Saturday, September 30, 2006

Let the world know his words

By now, you have probably heard the story of Robert Redeker, French philosophy teacher, who published an article critical of Islam and is now in hiding for his and his family's lives after numerous death threats along with internet postings of maps to his house. Once again, we see that some members of Islam will protest any slander against the eternal and uncreated truth of the Koran; they will even threaten death to those who they feel misrepresent Islam as a religion of sacrificial violence, an idolatrous cult.

Some westerners, in a hurry to avoid the finger of Islamophobia that is often pointed at them, are insisting that Redeker should have drawn some disctinction between violent Islamists and ordinary Muslims. Once again, the evident fact that there are lots of Muslims who like to live in secular western countries is used to argue that Islam cannot be criticized in general terms. But why is it that we can never escape in our debates such simple category errors? Redeker's target was clearly the Koran and Islamic insitutions, not Muslims as individual people who live and make choices in the world, much of which has nothing to do with Islam.

If the Koran is a text that promotes violence against the unbeliever, the question remains, can the west remain western and free if it allows in large numbers of Muslim immigrants, some of whom, if not the more happy and passive majority, will push for the values of Sharia law in their new lands? The likely fact that many Muslims will not got to war for Islamic institutions like Sharia is to avoid the question no one really wants to answer: for what else can institutional Islam possibly stand, today and tomorrow?

Since Redeker's article has already disappeared from Le Figaro's web site, the newspaper where it first appeared, all bloggers might consider leaving a record of his words. Canada's Judeoscope reproduces the article in French, with a misguided disclaimer that makes Redeker's attack on the Koran into an attack on all Muslims. I have found two English translations: Tiberge at Galliawatch has most of the article translated; there is also a translation by Fausta.

From Galliawatch:
Islam is trying to impose on Europe its rules: special hours at swimming pools just for women, no caricature allowed of this religion, dietary requirements in cafeterias especially for children, a fight to allow the wearing of veils in schools, accusations of Islamophobia against free thinkers...

As before with communism, the West is under ideological surveillance. Islam presents itself to the Western world, as did the now defunct communism, as an alternative to the Western world. Like communism before it, Islam conquers minds and hearts by playing upon a sensitive point. It boasts of having a legitimacy that troubles the conscience of the West: it is the voice of the poor people of the planet. Yesterday, the voices of the poor claimed to come from Moscow, today they are coming from Mecca! Today, once again, the intellectuals are the watchful eye of the Koran, as they were the watchful eye of Moscow. Today they excommunicate for Islamophobia, as yesterday for anti-communism.
The Koran is a book of unheard-of violence. In the Encyclopédia Universalis, Maxime Rodinson utters some truths that are as important as they are taboo in France. First, "Mohammed displayed in Medina unsuspected qualities as a political leader and military chief (...) He turned to private war, a common institution in Arabia (...) Mohammed soon sent small groups of his followers to attack caravans from Mecca, thus punishing his infidel compatriots and at the same time, acquiring rich spoils."

Secondly, "Mohammed, flush with victory, eliminated from Medina by having them massacred the last remaining Jewish tribe, the Qurayza, whom he accused of suspicious behavior." Finally, "after the death of Khadidja, he married Sawda, a widow and a good house-keeper, and also little Aisha who was barely ten years old. His erotic tendencies, long suppressed, were to lead him into ten concurrent marriages."

Exaltation of violence: merciless war chief, pillager, killer of Jews, polygamous, such is the Mohammed that is revealed through the Koran.
Continuing, from Fausta's translation:
True, the Catholic Church is not free from reproach. Its history is strewn with black pages, of which it has repented. The Inquisition, witch hunting, the execution of the philosophers Bruno and Vanini, the poor-minded epicureans who in the middle of the eighteenth century were tried for impiety, do not plead in its favor. But what differentiates Christianity from Islam appears: it is always possible to turn to evangelic values, the soft person of Jesus against the drifts of the Church.

None of the faults of the Church are rooted in the Gospel. Jesus is non-violent. The return to Jesus is a recourse against the excesses of the institution connected with the church. The recourse to Muhammed, on the contrary, reinforces hatred and violence. Jesus is a Master of love, Muhammed a Master of hatred.

The stoning of Satan, annually in Mecca, is not a mere superstitious phenomenon. It doesn't only show a hysterical crowd flirting with cruelty. Its rage is anthropological. Here is indeed a rite, to which each Moslem is invited to subject, registering violence like a duty crowned in the heart of belief.

This stoning, where annually some of the faithful - at times hundreds - die from being trampled on, is a ritual which breeds ancient violence.

Instead of eliminating this ancient violence, by imitating Judaism and Christianity, by neutralizing it (Judaism starts with the rejection of human sacrifice, i.e. by which it enters into civilization, Christianity transforms the sacrifice into Eucharist), Islam builds a nest for it, where it will grow from the heat. While Judaism and Christianity are religions whose rites delegitimize violence, Islam is a religion whose very own sacred texts, as banal as some of its rites may be, exalts violence and hatred.

Hatred and violence live in the book in which any Moslem is educated, the Koran. As in the times of the Cold War, violence and intimidation are the means used by an ideology with hegemonic vocation, Islam, to throw its lead cover on the world. Benedict XVI suffers from this cruel experiment. In these our times it is necessary to call the West "the free world" compared to the Moslem world, and in these times the enemies of this "free world", dedicated civil servants of the Koran, swarm in its centre.
What Redeker fails to distinguish, in my view, is the fact that Islam has learned something from the Hebrew faith - it is something of an anti-idolatrous religion that, by outlawing contests over the image of God, goes some way in protecting the peace among those within the fold. But clearly, the Koran does indeed draw a fundamental distinction - on almost every page - between believers and unbelievers. Islam, to the degree it follows the Koran, keeps whatever peace it keeps among the believers by relentlessly scapegoating the non-believers and blaming them for all troubles. It has the utopian idea that if all the world were Islamic, there would be some kind of perpetual peace among men. This, clearly, is at odds with the inherently conflictual basis of human nature that makes religion necessary in the first place; and so Islam, like Christianity and Judaism to some (now much lesser) extent, often indulges in dangerous millennial and apocalyptic imagery to avoid coming to terms with the fact that religion can never banish conflict from this world. Furthermore, Islam, in relentlessly targetting the unbeliever and never taking the blame for its worldly woes for itself, does not make it clear that it is man, not God, who wills this conflict.

And for pointing so much out, what is Redeker's fate? Well, it is a punishment entirely consistent with a utopian Muslim point of view, if not with that of a modrn westerner who can't get his head around the fact that you can face a death sentence for saying that Islam is violent. As Redeker says in a letter to Andre Glucksmann (via Tiberge):
Dear André,


I am now in a personal situation that is catastrophic. Numerous explicit death threats have been sent to me, and I have been condemned to death by organizations that are offshoots of Al-Qaïda. L'UCLAT and the DST (2) are on the case, but...I am no longer entitled to live in my own house (the websites that have condemned me show a map with instructions on how to get to my house to kill me, there is a my photo, a photo of my workplace, phone numbers, and the statement of condemnation). But at the same time they do not provide me with a lodging, and I'm forced to ask others for help, two nights in one place, two nights somewhere else...I am under permanent police protection. I must cancel all my classes. And the authorities are forcing me to give up my home. I'm a homeless person. An insane financial situation is the result: I must pay all the expenses, including any future rent for one month or two, someplace far from here, the cost of moving twice, the legal expenses, etc...This is quite sad. I asserted my constitutional rights and I am being punished for it, on the very territory of the French Republic. This affair is also an attack against national sovereignty: foreign laws, created by criminal fanatics, are punishing me for having exercised a French constitutional right, and I am suffering, right here in France, a terrible wrong.
According to Tiberge, there is now a large mobilization of support in France for Redeker, except on the far left and in the government offices:
Let us point out also the dhimmitude of Education Minister Gilles de Robien, who, instead of defending the teacher and freedom of expression, drives the nail in deeper by saying: "A functionary must display prudence and moderation in all circumstances."

These events will reveal who is bowing before the fatwas of MRAP and Al Qaïda, and who dares defend the values of the Republic. The French people will learn a political lesson!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Make your choice, Vancouver

And then there is us. We are contributing our thoughts to building a new covenant for Canadian nationhood, Thursdays, 7-9pm, atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library (at least for now, until further notice) - look for the blue scarves and bandanas.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Which is the bigger joke? The jihad for the eternal, uncreated, and singular truth? or multiculturalism policies - Canada's gift to the world?

News from Londonistan is sometimes so strange it seems that the ideology of multiculturalism is going all out to reveal its incompatibility with responsible representative government, or democratic self rule, and with true respect for the human unity that is the basis of all real and meaningful diversity:
POLICE have agreed to consult a panel of Muslim leaders before mounting counter-terrorist raids or arrests. Members of the panel will offer their assessment of whether information police have on a suspect is too flimsy and will also consider the consequences on community relations of a raid.

Members will be security vetted and will have to promise not to reveal any intelligence they are shown. They will not have to sign the Official Secrets Act.
So the Brits are going to tie up their police with enforced consultations with an anti-police, anti-government, anti-American, Judeophobic, pro-Iranian nuke, group and any police actions which do not meet with the Muslim watchdogs' pleasure will now presumably be officially sanctioned as victimizing the Ummah.

When governments bring such non-elected advisors/critics into consultations not only on policies, but on day-to-day policing with all its needs for timely action and control of information, we are surely seeing a prime example of how multiculturalism assumes that the various members of a nation are not fit to govern themselves. Just as the supposedly independent (from political interference) police are here implied to be incapable of governing themselves, of maintaining their own professional standards, practices, and public consultations without need of suspicious and politicized watchdogs, multiculturalism policy assumes that the disparate members of a nation do not have sufficient common interests or any unifying principles that can serve as a rational basis for governing themselves. Instead of a country in which, say, a Muslim or a Christian, a person of Xinjiangese or Basque ancestry, can aspire to the virtue of going into the public sphere and making representations that could appeal to many disparate members of his nation, the ideology of multiculturalism assumes we can only speak for our own, however defined.

What this assumption must leave unanswered is the overall basis or reason for the decisions made by the high officials of state who co-ordinate the various interest groups over which the government - which becomes an imperial hierarchy riding the winds of power - rules. Democracy requires a common purpose or reason that is the basis for the people ruling themselves through their representatives. And staying alive by keeping the system and the diversity it fosters from being ripped apart into competing, warring, camps is ultimately at the root of such common purpose or reason.

But there is no accessible rationality behind the present multicultural order in full pomp; there are only attempts to obscure the fact that a liberal order, trying to serve all the conflicting desires that it pretends to have room for, and without deferring to any unifying principles or respect for a nation's foundational events that give it a particular history of self-representation, will sooner or later fall into a tyranny of high officials negotiating differences in back rooms, without the possibility of publicly accounting for the rationality of such negotiations other than in terms of deferring to competing interests and powers.

Such a "nation" might become a place, say, where police cannot protect against terrorism, from risk of offending those with a right to restrain their investigations. Or it might become a place where dhimmi police trade their powers to Muslim leaders in return for the promise that the latter will control violent trouble makers under some kind of imperial millet system.

On the other hand, maybe it is only when all see multiculturalism reveal itself for the arational and potentially tyrannical system it is, that we will be able to see clearly that the emperor has no clothes. What fun then to read:
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A car dealership's planned radio advertisement that declared "a jihad on the automotive market" has drawn sharp criticism for its content but will not be changed, the business said Saturday.

Several stations rejected the Dennis Mitsubishi spot, which says sales representatives wearing"burqas"_ head-to-toe traditional dress for Islamic women _ will sell vehicles that can"comfortably seat 12 jihadists in the back."

"Our prices are lower than the evildoers'every day. Just ask the pope!"the ad says."Friday is fatwa Friday, with free rubber swords for the kiddies."A fatwa is a religious edict.

Dealership president Keith Dennis said the ad does not disrespect any religion or culture. He said it was"fair game"to poke"a little fun at radical extremists."

"It was our intention to craft something around some of the buzzwords of the day and give everyone a good chuckle and be a little bit of a tension reliever,"he said.

The Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations decried the ad as disrespectful.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

"the going gets tough" for India

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going", was a saying my mom drilled into me as a kid, to make sure I would learn that how I reacted to a problem was going to reveal much about my character.
For some reason, this childhood lesson came to mind as I read this morning of the terrible series of explosions that have occured in Malegaon, India today:

At least 37 people were killed and over 100 injured in Malegaon on Friday as explosions rocked the scene of a Muslim congregation in the powerloom town in north Maharashtra.
The blasts occurred around 1.55 pm — within minutes of each other — after Friday namaaz as the crowd made its way out of a mosque called Rehmani Masjid and a nearby cemetery referred to as the Bada Kabrastan. ....
The casualties included a number of beggars who had lined the streets seeking zakat (alms), which is distributed on the occasion of Shab-e-baraat.

[Compare what happened next to how the United States, and the citizens of New York City, reacted on the morning of September 11, 2001.]

Soon afterwards, mobs went on the rampage through the town which has a history of communal violence, pelting stones and shouting slogans to protest against the incident. Curfew was immediately clamped and the police rushed reinforcements to secure the area.

It seems that the police will be hampered in their investigation of the bombings, by local tensions within the muslim community:

The "secular" parties may have made things more difficult for the law-enforcing agencies in Malegaon.
Malegaon witnessed a bitter electoral battle during the 2004 Assembly polls as six-time MLA Janata Dal (Secular) leader Nihal Ahmed faced off with Congress contender Sheikh Rashid. Rashid pulled out all stops to defeat the socialist veteran, dividing the Muslims like never before. And the bitterness, for all appearances, still lingers.
There was so much of bad blood in the campaign that elders wondered if the tussle was worth it. Rashid accused Ahmed of playing the communal card and supporting Osama Bin Laden. Ahmed refuted the charge and accused Rashid of using unfair electoral practices. The divided Muslim community is now one of the main problems that police face, say officials.
"If we talk to Rashid, the Ahmed camp gets upset with us and vice-versa. It has become virtually impossible to bring about a consensus among local Muslims, many of whom are migrants from UP [the northern state of Uttar Pradesh]. The other problem is that a section of Muslim youth, fed up with the slanging match between Rashid and Ahmed, is increasingly turning towards organisations like the SIMI [Student Islamic Movement of India] ...

The first suspects that authorities have placed on their list of possibilities, are the Bajrang Dal, whose main slogan, according to Wikipedia, is
..."Seva Suraksha Sanskar", or "service, safety, and culture". An integral part of its agenda is preventing the killing of cows. ...
It has also vowed to protect India's Hindu identity, from the dangers of Muslim population growth, Christian conversions, and antinational communists.

Like a certain peaceful religion we hear a lot about, the members of Bajrang Dal are somewhat flexible in their definition of "protection":

The Bajrang Dal is known to have followed a similar pattern in blasts at Parbhani’s Mohammadi Masjid and mosques at Pona and Jalna earlier this year.
"We are probing this angle, though it is too early to hold any group responsible," DGP P S Pasricha said on Friday.
Another theory doing the rounds is that a Jaish-e-Mohammad module could have engineered Friday’s blasts to create communal trouble.
Intelligence agencies suspect that the Malegaon blasts were aimed at provoking communal tension as terrorists could not foment trouble during the recently concluded Ganapati festival.
A senior official from one of the central agencies in Pune said similar, subversive acts had been planned during the 10-day Ganapati festival.
However, tight security measures prevented any untoward incident. "There was no specific intelligence input on Malegaon," the official said.
"The motive seems not only to kill people, but also create panic and communal tension in the already sensitive Malegaon," he said, explaining that after failing to cause damage during the Ganesh festival, Malegaon could have been seen as a soft target.

As we approach The Date of another September 11th, it is hoped that citizens of the west will undertake a thorough reflection on our collective and individual reactions to that event. What light has the past five years revealed about our reactions; have we done what we should have, has it been the right response... as tempting as it may be to think in leftist utopian terms of absolute solutions and absolute failures, have we done the most we could have done under the circumstances, should we have gotten more tough; what is to be a dignified definition of "getting tough" in our response to islamic barbarity?
Incidents like this bombing in Malegaon, if indeed undertaken in retaliation for the recent Mumbai train bombings, are a useful reminder that eye for an eye justice is not always the dignified path, that adopting a long-term view (seeing beyond our own life being one of the characteristics that elevates humans above animals) involves measuring more than just material details, it must also include measuring things unseen: one's sense of humanity, one's sense of civility, one's ability to rise about the natural, animal-like tit for tat and embrace one's sense of responsibility to struggle to live with honor. Where is the honor in blowing up beggars? Where is the civility in killing every single muslim, wouldn't that just make us like the fundamentalist wahabbis and their fanatical shia cousins, who think in precisely the same inhumane terms?

If ultimately we are to be judged by how we handle adversity, reactions being the most revealing x-ray of one's inner character, then the judeo-christian heritage animating western civilization exhorts us to renew our ability to measure solutions to the tough choices we continue to face.
Our challenge today remains the same as on the afternoon of September 11: how to find the civilized middle ground between the extreme temptations to become either as barbaric as the jihadis or as suicidal as the left's ongoing determination to remain grazing sheep waiting to be fleeced.
Between the painfully clear extremes of killing everyone and killing no one lies a half-seen shifting ground that will be so tough to recognize, we will need the participation of as many penetrating judgments as possible to adjudicate a tough solution worthy of a human being.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Covenanting Every Thursday

We meet in the atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9pm, and discuss the renewal of nationhood and the defense of human rights against all evils, including those quietly ignored by the reigning ideology of White Guilt. This victimary ideology of our elites finds ways to excuse the resentful violence of those it considers outsiders and victims of western culture. We do not. We defend those western values that are essential to the progress of freedom around the world, and of self-rule at home. To rule ourseves we need to learn again how to combine individual integrity, the right to own our own lives, with a sense of belonging to a coherent, bounded, constitutional, moral, and rational political community from which a national identity, simultaneously particular and universal, can flourish. We wish to foster social and cultural networks to promote our belief that the renewed national identities will be best represented in the hands and minds of ordinary capable individuals, not cultural or institutional elites. In solidarity with the patriots in France reclaiming their nation from the gnostic empire of the left and its imperial anti-nationalism, we wear blue scarves and bandanas - if you can, please join us at the tables in front of Blenz Coffee, this or any Thursday.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fear of the Sacred

A Hasidic Jew was recently forced to leave an Air Canada flight from Montreal to New York because his praying scared fellow passengers:
The airplane was heading toward the runway at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport when eyewitnesses said the Orthodox man began to pray.

"He was clearly a Hasidic Jew," said Yves Faguy, a passenger seated nearby. "He had some sort of cover over his head. He was reading from a book.

"He wasn't exactly praying out loud but he was lurching back and forth," Faguy added.

The action didn't seem to bother anyone, Faguy said, but a flight attendant approached the man and told him his praying was making other passengers nervous.

"The attendant actually recognized out loud that he wasn't a Muslim and that she was sorry for the situation but they had to ask him to leave," Faguy said.

The man, who spoke neither English nor French, was escorted off the airplane.

Air Canada Jazz termed the situation "delicate," but says it received more than one complaint about the man's behaviour.

The crew had to act in the interest of the majority of passengers, said Jazz spokeswoman Manon Stewart.

"The passenger did not speak English or French, so we really had no choice but to return to the gate to secure a translator," she said.

The airline is not saying if the man was told he was not allowed to pray, but a spokesperson said the man was back on board the next flight to New York.
Now ask yourself, why would anyone be scared of a Hasidic Jew praying on a flight to New York City? Surely there are few more unlikely sources of terrorism. So, unless we wish to believe that the passengers or crew supposed, with no evident reason, that the lastest ploy of Al Qaeda may be to disguise themselves as pious Hasidim, we have to assume that this is a case of simple fear of unfamiliar signs of religious piety (and perhaps some queer, MSM-influenced misconceptions about orthodox Jews and violence).

And this, I think, is an interesting but disquieting sign of our cultural weakness. For on the one hand it shows that the people involved vaguely recognize, and fear, the power of the sacred over human minds; and yet, on the other hand, it suggests that these same people have little interest in the sacred and no idea what Hasidic Judaism is about. Indeed, we can confidently guess that only people who don't take prayer seriously - in the sense that they don't seriously practice it - would raise objections to a Jewish man praying. Such people would assume that pious, semi-public prayer is a sign of an unstable mind, and while they recognize its power, it may not be for the good.

In other words, if and when this type of person is indeed challenged by people motivated by the power of the sacred, people who see the secular North American as weak and decadent, the under-educated, secular-Gnostic, North Americans are going to run screaming if they can't find authority figures to complain to first. They are not going to be able to feel confident and very superior to the other. Sure they will think the other is crazy, but they will not have the courage to face him down in a fight. They will not be able to say "our faith is superior to yours", because they will only fear the power of faith and not be able to embrace it.

This kind of North American is simply buying time. They know the religious crazies are coming, but like the Spanish voters who responded to the train bombings by voting out a government that was willing to fight Islamic terror, they just want to do whatever it takes to avoid, but not face or understand, the supposed danger, and to keep the jet-settting and partying going for as long as they can, until the fearful power of the sacred triumphs in its return to the scene...

We need to learn again how to promote good faith, and so also an understanding of the sacred, that is suited to our times and needs.

Meanwhile, Concordia University continues to fear Jewish speakers.

While we work on bigger posts...

Here's a thought teaser to keep you anticipating the arrival of the next Covenant Zone posting - whose post will it be? Dag's, Charles's, John's?
NORWICH (Reuters) - Many people have experienced the phenomenon of receiving a telephone call from someone shortly after thinking about them -- now a scientist says he has proof of what he calls telephone telepathy.

Rupert Sheldrake, whose research is funded by the respected Trinity College, Cambridge, said on Tuesday he had conducted experiments that proved that such precognition existed for telephone calls and even e-mails.

Each person in the trials was asked to give researchers names and phone numbers of four relatives or friends. These were then called at random and told to ring the subject who had to identify the caller before answering the phone.

"The hit rate was 45 percent, well above the 25 percent you would have expected," he told the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. "The odds against this being a chance effect are 1,000 billion to one."

He said he found the same result with people being asked to name one of four people sending them an e-mail before it had landed.

However, his sample was small on both trials -- just 63 people for the controlled telephone experiment and 50 for the email -- and only four subjects were actually filmed in the phone study and five in the email, prompting some scepticism.

Undeterred, Sheldrake -- who believes in the interconnectedness of all minds within a social grouping -- said that he was extending his experiments to see if the phenomenon also worked for mobile phone text messages.
Of course, how can you even trust an article from Reuters? Nonetheless, I might note that I have this kind of experience not infrequently - thinking of someone and then meeting them on the street, or receiving their call, or being told when I call that "I was just thinking of you..." but I've never been sure if these seemingly coincidental occurrences happen more than, statistically, they should.