Thursday, April 27, 2006

Regular Thursday Night Meeting Postponed

Due to illnesses, the regularly scheduled meeting of the Vancouver blue scarfs/covenanters at Library Square will not take place tonight. We apologize for the late notice to anyone who was planning to join us for the first time.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In reply to Charles, a vision of Canadian history

In the comments to the previous post, I mentioned that in the period from the American civil war (after which a large veterans pension plan was introduced) up to the 1960s, the US arguably had a larger welfare state than Canada. Charles, who thinks Canadians are somewhat lacking in the mutual trust necessary to remain relatively independent of the state, raised the question of whether the flag debate of 1964 was tied into the change that saw the growth of the Canadian welfare state from the 1960s on.
There must have been a lot of anti-traditionalist sentiment around, for something so integral to the nation to have been cast aside, and "improved".
I hope my answer justifies a new post (since it's good to put them up regularly):


I've never studied the 1964 flag debate in any detail, but of course a new flag was, on the whole, something favoured more by the Liberal than the Conservative party. From what I know, I think the primary, most conscious motivation for a change was to create a sign of Canadian independence from the British Empire, and so by extension to placate Quebecois nationalists (did it work?)

Canadian nationalism, from Confederation to the 1960s, was a complex thing because it assumed at least three major levels of popular sovereignty: the local or provincial, the Dominion or federal, and the imperial. One's nation and culture was not simply Canadian but also and equally British, while at the local level, say in a Vancouver soccer league, one might identify with old country loyalties - e.g. as a Scottish or Welsh team, though less often as, say, a Glaswegian team (you can’t often be so particular in a new land filled with all kinds of people, especially one where Friulians are identifying as Italians for the first time, and Cantonese as Chinese) - which had the effect, I believe, of draping the local scene in the sundry symbolism of nationhood (see, for example, A.M.Stephen's poem, "Vancouver") and buttressing the provinces’ claim to be a primary spokesman of our democratic impulses.

Idealistic Canadians were always more keen than the English to promote schemes of "imperial federation" in which representatives of all the white Dominions (and maybe others, later) would have a role in ruling the empire. In a way, the flag debate marked the end of that and other imperial dreams, which is why it angered so many veterans and John Diefenbaker. But it also involved an attempt to make us identify more with Canada as defined by Ottawa, and less with Canada as defined locally while under the protection of the “broadest” (imperial) flag possible.

If you read the 1867 constitution act, it looks like the plan of the Fathers of Confederation was to build a strong federal government – the feds have, for example, the right to nix provincial legislation (a right Ottawa has since learned never to use). But once the constitution came to life in the face of certain realities, as the courts started to interpret it, it became clear that the provincial governments would become significant powers, especially as the importance of education and social welfare programs grew (and on this question of the division of powers, our comparisons to the American welfare state would have to dwell).

So Canadians who had strong attachments to the realities of everyday democracy had, by extension, an attachment to provincial sovereignty - in this they were not unlike the English who didn't want any kind of imperial federation because it would dilute English sovereignty in London.

Yet at the same time as the provinces established their importance, Canadians had utopian dreams for the empire (no system of government is benign or conflict free, so one dreams; and in a world of conflicts, it is easy enough to think that what works for us should work for other, less advanced, people...) But after two world wars, imperial dreams faded, the UN came on scene, and there was an opportunity for Ottawa to become ascendant, stealing a march on the provinces by being the agent behind the symbolic deconstruction of the old imperialism and Canadians' self-identification as equally British and Canadian. Remember the Lester B. Pearson who gave us the flag was also the Lester B. Pearson who got a Nobel peace prize for playing the UN middle man in the Suez conflict pitting Britain against Arabs (and Americans), which was obviously no longer the Britain it had been a generation or two earlier, or Pearson would have been lynched on the streets of Canada, whatever criticism he and the Liberal government did receive for their treacherous conduct.

When Pierre Trudeau came to power after the 1964 flag debate, this “Ottawa-centrism” further matured. With some reason, Trudeau saw the Quebec of his youth as being run by a Church-backed oligarchy, the Maurice Duplessis mafia, and he thought the only way the people could be freed from local tyrants was by having their rights established and protected at the centre (on the model of the national government in the US enforcing civil rights in the south). Thus began the now familiar process of building up the state in the name of protecting peoples' rights. Of course, after such a good idea gets taken too far, local institutions are criticized and eroded and people worry about doing things that will be stopped by some branch of the state in the name of protecting someone's rights. So we end up with many rights and less and less ability to govern ourselves...

In my rose-coloured view of the old Red Ensign flag, what the Union Jack in the corner represents is not so much any kind of central political sovereignty in London (though there was, at least until the 1930s, such a power over Canada in foreign affairs and matters of war), as an always unfulfilled and unfulfillable dream of some future unity among the many nations who are part of the empire or commonwealth of nations, and who, while united by shared values and traditions against any trouble coming from the less civilized world, are nonetheless moving towards and/or practicing local self rule according to the parliamentary and democratic norms, and the model of Christian nationhood, first developed in England. In other words, having a Union Jack in one's Dominion flag is like having the Queen on one's coin. She is the symbolic head of state, but she has little political power; therefore, no politician can buttress his power by claiming her symbolic role. The Queen represents all Canadians, while in real political life, no one can. Thus, to change flags was to create a new symbol, one more obviously identified with a worldly political power: Ottawa; and, some say, given the choice of colours and the party in government at the time, it was an identification with the Liberal party itself.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"That's not me": defining ourselves by what we are not

Taoufik Mathlouthi, founder of Mecca-Cola, broadcasts a noteworthy (although hardly newsworthy) confession: mosques in Paris preach anti-french hatred.
From France-Echos:

It’s Mathlouthi himself that admits it: some mosques are propagating hatred right in the center of Paris!

Radio-Mediterranean (88.6 Mhz), this Sunday April 16 2006 – Mosques are sites for anti-french hatred.
It’s Mathlouthi that admits it first-hand in an outburst of frankness (he said he had hesitated before making the admission).
“If you don’t mind, [I’m]not naming the mosque in order not to be controversial… I made my Friday prayers in a Parisian mosque… the [sermon?] preached, is not the preaching of islam that I know… hearing things like “may god destroy their state and may their goods become our booty!”,… speaking for myself as a muslim, this has nothing to do with me. … the imams are forming entire generations of young muslims from texts that reject hatred.”
Coming from the fanatical Mathlouthi himself who, several minutes beforehand had supported the Hamas government as “the only democratically elected government in the islamic world”, this is a significant confession.

Mecca-cola is a fascinating concept: a product born as an alternative, basing its appeal not so much on its value as a product, but on its very existence as an alternative.

We in the Great White North undoubtedly recognize the appeal of such products, for are we not bombarded every day with the slogan, “buy Canadian”? When I read “Proudly made in Canada” firmly stamped upon a product, I can’t help see it as a tacit apology: “sorry this isn’t better than the American version”. For if it was truly the superior product, why would its point of origin weigh upon my choice as a consumer? Why the invitation to reward one through a punishment of another?

Canada itself can be seen an extention of the philosophy that brought about Mecca-Cola: a deliberate rejection of America, an embrace of an alternative. All too often Canadians define themselves by simply saying they are not American, and like our entreprenial Mathlouthi, perceptions about money turn out to be at the root of the distinction.

From what I take to be Mecca-Cola’s mission statement:
“One of the perversions of capitalism lies in the generation within oneself of the most brutal and the most inhumane part of oneself.
The spirit which governed the creation of Mecca-Cola was to create a profit-making business which would help to relieve human suffering where action is still possible…”

We may roll our eyes at the destination of these charitable donations (“The most intolerable and the most immediate suffering is that of the Palestinian people...”) but my contention is that, like too many patriotic statements made about Canada, it’s all about perceptions on how we view money, compared to those "selfish, greedy" Americans.

Why the automatic mistrust towards the incentive to make money (the "evil" of the Profit Motive)? Why the reflex fear of having money (the "evil" of being "rich")? Sadly, Canadians seem to not trust themselves nearly as much as our neighbors to the south trust themselves. Surely, the more we make, the more we can share. The more prosperous we can become, the more charitable we can afford to be. The incentive to denigrate wealth creation, seems to come from a lack of trust, of oneself and one’s group. It is not “money” that is the root of all evil, it is “Love of money [that] is the root of all evil” (I Tim.6:10).

It would be, of course, naïve to automatically expect all human beings to always act in their own enlightened self-interest. Being human, we are part animal, and will frequently fall prey to our instinct to think and act in ways that satisfy short-term, not long-term, opportunities.

Is it possible to define ourselves only in the negative? Ultimately no, it is not sufficient, for there needs to be another point of comparison to measure against, in order to establish a more complete identity. We should not think in purely binary terms, “this or that”. We need to think in broader terms, along a scale, so that we may shift ourselves closer to one extreme or to another. By recognizing a broader range, we can narrow our choices to a more accurate representation.

We look at animals, and beyond their family or pack, their "tribe", we do not see them sharing their goods. Should we look at the human animal, and see him as only capable of similar behavior? It’s an easier riddle to solve, if we suggest three choices, rather than just two. “Man will never share”, vs “man will always share”, can be discounted as too absolutist; is not the more likely choice to be, “man will share, sometimes”?
A principle, not a rule.
A Golden Mean, balanced between two extremes.

Canada and the United States of America were created as nations with different understandings of where man’s trust of himself should be placed along this scale. Up here, right or wrong, better or worse, by retaining our attachment to our british identity rather than joining the colonies in rebellion, we chose a definition of ourselves as less trustworthy than our neighbors to the south. We chose to believe that we are not as able to view materialism as a means to an end. We chose to be suspicious of the profit motive, we chose to be suspicious of wealth, suspicious of ourselves.
We created Canada.

We erect enormous social safety nets to catch those who fall, because we presume they will be left to rot, unassisted by their fellows. We deny the likelyhood of charity through heavy taxation. In doing so, do we not deny mankind its proper birthright, as being positioned between two extremes? Between, at one extreme, the animal kingdom, and its self-oriented materialism, and the other, a vision of god, with all its implied spiritual elevation above the material?

Canadians do not trust themselves, as a people, as much as Americans trust themselves, to do the right thing. Whether this is a major cause of the anti-american hatred that fuels so many canadians in these sad times, I leave for another post. (mostly because I have no idea!)

It is genuinely hard to see beyond the present, and the needs of the present. To see past and future, involves a great deal of faith... and trust in the potential for change.

"Yes, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:23-24)

I read this, not as praise of poverty, but as admission that charity is sacred. Charitable contributions being extracted at the point of a gun, through taxation, is not charity, since there is no element of choice. The difficulty of the choice, does not mean it's impossible. It's just hard. Allowing citizens to make the choice for themselves, involves a degree of trust and faith. And hope. Surely our covenant, as participants in the shared experience of this nation, should aspire to a vision of mankind that is capable of positive growth, of change for the better?

If we are to define ourselves by what we are not, let's look upward, towards spiritual magnificience, not downwards, towards an animal-oriented definition for ourselves; let's presume we are capable of more, not delude ourselves that we are doomed to be less.

An embrace of the potential for good. That's my vision for Canada.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ark of the Covenant Spotted

Mika, a commenter at Belmont Club sent this to me:
Director posits proof of biblical Exodus


From Friday's Globe and Mail

A provocative $4-million documentary by Toronto filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici claims to have found archeological evidence verifying the story of the biblical Exodus from Egypt, 3,500 years ago.

Religious Jews consider the biblical account incontrovertible — the foundation story of the creation of the nation of Israel. Indeed, they celebrated the Exodus Wednesday night and last night with the annual Passover recitation of the Haggadah.

But among scholars, the question of if and when Moses led an estimated two million Israelite slaves out of pharaonic Egypt, miraculously crossed the Red Sea ahead of the pursuing Egyptian army and received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai, has long been a source of contention.

Absent definitive proof, archeologists have argued variously that the biblical account is simply a nice fable or that it may have happened, but not on the scale suggested by the Book of Exodus. Nor is there any consensus about when it might have occurred.

Now, in Exodus Decoded, Mr. Jacobovici says he has found almost a dozen overlooked relics that confirm the biblical story.

They include: a miniature, 3,500-year-old gold replica of the lost Ark of the Covenant, said to have been built during the Israelites' 40-year sojourn in the Sinai desert and three stone stelae with carvings depicting a charioteer chasing a single man through churning waters — the pursuer, like the Egyptian army, is ultimately drowned.

In addition, there is hieroglyph, the el-Arish stone, which appears to recount the Exodus from the Egyptian point of view — as a disaster, that is — and the seal of a royal scarab, found at Avaris north of modern-day Cairo, engraved with the name Ya'akov, the father of Joseph, who the Bible says was grand vizier, the second-most-powerful man after pharaoh.

Dating the Exodus to roughly 1,500 BC, the two-hour film presented and executive-produced by Hollywood director James Cameron and airing Easter Sunday on Discovery Canada — suggests that the great Santorini volcano caused the Ten Plagues that the Bible says were visited upon the Egyptians and which finally persuaded the pharaoh of the day.

The Greek island of Santorini lies only 700 kilometres north of Egypt. When it erupted, it sent smoke and ash 37 kilometres into the sky. Mr. Jacobovici contends that volcanology and geology can explain not only the first plague — that Egypt's waters were turned blood-red through the release of toxic gas, similar to what happened at Lake Nios in Cameroon in 1986; but they also can explain the succeeding nine plagues — frogs, fleas, flies, livestock deaths, boils, hailstorms, locusts, darkness and the death of the Egyptian firstborn males.

The film contends that the tsunami unleashed by the Santorini upheaval can also account for why the Israelites were able to cross the parting sea ahead of the pharaoh's army and why the Egyptians were subsequently engulfed. But Mr. Jacobovici says the sea Moses crossed was not the Red Sea, as is traditionally thought, but a smaller lake, known in Egypt as the Reed Sea. Its Egyptian name, translated into Hebrew, means "the place where God
swallowed up."

Later in the film, Mr. Jacobovici, a 53-year-old two-time Emmy winner, claims to have found the authentic Mount Sinai. It is not the 2,285-metre structure widely considered to be the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments, near the foot of which now stands the Monastery of St. Catherine. Instead, he locates it farther north and east at a place called Hashem el-Tarif, and says it perfectly fits the Bible's description.

What experts will make of the high-tech documentary, with 45 minutes of computer graphic enhancement, is not clear. Mr. Jacobovici includes interviews with more than a dozen historians, archeologists, geologists and writers that support key parts of his argument. These include the distinguished Egyptologist Donald Redford, now teaching at Penn State University. But no single scholar endorses the entire thesis.

In fact, Dr. Redford not only dismisses most of the film's points as fantasy, he doubts that any exodus of Israelites actually occurred. Mary-Ann Wegner, professor of Near and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Toronto, says that the biblical topographical descriptions and the policies of Egypt's rulers support the notion of an exodus, but considers the rest of Mr. Jacobovici's evidence unpersuasive. However, neither Dr. Redford nor Dr. Wegner have seen the film.

Two scholars who have seen it are more positive. Barry Wilson, a professor of religion at York University, calls it "a fabulous detective story ...Perry Mason goes biblical. It's a remarkably well-executed study."

Kenneth Green, a professor of Judaic studies at the University of Toronto, says the film is "provocative and challenging.

"It's all 'maybes,' but it's plausible and coherent. I think he's going to be attacked viciously, but he's made a case that has to be answered."

Mr. Jacobovici, who recently sold the film to the History Channel in the United States, concedes that many scholars will "scoff at my evidence. It's a closed club, after all. But they can't just dismiss it. There's a cluster of evidence here. If it walks like an Exodus and quacks like an Exodus, it is an Exodus. That's not Egyptology. That's logic."
I caught the second half of this film, and was fascinated by it. I have no idea how to weigh the various kinds of evidence and argument presented, but i can assure you it is all most captivating.

Whether or not there was ever a single person, Moses, the revelation that takes his name certainly occurred. People living in a pagan world - where gods are invoked for all the usual reasons of men who fear or desire the power behind the sacred but are never conceivably defined as a theological problem to be pursued in loving faith - cannot simply make up a story like Exodus without having had a profound theological and/or anthropological revelation. To imagine a monotheistic God who refuses name or form but only offers a definition of the divine - I am what I am - in reponse to a call for his name is to come to a whole new understanding of the divine and one peculiar people's defining relationship with him.

A new form of covenant can only come into being as an act of faith. No doubt such an act propelled the Exodus, whatever the role of the Santorini volcano. The differentiation of consciousness that an act of faith entails is something the film did not try to explain. Nor do we expect the so-often-gnostic professors who rarely have any real faith to understand this aspect of our humanity. And hence we expect them to doubt the kind of evidence, for the claim that the Exodus happened - pretty much as it says in the Bible - that this film presents.

You've got to see the film, in any case, just to catch a glimpse of the jewellery that might well be a representation of the ark itself.

UPDATE: Mika, in comments, gives us the website for the film.

Pay up, or we are at war...

I was very glad when Prime Minister Harper announced that Canada would not be giving money to the Hamas government. Such moral clarity was a rare thing after years of Liberal pandering to those who would see murderous terrorists as victims of the west. Of course the sympathizers of the Palestinians did not see it that way. You want the Arab world to practice democracy, they said, and then when the noble Palestinians practice it and throw out a corrupt government, voting in the only aternative, you punish them. Well, I say, democracy means becoming responsible for being the kind of people you are. Look at what you have become, Palestinians. No money until the new government completely renounces violence against Israel and mirrors words with actions.

Well, it seems Osama bin Laden disagrees with me, (then again, maybe ultimately he does not):
The West's decision to cut off funds to the Palestinians is clear evidence of a vendetta against Islam, claims Osama bin Laden in what is reported to be a new audio tape released by the infamous terrorist.

The tape was broadcast Sunday on Al-Jazeera television.

The authenticity of the tape has not yet been verified, but if indeed it is bin Laden's voice, it will represent his first public message since Jan. 19.

The person on the tape says the actions by Europe and the U.S. are part of a concerted crusade against Muslims.

"The blockade which the West is imposing on the government of Hamas proves that there is a Zionist crusader war on Islam,'' the speaker on the tape said.

He condemned both governments and individuals in the West for the so-called "crusade."

"I say that this war is the joint responsibility of the people and the governments. While the war continues, the people renew their allegiance to their rulers and politicians and continue to send their sons to our countries to fight us.''
Will this make our keffiyeh-wearing crowd more or less likely to respect Harper? In other words, is it really peace that they want?

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Four Canadian Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan
The men were travelling in a G-wagon about 75 kilometres north of Kandahar when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device at about 7:30 a.m. local time, said CTV's Sarah Galashan, reporting from Kandahar.

Three of the men were killed instantly. The fourth was airlifted to hospital but died before he arrived.

Three of the men have been identified as Cpl. Matthew Dinning, Bombardier Myles Mansell, and Lieut. William Turner.

Dinning was born in Richmond Hill, Ont., and was stationed in Petawawa, Mansell was born in Victoria B.C. where he was also stationed, and Turner was from Toronto but was stationed in Edmonton.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement praising the valour of the soldiers and the work the troops are doing in Afghanistan.

"These men were working to bring security, democracy, self-sufficiency and prosperity to the Afghan people and to protect Canadians' national and collective security. We will not forget their selfless contribution to Canada," Harper said in the statement.
Comrades of Myles Mansell of the 5th (BC) Field Artillery Regiment are posting their thoughts here.

Here at Covenant Zone, we wish to express our condolences to the families and friends of the fallen.

I hope it is not inappropriate to take this moment to say something to our readers about our opinion of the mission in Afghanistan. We know great change cannot happen there over night and that if we are committed to helping bring some new kind of order and civility to that country, our committment must be one of many years, and in many forms. This is a truly daunting task. At the same time, we see no way of isolating ourselves, here in Canada, from the disorder and evil political and religious ideas that are widespread in that region of the world. Our future security demands our engagement on many levels with the people of the Middle East, and we salute those Canadians presently occupied in this work.

It is tragic events, like the loss of our soldiers, that remind us of the need to know who we are, for whom our young men are dying. In our latest Covenant Zone public meeting, we discussed the appeal, but more seriously the limits, of the multicultural idea among any people who would define themselves in such a way as to be able to rule themselves via a symbolic order of their own making. Any such order ultimately depends on some recognition of some difference between us and them, between good and evil, and on men and sometimes women willing to patrol the boundary between the two. However broad and welcoming we want our "we" or "us" to be, we cannot aspire to integrate all the world's cultures and symbols under one roof. There can be no integrity in such a syncretic dream, which cannot actually be lived, but only, via righteous theories, imposed by an authority more fearful of disorder than willing to embrace the idea of the people of a nation ruling themselves. Syncretism in national or individual life only leads to confusion, to a lack of realistic, humble, models with which to live one's life.

All Canadians can be proud of the young men and women serving and sometimes giving their lives in Afghanistan. They remind us that Canada does recognize that there are peoples and ideas - e.g. the Taliban - that stand outside any broad-minded interpretation of both Canadian and Afghan values. We can be proud that our country provides some young people with the well-bounded models of humanity by which they are able at a young age to make a committment to national service, to go abroad in the name of our national interest, and in aid to a very nascent democracy. We hope Afghanistan can one day prove a vital ally in the cause to build a true international order of self-ruling nations, in face of those with various ideas and schemes to impose on the world a common, "unifying" law, whether this law be imposed in the name of Islam or some secular fantasy ideology.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Relative Moral Poverty

I had a friend looking for work some years ago, and I sent him this as helpful. I just got it back. I don't know what kind of person he thinks I am. But, if things continue as they are today perhaps if I pick up my French a bit or even go so far as too learn dish I might just have a new career after all.

Kingdom's Leading Executioner Says: 'I Lead a Normal Life'
Mahmoud Ahmad, Arab News Staff

Muhammad Saad Al-Beshi says he is calm at work because he is doing God's work. (Photo by Muhammad Al-Shehry)

JEDDAH, 5 June 2003 — Saudi Arabia's leading executioner Muhammad Saad Al-Beshi will behead up to seven people in a day.

"It doesn't matter to me: Two, four, 10 — As long as I'm doing God's will, it doesn't matter how many people I execute," he told Okaz newspaper in an interview.

He started at a prison in Taif, where his job was to handcuff and blindfold the prisoners before their execution. "Because of this background, I developed a desire to be an executioner," he says.

He applied for the job and was accepted.

His first job came in 1998 in Jeddah. "The criminal was tied and blindfolded. With one stroke of the sword I severed his head. It rolled meters away." Of course he was nervous, then, he says, as many people were watching, but now stage fright is a thing of the past.

He says he is calm at work because he is doing God's work. "But there are many people who faint when they witness an execution. I don't know why they come and watch if they don't have the stomach for it.

"Me? I sleep very well," he adds.

Does he think people are afraid of him? "In this country we have a society that understands God's law," he says. "No one is afraid of me. I have a lot of relatives, and many friends at the mosque, and I live a normal life like everyone else. There are no drawbacks for my social life."

Before an execution, nonetheless, he will go to the victim's family to obtain forgiveness for the criminal. "I always have that hope, until the very last minute, and I pray to God to give the criminal a new lease of life. I always keep that hope alive."

Al-Beshi will not reveal how much he gets paid per execution as this is a confidential agreement with the government. But he insists that the reward is not important. "I am very proud to do God's work," he reiterates.

However, he does reveal that a sword will cost something in the region of SR20,000. "It's a gift from the government. I look after it and sharpen it once in a while, and I make sure to clean it of bloodstains.

"It's very sharp. People are amazed how fast it can separate the head from the body."

By the time the victims reach the execution square they have surrendered themselves to death, he says, though they may hope to be forgiven at the last minute. "Their hearts and minds are taken up with reciting the Shahada." The only conversation with the prisoner is when he tells him to say the Shahada.

"When they get to the execution square, their strength drains away. Then I read the execution order, and at a signal I cut the prisoner's head off."

He has executed numerous women without hesitation, he explains. "Despite the fact that I hate violence against women, when it comes to God's will, I have to carry it out."

There is no great difference between executing men and women, except that the women wear hijab, and nobody is allowed near them except Al-Beshi himself when the time for execution comes.

When executing women he will use either gun or sword. "It depends what they ask me to use. Sometimes they ask me to use a sword and sometimes a gun. But most of the time I use the sword," he adds.

As an experienced executioner, 42-year-old Al-Beshi is entrusted with the task of training the young. "I successfully trained my son Musaed, 22, as an executioner and he was approved and chosen," he says proudly. Training focuses on the way to hold the sword and where to hit, and is mostly through observing the executioner at work.

An executioner's life, of course, is not all killing. Sometimes it can be amputation of hands and legs. "I use a special sharp knife, not a sword," he explains. "When I cut off a hand I cut it from the joint. If it is a leg the authorities specify where it is to be taken off, so I follow that."

Al-Beshi describes himself as a family man. Married before he became an executioner, his wife did not object to his chosen profession. "She only asked me to think carefully before committing myself," he recalls. "But I don't think she's afraid of me," he smiles. "I deal with my family with kindness and love. They aren't afraid when I come back from an execution. Sometimes they help me clean my sword."

A father of seven, he is a proud grandfather already. "I have a married daughter who has a son. He is called Haza, and he's my pride and joy. And then there are my sons. The oldest one is Saad, and of course there is Musaed, who'll be the next executioner," he adds.

Yup, it's all relative. What's good for them isn't necessarily good for us, but it's not our place to impose our values on others. We don't understand their culture and so on till I want to puke. These people, these Saudis, are our allies, and the creatures who support them are our politicians and our Leftist weepers who cry about racism and islamophobia.

I say: "Off with their heads!"

But what do we make of the story posted below by Charles?

Vancouver mayor to drug addicts: "there is no hope for you!"

Is this to become the Canadian approach to reducing crime:
making it a government-run program?

My morning paper declares it is the attitude of one Canadian: Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan.

Provide drugs to addicts, mayor says

I hold out one thin reed of hope: that, as often is the case these days with our "official" sources of news, maybe the mayor's comments are being slanted so as to sucker readers like me into reading the actual article. This quote from the piece, suggests some yellow journalism at play in order to make for more eye-grabbing headlines: "Mayor Sam Sullivan says he's willing to risk his political career to bring in a program to provide drugs or drug substitutes for addicts in an effort to protect victimized women in the Downtown Eastside and deal with Vancouver's social-disorder problems by the 2010 Olympics." [emphasis added]

Another successful night

This Thursday night, Vancouver was yet again witness to the growing determination of its citizens to meet face to face, without any formal mediation, without pretense of hipness or foreknowledge of some millenial event, without ironic posturing, sincere expertise, or grim resolution, but simply with good humour and faith in our struggle to share as equals in the media by which we know the truth of our experience and the world around us. The young woman who serves us coffee has come to know us and her smile grows more radiant every week; again she was genuinely sorry to have to kick us out at closing.

We discussed our strategies for provoking the government to pass judgment on the bureaucrats in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade who have presumed to initiate an unprecedent relationship with the Umma (if only those public servants reading our blog would drop us a line and let us know their minds!) Charles kept us up to date on the situation in France and our hopes to increase communications with out blue scarf comrades there, and to tell their story here. We pondered the future of this blog, how we might find and engage more readers, find the time and discipline to write the great posts that are presently in the works, and justify your interest in us, hoping that we will hear more from you to guide us in our plans.

We were sorrowed to note the prevalence of anti-American and anti-western sentiment among the young today, and wondered how to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the millennial fantasies of the trans-national left. How will we be able to communicate a positive vision in an open-ended future of nations and market society, about which we can promise nothing utopian, but only show our faith that out of the inevitable struggles and conflicts of the human condition, we need never lose sight of that which guarantees the inexhaustability of human creativity, our ability to forever refigure our shared sense, both univeral and particularly Canadian, of the transcendent goodness in the world. Such goodness was apparent in those we saw about us tonight, from the old man entranced and reading alone that rumoured-to-be-silly book, the Da Vinci Code, to the legions of students streaming in and out of the library, to the immigrant getting advice on his resume, and the youngsters coming home from training with the British Columbia Regiment, proudly wearing their pixelated camouflage.

We determined that in our fights to come with the ideologies of western guilt that rob us of the moral confidence to quickly defeat the enemies of freedom, we will always keep in mind the need to struggle to act as if we are prefiguring the transcendent signs that will emerge in future from present conflicts and justify our present faith in our religious and political traditions and their inexhaustability. Conflict, unfortunately inevitable, will reward good faith with a strengthened knowledge of who we are and what we may possibly become, and thus help serve the cause of redefining the covenantal signs around which all Canadians will be united in future.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Drive another nail.

Join us at the Vancouver Public Library this evening, Thursday, from 7-9:00 pm at the atrium to help drive another nail into the coffin of Left dhimmi fascism. We'll be the ones wearing blue scarves.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Removable Feast

Write a letter to your congressman, write to your M.P. Let him or her know what you think about this!

Below we see two views on what the public world thinks about the private people: the first story explains that the world of political people is focusing on private people who don't write letters to politicians; the second, from a major Canadian newspaper claims that the MSM is doing just fine and the people are not that important at all.

According to the U.S. government, the government is getting news and views from bloggers. Story two: according to the MSM the bloggers don't know nothing much of interest. Once again, the Canadian establishment infantalises the public and dismisses them as incapable of intelligent consideration, a mere decoration of democracy and good government.

Bloggers and readers are making a new democracy under the high held noses of the intelligentsia-- now more useless and irrelevant than they have been ever before. You, dear reader, are making democracy a living and vibrant thing in itself.

CIA mines 'rich' content from blogs

By Bill Gertz
April 19, 2006

President Bush and U.S. policy-makers are receiving more intelligence from open sources such as Internet blogs and foreign newspapers than they previously did, senior intelligence officials said.

The new Open Source Center (OSC) at CIA headquarters recently stepped up data collection and analysis based on bloggers worldwide and is developing new methods to gauge the reliability of the content, said OSC Director Douglas J. Naquin.

"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet, and we're getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives and everything from what the general feeling is to ... people putting information on there that doesn't exist anywhere else," Mr. Naquin told The Washington Times.

Eliot A. Jardines, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for open source, said the amount of unclassified intelligence reaching Mr. Bush and senior policy-makers has increased as a result of the center's creation in November.

"We're certainly scoring a number of wins with our ultimate customer," said Mr. Jardines....

"I can't get into detail of what, but I'll just say the amount of open source reporting that goes into the president's daily brief has gone up rather significantly," Mr. Jardines said. "There has been a real interest at the highest levels of our government, and we've been able to consistently deliver products that are on par with the rest of the intelligence community."

Mr. Naquin said recent OSC successes have included the discovery of a technology advance in a foreign country. Also, most data on avian flu outbreaks come from open sources, he said.

"Have we got coups out of it? Close to it," Mr. Naquin said. "But certainly we've had more insight than we've ever had before."

The OSC uses powerful computers and software technology to "sift" the Internet for valuable intelligence....

In the past, open-source reports were used mainly by intelligence analysts.

"But now our customer base literally ranges from the president to local police departments," Mr. Naquin said. The Fairfax County police use OSC products, as do police departments in San Diego, New York and Baltimore. The center also provides support to the U.S. military.

A Defense Department official said Chinese military bloggers have become a valuable source of intelligence on Beijing's secret military buildup. For example, China built its first Yuan-class attack submarine at an underground factory that was unknown to U.S. intelligence until a photo of the submarine appeared on the Internet in 2004.


The OSC is doubling its staff and bringing in material from 32 government agencies that also produce unclassified reports, Mr. Jardines said.

If you write a letter to your congressman or your m.p. or deputy, you might reach one secretary in some obscure department somewhere. Your letter, along with dozens of others, might go into a pile to gather dust or even a form-letter response sent back at your expense. If you write to the public, if you resonate in the world of people who vote, then the politicians must come to you to beg for your vote instead of you begging them to pay attention to you. Make the rotten bastards work for you. That's what we elect them to do. Politicians aren't leaders, they are our servants to carry out our orders. Politicians are cooks and waiters dishwashers. This banquet of democracy is ours to feast at. We choose the place and the staff, and they carry our our commands. If we don't choose the best, then we must toss them our and fill our government with better people who can do the jobs we expect them to.

We don't tell the cooks how to cook. We choose what we want, and the cooks do their professional jobs or they don't. That's the end of it. They ask us if we like it. We don't beg them to appeal to us.

According to Ted McKeough in a special to The Star:

NEW YORK—There have been plenty of commentators arguing that blogs will lead to the demise of "old" media organizations that publish newspapers, magazines and books.

ABC News columnist Michael S. Malone predicted the end of newspapers last year when he saw "the first links embedded in blogs. There was simply nothing in the physical world that could ever hope to match the ability to leap through cyberspace from story to story, file to file, with almost infinite extension." Or as former editor-in-chief of Merrill Brown put it: "The future of the news industry is seriously threatened by the seemingly irrevocable move by young people away from traditional sources of news."

Yet despite the proliferation and popularity of blogs, the obliteration of mainstream media as we know it is just not happening. Rather than resembling a steamroller, blogs are looking like the cheese on the bread that is mainstream media; or if you prefer, the icing on the cake.

As it now stands, the reason that so many blog links go to MSM is because, currently, the MSM is the dominant gatherers of news and content. No blogger can afford, individually, to, for example, imbed a journalist with the troops in the front lines of Iraq (or as most MSM outlets do, in the green zone). An exception to this has been Steve Marshall of Guerrilla News who produced a Sundance award winning doc while doing this on his own tab.

This will change when there are more bloggers at the places where news occurs. News will be something that is reported in real time, by the participants and direct observers. And the main media for this will be blogs, in real time. And with the use of aggregators and spiders, a second after someone posts something interesting, the world will have it.

Then the MSM will become republishers. And they will die.

posted by Brian Lemon at 4:36 PM

This editorial is based on two pieces from the MSM. Both came from blogs. You, dear reader, are becoming the media. In time we won't require the MSM for our copy. We will be the ones trained and professional and on the spot who write and publish the news. The politicians will more and more come to us for our commands.

When we meet on Thursday evenings at the Vancouver Public Library from 7-9:00 pm each week we conduct democracy in action. We by-pass the politicians and the MSM in favor of private people conducting their own public affairs. When a Canadian terrorist supporter hires on with the Canadian government it is bloggers and readers who make their opinions known on the Internet. We don't write letters to the editor of the Toronto Star. We don't write letters to our m.p.s. We blog, and the whole world knows in a moment that the Canadian government has a terrorist agitator in it's public office. We have power and we can and do use it. It's democracy.

Please join us on Thursday at 7:00 pm to discuss your views. We'll be in Vancouver, Canada. You, being elsewhere, can do the same kind of democratic agitating we do. Democracy isn't limited to Vancouver. It's for everyone. It's for you. You are democracy yourself. Exercise it. Don't sit at home reading the local paper. Don't sit in watching the news on TV. Walk to the library and meet your fellows. You're free to do that. Vote with your feet.

Join us. Meet us. We want to know your opinions. Write a letter to your blogger. Let him or her know what you think about this!

What's on the menu?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Life grown young and sweet.

Acts of violence against property and persons is a bad thing, right? Destroying functional edifices and healthy bodies is a sign of rage and hatred in the perpetrator, no? Smashing, burning, killing, these are things decent people don't do in the world. And if by odd chance they do anyway, they don't like it. They don't do it with happy enthusiasm. Do they?

Oh, I say Yes! Smash things, kill people-- and like it. Yeah, even love it and laugh about it. Celebrate destruction and death. Look on this as a happy thing.

There will be some people who don't need any further discussion to find themselves in agreement with the above. They will be the ones we find on death row. The rest of us do need an explanation. Once we have it I think it'll be known and felt as reasonable and necessary and right that we wreck and kill. Crazy as it seems, Bakunin is right that destruction is creation in disguise. War is a right act. Maiming and killing individuals is a proper thing. We should do it and be glad of it. We should hate those who don't join us. Maybe we should even kill them on occasion. We should consider being Enthused! about killing people.

"In my village, all the lawyers are named Kalashnikov."

Humanity is bifurcating, splitting between those who remain primitive and pre-feudal and those who are and are becoming Modern. There are in the world cavemen and spacemen. We cannot continue to co-exist. This town ain't big enough for the two of us, this global village. Somebody's got till sun-up to get out of town. Come sun-up there's gonna be a shoot out on Main Street. First rule of a gun fight? Don't show up with a club. Bring a laser ray-gun.

There are two kinds of people in the world today who will define the future of Humanity for the coming millennium, and none of them are cavemen Muslims. They are the detritus of Humanity, even if their side should triumph in the bifurcation of Humanity. The two sides of the significant world's population are us. We are in the midst of a civil war, and who among us wins will decide the future. There's gonna be some killin' done. The Sheriff and and outlaws are facing off and the townsfolk are hiding behind their doors in the hope that when the dust settles the good guys win. The passivists are useless to us and to them. Forget 'em. This fight is between the raging, hate-filled scum pacifists and the likes of my kind, known here at The Fortress to our mentally retarded denizen Clarence as "war mongrels." Clare might be retarded but he's not stupid. Let slip the dogs of war.

There is a script in this Modern world we live in that most people have a good sense of, even knowing some of the phrases and lines by heart, having grown up with them and having heard them as the way things are. The script is anti-war. Most people recite from it without any real thought involved in who wrote it or what the lines mean. They're extras. The anti-war biggies, the stars of today's play, they are professional actors. The rest of us are a very irate audience. this play sucks. By God, we want a refund and a new show.

Let's sing another song, boys. This one has grown old and bitter.

The sheriff crouches in the corner with the Prozac dealer, the grief councillors fluttering around the wings, the social workers ready to take distraught women and children to foster homes and day care centres for trauma treatments. It's a sad, sad story. The sheriff in his space suit cringes, cries, and weeps in the arms of his male life-partner. He consults with his lawyer and assistants. He checks with his accountant. He gives a power point presentation to his fans and unionised staff.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

The anti-war fascists have prepared the cavemen, giving them money and filling them up with righteous indignation about the evils of the townsfolk, and especially about the evils of the sheriff. The cavemen pop off by mistake because they don't quite get the mechanics of their bomb-belts, but never mind, there are more where they came from, and besides, this isn't about the cavemen: this is about the anti-war fascists using the cavemen to beat the sheriff. The cavemen are pumped. They are ready to face the cowardly sheriff, and they don't quite get it but they know they must be right about whatever they're doing because all the anti-war fascists have been telling them for a century they should be fighting the sheriff. Oh, who knows why? It just feels right. So off they go.

The cavemen pile into the street, whooping and screaming and carrying on, and the sheriff blows away a few of them, and the cave men return to the anti-war pacifists to rage and beat their chests and to hear how heroic they were and that they should try again. The sheriff and the townspeople all seek counselling. It's the guilt, you know. It's so unbearably hard to live with. We all need Prozac. We send the cavemen a cheque to soothe their woes and to show we don't hold a grudge. Yup, and here they come again. Pass that Zoloft. It's all our fault. Where's my life-partner? I'm going to weep.

What are you going to do? It's right there in the script.

[Uh oh, our friend Dag is about to write something inappropriate. I just have this feeling he's going to do it again.]

Cavemen with bombs?! Good grief, kill them.

[There it is. He did it. Oh, Dag, you dawg.]

Townsfolk and spacepeople, what are we doing? Why are we wallowing in a puddle of sentimentality and stupid self-made guilt? These caveman ain't no friends of mine, and you don't like 'em. They torture people, cut off people's heads, beat and enslave their women, mutilate and rape their children. What's the story here? Name 219 things you like about these people. OK, name 31. Or even one. they're Human. They deserve to live. And so do others, those very people the cavemen will destroy and murder if we don't stop them from it. It's not like the cavemen are going away never to be seen again. We're stuck with them. And this global village town ain't big enough for the both of us. Nope, that ain't gonna happen.

Are we good people or are we evil like the pacifists and anti-war fascists say we are? Well, which? It's an either or question. Are we good and even getting better? Or are we (refer to script....)?

I find that I'm one of those unsophisticated stupid guys, a Rightwing religious bigot no different from bin Laden, which I'll have you know comes as a shocking surprise to me. I'm one of those who thinks there are rights and wrongs, good and evil. Worse than that, (and yes, it does get worse, dear reader,) I am enthused about doing good rather than evil. Oh no, I'm even a fanatic. I like the idea of killing the bad guys till they are so beaten there is no more strength left in them to continue. That's me being a war-mongrel. I'm insensitive.

I'm not the last guy in the West like myself, though it often seems that I'm the only guy who likes myself. In fact, I'm kind of enthused about myself. I even like being alive. I like other people being alive. I like those things so much that I'm happy to go out of my way to kill people who beat up women and who cut off men's heads for religious reasons or whatever. I'm so enthused about other people that I go out of my way to track down and do serious harm to those who explode bombs in public marketplaces to kill at random. I not only like it, I'm not only enthused about it, I go so far as to write that others should do the same until we either subdue for permanent the cavemen and the dhimmi fascists who incite them or till we lose the struggle altogether. I write that we should feel really good about smashing the caves and killing the bad guys. I write that we should as nations make war not consumer products.

We should make waging war on the primitives our reason for living. We should like it so much and feel so good about it that we develop a serious case of war fever. We should stop worrying and learn to love the bomb.

I like that guy, Winston Churchill, a fascist, I hear.

I think a curse should rest on me — because I love this war. I know it's smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can't help it — I enjoy every second of it.

A letter to a friend (1916)

This, friend, is a letter to you. I don't see one hope in Hell of us liking a war waged for the sake of more multiculturalism. Maybe it's just me but I tend to think that waging a war for the sake of more Human Rights Commission hearings into Islamophobia and insults against Islam is going to do us more harm than good. I think we might find something better in life if we look to the positive and get enthused about it to the point we actually go out and make it happen even if we have to smash things and kill people to make it happen. I think that with some real enthusiasm for our mission we might hjust do some good. I know I enjoy it.

And those who don't? They're not nice people actually. They get people killed. They don't do the killing themselves. They set up others to do it for them. How do we defeat them? Look to the past a bit, to Churchill's time:

In August 1914, a few months after the start of the First World War, Admiral Charles Fitzgerald founded the Order of the White Feather with support from the prominent author Mary Ward. The organisation aimed to coerce men to enlist in the British Army by persuading women to present them with a white feather if they were not wearing a uniform.

The campaign was very effective, and spread throughout several other nations in the British Commonwealth. So much so that it started to cause problems for the government when public servants came under pressure to enlist. This prompted the Home Secretary, Reginald McKenna, to issue employees in state industries with lapel badges reading 'King and Country' to indicate that they too were serving the war effort.



In contrast, the white feather has been partially embraced by pacifist organisations as a sign of harmlessness. During the First World War the pacifist Fenner Brockway received so many white feathers he was known to comment that he now had enough feathers to make a fan.

(Let's sing another song, boys, this one has grown old and bitter.)

Oh, I could make a fan!

Let's get a new social script and some new actors on the world stage. Let's wreck things and kill people. Let's kick some butt. And let's realise that what we do is the best thing anyone can do. Let's be enthused about it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Red Lights, White Eggs, and Blue Scarves

An art instructor decided to test the basic observation skills of the new group of students for his Introduction to Painting class. For the initial lesson the teacher chose a still life composition, consisting primarily of white styrofoam cut-outs of various geometric shapes; placed in the center of the shapes, however, was an open carton of fresh white eggs.

The entire still life set-up was bathed in a soft red glow, courtesy of floodlights off to the side, giving white styrofoam and white eggs a temporary crimson hue.
The painting students were left to interpret the set-up unguided by their teacher for this early exercise, since the point was for the instructor to gage the starting skill level of his new painting class.

To his surprise, while each student had chosen to reproduce the styrofoam in the appropriate red, the eggs remained white! When the art teacher attempted to point out the seeming irony to his group, he was surprised yet again, this time by the strong protests of his students: “but these eggs are white!” “Eggs are white, not red”; their belief became their perception, unadaptable.

Despite what they were clearly looking at, the students chose to see something that wasn’t there, such was the unassailable strength of their pre-conceived notions.

Today, most of academia reverses the roles expressed in the previous scenario, as students who are just beginning to learn how to see, are confronted by sophists dogmatically asserting that eggs turned red are still white. The potential chasm of understanding between looking and seeing, is dismissed with a tyrant’s wave of the hand, forbidding scrupulous measurement, vigorous analysis and (horrors!) the admission of error.

The better teachers, announce "I need you" to their students, confessing the limits of their knowledge, and establishing a worthy goal for the students to rise to: teaching the teacher.

The worst teachers declare: "you need me!", blinding themselves to any change to their academic point of view. "You only look, it is I who sees; who are you to challenge me?"

The best teachers are themselves still students, energized by an eagerness to keep learning, humbled by regular testing of their accumulated knowledge, and re-invigorated by placing themselves in a public arena where they can find themselves facing others with the mutual goal of self-betterment.

Every week, in numerous encounters across Canada and the United States, such students gather publicly to learn. Online, we acknowledge each other through our blogs, in person we identify ourselves through the shared symbol of a blue scarf. Inspired by a new movement begun late last year in France, La Revolution Bleue, we meet publicly to discuss the topics we blog about, to learn, to compare, so that we may humbly yet assuredly verify that what we believe we look at, is in fact what others are seeing as well.

This Thursday, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, we will be meeting yet again, in the Atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

Where will you be?

CBC: Canadian Bull Corporation

Compare, if you will, a CBC report on the unveiling of a new Muslim newspaper in Canada, with a report that chooses, unlike the CBC, to reveal certain pertinent facts of the matter at hand:

The CBC reports:
A Muslim group plans to publish a new national newspaper in four cities on Tuesday, spurred in part by the controversy over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada officially launched the Muslim Free Press in a ceremony in Toronto on Saturday. It will be distributed in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

Published in English and French, it will cover topics ranging from Canadian and international news to politics and health issues from a Muslim perspective.

The council is a Calgary-based national group that tries to promote a wider understanding of the teachings of Islam and issues affecting Muslims.
Syed Soharwardy, council president and publisher and chief executive officer of the new paper, said both the publications and the protests showed a growing misunderstanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

"Canadian Muslims were not as forthcoming to understand the Canadian values of freedom of the press and freedom of religion," Soharwardy told CBC News.

On the other hand, "mainstream Canadians were not able to understand why Muslims [were] protesting," he said.

Soharwardy said he hopes the new paper will help bridge the gap in understanding and help create interfaith dialogue.

The paper's editorial board, for instance, includes Christian and Hindu members. As well, Tuesday's inaugural issue features articles discussing Passover and Easter.
Sounds like multicultural harmony, eh, a mainstream Muslim organization acting resonsibly and in a proper respect for free speech? That nasty cartoon incident was just a product of our ignorance of how to deal with two competing but morally equal values, an ignorance the CBC can rectify. Well, another CBC report on this story casts a more admonitory tone on the matter:
The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada will soon launch a newspaper called the Muslim Free Press in response to the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that appeared in two Alberta-based publications.

"All interested Canadians will have the opportunity to express their opinions freely but with civility," the council said of the new paper, which will be officially unveiled in Toronto on April 15.
More rallies were held on the weekend by Muslim Canadians who say the drawings denigrate the Prophet.

In downtown Vancouver on Saturday, speakers denounced the drawings, saying freedom of the press does not include the right to insult religious sentiments.

Another demonstration organized by the Muslim group United Front Canada will be staged in Toronto on Sunday afternoon at the Ontario legislature.

Now let us turn to the Judeoscope report on this story:
[Judeoscope quotes] From Hour Magazine:

Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Calgary-based Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, was one of the most vocal critics in Canada of the recent controversy over the September 2005 publication in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of 12 editorial cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Now, beginning April 15, Soharwardy will get to express his views as editor-in-chief of Canada’s first national Muslim biweekly newspaper, the English-language Muslim Free Press.

"I’ve been thinking about publishing a paper for a long time, but the cartoon controversy exposed how the mainstream media need to understand the values of Islam and Muslim culture," Soharwardy told Hour this week. "Those cartoons do not refer to freedom of speech. They defame Islam. They defame the entire Muslim community."
Judeoscope then comments:
Syed Soharwardy, who leads the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Comission against the Western Standard over its reprint of the infamous Mohammed cartoons, calling it “intellectual terrorism”. The Commission has accepted to consider the complaint which, however, is expected to be dismissed. When he first announced the creation of his publication on February 20,2006, in the midst of the cartoon affair, he stated its objective was to better educate Canadians about Islam. Suprisingly, it seems the paper will be exclusively distributed in mosques, places not usually visited by Canadians in need of better understanding Islam. His Alberta-based organization, the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, was little known until the cartoon affair and even less known is its actual constituency. What does seem certain, though, is that Soharwardy, through nuisance litigiousness and this new publication, is seeking more media and public attention, something more sophisticated Canadian Islamic groups which advocated a non-confrontational approach in the cartoon affair may not welcome. As to the orientation of the new publication, Soharwardy’s own writing may give us a clue of what can be expected:
Go to Judeoscope to check out their Soharwardy writings links.

So it seems the CBC is treating a radical Muslim who is pompous enough to call his marginal organization, the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, as a responsible person balancing the rights of free speech with Muslim sensitivities, when he is in fact someone who wants to shut up any criticism of Muslims for, precisely, being resistant to free speech. Soharwardy would no doubt agree with the summary of the Vancouver protestors' claim in the second CBC report: "speakers denounced the drawings, saying freedom of the press does not include the right to insult religious sentiments."

But if free speech doesn't inclue the right to criticize religion, then there is no such thing as free speech: the very essence of this freedom must be either to redefine what we hold sacred, or, on the other side of the coin, to erode the sacrality of whatever ideas people presently hold. Once again, we see an organ of the Canadian state - the CBC, full of leftists living off of our tax dollars - reporting from the perspective of a multiculti fantasy world where everyone can get along if only irreconcilably competing claims were just treated as if they were not irreconcilable, and as if people who were out to destroy Canadian values were good Canadians themselves.

The thought crosses my mind that the CBC, being full of leftists, might have some memory of Herbert Marcuse's concept - this was a big idea in the sixties, and you can still find moonbat professors who teach it - of "repressive tolerance". As Eric Gans describes Marcuse, in the course of an essay on the historically changing nature of our resentment:
...The idea of the Jews as both a faceless mass and an individualized set of conspirators, each performing his specific task for the good of all--and the ruin of all others--makes the Jew the sole successful negotiator of the transition from individual to collective identity, and consequently the primary victim of the transition from individual to collective resentment.

One of the more endearingly pathological expressions of this transition is Herbert Marcuse's now-forgotten One-Dimensional Man, published in 1964, just in time to foment the Great Revolt of 1968. Marcuse complains that, in the USSR as in the USA, the Establishment has so seduced the population with tawdry wish-fulfillments that the other-dimensional revolutionary spirit has been killed off. This operation is particularly egregious in the cultural-intellectual sphere, where radical ideas are granted what he calls repressive tolerance, meaning that people are kept too busy with movies and sex to pay any attention to them. Here the old ideal of the free individual receives its final defense against the temptations of consumer society to which it is fast succumbing. The real horror of repressive tolerance is that it relocates individual self-definition within the marketplace. The economic failure of socialism was not yet apparent in 1964, but its ethical failure, and its eventual collapse, were prefigured in Marcuse's bizarre assimilation of the Soviet system to an abstractly defined consumerism.
Perhaps the CBC is just out to teach the radical Muslims that they too must come to terms with the repressive tolerance of the system, unless, that is, they have the individual or collective will to do something about it, as those who have been bought off by the CBC (er taxpayers) don't, whatever their occasional posturing. As the tenured radicals that came of age in the sixties were treated, the CBC is prepared to treat the likes of Soharwardy: as if he were a normal player on the Canadian stage, no matter what he says. No matter what he says, he will just be treated according to some multiculti ideal. He will be simultaneously heard and forgotten.

Of course they plan to do the same thing with the bloggers. I might cry, "what a waste of energy and money the CBC is", if such "repressive tolerance" were not a necessary part of our system, acceptable to those of us who defend the free market system, even as we defend it against those tenured radicals who do much better from it. On second thoughts, I can so cry, "what a waste" because bloggers and their readers/commenters who stand for freedom can one day reasonably expect to replace much of the legacy media system, precisely because blogging without restraints expands freedom and hence also, among other things, the "repressive tolerance" of the system.

In the meantime, we must consider that maybe the likes of Soharwardy really are a threat to the system. Maybe the progeny of the sixties tenured radicals who never got their revolution, the people being too busy screwing around, will get their revolution if the left and the radical Muslims can come to terms. In which case, we will need news organizations ready to tell the whole truth, or at least a reasonable percentage thereof. The more the CBC shows itself unwilling to tell the whole truth (I would give them about fifteen percent on this Soharwardy story, how would you score it?), the more I will spend my time at this blog calling on the government to shut the Canadian Bull Corporation down. In any case, we at Covenant Zone will insist that Canada stand for freedom and creativity again.

This post will be updated, hopefully later today, with further thoughts on the incompatibility of the ecumene of multiculturalism with the growth of freedom and democratic self-rule.

Yo So Po Mo Cool

I ran this at no dhimmitude many long months ago, last year, before five minutes ago. I found out that I'm like bin Laden. I'm devastated. I had no idea.

A Post-Modernist De Gustibus

By Professor Mark McIntire, SBCC

Welcome to the Wonderful, Wide, World of Post-modernism! We finally made it. As post-modernists, we finally figured it all out: Nothing is Real. Nothing is True. Nothing is Good. And, nothing is Beautiful. Unless, of course you think it is. And we're not quite sure about that either. Or are we? Relax. Have some marijuana. Have some cocaine. Have an abortion. Buy a Lexus. Put a crucifix in a bottle of piss. Go to Hawaii. Invite your friends. Have an orgy. If it feels good, then it is good. There is no reality, truth, goodness or beauty. These are merely thoughts. We are all just organisms that 'react' to 'stimuli'. Your reaction is just as sound as anyone else's. Have some more marijuana.

Remain calm. Don't get excited. Wear Birkenstocks.

Above all don't have thoughts. Have feelings. Thoughts are confusing and filled with difficulty. Why be confused with difficulties? It will make you feel bad. Don't you want to feel good? Then, don't think, just feel. Do you feel tired? Then stay home. Relax. Have some cocaine. You'll feel better.

Remain calm. Have sex with a stranger. Drive a Volvo station-wagon. Put lots of bumper-stickers on it to express what you feel. Have a candle-light vigil for something.

If you're a man, then become a woman. If you're a woman, then become a man. Then you'll understand that there are no men and there are no women. We're all just 'persons'. We're all the same. We have no differences. Logic is a coercive and repressive pack of lies. Be diverse. Differences are the result of thoughts, and thoughts are confusing and difficult. You don't want to be confused with difficulties do you? Have some LSD. Try this pill. Everything is simple. Listen to some Rap.

Remain calm. Get in touch with your feelings. Tell a lie. After all, if it's true to you, then it is true, but just to you. Be vague. Better yet, be ambiguous.

It's not your fault. You're just reacting to stimuli. Nothing you do, or did, is ever bad or good for that matter. It's all these stimuli that make you feel that you've been bad or good. Multinational corporations stimulate you to feel good or bad. It's not your fault. It's all these swirling stimuli. So, just change the stimuli. Have a drink. Have another. Invite your friends. Be diverse. Read Newsweek or Time. Look at the pictures. Hallucinate. Vote for Hillary.

Above all, remain calm. Bash a corporation. Bash them all. Defend Michael Jackson. Do you feel there are some nasty people in other countries trying to kill you? Relax. Have some X. There are no countries. There are no nasty people. There are no patriots or terrorists. There are no national allegiances, just disturbing and confusing thoughts about allegiances. These are just 'reactive' thoughts you are having to some 'stimuli'. How did the stimuli get there? No one knows. More importantly, no one can ever know, thanks to post-modernism. It's like asking " Who painted the roses red?" No one did. They are just 'red'. It's all just the result of being stimulated. What 'roses'? What 'red'? And, what is 'is' by the way?

Remain calm. Don't think. You'll only confuse yourself. Blame the corporations. Marry your cat.

But stimulated by what? Does not 'stimulated' imply something that stimulates? And if there is something that stimulates, then that something must be real? And if that something that stimulates is real, then might it be knowable? And if it is knowable, then might it be good or bad. And if it could be good or bad, then might it actually be beautiful or ugly?

Have some morphine. Remain calm. Hallucinate. Watch Oprah Winfrey.

Oh, there you go, thinking again. Having thoughts will only confuse you and fill you with difficulties. Worse still would be for you to take those thoughts and formulate an 'argument' An 'argument' is a whole mess of thoughts that will really confuse you if you try to understand it. Now, you might compile a 'bibliography' of books and articles that you have never read. A bibliography is a whole mess of'stimuli' that confused other people with difficulties. And, you might offer that in place of an argument, because then you would not have to have a thought, let alone an argument. And, everyone would be stimulated to like you because you are a brilliant post-modernist thinker. So, have some more drugs. Relax. Nothing is Real. Nothing is True. Nothing is Good. And, certainly nothing is beautiful.

How are you feeling now? Better?

But there's just one thing that vexes me. If these brilliant post-modernists have figured it all out, then just exactly how did they figure it all out if, as they claim, nothing is real, true, good or beautiful (note no only concession to post-modernism)?

Oh! You're hopeless! It's the evil corporations. De gustibus non disputandum est. ("In matters of feelings, there is no real dispute.")1.

---Mark McIntire
October 1, 2003

Truth or Consequences

Jews must act now for Justice
by Samboma
Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 04:17:40 AM PDT

A fact exists independently of our subjective consciousness or acknowledgement. We can close our eyes, bury our heads in the sand, but those foolhardy tactics will not alter its inherent empirical and objective character. A fact, which is, axiomatically, a truth, endures precisely because it is firmly grounded in historical reality.

One such fact is the dispossession of the Palestinians of their humanity, a travesty which began mid-last century and continues to this day. Another fact is that this great wrong has been legitimised by the acquescience and support of international powers that be, in a word the "civilised" Western world. Another fact - and this is even being created as I write - is that what remains of Palestinian land is being robbed under cover of a gigantic "security" wall.

Another truth worthy of mention in this veritable directory of facts is that anyone who even attempts to criticise Israel's gross violations against the Palestinian people risks being labelled "anti-semitic". But, you can call every Tom, Abu or Lahai anti-semitic, but it certainly won't stop the truth from being uttered.

Oh, darn. How did that sneak in. I meant to post this:

TEL AVIV, Israel, April 17 — A Palestinian suicide bomber killed nine people and wounded dozens today when he detonated a bag of explosives at a falafel restaurant in a gritty, working-class section of Tel Aviv, further inflaming tensions between Israel and the new Palestinian government led by Hamas.

In the deadliest Palestinian attack since 2004, the bomber struck at The Mayor's Falafel — the same small, open-front restaurant that was hit by another suicide bomber just three months ago, on Jan. 19. In that blast, 20 Israelis were injured, but only the bomber was killed.

The Palestinian Authority government, which is already struggling with a financial crisis and international isolation, called today's bombing a legitimate response to Israeli "aggression," though the attack was carried out by Islamic Jihad, a small, radical faction that is not part of the government.

Well, call me Islamophobic!

And that's a fact.

French Resistance

Tiberge has an up-date on the Blue Scarf resistance movement in France. It's not just France under the threat of Islam and dhimmitude by intimidation and coercion: it's the whole world. We can take a stand-- in public. If the French can fight back, so can we.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Canada and the Umma

A week ago, Daniel Pipes reported on a Canadian government document that had been leaked to him. This Administrative Notice, written by David Mulroney, Assistant Deputy Minister in Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (and slated to become Prime Minister Harper's foreign affairs advisor), outlined the formal institutionalization, within the Department, of a Muslim Communities Working Group (FMCG). In the words of the Notice:
The FMCG mandate continues to be to: serve as a clearing house and focal point within the Department for issues concerning relations with the Muslim world; build the Department's policy capacity on this subject; and take the lead in providing timely, strategic advice on relations with the Muslim world, and the lead in creating a policy framework for our overall approach to this subject. As such, the FMCG should be consulted at headquarters and by posts on the broad range of issues affecting Canada's relations with Muslim communities, including public diplomacy efforts, and will take the lead in coordinating the Department's response to many of them. For this cross-cutting unit to work, it is essential that two-way consultation exist between it and the other units in the Department. Therefore, the FMCG will continue to engage with a network of officers throughout the department through regular meetings and as required on a day-to-day basis, and will look forward to early consultation by other units in the Department.

In addition, we will shortly be creating an Advisory Group that will serve to discuss strategic policy issues brought to it by the FMCG. The Advisory Group will be composed of senior officials from across the department and meet at least on a quarterly basis, to provide policy advice and guidance to the FMCG Chairperson.

In the coming weeks, the FMCG will be seeking to fill three full time positions - a Deputy Director, a Policy Officer, and an Operations and Public Diplomacy Officer. The evolution to operational capability is absolutely vital and begins to put us at par with other key partners. The UK, Netherlands, Germany, and others all have such a capability already well-established. Currently, the FMCG is ably staffed by Crystal Procyshen who serves as both a policy and operations officer, and who should be your first point of contact.
Pipes comments:
(1) Muslims will from now on have a special say with regard to Canadian foreign and trade issues touching on Muslims.

(2) The privileging of Islam proceeds apace, with Muslims in at least four Western countries giving "strategic advice on relations with the Muslim world."

(3) This is a terrible mistake. Belonging to a certain group should not give one special authority in dealing with that group, and especially not in a governmental context.

(4) The only person yet to be charged with an offense under Canada's new Anti-Terrorism Act is Mohammad Momin Khawaja; and he was, at about the time of his arrest, a computer consultant for DFAIT.

(5) One can only guess at the intellectual environment of FMCG but one of the individuals mentioned as a player in it, Crystal Procyshen, wrote a strident article against Israel in 1997, "JERUSALEM! What is the TRUTH? Travel and Truth:A Volunteers' Experience in Palestine." It includes such gems as these (original spelling and spacing retained as is):

"The Israelis, in order to fulfill their political prophecies of a Zionist state where they would be safe from persecution, are propogating a recurring cycle of hatred towards the Palestinians as they struggle to expand the state of Israel. ...

"Since the Israelis illegaly occupied the autonomous regions of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, they routinely torture, kill and deprive Palestinians of their rights. Under Israeli control the Palestinians have no freedom of movement, no freedom of speech or press, no jury of peers,no trials,imprisonment without just cause,no right to education,no right to an attorney, no right to property,no right to trade or profit from good crossing borders."
While Pipes is quoting from a 1997 article of a young student, who may since have matured, it's worth noting that this kind of student can get a job in the DFAIT; we will return to Ms. Procyshen later. This story has only yet received limited attention in the blogosphere (see here; and here; and here; and here). One of Pipes' commenters, "Alan", assuming that Muslims are being given special treatment, typifies the negative reaction this announcement has so far been given by Canadian bloggers:
Christian Communities Working Group Operational Unit?
Buddhist Communities Working Group Operational Unit?
Sikh Communities Working Group Operational Unit?
Jewish Communities Working Group Operational Unit?
Bahai Communities Working Group Operational Unit?

One can only draw three conclusions
(a) Islam is to be treated better than all other religions
(b) Islam isn't *only* a religion
(c) a and b
This comment of course raises but cannot solve the question of how to define what is proper to religion and what to affairs of state, and of where the two have any business engaging in strategic dialogue. The separation of church and state that grows out of the Christian tradition with its admonition to distinguish what is owed Caesar and what God, is but one of many possible ways that humans can organize the relationship between religion and politics. We will never be able to construct a metaphysics that neatly defines and delimits for us a concept or domain like religion, because religious thinking emerges, historically, prior to Plato and the birth of western metaphysics, and our metaphyiscs has never neatly summed up the role of its more fertile forebear. Metaphysical reasoning prospers by forgetting the primacy of the more primitive forms of language and thought that continue to shape all human scenes; metaphysics constructs an empire of its concepts, assuming that its manner of conceptual thinking is original to human reason; but, in fact, human language and reason first emerge from our relationship to the sacred (see the Plato link, above).

We understand our relationship to the sacred in terms of our scenic consciousness of how our communities are organized around centralized values. While we can generally distinguish religious and political scenes in terms of the importance accorded to divine or ordinary human actors on them, and according to whether the scene is interested in remembering the fundamental (religious) origins of the community, or the further articulation (or forgetting) of these origins in more secular (political) contexts, a full and proper understanding of a culture will not allow us to divorce its secular or political reason from its religious past.

Each culture and each historical moment relates the religious and political in its own particular ways. So while one might think it a good idea if Christians in Canada were to lobby the Department of Foreign Affairs for a Christian Communities Working Group, as a way of drawing attention to, and action against, the many Muslim regimes that actively persecute their Christian minorities, we are not surprised that Foreign Affairs has yet to construct such a working group. Christianity, as a religion, does not do much to provide for its followers' worldly politics. Its primary focus is on the Kingdom of God, not on this world (though there is at times some pressure, sometimes misguided, to assimilate the two). Not suprisingly, Christians, with all due respect to the Vatican, are not primarily thought of as a political entity to be reckoned with. And when they do get involved in world affairs, Canadians calling themselves Christian are perhaps more likely to denounce Israel than to champion the dire cause of their co-religionists in, say, Pakistan.

Islam, on the other hand, appears to our western eyes to be as much a political as a religious entity, for many reasons that are no doubt familiar to those of us observing many Muslims presently calling for a return of the Caliphate or the eventual conversion of all humanity to the one true faith. The political nature of Islam may also be apparent in the government's recognition of Muslim communities in Canada as having an interest in Canada's relations, not simply with other nations, but with the Muslim Umma or worldwide community of Muslims itself. (I assume that some recognition of the Umma as a worldwide political force that must be taken into account alongside our more traditional focus on nations and regions is implied by the statement in the Administrative Notice, that "For this cross-cutting unit [FMCG] to work, it is essential that two-way consultation exist between it and the other units in the Department. Therefore, the FMCG will continue to engage with a network of officers throughout the department through regular meetings and as required on a day-to-day basis, and will look forward to early consultation by other units in the Department.")

A cynic might say that the creation of the FMCG is just another bureaucratic powerplay, where those who have an interest in "muslim commmunities" gain a march on those working with regions or nation states. In any case, the bureaucrats' initiative now raises for the not-previously-consulted citizens, the question of how our country should relate to the Umma. Do we acknowledge our "Muslim communities" as political actors, with a role in giving strategic advice about specifically Canadian relations with "Muslim communities" abroad, or do we insist rather on our western distinctions between religious and political interests being upheld, regardless of how some Muslims see differently the difference? Does being a Canadian citizen imply a duty to uphold a certain vision of international order, i.e. one that fosters the growth of nations and states and resists the growing and often disruptive role of non-state actors in a world where many states, especially in the Muslim world, risk collapsing?

According to one Canadian citizen group studying the document leaked to Pipes:
"Canadians should be deeply troubled by this announcement and what it says about the agenda of Canada’s foreign affairs bureaucracy," explained Joseph Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the Institute for Canadian Values. "Certainly, if foreign affairs functionaries were concerned about ethnic sensitivities or religious tolerance, they would have created a department to deal with Hindus and Christians, whose populations approximate that of the Muslim world. Why the favouritism?"
Perhaps the "favouritism" could be justified by the peculiar nature of Islam, though any such argument would, at this point, have to fall to our suspicions that the FMCG is staffed by anti-western apologists for violence committed in the name of Islam, violence that the apologists would redefine as being caused by problems or failures of "development", or some such, as in this abstract of a paper delivered at a 2002 conference by FMCG's contact person, Crystal Procyshen:
"Development as Struggle: What Role for Islamic Insurgents?"

Current essentialist scholarship on Islamic insurgency organizations erodes serious study as to how Islam matters, why these groups emerge, and how they embed themselves within the national politics, regional dynamics, and community development of the Muslim Middle East. Furthermore, their dire predictions of pan-Islamic victories overlook the ubiquitous failures of these groups to achieve any presumably 'destabilizing' goal. This study conflates two predominant theoretical frameworks of Islamism in order to ameliorate their separate analytical shortcomings. First, it discusses how, when, and why political Islam matters as a response by grassroots, libratory movements to perceived oppression/ modernization. Second, it delineates so-called 'external' theories of Islamist struggle, which concentrate on mobilization. Third, it explores 'internal' doctrinal theories (those by Islamist thinkers) and their description of the process of jihad (liberation and development). As will be examined, both theoretical traditions fail to account for the structural-contextual constraints of domestic political-culture, class divisions, and external influences that disrupt the transition phase between jihad and the, as yet, elusive outcome of an Islamic state. Hezbollah's resistance against Israel serves as the crucial case study, while the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and al-Qaida are employed as foils throughout.
If the Department of Foreign Affairs weren't home to young scholars (and their presumably more circumspect but sympathetic employers) lost in metaphysical abstractions, pomo irony, and queer conceptualizations of Jihad and its destabilizing effects - does anyone really know what position is being taken in this paper abstract? - might there be a case for a diplomacy focussed on Muslim communities?

To my mind it comes down to a question of whether we want to encourage "Muslim communities" to see themselves as political actors, by recognizing the political or worldly nature of Islam. If there is any hope for the reform or modernization of the Islamic world, it seems to me it will require much more emphasis being put on individual nations and their secular politics than on Muslim communities as such. We need to encourage greater identification with ethnic and any nascent national identities - on the Turkish or Indonesian, and hopefully Afghan and Iraqi, models - and do all we can to deny the validity of a political Islam that dreams of an expanded Umma and/or a renewed Caliphate. If there is any hope that the Muslim world can join modernity, it will require states that are responsible to self-interested nations not to a theology and Sharia law that has already proven its many problems in adapting to our now single global civilization with its integrating economic and market system.

Does creation of the FMCG not do something to undermine our relations with traditional nation-states like, say, France or Turkey? If Canadian Muslims, because they are Muslims and not simply Canadians, are to have a voice in shaping our relations with "Muslim communities" are we not advancing the legitimacy of the Umma as a political entity, at the expense of secular states? And aren't Canadian strategic interests in some sense specifically Canadian, and not, as would be impossible, all things to all people under the multiculti sun?

Those of us interested in renewing the Canadian Covenant must insist that "Muslim communities" in Canada not be treated any differently from other "religious" communities in Canada, regardless of how differently Islam constructs question of "church", state, and people. We cannot be all things to all people; we must have a policy that reflects a specifically Canadian vision of a proper international order. We must champion nations and national sovereignty and fight against the imperialism of political Islam and its clients in the anti- and trans-national ("multicultural") left.