a dagwa.

Dagwa! It's the real thing. (For Americans, of course, it's the real "thang.")

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Covenanting with all the victims of the Jihad and of those who aid and abet Jihad through anti-US posturing


I've been spending the morning reading some of the news and opinion on the murder of Benazir Bhutto. And now I have to run out the door, without time to say more to announce our weekly Thursday Covenant Zone meeting, 7-9 pm, in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, in front of Blenz Coffee. Look for the guys in the blue scarves if you want to join us and discuss how Canada and the West can protect its covenants and freedoms from the threat of Jihadist violence. And how can we grow our covenants to bring more of humanity into the modern world? I am reminded, as I review some of Stanley Kurtz's essays on Pakistan, how much this is a problem not simply of Islam but of Islam as it buttresses a particular form of kinship and tribal society:
What D’Souza can’t see is that, far more than America’s secular Left, it is the distinctive nature of Islam itself, and of Middle Eastern social life generally, that forces this all-or-nothing choice. A non-creedal religion whose jurisdiction extends to vast areas of social life; a communal religious identity that punishes disloyalty with death; and a marriage system that generates (and harshly polices) a pervasive ethos of in-group solidarity: these are the real sources of the all-or-nothing choice between Muslim tradition and modernity. This is why the current alternatives in the Muslim world sometimes seem to be boiling down to an untenable choice between Iranian theocracy, on the one hand, and Turkish secularism, on the other.

If we want to change any of this, it will be impossible to restrict ourselves to the study of religious Islam. The “self-sealing” character of Islam is part and parcel of a broader and more deeply rooted social pattern. And parallel-cousin marriage is more than just an interesting but minor illustration of that broader theme. If there’s a “self-sealing” tendency in Muslim social life, cousin marriage is the velcro. In contemporary Europe, perhaps even more than in the Middle East, cousin marriage is at the core of a complex of factors blocking assimilation and driving the war on terror.

French Journalists Attacked By Mob Of Youths

An older story, by internet standards, but one worth rescuing from obscurity, for what it tells us about the criminal world lurking in France's suburban nightmare. A team of French journalists visit the banlieue of Villiers le-Bel in late November, in the wake of the new round of urban rioting, in search of a story on conditions in the banlieues, and are attacked so suddenly and viciously that they must flee to save their lives. It wasn’t the story they were looking for, but the tale is recounted in a detailed blog post by one of the journalists involved.

Here is a summarized translation of his long report, “Can We Still Go To The Banlieu To Report On What Is Happening There?” (Direct translation in quotation marks)

The blogging journalist and two colleagues went to Villiers le-Bel Tuesday, in the vicinity of the library that had been ravaged the night before. They were walking along the sidewalk in front of the library, when suddenly a car quickly brakes, causing another to begin blaring its horn. As they’re wondering what the cause for the noise is, a man charges out of the parked car, yelling. Yelling at the driver of the other car, and yelling at everyone else nearby. The man is about 30 years of age, small and extremely nervous, “almost shaking with spasms”. He seems enraged, he pulls a u-turn with tires squealing. There seemed to be a 6 or 7 year old child sitting next to him in the vehicle, which the reporter says he later learned was probably the younger brother of Larami, one of the two youths killed on the Sunday.

The man gets out of his car and sees “Pierre”, described by the chronicler as “tall, blond and to sum it all up, white. His clothing also makes him the ideal scapegoat.” He wears jeans, a brown leather jacket and a bag, which marks him as a journalist, "the ‘stereotype that the youths have decided ‘do nothing but tell lies’”. When the 30 year old driver sees him, “we knew that he immediately decided that Pierre would pay for all the others, all those who are part of the other side.” He marches over towards them and starts yelling, “What are doing here! We don’t want journalists here. You, the reporter with the bag, I’ll punch your face in!” [“je vais te caser la gueule”, in original]

One of the reporters picks up the pace and lowers his head to make it seem as if he hadn’t seen the angry screamer. A few seconds later the man catches up to him and pushes him. “I place myself between them, asking the aggressor to calm down. But the man is beyond any discussion and all explanations. He doesn’t want to talk and maybe can not talk. Could he explain this anger, this rage? Is it, as every local that we had questioned had told us, caused by the impression that the media in their entirety had chosen one side? Are they repressed tears for a friend, a neighbor or a beloved child who has died? Is it anger for hated police officers whom he supposes ‘agree [conspire?] as usual to only tell lies’. In any case, the man is beyond reasoning with.”

The enraged man throws a punch. He starts yelling at the blogger, grabbing him, and Pierre starts to back away. Suddenly three, four, five youths start to surround them. As the blogger desperately tries to calm things down, one of the youths takes out an “enormous tear gas bomb”, and throws it at Pierre; it seems to miss him. By now there are over thirty people around them. A youth kicks Pierre while the blogger manages to disentangle himself from the man that had been holding on to him.

They hear voices from the crowd: “Get out of here, what are you doing screwing around here?” As they try to leave Pierre is hit by many blows and kicks, about a dozen youths are now hanging on to him, trying to get him to go down. Another tear gas bomb makes an appearance. Two of the journalists are now running downhill, pursued by different groups of four or five youths. At several points, older people intervene and this keeps allowing the reporters to escape.

One of Larami’s older brothers allows the fleeing journalists to definitively withdraw in safety. All are red-eyed, vision ruined by the smoke. The blogging reporter reflects: “I thought to myself that if this can happen in the middle of the afternoon, there’s not much chance that a night can pass any more serenely”.
Many commentors at the french blog chastise the journalist for seeming to constantly justify the violent behavior of the thugs who set upon them, and reading his account I must agree with these critics. Even while being "mugged by reality", the writer is excusing the blows striking them. It would be instructive to hear what the "older people" who kept stopping the violent youth had to say to them... a shame those individuals aren't quoted in the story. Were they justifying the attacks? Doubtful: that's why they risked a few blows themselves in order to intervene. The reporter should take his lead from these rare voices of reason: it is one thing to "know" the reason for rage and hatred, it is another thing for that motivation to serve as a legitimate excuse for evil acts. It seems, sadly, that it wasn't just the enraged 30 year-old who is "beyond reasoning".

Thanks to BafWeb for finding and highlighting the account.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Povertarians and Povertarianism

Seen in the blogs:
PelaLusa said...
I loved these quotes in the Van Sun article:

"He [Simpson] believes that the agencies that are in the Downtown Eastside to combat poverty are actually codependent on the poor. "It's their raison d'etre."

"I call them the povertarians," he explains. "And they've created a system in the Downtown Eastside that is going in the wrong direction. It's a hell down here and I got elected to the Carnegie board by the members because I wanted to change the way these people are running things."
December 24, 2007 8:18 PM

See also.

Bob C said:
I must agree with William Simpson with his opinion of the so called service providers in the Downtown East Side. I have worked in and around the DTES for many years and have observed the people who provide these services to the poor become increasingly intrenched in what they do to the point that changing that area is the last thing they want to see. If the DTES was cleaned up and the poor were no longer poor and the addicted were treated then all of those nice fat grants the service provders get from the govenments and social organizations would dry up. Once the money is gone so are their jobs. So yes William Simpson is right when he called them "povertarians".
December 24, 2007 5:39 PM
These are responses to Miro Cernetig's recent Vancouver Sun column.

Now, here is the text of an email from Dag to me, dated March 2, 2007:
I did a Google search to look for povertaria[n], and below is what I found. I think that in a month I can make it one of the most used buzz words in our culture. Look at some of the other things we now think of as given: dhimmitude, infantalisation, philobarbarism, poligion, neo-feudlaism. Some words are better than others. I think "povertarian" has legs. Let's find out this time next month.

Revised March 1. 2007:

Povertarian: 5 pages

Povertarians: 9 pages

Povertarianism: 1 page

Yalla, Dag
Here is what I get today, December 26, 2007, on Google:

Povertarian: 33 pages

Povertarians: 30 pages

Povertarianism: 1 page

So, good work Dag, especially good work considering your typographical trials and tribulations. But we all have to do a little more work on the ism. Yeah, I know, we should be allergic to all isms. But maybe, in this case, we can drop it in every now and then for the old school crowd.

Kudos also to Reliable Sources at the Downtown Eastside Enquirer, who has been doing great and extensive work on the William Simpson story for many many months now, along with a host of other stories on the Downtown Eastside. There's someone working hard and braving the potential wrath of the Gnostic ideologues/postmodern slum lords to get us all closer to the truth about the open wound on the face of Ms. Vancouver.

UPDATES:

Povertarian • one who works in the ‘poverty industry’.
- Extracted and adapted from Schott’s Almanac 2008: conceived, written & designed by Ben Schott published by Bloomsbury on December 1.

French Youths Attack Police On Christmas Eve

There was more than a mouse stirring late Christmas Eve in Belleville, France. French "youths" continue to escalate their violent nihilism, offering a regional police station a series of fiery Christmas presents, which seemed to represent only a fraction of their overall plan.

Loosely translated from Yahoo France:

Three molotov cocktails were thrown at the police force of Belleville (Rhone) over Monday night/Tuesday Morning, according to police.

Moreover, the tires of « 7 or 8 vehicles » belonging to police officers and parked within the enclosures of the police station, were sprayed with gas, but were not set ablaze, said Francis Battut, the prosecutor for Villefranche-sur-Saône.

At 4 :25 Tuesday morning, three glass bottles filled with inflammable liquids were thrown at the area surrounding the local squad [headquarters].

A car parked in the lot next to the police station’s parking enclosure was completely destroyed by the flames and another private vehicle, belonging to a police officer, also suffered serious damage, say the police.

Investigators from the police station in Lyon then discovered traces of gas on the tires of other cars.

« Was the culprit or culprits interupted by a noise ? I have no idea, but if they had set fire to the cars’ tires, the consequences could have been much more serious », said M. Battut.

At first, when the French "youths" escalated their criminal behavior from theft and muggings to vandalism, the novelty of the change made news. Then it became routine, and would only be covered when a detail made an act of vandalism "newsworthy" for being different than all the other acts of vandalism. Then petty vandalism turned into car burnings, and those images made international headlines... until their novelty factor wore off. The burnings continued, but fewer news cameras bothered to cover "old news", such fiery vandalism reduced to the same routine as thefts and muggings.

Now the French "youths" advance to an ever more frightful next stage, which, true to form, is attracting media coverage for its novelty factor: the youths are attacking the police, treating them like a rival gang, whether by setting deadly traps or, as happened in the French overseas department of Reunion Island, waging war upon the actual police station itself.

Imagine the state that France shall find herself in, when even these stories become routine... and stop becoming news.

May the France of 2008 find its strength of character and renew its sense of spiritual purpose sufficiently to douse the flames of burning nihilism in its young, before the next escalation raises the bonfires to even more sorrowful ravages of post-christian decay.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

link...

(picture ht)

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas to all the Christians, secular and religious, out there. May you and your loved ones find grace and peace in our worldly struggles.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Catholics Outnumber Anglicans in Anglican England

News of former Prime Minister Tony Blair's conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism has made headlines around the world. In the shadow of that story we read of another angle to the growing decline of Anglicanism in England: for the first time since the 16th Century, there are now more practicing Catholics in England than Anglicans.

A survey by the group Christian Research published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper showed that around 862,000 worshippers attended Catholic Mass each week in 2006, exceeding the 852,000 who went to Church of England services.

Attendance at Anglican services has almost halved over the past 40 years as the country has grown steadily more secular, the research showed, with only Pentecostalism showing any rise in popularity among Christian denominations.

While attendance figures for both Catholic and Anglican services are declining, Catholic numbers are slipping by a lesser degree as new migrants arrive from east Europe and parts of Africa, boosting Catholic congregations.

The Church of England is not taking the dip to second place lying down, the Telegraph article reveals:

In an attempt to combat the declining interest in traditional religion, the Anglican Church has launched radical new forms of evangelism that include nightclub chaplains, a floating church on a barge and internet congregations.
The French Christian site La Croix adds some details, from Peter Brierley, the former general director of Christian Research, who assisted in conducting the survey:
"A part of the reason for the increase [in the number of practicing Catholics] is that you have a large number of immigrants coming from Catholic countries, especially Poland." British authorities say that at least 300,000 Poles have come to Great Britain since joining the EU in 2004, while polish sources place the number at closer to one million, of which half have centered around London.

Unmentioned in the Sunday Telegraph's coverage of the story is what effect, if any, the ongoing schism within the Anglican communion may be having on Church attendance. Might British traditionalists be growing as disillusioned with their post-modern church, as many of their US counterparts are? Maybe, just maybe, it's not about where it is being taught, whether on land or on "floating barges", but simply what is being taught... or rather, what is no longer being taught.

If one's faith teaches that anything goes, then why need a God at all to help us live that kind of life? If every behavior is equally healthy and helpful to the community at large, then why even have faith to begin with, since there would exist no better version of ourselves to imagine aiming ourselves to become?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Terror Threat Hangs Over Belgian Christmas

More translated news on the possible Belgian Christmas Terror Plot. Here I summarize a long article at Le Soir, "Christmas Under Heavy Surveillance In Brussels":

Newly sworn in Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced to the national press late last week that the government possessed “information leading us to believe that a terrorist attack might be in the planning stages in the nation of Belgium”.

Lieve Pellens, spokesperson for federal investigators, is quoted in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir: “It all stems from an projected escape attempt by terrorist Nizar Trabelsi, charged in June 2004 to ten years in prison. We had obtained information mentioning this attempt. An investigation had been opened and had confirmed the hypothesis whereby the prisoner’s entourage were going to make use of arms and explosives to get him out of Lantin [prison]… If the individuals following radical islam are ready to make use of explosives and heavy weapons for a jaibreak, they must be capable of preparing a [terrorist] attack.” … “the particular investigative techniques – including telephone monitoring – put in effect to stop the prison break enabled us to establish that Trebelsi’s entourage had intended on perpetrating an attempt”.

“We know a good number of them [the terrorist’s circle of friends]. Some appeared during Trabelsi’s trial in 2004."

The principal individual among the suspects is Malika, from MolenBeek, widow of Abdesatar Dahmane, one of the assassins who blew himself up while “interviewing” Afghan anti-taleban warlord Massoud, back on sept 9, 2001. Malika has since created a support network for Nizar Trabelsi and his friends. She even organizes collections for financing their escape. In June her and her new husband, Tunisian Moez Garsallaou, were found guilty in Switzerland of supporting islamist terrorist groups.

Acording to Jaak Raes, general director of the Interior’s crisis center, “In Brussels, a police presence will be placed in the subway, in Christmas villages, on the Grand-Place and everywhere that a crowd will gather. Measures similar to those taken during a European summit. Other more discreet measures will also be taken”.

The extra security is planned to remain in place until the 2nd of January, but may be prolongued if the situation calls for it.

Red Card for Belgium Terror Threat

14 potential islamist terrorists were arrested this week in Belgium for allegedly plotting a jailbreak to free Nizar Trabelsi, former soccer player and Al-Qaida member.

From Yahoo:

In a series of overnight raids around the country, police picked up 14 suspects and seized arms and explosives. The prime minister and prosecutor's office alleged the detained were planning to use the weapons to free Nizar Trabelsi, a 37-year-old Tunisian sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003 for planning to a drive a car bomb into the cafeteria of a Belgian air base where about 100 American military personnel are stationed.

… Security services in several European nations suspect Trabelsi, who trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, had links with extremists in Britain, France and elsewhere in Europe.

...

Details about the identities of the suspects were not immediately released, but the RTL-TVI television network said one of those detained was Malika El Aroud, the Moroccan-born widow of one of the suicide bombers who killed Afghan anti-Taliban leader Ahmed Shah Massood two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

El Aroud, a Belgian resident, was acquitted in a Brussels court of involvement in Massood's killing in 2003. In June, she was convicted in Switzerland for supporting a criminal organization by running Web sites that posted statements from al-Qaida-linked groups and showed executions.

She received a six-month prison sentence suspended for three years, which would keep her from going to jail unless she commits another punishable offense during the time.

This morning, however, we read that the 14 suspects have all been released, after a court decided there was insufficient evidence to hold them for more than 24 hours:

The government's Crisis Center said the investigation was not over. And Lieve Pellens, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, said tightened anti-terrorism measures triggered by the arrest of the suspected Islamic militants on Friday would remain in place over the holidays.

"We think there is still a threat," Pellens said in a telephone interview.

...
Unlike some other European nations, Belgium does not have anti-terrorist laws which allow suspects to be held for longer than 24 hours without charge, Pellens said.
Both articles also provide information on the three-time loser, Nizar Trabelsi, that the islamists consider a "hero":

Trabelsi came to Europe in 1989 for a tryout with the German soccer team Fortuna Duesseldorf. He got a contract but was soon let go. Over the next few years, he bounced from team to team in the minor leagues, acquiring a cocaine habit and a lengthy criminal record.

Eventually, he made his way to al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan, where evidence presented at his trial showed he placed himself on a "list of martyrs" ready to commit suicide attacks.

Trabelsi has admitted planning to kill U.S. soldiers. He said he met al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and asked to become a suicide bomber. He was arrested in Brussels two days after the Sept. 11 attacks and police later linked him to the discovery of raw materials for a huge bomb in the back of a Brussels restaurant.

"Trabelsi is an important figure for armed Islamic circles. He is a highly symbolic figure who has met Osama bin Laden," said Claude Moniquet, president of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, a Brussels-based think tank specializing in terrorism issues.

UPDATE: A systematic cell by cell search has been concluded at Belgium’s Arlon prison, in relation to the arrests, according to the Belgian Le Soir newspaper. The entire prison was searched, with police dogs aiding the massive effort. This is the security facility where Tunisian terrorist Nizer Trabelsi had been serving his ten-year sentence, up until he had been transferred three weeks ago to a prison in Lantin, then more recently to Nivelles. The story says that the initial prison transfer was decided upon after suspicions grew about a possible escape attempt by Trabelsi. “Searches were made at the time of his leaving Arlon”, said Arlon prison director Marc Dizier. “Nothing was found relating to an escape attempt. Following new facts discovered Friday, new investigations have been made”, he added.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What the failure to covenant looks like


We first mentioned Hind Fraihi and her recent book in: Those for whom Vlaams Belang is the last stop! Fraihi went undercover in Belgium's Moroccan neighborhoods to learn about the rise of fundamentalist Islam there.

Charles has just sent me an English-language youtube clip from a
Deutsche Welle TV broadcast from Brussels that discusses Fraihi and her book.


It's a video that reveals how the streets of many districts in Europe are no longer under the control of the European states, but are the domain of entrepreneurial Islamist dictators. Those who think the present global crisis caused by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism promises to be a short-lived phenomenon resulting from a rural society's early integration into urban modernity need to listen to Fraihi and think again.

What the video depicts so well is the violent balkanization that befalls a country without a common covenant, a common commitment to a single rule of law that applies equally to all people. Those who forget, or who never know, their responsibility to act as guarantor for the equal freedom and rights of every other citizen, whatever their ethnic, racial, or religious brackground, whether they are aboriginal or newcomer, whatever their sex or social status, may look forward to a Belgian future where, instead of a shared commitment to a common constitutional order, they will be ruled by the push and pull of competing bureaucracies, gangs, and religious authorities, and whatever back room deals these can work out, far away from the tv news cameras and democratic transparency.

For the people to own their politics, to be self-ruling, they must share a common sense of nationhood. This is what Covenant Zone exists to defend for Canada, in face of would-be supra-national forces, like the EU, the anti-national leftist elites of our academies and media, or the Ummah, that threaten to destroy the only basis on which democracy can be sustained.

If you want to discuss how we can better make ourselves into guarantors of each other's freedom in a shared and renewed Canadian covenant, please join us here on the blog, or, if you can, attend one of our regular Thursday night meetings in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9pm, in front of Blenz Coffee. Look for the guys with the blue scarves.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Duelling Emergency Responders in France

Crime, justice, protection, oppression…. It’s increasingly all a matter of mere semantics, "order" a mere question of perspective, as French banlieus evolve into their own parallel world, seemingly with their own version of emergency response teams.

One world calls the police to report they are being robbed, and sees the police show up to intervene, hopefully early enough to catch the criminals in the act. The other world sees the police as the ones doing the trespassing. Thugs “victimized” by police now summon a veritable locust swarm of fellow gangsters to “rescue” fellow youths from their “emergency”: being arrested.

Case in point, this story from Grande-Borne, of two emergency response teams, colliding from opposite ends of the scales of justice [hastily translated by myself]:

Clashes opposed fifty youths against police officers Sunday afternoon in the sensitive neighborhood of Grande-Borne, in Grigny (Essonne), following the hold-up of a bakery. Around 3:30 pm, a dozen youths attacked the establishment located in the Grande-Borne neighborhood. Just as they were getting ready to leave with the contents of the cash register, the police intervened, said a judicial source. Several of [the youths'] comrades then appeared as reinforcements and began hurling stones and empty bottles against the police, which served to shield the flight of the thieves.

The police reported sporadic clashes that left no one wounded. Suddenly the youths took flight while setting fire to a garbage can. There were no arrests…

[I've lost track of which French blog I first read this story... I'll play it safe and credit the indefatigable BafWeb, the most comprehensive French news site I visit every morning]

French Youths' War Against The System

The attacks of French “youth” keep escalating in scale, to a frightful degree. Can it still be called “juvenile delinquency”, when there are out-and-out attacks against schools, libraries, and police stations? Does anybody still believe that unemployment is the reason teenagers are attacking firefighters with iron bars? This has come a long, long way from indiscriminate vandalism… if that's what it ever was.


From last week, we find this sobering report (joylessly translated by myself from the original french newspaper Le Figaro), on the evolved form of rampage the understaffed, outmatched and disillusioned police forces must now contend with, all too frequently:


Several dozen youths from the community of Saint-André, in Réunion, tried to burn down the city’s police station during the night, and set fire to cars and shops.
These incidents kicked off around 10:00 pm when youths armed with bats and iron bars attacked the administrative police station, closed at that hour and located downtown. They set fire to a garbage can pushed against the doorway, which started a fire and damaged the front of the building.

When police arrived on the scene, they were pelted with stones and had to beat a retreat. The youths then set fire to the offices of an insurance agency, which was destroyed along with two vehicles. The owner of a pizza delivery truck was lightly wounded by a blow from an iron bar.
Jean-Paul Virapoullé (UMP), mayor of Saint-André, hotly denounced these acts, estimating that the instigator is a “notorious gangster” who “is not of french nationality”. “If [the forces of law and order] can’t protect us from these acts, we will bring about the rule of law ourselves”, he said.

A televised report on the story adds haunting visuals to the nightmare.





The forementioned truck-driving owner of the pizzeria set ablaze by the youths speaks to the reporter, blood still seeping from his head wound. He valiantly tried to save his business, but was brutally attacked (“at least three youths threw themselves at me”, he says in his interview); his wound comes from being struck on the side of the head by an iron bar wielded by one of the youths.


He is saved only by the quick reactions of his spouse. “When I saw that they were using their weapons to attack, I had to hurl my car at them to separate them. That was how we were able to escape.” She also says that she saw the youths carrying swords as well as bars and bats. ["sabres"... maybe the proper translation should be machetes...?]


When the riot first broke out, there were only seven police officers on the scene; what could they do against forty, asks the reporter, rhetorically. It took 45 minutes in order for several dozen reinforcements to arrive from neighboring cities.


Saint-Andre had never before experienced events on such a scale, says the journalist. A local offers his opinion: “Cars go by with women and children in them, they get stones thrown at them.. it’s serious, it’s very serious, it’s a catastrophe.”

[Thanks to BafWeb for the story]

Monday, December 17, 2007

Muslims and free humanity against Sharia

I am happy to find a comment from Muslims Against Sharia at one of our November posts.

I'm not sure which member of the group posted that, but it recalled to mind a Front Page interview with Khalim Massoud, president of Muslims Against Sharia:
Most of American mosques are financed and run by Wahhabis. Wahhabi imams are anything but moderate, hence most of religious leaders are radicals. So-called "civil rights" groups, i.e., CAIR, MPAC, ICNA, MAS, etc. that comprise Muslim establishment are nothing more than offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood and fronts for Hamas and al-Qaeda. They are very well financed and are extremely skilful manipulators of the media. And most of the people in government and media truly believe that those groups are moderate, because they are either too lazy to do research or they choose to ignore terrorist ties.

As a result, when either the government or the media needs an Islamic point of view, Muslim establishment groups are go-to "experts" by default. With the "expert" seat being filled, moderate Muslims are left out.

Another problem with moderate Muslims is they are scared and not organized. They are scared because they cannot speak up in mosques for fear of being kicked out and there are virtually no organizations that represent their views. They are not organized, because, unlike the radical, they do not receive tens of millions of dollars in financial support, therefore they have to work for a living.
[...]
Their strategy is very simple. They constantly claim that they are peaceful and moderate, and Western media is more than happy to repeat that nonsense. They do not praise terrorism in public, but they justify it by playing the Muslim victimhood card. And they are very effective at it.

Many radical organizations have already been exposed by counter-terrorism researchers like Steven Emerson, John Loftus, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Joe Kaufman, Paul Sperry, Zeyno Baran, and many others. The proof that the Muslim establishment is anything but moderate is widely available. However, the government and the media either for political reasons or out of sheer stupidity completely ignore it.
Front Page's Jamie Glazov went on to ask:
I would like to touch on your intriguing point that “the Koran has been corrupted over the centuries, and all we want to do is to revert it as close as possible to the original." Is there any textual support for such a notion? And doesn't this notion run counter to the Islamic doctrine of the perfection of the Qur'an, which insists that the Qur'anic text is the same as it was in the time of Uthman? In light of these considerations, do you think you will gain much support in the Islamic world?

Massoud: We do not have any direct evidence that the Koran has been corrupted over the centuries. However, there is some circumstantial evidence supporting our point. First, if you take two English Korans translated by two different people, the difference could be very substantial. Substantial to the point that the same verses could have completely different meaning. Case in point: a recent arrest of Ghows Zalmay, who, according to the fundamentalists, misinterpreted some verses in the Koran.

Based on these facts, it is reasonable to conclude that when the Koran was copied many times over, the mere mortals who did the copying might have "adjusted" the texts to reflect their personal views, or the views of their superiors.

Second is deductive reasoning. The Koran contains verses that represent mutually exclusive concepts, i.e., human 'life is precious' vs. 'kill the infidels wherever you find them' or 'respect the People of the Book' vs. 'do not take Jews and Christians for friends'.

Allah is infallible and cannot contradict himself, which means that some of those verses are not the literal word of Allah. Also, how can Allah, who is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate be a source of "kill them [infidels] wherever you find them"?

The only logical explanation is that the Koran we have today was significantly altered.
Glazov was not convinced that Islam could be reformed, pointing out that the violence in the Koran is not incidental to the transcendent meaning of the text, but fundamental to it, a fact confirmed by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence in their calls for the Muslims to subjugate the infidels to the Ummah. Glazov also notes that Massoud's arguments about contradictions in the Islam seem to be answered by the mainstream's doctrine of abrogation - the later verses of the Koran supersede the earlier, more pacific, ones. Read the rest of the interview, to decide whether Kalim Massoud gives answers that are likely to convince a large number of Muslims who want to live in peace with modernity and its freedoms.

In any case, the comment we received yesterday is full of links to the project of Muslims Against Sharia to provide a reformed version of the Koran, rid of all verses "that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination". They want readers to check out their reformed version of the Koran and to let them know (koran@reformislam.org) if they are failing in their mandate to rid the Koran of violence. There's a project that could make use of certain bloggers we know.

As anyone who has read the Koran knows, this will not be an easy task. The curses directed towards the unbelievers are ubiquitous in that book, and the more explicit denunciations of the infidels are common.

In any case, Muslims Against Sharia left us with a link,
In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.

The recent Canadian media coverage of the Parvez murder is full of all the sins that Massoud discussed at the opening of the Front Page interview; the media seemingly take the words of Islamist front groups that this was "just a horrific incidence of domestic violence" that Muslims condemn, and "nothing to do with religion or Islam", at face value. For example, even when the media reports they are being manipulated, so as to not be able to attend and report on Aqsa's funeral, they still take the blather of CAIR at face value: ""We're not here to talk about religion or culture - it has nothing to do with it - we're just here based on the fact that she lost her life and we just want to work toward stopping this from happening in the future," Ms. Dadabhoy said."

Of course anyone who thinks an honor killing over a daughter's desire to escape from the Islamist dress code has nothing to do with religion is being intentionally disingenuous. The media should just dump the commentators from groups like CAIR, and make people like Khalim Massoud their go-to guys when they need an example of moderate Muslim opinion. And let the CAIR warriors cry to they're wet that people like Massoud are not real Muslims.

As David Warren comments, there are other girls in Canadian society trying to free themselves of Islamic strictures who, like Warren's friend "Harata", know full well "That [Aqsa] could have been me." Anyone with a grain of integrity will want to protect these girls. And that means stopping in their tracks the Saudi-funded apologists for orthodox or "radical" Islam that pervade North American mosques.

Dag wrote a long post on this topic on Saturday at No Dhimmitude.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Hat Makes the Man

A man's hat can tell you so much at a glance that you often needn't even ask.

Sometimes there is the hat and also another obvious clue to the man's character.

There is a hat.

There is a man's hat.

And there is a real man's hat.

When we witness that happy day when men across Europe don real men's hats, then we will see a new age of peace and prosperity and the Kingdom come. I look forward to the day when every man wears a good hat. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one. But please wear a good hat. It might seem a small thing but a hat is important to the future of the free world. The hat is as important as what's under it. I prefer the Kossuth hat. Any cowboy hat will do, of course, but one must wear a real man's hat if we are to save what we can of the world of the free. It says what one is. No need for words, no glorious speeches, just the hat.

Dear reader, I can almost hear you say, "Dag, are you being weird?"

Well, no. A hat is such an obvious sign of what a man is that one can hardly argue it. We in the West seldom wear hats, and it shows in our lack of real mission in life. A hat says. And a lack of hats also says. Real men wear hats for real men. When it becomes a sign of our times and our being that we have Kossuth hats, then we will know we are ascendant. It's not weird, it's just out of the blue. In time, I can for now only hope, a hat will be an obvious sign of ones stand, of our stand, as hats are for others today.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Feminists and Multiculturalists: A Failure to Covenant Part II

Covenant Zone meets every Thursday, 7-9pm, in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, in front of Blenz Coffee. Look for the blue scarves. Please join us if you would like to discuss the health of the Canadian national covenant. Some potential material for discussion follows:

Don't watch this video unless you are prepared to witness acts of extreme violence towards women, a revelation into life for women under Islam (ht: Suicide of the West):


Writing about the murder of Aqsa Parvez, Barbara Kay argues:
We have this week two news items of tragedies involving girl victims. Both will serve to reinforce the belief of many Canadians -- count me in -- that the alliance of feminism with multiculturalism has created a two-tier sisterhood.

The top tier, Western women, have achieved full equality rights. Any and all male aggression against a top-tier woman triggers a public outcry and a million lit candles. The second-tier women -- those from other cultures -- are not so fortunate. Feminists exploit multiculturalism to justify their moral abandonment of the women who most need them: girl victims of dysfunctional or socially unevolved cultures
[...]
Multiculturalists would have us believe that the hijab is merely a religious symbol, like the Sikh kirpan or the Christian cross, freely embraced by the girls wearing them. It isn't, as many Muslim commentators, including Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan in these pages yesterday, have frequently explained. The hijab is rather a public sign of supervised sexual modesty, and marks those wearing it as chattel, leashed to their fathers and brothers as surely as if they were wearing a dog collar.

But you'll never hear a feminist murmur a word of complaint about these girls' lack of autonomy
Athos notes:
Ostensibly [Islam] claims revelation that supersedes both Judaism and Christianity; surreptitiously, Islam is a petulant, chip-on-its-shoulder "negative imitation" of both, always cocking an eye to see its model-rival in near-hilarious attraction/revulsion ... if it weren't so murderous.

But like all conventional expressions of the primitive Sacred, Islam cannot let go of its primary motivating force: the religious dread and awe of needing victims -- yes, human victims. Girard calls this essential element of conventional religion, anthropologically speaking, the "single victim mechanism" (Robert Hamerton-Kelly calls it the "Generative Mimetic Scapegoating Mechanism," and with good reason, but I won't get into all that now).

Needless to say, if the duck walks and talks and looks like a practitioner of human sacrifice, it is a form of quacking paganism. Period. Judaism long ago had to be pulled out of it -- ask the Major and Minor Prophets. Christianity has always ruefully dabbled in it, enjoying a good Sunday afternoon hangin' on the town square. But both listen to a biblical Spirit that says an unequivocal "NO!" to it as a raison d'etre.

There is too much gathering evidence that Islam is far, far away from such an unequivocal message. Especially when Mum and Dad want to take the daughter out back and slit her throat unless stopped by the authorities.
Islamophobia? you might say so...

Janet Levy on Lee Harris
(ht: Dag):
The principle of honor is of primary importance in radical Islamic cultures. The honor of the community must be protected at all costs and far exceeds any notion of the individual or of individual rights. Religious leaders, who view the world across a long-term time horizon, operate for the good of the ummah, the propagation of Islam over time and the enforcement of Islamic law.

Tribal success hinges on the inculcation of a uniform system of steadfast shared values and of a sense of shame so deep and visceral that it is impervious to reason and makes death preferable to tribal code violations and the accompanying loss of collective honor. It solidifies a rigidly imposed “us vs. them” mindset in which “the other” is a cursed object of abject enmity. The faithful are indoctrinated and prepared to sacrifice themselves for furthering fanatic tribal goals. Martyrs for the cause are celebrated and elevated to a position of honor.

Tribal cultures thrive on the vacuum that chaos presents. It is a boon to fanaticism and totalitarian control. In a state of chaos, all behaviors become permissible and extreme measures are easy to enforce on desperate populations.

Against such beliefs and behaviors, the enlightened societies of the West are ill equipped to do battle, Harris says. In Western societies, like America, elites serve as critics of the status quo and are often opposed by the populace. They keep any impulses toward fanaticism by the masses in check. Chaos is anathema to reason or order, which must be maintained at all costs. Indeed, the fear of anarchy often leads to appeasement and repudiation of beliefs.

Harris defines America today as a “carpe diem feel good” society in which the happiness of the individual is placed above responsibility to the community, world or future. Rights are cherished above duties, the present valued more than the future, and material acquisitions deemed more important than hard work.

Shaming is used as an effective tool in the enlightened West but with a different twist from that of the Islamic world. People are shamed into thinking the “right” thoughts and ostracized for intolerance and aggressive behavior. This serves to dilute cultural values and life-preserving warrior behavior necessary for survival. In America, people are generally unwilling to make the ultimate sacrifice and will do anything to avoid death and loss of property. The society operates under the notion that all differences can be resolved with negotiation rather than bloodshed. Potential warriors, such as alpha males are feminized, drugged and shamed out of existence. Essentially, mandatory multiculturalism enforces respect for other cultures and disrespect for American culture, Harris argues.

Harris further suggests that America’s Protestant tradition of independent thought and action has been replaced by programmed thought, further weakening our ability to deal with fundamentalist Islamic societies. America’s teachers are “salesmen of a particular ideological brand” and enforce a groupthink mentality of the “correct” opinions. For example, instead of critically evaluating multiple points of view about women in society, students are told that women are oppressed and that they must be purged of their anti-feminist views. Politically correct values and attitudes religiously demand tolerance for different points of view. It is deemed contemptible to view our American culture, our nation or any religion as superior and practically de rigueur to be tolerant of the intolerant and odious, such as Muslim fundamentalists and 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Thus, Western civilization is stripped of the notion that anything precious and worth protecting or fighting for exists.

In summary, the West is suffering from an insidious ideological assault from the outside by fundamentalist Islam that could result in profound societal damage, while at the same time we are, from the inside, undermining our core values and traditions. We are not experiencing a clash of civilizations, but an overt attempt to dismantle the worldwide status quo. The West is vulnerable, because it has failed to recognize that survival hinges on being intolerant to the intolerant and acknowledging the superiority of our way of life and the exceptionalism of America. We will probably be unable to change the Islamists and alter their three-pronged prescription for non-Muslims – death, subjugation or conversion – but we can prevent them from changing us. Through our “enlightened” democracy and lack of cultural protectionism, we are inadvertently aiding their cause. Our ability to fight has been severely weakened by the enlightened principles of tolerance and multiculturalism that we have grown to cherish and by a lack of group cohesiveness and respect for our common values and accomplishments. While we think short-term and teach our children to have contempt for our culture, the Islamists think long-term and teach their children to die for Islam.

According to Harris, our success in fighting the threat of radical Islam will depend on a willingness to defend ourselves against that most potent weapon for survival: fanaticism. Societies that are the most fanatical about their preservation will prevail. America’s best hope is that the struggle for our survival may cause us to awaken and recognize the nobility of our culture as something worth fighting for. We must return to our core traditions and values, take pride in our ethical superiority and exceptionalism and recognize a sacred duty to instill Western ethos in future generations and as widely throughout the world as possible.
Covenant Zone exists to remember the superiority of our Western way of life and to help us become better able to articulate and defend our stake in the covenant of Canadian nationhood.

Theodore Dalrymple:
The new atheists are quite right to see the threat of theocracy in Islamism. But in attacking all religion, they are like the French government which banned not only the wearing of the headscarf in schools, but the wearing of all religious insignia whatsoever, despite the fact that wearing a Star of David or a crucifix has and had a completely different social signification from wearing a headscarf. In the name of non-discrimination, the French government failed to discriminate properly: and proper discrimination is, or ought to be, practically the whole business of life. If there were large numbers of Christians or Jews who were in favour of establishing a theocracy in France, who had a recent record of terrorism, and who terrorised each other into the wearing of crucifixes and Stars of David, then the banning of those insignia would have been justified too. The wearing of the headscarf should be permitted again when Islam has become merely one personal confession among others, without the political significance that it has now.

In attacking all religion so indiscriminately, the atheist authors are, I am sure inadvertently and unintentionally, strengthening the hand of the Islamists. In arguing, for example, that for parents to bring up a child in any religious tradition, even the mildest of Anglicanism, is to abuse a child, with the natural corollary that the law should forbid it (for how can the law permit child abuse?), some of the authors are giving ammunition to the Islamists, who will be able with justice to say to their fellow-religionists, See, it is all or nothing. If you give the secularists an inch, they will take a mile. No compromise with secularism is possible, therefore; cleave unto us.

Islamism is a worthy target, of course, but by now one that has been pretty well aimed at (though I recommend very strongly the forthcoming book from Encounter Books, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, by Caroline Fourest). To suggest, however, that all forms of religion are equal, that they are all murderous and dangerous, is not to serve the cause of freedom and tolerance. It is to play into the hands of the very people we should most detest; it is to hand them the rhetorical tools with which they can tell the gullible that our freedoms are not genuine and that our tolerance is a masquerade. It is to do what I should previously have thought was impossible, namely in this respect to put them in the right.
See also: the fate of street girls in Cairo

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

GalliaWatch blog update

We Covenant Zone bloggers have long followed the excellent reporting going on at Tiberge's GalliaWatch blog, concerning news on and about France, news that is rarely to be found within other North American news sites.

Therefore it is with great distress that we read this message from Tiberge this afternoon, concerning some unexpected problems she is undergoing with her blogging:

A minor catastrophe has happened - My ISP provider suddenly and without warning
cancelled my DSL account. I am off-line and cannot receive e-mail at my regular e-mail box. I cannot post, as far as I know, though I will try after I send this message. It's been hysteria - on the phone with this office and that. They insist a request was sent in to terminate service. I of course insisted it wasn't true. I have no idea how long this will last - maybe several days.

... Would you be so kind as to post a very short announcement at CZ announcing my problem, and that I will be back on line ASAP.


This is the peril of living in the modern age: "the computer is never wrong..."

I think I can safely speak for all three of us here at Covenant Zone, when I say that we sincerely hope this bureaucratic snafu is quickly set to rights..!

Dad kills daughter over not really "competing" cultures

I had this post, written too quickly, up earlier. I'm not sure I got started on this story with a correct idea. I wanted to take to task the headline writer at the Vancouver Sun, for his or her multiculti posturing. But maybe what I was responding to was less posturing than a reflexive deferral to the words of the supposed authority quoted in the Sun story. I took the post down, but Charles tells me it is worth keeping up. So here it is with a few more edits, if something can still be of interest in my angry response to a horrible murder....

I was responding to this headline in the Sun: “Muslim girls struggle with 'competing' cultures”.
[original post begins now]
You see those scare quotes around “competing”? That’s to imply that kids who grow up with Muslim fathers who might kill them if they “dishonour” their family by refusing to wear the hijab – as has just happened in Toronto to 16-year old Aqsa Parvez, a cold fact the headline shamelessly dances around - kids who want to dress and look like normal kids at their public schools, are not caught in a totally real clash of competing cultures.

But of course they are caught in a cultural competition, a competition that necessarily implies value, and judgment of what is of lesser value. We, as a postmodern liberal society, live in fear of the reality that conflict and value judgment is inherent to the human condition. And so we put simple references to reality in quotation marks.

You see, it is a matter of unquestionable religious faith, for the liberal-Gnostic Canadians who rule opinion in this country, that in this country there is no fundamental clash of cultures, just a lack of good people willing to live by the singular dictates of “multiculturalism,” i.e. the insistence that all people can get along in Canada just as long as they respect each others’ differences and let the multiculti authorities settle all differences from on high. How such pieties apply to Muslim fathers who think they must brutalize daughters who shame the family among pious friends, and to daughters who want to look normal by Canadian standards, no one really explains, and the article to which this headline refers is full of the usual posturing from liberal elites about how hard it is for girls caught between two cultures:
Many Muslim girls in Canada lead something of a double life when it comes to reconciling religious traditions while living in a secular, Western society, says a researcher at Wilfrid Laurier University.

"At home they're the good Muslim kid, they pray and they fast and go to mosque," said Jasmin Zine, a professor of sociology at the Waterloo, Ont., school. "When they go to school they become a different person. They create a persona to fit with the competing cultural demands of home and school."
The fundamental questions behind such sentiments are never raised: e.g. just how, exactly, is killing your daughter for bringing shame on the family a “religious” tradition? It’s only “religious” in the sense of conformity to an all-encompassing ritual code – a “total way of life” - that is centuries apart from the Western idea of religion rooted in the separation of church and state, of private religion and “secular” culture.

The Sun’s article also provides us the opinions of
“Ausma Khan, a human rights lawyer and the editor-in-chief of Muslim Girl Magazine.” “The decision whether to don the hijab is not always difficult for Muslim girls... But, she acknowledges, the hijab has become a flashpoint.

"It can so easily be taken for a signal of difference and otherness and alienation, but it doesn't have to be read like that," she said. Khan, 38, is now based in Los Angeles, but grew up in Canada. "There is definitely an American-Islam or a Canadian-Islam that has imbibed the reality of growing up in a pluralistic society that accommodates difference, that respects difference," she said.

"I think we see that. We see this in the practice of this generation of young women. They are accommodating. Just as they want to put their own view point forward, have their religious freedom and be protected, they are equally willing to recognize and respect the rights of others."
I first became familiar with Muslim Girl magazine a couple of months ago when I saw a fellow bus rider, a Muslim educator at Simon Fraser University - with whom I had previously discussed matters covenantal and “religious” when he first saw me on the bus with Israeli and Canadian flags on my Covenant Zone blog hat - showing an edition of the glossy mag with pride (it looks like the Muslim educators want to provide girls with an alternative to the ilk of Cosmo) to what looked like two SFU women students. One was wearing a hijab and the other, of European ancestry, who clearly knew the educator and respectfully deferred to him, may have been a convert to Islam or to the leftist-Islamic (global intifada) alliance.

Previously, this man had been keen to point out to me the apparent hypocrisy that Westerners think they can separate church and state, when in fact they can’t, or so he alleged – and therefore how can anyone expect the same of Islam? – a question provoked by my comments on Western nationhood being founded in covenants that were once religious, but are now largely secular or constitutional. Canada, and our constitutionally-based freedom, I pointed out, owes a historical debt to the first nation and first covenanters, Israel; and it is to remember this that I have the flags on my hat. I don’t think he appreciated the historical subtlety of my point – he didn’t even know the word “covenant” - that just because everything cultural can be given a genealogy that links it back to some ancestry in religion, it is therefore not hypocrisy to say we have progressed to the point where we choose to differentiate church and state, as Jesus did.

Since Canadians’ sense of nationhood is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, therefore we can’t really separate the religious and secular, he seemed to want to argue as I was getting off the bus.

I bring this up because the particular cover of Muslim Girl Magazine that I saw on the bus featured two young and attractive girls, one in hijab, one without, as if to say either is ok, or there’s a debate going on. But that’s the point the Vancouver Sun headliner will (or so it first appeared to me) only recognize in scare quotes. All culture is about conflict, since all signs of culture come into existence to defer humanity’s foundational potential for destructive, intra-specific violence. At least that is the hypothesis, very convincing to me, of Generative Anthropology. So, for example, a hijab was originally "designed" to defer men's violence over women’s sexuality, just as the latest in sexually-charged Western fashion is also a way of deferring conflict over sexuality by making it and its signs mundane. We can’t avoid the realization that there is a conflict, if yet largely non-violent, in our society about which approach (including others) to deferral is better, more valuable, than the other.

This argument from anthropology has all sorts of consequences for how we choose to face, or not, the global intifada that is out to destroy the basis for free constitutional democracies and the global economy that presently feeds over six billion people. Because... there is one sense in which there is not a “clash of civilizations” ongoing, and that is the sense that there is now only one global civilization, one world economy, from which no one and no society can be walled off, and in relation to which all the angry losers and marginal “cultures” in the global intifada are expressing a confict *internal* to the single civilization, and not one between truly independent civilizations.

Because of this, there is no way we can just leave Muslims to their own devices if we have any respect for their lives. There is already a far greater population in the Islamic world than could be fed by Islamic withdrawal from the global economy into some Sharia-bound backwardness. Either we welcome the prospect of a mass die-off (and all the guilt and conflict it would create in the West), or we admit that we are bound to Muslims for the foreseeable future, in which case it would be best if our conflicts were faced and not hidden in scare quotes.

Even those of my friends who clearly see the conflict out there, but who characterize it by claiming that Islam cannot be changed and cannot be negotiated with, are suggesting that we have no choice but to conquer and defeat Islam by force of arms, isolate and starve Islam, or give in to the Jihad. But precisely because they take this line, they have very little to offer by a way of a vision for what might transcend the coming final conflict between us and them. Once we defeat the Muslims in battle, then what?

I wish that they could see that there is value in already anticipating that question in today’s world, and that we need give up nothing by facing it now, if we are confident about the value of Western civilization. By highlighting the question now, maybe we can defer some of the violence they anticipate as inevitable. What if there is another way to conquer “Islam” by forcing it to acknowledge its dependence on the global economy and the covenants guaranteeing the individual freedoms by which this economy operates? In other words, what if we make it our explicit policy that we will only be at war with that part of “Islam” that refuses to play by the rules of the global economy - for example that part which thinks it can come to Canada and still brutalize its women. Only then can we learn what “Muslims” really believe, when they must choose between freedom and death, when the fantasy of a global caliphate, or of a world of second-class women, is truly revealed as an impossibility, if six or ten billion are to be fed?

But then, my friends say, you will not be dealing with Islam” as my friends insist Islam must be, i.e. supremacist and totalitarian, following Koran and Sharia to the letter. That would be fine with me. What if we face up to the reality that a global economy entails, and force Muslims in Canada to do the same? Then we might admit that the editor of Muslim Girl is not simply lying or being un-Islamic when she sees the young Muslim woman as the possible vanguard for a reformation: “Just as they want to put their own view point forward, have their religious freedom and be protected, they are equally willing to recognize and respect the rights of others." If this is true, then “Islam” cannot survive, but maybe something else Islamic can. It’s not for us to decide.

UPDATE: What is a lie is this:
A spokesman for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) said he is dubious of opinions that the girl's death resulted from a clash of cultures.

"Teen rebellion is something that exists in all households in Canada and is not unique to any culture or background," CAIR-CAN's Sameer Zuberi said in an interview. "Domestic violence is also not unique to Muslims."

The death of Aqsa "was the result of domestic violence, a problem that cuts across Canadian society and is blind to color or creed," echoed Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Services Association.
Does anyone really think domestic violence just happens? Surely it is always a sign of some underlying conflict. Sure, the nature of that conflict will be different from case to case. But in this case, it seems from all the evidence so far that the underlying conflict in this murder was between Islamic and Western values.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Wisdom of Barbers

Even more than taxi drivers and bus drivers, the workers I most enjoy having a conversation with these days are barbers. Embarrassing confession time: when I was younger (and pathetically foolish) I went around with misplaced contempt for laborers such as these; why aren’t you out trying to change the world, I would scowl naively under their clippers… why aren’t you trying to “make a difference”? What kind of life are you living, by settling for being a “mere” barber??

Well, these half-forgotten memories bubbled shamefully to the surface today as I looked at my [sigh… balding] reflection in the bathroom mirror and judged that I desperately needed a haircut. Is it a sign of mid-life crisis, to be constantly measuring one’s current views against those held so dogmatically in one’s youth? Because I am increasingly stunned at the degree of change I notice within myself, especially my thoughts on the little things in life. I’ll take it as hopeful evidence that I’ve perhaps become a “grown-up”, at long last, for I now look forward to the perspective and wisdom that barbers, in particular, have to teach me.

This morning I found much to learn indeed. In my wanderings I discovered a wonderful shop owned by a warm and welcoming Eastern European gentleman. It didn’t take long to discover this was a match made in Heaven, him loving to share stories and me loving to listen.

Forty years in Canada after a youth spent rotting behind the Iron Curtain gave this older worker stories aplenty, let me tell you..! When I eventually asked him what he thought when he saw younger people sporting USSR logos on t-shirts and hammer-and-sickle icons on baseball caps, our conversation really turned interesting. “They don’t know, and they don’t want to know”, he said after the briefest of pauses. Is there any simpler way to summarize the willful ignorance of youthful vanity? His statement certainly summarized my position back when I was high on the illusory virtues of socialism during my own naïve youth.

From his perspective of having had the same shop in the same place for decades, often serving young customers from birth to college, he had many sad personal observations about the deterioration of the bonds of Family, and the changes brought upon family life by the ready prevalence of drugs. “Is it always the kids fault they take these things, when they see their own father selling it? When they see their own mother using drugs at home all the time?” Who will teach them right and wrong, if it is not their parents, he asked rhetorically.

Well, the memory of our fascinating conversation suggests to me a suitable answer to this rhetorical question: it is the example of the dedicated laborer, it is the witnessing of the harvest of the dependable worker, it is through contact with these positive experiences that civilization holds the chance to steer the young away from their current self-serving paths of self-destruction. Someone who takes pride in having their job done well, someone who enters into a contractual commitment with another and then works not just to fulfill expectations, but to surpass them… surely it is experiences and examples such as these that can have the necessary influence to save an empty life tumbling towards self-destruction.
Success doesn't just happen; it is made to happen. If a kid doesn’t know how to do anything, then no wonder they feel no loss in getting high; they have no skills to impair, no responsibilities to jeapardize, no future success to look forward to. If someone has never earned anything from the sweat of their own labor, then no wonder they are quick to adopt the belief system that the fruit of everyone's labor should be re-distributed “fairly”; they have not tasted the natural intoxication that can come from the pride of earning so much that much can then be given to charity… charity itself being the true blessing of wealth, socialism being the negation of charity.

If I could travel back in time, the older gentleman that I’ve become would greet his younger self with a sympathetic, yet stern correction to his youthful dreams of wanting to “change the world” by “making a difference”. Change the world, he would say, by daring to change yourself: embrace the ultimate challenge to make yourself into a Better Person, since, considering your starting position, that will be change aplenty to satisfy anybody. Make a difference in others' lives by making your own life one filled with differences: keep improving your ability to be of increased service to others. Change through the leverage of positive example.

The young who fry their minds with their poisons, whether in literal doses through drugs or figurative ones like marxism, are in a race against time, as each time either noxious fumes are ingested it weakens their ability to be of further long-term service to others, and therefore to themselves. In their adoption of a cynically self-serving nihilism they curse themselves to remain children of mind even as they age in body, always needing the protective care of servants, whether from their own family, or the proxy one of the state.

The race is on: will the minds of the young last long enough to learn the humiliating lessons so necessary to true growth? Will the good examples in their lives outnumber the bad, revealing that the biggest rewards so often come from the simplest of acts of service... like the humble achievement of being able to offer a good haircut, as advertised?
May they learn the humility to say a grateful “thank you” from appreciating the treasure that is a job well done…
and a Covenant fulfilled.