Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shadow over Columbia

"This is the great vice of academicism, that it is concerned with ideas rather than with thinking."
___Lionel Trilling

What a depressing, dispiriting fiasco it has been, to have seen the shadow of evil pass through columbia university not only unscathed, but enlarged, this past week.

The iranian president was able to advance his agenda, Dean Bollinger; do you think you were somehow able to advance yours..?
The most distressing part for me: students actually applauding ahmadinejad's "lecture"...

Normally I'm a pretty optimistic guy, prone to looking for the seed of good in things, but I confess that I have been absolutely demoralized by this whole visit and its aftermath. It's hard to find any silver lining this time, with this story.
It feels like bad news all the way, top to bottom. A clear sign of the coming of the end, not far down the road.

To in order to keep the light of one's faith burning even when it becomes drenched by overwhelming darkness, it's important to constantly act on that faith, lest the delicate flame be extinguished from lack of attention. Therefore, looking for something, anything, any one thing that I could do to keep faith in the likely preservation of the values of western civilization, I channelled my despair to productive ends, hopefully, by giving my outrage shape and form through this video.

Thank God that once I started doing this one thing, it became possible again to continue to keep faith in our ability to survive the shadow of evil creeping upon us... like rising from one's bed on the mornings we've been denied a good night's sleep. On such occasions we blearily, mechanically think of little, immediate tasks; turning off the alarm, sitting up, turning on the light... from there it is easier to imagine being at work and facing the day's labors ahead.

Today, for me, the darkness of cynicism is vanquished temporarily, pushed back for one more day. As with the west's larger conflict with the nihilist evils against which it finds itself engaged in battle, we can at least bring ourselves to imagine pushing defeat away, for a time, even if we can't quite imagine victory.

That's a start.

Shake Hands With The Devil: The Movie

There's a new film out in Canadian theaters this week, based on the memoirs of Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, called Shake Hands With The Devil, that I want to bring to the attention of our international readers, in case they were not aware of it.

The book upon which the film is based, Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, relates General Dallaire's time as Commander of the United Nations Observer Mission in Rwanda in 1993-94. It chronicles the United Nations "response" to the machete massacres and other genocidal horrors of that period.

From the official website of White Pine Pictures, the production company behind the film, comes this reminder of the book's important message:
The General pulls no punches in his condemnation of top UN officials, expedient Belgian policy makers and senior members of the Clinton administration who chose to do nothing as Dallaire pleaded for reinforcements and revised rules of engagement.
Dallaire is convinced that, with a few thousand more troops and a mandate to act pre-emptively, he could have stopped the killings. His impotence, at a time of extreme crisis, preys on his conscience still.

Here's the official trailer for the film:

I also recommend visiting the movie's official website to learn more about this timely film.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Divorced From Reality.

We don't really understand the root causes of the following story but I can guess it's because of George Bush , the Joooos, and Western imperialism. I don't understand these things because I, like most people, am divorced from reality, the way it really is, with the Jooos and the Masons and the Lizard People living underneath Epcot Centre in charge of everything.

RIYADH: A Saudi man divorced his wife for watching alone a television programme presented by a male, an act he deemed immoral, the Al Shams newspaper reported on Saturday.

The man, whom the paper did not identify, ended his marriage on the grounds his wife was effectively alone with an unrelated man, which is forbidden under the strict Islamic law enforced in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the paper said.

Men in Saudi Arabia have the authority to divorce their wives without resort to the courts.

Thanks to Robert Spencer at

Some very astute comments at the Bush link above.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The monoculture of povertarianism and the triumph of Islam

A plethora of sects does not make a multiplicity of cultures. The monocultures of the Third World are not various and diverse, they are the same all over the world, only the uniform "traditional costumes" changing from one uniform group to another. subsistence agriculture, poverty, disease, and lingering death are uniform, and the diversity of poverty is always the same and demeaning, brutal and devastating to the mind of all involved. Only material wealth to the extent it frees people from constant want and worry is liberatory, giving individuals a chance, not often taken, to explore beyond the rigid confines of the brutal boundaries of what can and cannot be done, the balance being so precarious that vision and daring in the marginal lives of the extremely poor means little more than certain death for all. The genuinely poor cannot risk, cannot innovate, cannot vary from practiced and tried and not very successful past practices. Poverty is the same the world over. Wealth is diversity, individualistic, freeing and grand for the mind. With the freedom to experiment without fear of mass death, the world's people can venture forth into new and untried ideas, some of which work well, others being total failures one might learn from, but not everyone dying of hunger because of it. Poor people cannot do anything but more of the same worthless routine of cyclical subsistence that drives them into an early grave to join their dead babies. Such universal poverty is the vision of Islam and it is the vision of the povertarians of the Left. Myriad small groups of the hungry and wanting, all in brightly colored costumes, amusing to the eyes of those who stand back from it all and romanticize without ever getting near a real peasant's life. That is the future of the world should the collectivists of povertarianism win the day for their vision of the Right of Humanity. to repeat the line from father Karamazov from Dostoyevsky's novel: "I love humanity, it's people I can't stand."

To look at the mind of the Left fascist intent on reducing people to the state of picturesque farm animals, the usual state of Humanity, is to see in the mind's eye the smug faces of the French elite before they realized the Revolution was a serious threat to their privilege and their nasty necks.

To restrict oneself to ones group identity is to lose oneself in the greater world, to separate oneself from ones own vision of the possible, forever foregoing venture for securities ever diminishing, till at long last there is only dry bones and filthy water to live on for another day, if that. The elite would love to see little performing groups dancing for their amusement. And they do. The more people tend toward the specific at the cost of the person, the more the chains of the group pull down the strongest and the best who would otherwise grow up and move beyond the idiocies of collective conformities to join in a universal greatness of great individuals. It is the weak and the stupid who cling to the false securities of the greater identity, those who haven't the Will and the Vision to see themselves as worthwhile and daring, those whose poverty of the mind compels them to forever remain timid and subservient to the masters and the strong-men of the elite, the man-farmers of neo-feudalism.

Islam is a terrified vision of Man. In its larger form, in the umma, Islam is a giant mass of sects, not of individuals, not of cultures, but of a swarming mass of terrified and near-starving frightened peasants collapsed in the mind. They are just the thing for the dilettante voyeurs of the post-modern fascism we face today as our enemies. this is the teeming world of collectivists yearning to be enchained:

'Not a single Christian' in birthplace of Christ
Muslim intimidation could make 'land of Jesus' barren in 15 years
Posted: September 24, 2007

The once vibrant Christian communities of Bethlehem and Nazareth, with roots in the "land of Jesus" going back to first century Israel, are rapidly declining in the face of a systematic campaign of persecution conducted by the same Muslim terrorists intent on driving the Jews into the sea.

Beatings, sham legal proceedings, property seizures, dismissal and replacement of elected Christian leaders, accusations of selling property to Jews and intimidation by gunmen with links to the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have so reduced Christian populations in the cities of Jesus' birth and boyhood one community leader predicts all Christians will be gone within 15 years.


Bethlehem consisted of upwards of 80 percent Christians when Israel was founded in 1948, but since the Palestinian Authority took over in 1995 the Christian population has declined to about 23 percent with a large majority of Muslims. The 23 percent Christian statistic is considered generous since it includes the satellite towns of Beit Sahour and Beit Jala. Some estimates place Bethlehem's actual Christian population as low as 12 percent, with hundreds of Christians emigrating per year.


Nazareth, considered one of the holiest cities for Christians, is described in the New Testament as the childhood home of Jesus. It contains multiple important shrines and churches, including the famous Church of the Basilica of the Annunciation, the site at which many Christians believe the Virgin Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and told that she had been selected as the mother of Jesus.

The Islamic Movement, the main Muslim political party in Nazareth, held the January 2007 rally down Nazareth's main thoroughfare brandishing their party's green flag. Young Muslim men in battle gear marched and beat drums as a man on loudspeaker repeatedly exclaimed in Arabic, "Allah is great."

Hundreds of activists strutted screaming Islamist epithets, including "Islam is the only truth" and "Islam shall rule all."


Nazareth's Christian population, at times the majority during the city's long history, is now at about 37 percent, according to the Israeli Bureau of Statistics, which notes a regular downward trend.

Jahaliyya. That's the vision one will see at the end of Islam's triumph. All the petty vanities and silly cliches of the multi-culti pretenders will end up lost to history, covered by the bones of the starved, forgotten by the squabbling chanters of sectarian jihads. No culture, no men, only groups of gangs fighting.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Open covenants of peace openly arrived at"

The bloggers and friends of Covenant Zone meet every Thursday, 7-9pm, in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library. You'll find us in front of Blenz Coffee, often wearing blue scarves. In any case, we will be the ones having the free-flowing conversation about politics, good faith, and nationhood, and what ordinary people can do to insure Canada remains a self-ruling country. Please join us if you can.

I'm guessing at this week's Covenant Zone we will be discussing how we might encourage people to take a greater interest in representing, in their own ways and beings, our modern freedoms/responsibilities. A question often on my mind: what are these freedoms/responsibilities based on, historically and today? Is their essence in the utilitarian nature of the modern economy's encouragement and servicing of desire? In other words, is our responsibility essentially to engage in economic transactions? Or do they ultimately depend on deeper currents in Western civilization, like Christianity, that are essential to setting the stage for modern economics, but without being part of modern utilitarian thought? Thinking about this, I happened across a poem from a quite different era, "The Fourth of August", by Laurence Binyon. The title is a reference to the beginning of the First World War. The poem is a paean to English nationhood, of a kind that many people today are uncomfortable with, precisely because this kind of high-minded call to defend the nation was contemporary with wars that took millions of lives.

Yet, my mind dwells on the question of whether the poem is just propaganda, full of the same vain ideas that Germans told themselves as they prepared to fight the English. Binyon thinks, and I think he was right, that English nationalism, in contrast with that of Prussia's or Germany's, was based on something rather more Christian, less modern, or, perhaps, less pagan:

She [England] fights the fraud that feeds desire on
Lies, in a lust to enslave or kill,
The barren creed of blood and iron,
Vampire of Europe's wasted will...

Endure, O Earth! and thou awaken
Purged by this dreadful winnowing-fan,
O wronged, untameable, unshaken
Soul of divinely suffering man.

Today, when we are lost and looking for direction, dare we tamper again with the transcendent truths of a religion that embraces suffering, a religion that led millions to fight and die, in defense of freedom as they saw it, and to win a horrible war? Or do we look for the postmodern equivalent of the "barren creed of blood and iron" in hopes of finding some more certain truth in the material powers that many think rule this world? Can there be any real strength in a relatively certain "faith" in power?

Finally, let us remember that it was the guilt and horror - at their bloody victory - in the culture of the nations that won the First World War that undermined their resolve to prepare well to fight the next war, to check the military expansion of the resentful losers, preferring instead the dreamy covenants of Woodrow Wilson. I've just read that Adolf Hitler was invited to speak at Columbia University in 1933. And Iran's Ahmadinejad was invited to speak there just this week. We may yet have to learn again that there is only one religion that can defeat the pagan gods, however much some people think all religions and nationalisms are all the bloody same thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Schools of Thought


When I was a young boy I used to devour books, and often I read them first. Many of the books I read were by and about prisoners of war in the Orient during World War Two. I was particularly impressed by accounts of English officers giving lectures on whatever they happened to know about, such as, for example, ornithology or philatelism or whatever. Anything that would give order to the lives of the men in the prison camps, that would boost their morale, anything that would keep them in touch with the lives they'd lead as British officers while their daily lives were spent in horror camps where murder was the norm, was to the good. Those men were adults, disciplined and independent of mind, stoic and brave.

School isn't always good. I went for lunch at a diner recently and, looking at what I got, I said to the waitress, "This looks like the food Mom use to give us. You remember Mom? He was the fat guy working the kitchen at reform school who smoked cigarettes and had the tattoo of 'mom' on his arm?"

But it was watching To Sir With Love that decided me on my life's ambition. I watched Sidney Poitier in London at a low-life working-class school putting in time till he got a job in his real profession, and how he came to love the work he did as a teacher that made me realize I wanted to be a Black guy. While I waited I became a school teacher instead.

I got fired from my first job because I saw the shy boy in the back of the room squirming and twisting till he finally got up the courage to raise his hand and say, "Sir?"

I put down my notes and looked at him and said, "Stand up, Johnny, and let me know what you'd like."

"Please, sir, I use the lavatory?"

"Alright Johnny, but first come here to the chalkboard and spell (xylophone)."

Hmph. Sacked for having a bit of fun with the lad. Unlike this monster.

Teacher told kids he'd cut off their heads, parent says

CanWest News ServicePublished: Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Quebec school board won't comment on media reports that a Gatineau music teacher uttered threats to his Grade 4 students earlier this month.

Unable to control a loud classroom, the teacher reportedly threatened he would "bring a bat to class and break all their teeth and make a necklace out of them," the mother of one of the students told a radio station yesterday. She said the teacher further threatened to poison the students with arsenic and bring a chainsaw to class to "cut off their heads and hang them on the walls."

The mother, who asked to remain anonymous, said that her child was now too scared to return to class.

Teacher told kids he'd cut off their heads, parent says

Oh, wait a minute. Do I or do I not recall just how easily school teachers can get all bent out of shape over the stupidest things? Like the teacher who found us doing something or other and had such a fit her false teeth flew out of her mouth and landed in the snow. We, being good kids, all "jumped in" to help her find them.

School is a lot of things, shifting and strange and becoming from moment to moment. It's never perfect. It's good for the most part, and even when it's not so good it should still be a learning experience. what it shouldn't be is a place to learn how to be a wimp who fears a funny guy teaching. If we'd had that guy teaching us we'd all be buskers in Time's Square today. What a loss to the world it is that we didn't have such a guy. Well, fa la la la la, as we say in French.

Bruce Allen, talk radio, and multi-culti fascists screaming

In Vancouver, Canada, talk radio's Bruce Allen, known for his professional association with pop music's Bryan Adams, is under the gun for "ranting." A Sikh upset about Sikhs being connected to Sikh terrorism, and a socialist politician connected to socialist politics being challenged for it being socialist have ganged up on a guy talking on the radio. Incredible, yes?

The former minister of Multi-Culturalism, as if that's not bad enough in itself, is now working as a thought cop, in typical fashion, a socialist thug to the core.

Chan calls for CRTC to investigate Allen's rant

Richmond MP Raymond Chan filed papers yesterday requesting the CRTC investigate "discriminatory remarks" made by CKNW radio personality Bruce Allen against Sikh- and Muslim-Canadians.

"What Mr. Allen is attacking is the very fundamental core principles that have held this country together," Chan said.

Chan alleges Allen duped listeners by citing rules on minority rights that aren't on the federal books, marking a new low in broadcasting standards.

The former federal minister of multiculturalism added he would urge the 2010 organizing committee to strip Allen of his high-profile position if he does not retract his remarks and make a public apology.

Allen said on the radio:

And that set off the Sikh and the Multi-Culti socialist. Don't people ever get sick of this kind of outrage? My opinion, for whatever it's worth, about as much as that of a guy on the radio, is: "If you choose to come to a place like Canada, then shut up and fit in ... these are the rules," he said in his broadcast rant. "There's the door. If you don't like the rules, hit it. We don't need you here."
Then, by chance, as I call it, I turned off the computer and picked up a book I'm reading in moments when nothing much is going on. I came across this, a lovely metaphor, apt and tight:

"[The sailor] took out his razor and laid it edge upward on the deck. The rasor was not long on the deck when out came a rat, rubbed its mouth along the edge of the razor and kissed it, Then it ran back to where it had come from. Other rats followed, one by one; each of them rubbed its mouth along the edge along the edge of the razor, kissing it, and then ran away again. After a few score of them had done that, there finally came out a rat, screaming loudly. She went up to the razor and rubbed her neck along its edge, until she fell dead beside it.
The captain of the ship had been watching what was going on from the first rat to the last, which ha cut its throat on the razor. He... called the sailor to him... and ordered him to leave the ship.
'You could have done that trick to any man on board,' said he, 'as easily as you did it to the rat.' "

Sean O'Sullivan, Folktales of Ireland, 223. Quoted from Barbara Hodgson, The Rat. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre; 1997, p. 44.

In the mystical world of Gnostic minders it's the multi-culti fascists who fear the crew of this ship, the mutinous crew's every word suspect, their deeds afeared, and nary a thought about whether it makes any sense. Toss 'em out just in case.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Auschwitz We Never Knew

One of the reasons for the Nazis formulating their "final solution" in the form of mass death camps was that asking their soldiers on the front lines of Eastern Europe to kill thousands of harmless Jews, including women and children, proved demoralizing. It "de-heroized" the scenes of war. It turned warriors into the ugliest kind of sanitation engineers. There were also pragmatic reasons, to do with disposal of bodies, etc.

So, instead of killing the Jews where they found them, they shipped them off to isolated camps that could enslave, or gas and burn thousands in a day. But why were these camps generally in isolated rural areas? Why wasn't there at least a demonstration camp in downtown Berlin? The Nazi leadership, it seems, didn't want the Holocaust to be remembered. And indeed there survives very little photographic or filmic evidence of the camps that was created by Nazis. Theirs was a desperate Utopian quest to free themselves of their resentments, for which they scapegoated the Jews. Not only did they want the supposed cause of their miseries to disappear, they wanted the memory and ongoing renewal of their resentment to disappear along with its passing object. The fact that such a desire is impossible to fulfill in any circumstances did not stop the Nazis from trying and destroying their own nation in the process.

The staff of the death camps were fed propaganda leading them to believe they were doing a great work for the Fatherland, and asking them to steel themselves in the difficult work so that they would not be left with difficult memories. Once the job was done, it was to be forgotten as if the Jews had never existed, other than as some problem that was dealt with efficiently, so that later no one would remember exactly what it was all about; every Aryan German would become happy and free of resentment. Modern market society, for which the Jews were scapegoated, would be brought under control by National Socialism, and peace and harmony would reign in the Fatherland.

Now today comes to light a photo album, discovered by, and formerly in the possession of, an American army intelligence officer, an album created by the second-in-command at Auschwitz. It portrays SS officers and camp staff socializing, relaxing, attending official ceremonies, playing with dogs, taking target practice, hunting, etc. There are no photos of camp prisoners, the murdered, or the killing apparatus. It is an album that lives up to the Nazi desire to perform mass murder and not have it become an object of historical memory, a source of guilt or tragic sensibility for future Germans. While of course the opposite has in fact happened, the photo album deserves some study of the evil idea, evidently lived by ordinary human beings, that memories of Auschwitz could be reduced to the banal scenes the album captures.

Mark Gordon to whom we owe a hat tip, writes:
What is most monstrous about these photographs is that they depict no monsters. No spaced-out, khat-chewing raiders ripping around in technical trucks. No rampaging, machete-wielding mobs caught up in the vortex of spontaneous violence. One is struck here by the sheer ordinariness of the happy people smiling back at the camera, people who at those very moments were willing, even enthusiastic accessories to the most horrific crime in human history. They were functionaries, bureaucrats, administering the machinery of genocide with professional detachment and absolute moral disinterest. Clock in and kill the Jews. Clock out and catch a movie with the wife. And, unlike the rest of the German nation, the people in these photographs lacked even the false excuse, “We never really knew.” To the contrary, these were the accountants who worked the numbers, the stockmen who inventoried the gold teeth and shoes, the musclemen who slammed and locked shut the doors to the showers and the crematoria. These people knew full well, and still they drank wine and poked at volleyballs, kissed their kids goodnight and made love to their wives.
I think the lesson is that unless we are relentless about modelling ourselves on Christ and Christ alone, any of us - or all of us, under the right conditions - could become monsters. The people in these photos were steeped in 1,300 years of Christianity, and yet they were able to indulge in mass murder on an unimaginable scale. How was that possible? Shouldn’t their depravity be seen as a repudiation of Christianity itself if this is the fruit of a millenia of Christian culture?

I think Gil Bailie answers that when he writes that “increasingly we can only lustily vent our violence against victims whom we can confidently regard as victimizers.” This is the way that sin takes advantage of the Gospel, by transforming our Christian identification with the victim into the sinful desire to inflict violence upon those whom we believe to have victimized us or others.

Hitler and his propagandists had played on this theme since long before they assumed power in 1933. In the Nazi “gospel,” the German people had been double victims: betrayed by perfidous Jews during World War I, then raped by foreign powers at Versailles. Rebuilding the German nation became a kind of Resurrection, the war a kind of Second Coming, and the destruction of the Jews a kind of Final Judgment. Hitler combined these themes with a vast array of cthonic rituals that saturated his program with the magnetic power of intense religious experience.

What we see in those photos are people enjoying themselves not in spite of the bad things they are doing, but because they believe themselves to be engaged in the Lord’s work. They are happy because they have no guilt. To the contrary, they believe that in slaughtering those who had victimized the German people, they were restoring justice and righteousness to a world gone awry. This is a temptation we all confront, and it grows precisely out of a deep Christian consciousness. That is what is so frightening about those photos: we are looking at ourselves in some very real way.
So, the next time you hear someone unfairly portraying Americans, or Israelis, or maybe you, as the new Nazis, remember that what they are really doing is setting a scene where it may again become alright to victimize those who have come to symbolize the resentment that our freedom creates in others. Maybe one day such people will come to kill again, showing no more guilt than these people in the photos. I mean such people just invited a guy, ahmadinejad - the president of a country that professes a desire to wipe Israel off the map, and who feeds deadly weapons to Hezbollah terrorists and to terrorists in Iraq - to come and speak his anti-Americanisms in the leading university in a city, New York, that is one of the world's major centres of Jewish life (imagine professors inviting some guy to speak to a university with a lot of black students, some guy who merely professed White Supremacy - what an outrage, it could never happen...). Since I'm not worried about my readers building death camps to victimize victimizers (some of us really know the difference between Nazis and Jews, and between Nazis and Americans), here, again, in spirit, are some of the Columbia faculty, circa 1944, the kind of people who deserve war crimes trials:

Monday, September 24, 2007

"You can always tell a Harvard man..."

Here's a civics test that suggests American education is not doing very well.

I am not a college graduate, I am not even American, and yet even I got 91% on this test. (missed 5 questions, and confess to guessing instinctively on two that I seemed to get right)

At the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's website, we can compare our scores to that of students enrolled in major US colleges and universities...
Harvard ranks highest, reaching a Senior Mean Score 69.56% on this test. Yale, the other big name I looked for immediately, was fourth, at 65.85% for its Seniors. The lowest rated school listed was St-Thomas University in Florida, at 32.5%.
32.5%! For a test like this! Incredible. (Shape up, St-Thomas..!)

Am I really that much smarter than a Harvard Senior? Of course not, which begs the question: Why aren't the students of these institutions learning this material? What are they being taught, instead?

"You can always tell a Harvard man... you just can't tell him much", went the old saying. Seems like now, he needs to be told quite a lot of things, if the Republic is to survive.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Deus Ex Machina.

In a world under violent and aggressive attack by Islam, every nation bordering an Islamic nation is under attack by Islam, every Islamic nation on earth is in the grip of jihadi violence, while in America the hijabed Muslim woman searches a Catholic nun for bombs at an aeroport. Who will save us from our own self-inflicted madness? Oh, not to worry, there's a flying saucer coming to scoop up the righteous and spirit them away to safety.

From the photograher, Dean Shaddock: This was captured as I collected my things from airport security (Detroit Metro Concourse A). I think of it as something like a Rorschach test. Is an elderly Catholic nun being frisked by a Muslim security agent the celebration of blind justice? Or is it simply an admission of absurdity?

The following story comes my way via Dhimmi Watch. While Muslims frisk nuns at American aeroports the Pope is questioning Islamic fascism and Muslim supremacy. Will more people end up dead the way they did last time Muslims rampaged and murdered because the Pope questioned Islamic violence? Yes, a nun was murdered by Muslims when the Pope spoke of Islamic violence. This time? Maybe the Muslims will be too busy frisking nuns to get around to killing the Pope. We'll see.

SIMON CALDWELL, "Pope in 'freedom' blast at Islam" Daily Mail, 21 Sept 2007

The Pope has again risked provoking the wrath of the Islamic world, by criticising its treatment of Christians.

Benedict XVI attacked Muslim nations where Christians are either persecuted or given the status of second-class citizens under the Shariah Islamic law.

He also defended the rights of Muslims to convert to Christianity, an act which warrants the death penalty in many Islamic countries.

His comments came almost exactly a year after he provoked a wave of anger among Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam to violence.

Yesterday, near Rome, the 80-year-old pontiff made a speech in "defence of religious liberty", which, he said "is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right".

In a clear reference to Islam, he said: "The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice."

Addressing the problem of Islamic extremism, he added: "Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life."

Last September, radical British Muslims said Pope Benedict should be executed for "insulting" the Prophet Mohammed.

Throughout the Middle East and Africa, Christians were subjected to violence in retribution for his remarks.

His latest comments, however, come just days after one of the Church of England's-senior bishops warned that Muslim leaders here must speak out in defence of the right to change faith.

The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, told Channel 4's Dispatches programme of his fears for the safety of the estimated 3,000 Muslims who have converted to other faiths in this country.

A poll earlier this year of more than 1,000 young adult British Muslims found that 36 per cent believe those who convert to another faith should be punished by death.

Pope Benedict is particularly concerned about the persecution of Christians in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.

Before then, there were about 1.2million Christians in the country. But the number has dropped to below 600,000.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tom Clancy, the Private Person, and Left Fascism

A friend writes to ask how we can defeat the Leftists among us and perhaps do some good in the world by freeing the Muslims world from the bondage of Islam. What about our enemies? What can we do?

"They [Iranians, Russians, Chinese, &c.] are not a serious problem. We are. We are the problem. With the attitude of the West today I couldn't defeat the Iranians with the full U.S. Marine Corp behind me. I couldn't rob a 7-11 convenience store with that lot the way things are now. It's not our men, it's not our materiel, it's our attitude. We are the problem. We are the enemy we have to defeat.

You ask how we can defeat the Left. Let me use Mick as an example."

Mick is not our enemy in any sense, and yet Mick is a problem we face daily in our struggle to surmount and defeat Islam and native fascism in America. My friends, your family, their colleagues, and so on, the normal and decent people we all assume the best of because they are the best of the Good, these are the very people who cause us most harm. Let's look at Tom Clancy as an example of how bad it gets, of how naive and silly the most likely of good guys in the pubic mind can be so harmful to our public interest:

Tom Clancy in his novel The Teeth of the Tiger, writes of U.S. President [ret.] Jack Ryan's son reading and thinking about the Koran: "He noted that there was no place in the fifty pages he'd skimmed through that said anything about shooting innocent people so that you could screw the womenfolk among them in heaven. The penalty for suicide was right on the level with what Sister Frances Mary had explained in second grade.... At the end of ninety minutes, it came to him-- rather an obvious conclusion-- that terrorism had about as much to do with Islamic religion as it did with Catholic or Protestant Irishmen.... So, if he was reading this right, Mohammed would probably have clobbered terrorists. He was a decent, honorable man. Not all of his followers were the same way, though, and those were the ones he and the twins had to deal with. Any religion could be twisted out of shape by the next crop of madmen, he thought, yawning, and Islam was just the next one on the list. 'Gotta read more of this,' he told himself on the way to the bed. 'Gotta'." Tom Clancy, Teeth of the Tiger. New York: Putnam and Sons; 2003, p. 393.

It's not just a terrible pulp novel, Clancy is writing for the general literate American public, using as his mouthpiece a character who has the advantages of a highly prestigious, one suspects valuable university education and a family background that gives him insight from childhood into American values of the highest kind, those of a good man who was president. What could go wrong? Well, this is more than a terrible pulp novel. It's the valid expression of Americana, Clancy being an opinion-maker, a major part of the the current ethos-making of Americans; opinions he makes become Americana supported by one of the heavy-weights of American pop culture because he is authorative in himself. Disaster. The off-hand musings of a pulp novelist, and a trashy one at that, become the opinions of a large number of Americans who get their opinions from an assortment of popular source, Clancy being one, and one important. Disaster.

I'd go trout fishing with this guy. He's OK from where I stand and view. But for ideas about Islam he's one of nearly everyone on Earth I would go out of my way to avoid. He doesn't have a clue. Nor should he. And not knowing, one could only hope and pray that he'd ask someone who knows more than he rather than relying on a 90 minute skim and past mental habit. But that's at least one reason Clancy is a pulp novelist rather than a thinking literary writer. He's a guy one would like to go fishing with. He's not one many critical people would go to for opinions regarding the nature of our conflict with Islam and fascism from the Left. Clancy is recirculating the same nonsense others tell him, and he does so with more authority than those he gets his ideas from in the first place. Disaster. He's popular because he communicates to the popular reader in a popular style popular cliches. Islam in 90 minutes. And then Islam in a couple of paragraphs in a Tom Clancy novel. Then it seeps out of the pages of his books till many repeat what they read in his novel. Currency gains currency because it's popular, regardless of the sense or validity. Disaster. We become our own worst enemies, our naive and trusting natures wrecking our hopes of peace and decency.

If I were to describe my friend Mick I'd bore people to tears. He's just like others in every way except in his person, and it's beyond my ability to describe how a normal man can be so happy and so decent and so good without being anything other than just being a guy like any other. Mick is not excitingly different and spectacular. In a lot of ways he's like Tom Clancy, a guy most people would like to go fishing with, or to the opera with, or what have you. But like Clancy he's not a deep thinker on the subject of Islam. He's one who calmly accepts the ways of society, who is concerned about the world and its people, who is a decent guy all round. He's exceptionally so; but in the ways of society he's a Leftie, a guy who follows the ways of the rest around him, wanting naively the best for all.

And that's the problem we face in defeating the Left. An idea floats across the cloudy popular imagination, and the simpler and easier the idea is to grasp fully without contradicting ones general opinions the better. If, for example, one sees an alien religion like Islam and can place it in context of ones own religion, then good, all critical thinking can cease and life can go on, all people being more or less like the thinker thinking, like Clancy writing, like my friend opining. "I'm a good person, my friends are good people, and most people are like me and my friends. If some people are bad, then it must be due to them being bad, not because their religion is evil." Simple, easy, comprehensive, and it doesn't contradict the view they have of life and the world. Disaster.

Most people are indeed good in at least the sense they're not violent and dangerous to the majority around them. Most people think of most people as being good in that "non-bad" sense. And in projecting the self onto others, most people are more or less correct. Unfortunately not all people are good or at least not actively evil. And the idea that one can come from a psychotic religious culture is too foreign for most outsiders to grasp as real. To witness first-hand the madness of Islam and the death-worship cult it is one must reduce it to the understandable in terms of ones own experience of the world and life: that if I am a good person, so are others, with a few exceptions, a small minority of fanatics." It's Clancy's view of the world as gathered over a long lifetime and reinforced by a good attitude toward Humanity. Disaster.

My best friend is a disaster. His attitude is going to get a lot of people killed. He's going to be partly responsible for the extermination of a billion savages. My friend likes people and wants them to be as happy and healthy in mind and body as is he. He finds the good in most, and the bad he dismisses as aberrant. My friend supports Lefty causes, wishes well for the enemies who will provoke a storm of rage, hatred, and violence against the primitive masses. Like Tom Clancy, he thinks well of most, not knowing that the world is filled with decent men and women who will at the same time explode themselves in a church or a marketplace killing as many as they can. Islam is an evil that creates monsters in normal and decent people, people no different from others. And to suggest that those others, those Muslims, are just like Catholics or Jews or Buddhists is to naively assume the best of people to the point of insanity. Good people can also be insane and violent and dangerous. Missing that point because one assumes the goodness of others is a danger. My friend is a disaster in the world.

Good people projecting their own good onto others is fine-- right up till the others kill at random. Then goodness is a disaster. One must see that in the West most good people are private individuals, that goodness is of a different nature from the collectivist primitive world, and that the two are not common. Both are good but not the same kind of good. The two are conflicting, the latter, the primitive, being murderous. The confusion of "goods" is leading toward the destruction of the latter by the former at the end of tolerance and naivety. The time will come when private individuals stop thinking of others as good at all, and the surge of madness will envelope them and propel them to slaughter. The Left will dig in and convert, perhaps, to Islam outright, and the rest, those who are social by nature will be social still, running in packs, in mobs, in hordes. Being a decent person and caring about social injustice is a disaster. Knowing what others know and confirming it by reading the Koran for 90 minutes will not do. Assuming all good people are alike is a disaster. Islam is not the same good, and to confuse this because of ones innate decency and to project it onto others is a madness that will lead to murder.

But neither my friend nor Tom Clancy are stupid. There comes a point when people begin to feel, not necessarily to think, that they are uncomfortable with the reigning cliches of the 90 minute grasp of the situation. They turn to other sources of information and opinion. My friend leans away from the Left, though ever so slightly. He finds tremors in his thoughts on the nature of the way it has always been. A discomfort. The edges don't match up any longer the way realities did previously. He looks around and wonders why things are so fuzzy. He, like many, comes to a state of dissatisfaction with the usual regime of ideas and cliches of goodness in the world.

Tom Clancy's vision of Islam is not working out anymore. Even Tom Clancy can't maintain the vision in the face of the world as it is. It's a slight movement away from the normal vision of life held in place so long. My friend moves ever so slowly away from the impending disaster of ignorance of the problem of Islam. He begins ever so cautiously to question the 90 minute skim. He's a great guy. He isn't stupid. He wants the best for others as he has for himself. And he's finding his normal decency is not in place with the nature of obvious things. He moves away from his Leftist cliches, slowly.

We'll know well when we read Clancy's next novel in which the Muslim world is not the same as the microcosmic world of a Catholic family from Boston. We'll know things might not be the foretold disaster when my friend says he doesn't think well of Islam any longer. That will signal the beginning of the end of this disaster of a war foretold. So far, a novel idea.

We will defeat the Left by simply talking about the obvious. Our friends will slowly but surely see in time that the cliches of the age are not real. They, being good and decent people will come to their own understandings based on the ideas of those who see more clearly, who studied longer, who are trustworthy and reliable, their friends. The Left will simply fall apart from its internal contradictions, and our friends will rally to the real. It takes time, and it takes our friends time, though that time is running short. It is only Will that can avert the coming disaster, and the question is whether we will come to it in time. Tom Clancy's next novel might tell us.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How are you going to stand with those who need you?

It's been for me a week with a nasty cold. I find the physical misery conducive to doing a lot of thinking, but not writing. A little suffering is humbling and opens one's mind, but for a moment it also holds one back from the strength and determination to do much with the renewed respect for the greater world of which one is but a humble servant. Still, I plan to try and make it down to the library tonight (the atrium of the central Vancouver branch, in front of Blenz coffee), as every Thursday, 7-9pm, to meet with my Covenant Zone friends.

I know we are going to be discussing what it means to covenant with others in the cause of freedom and Western values. On my mind right now is the fate of a young man in Egypt who wants his conversion to Christianity recognized by the state, for various legal reasons. The overwhelming opinion, even among the educated in Egypt, seems to be that this young man deserves death for causing a public scandal by attempting to have his identity papers changed to recognize his new faith.
3 famous imam have pronounced themselves against [Mohammed] Hegazi. The first is Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a big expert in his field, who cites dozens of references from the first centuries and concludes that Hegazi has to be killed because the group is in danger and the group takes priority over the individual. The idea is: if this person begins to speak and says that he is happy to be Christian, and smilingly appears in photos with a Gospel in his hands, this is intolerable and is non-Muslim propaganda, which is officially allowed neither in Egypt, nor in other Islamic countries. And since Hegazi is spreading Christian propaganda, he must be killed.

Suad Saleh, Muslim judge and dean of the Faculty of Islamic Science at Al-Azhar University, has stated: yes, in matters of faith there is no compulsion, but Hegazi is spreading propaganda and thus the law must be applied. The judge advises that the apostate be given 3 days to repent and reconvert to Islam (istitâbah), then "apply the law" (i.e. execution).

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, Egypt's highest religious authority, stated to the Washington Post last June that apostasy "should not" be punished by death, eliciting numerous reactions from Al-Azhar. After many people expressed their approval for a death sentence, he retracted in a confused matter and his stance is still today unclear. On the surface, he wanted to reassure the West by using ambiguous wording, like the one that goes: "Apostasy is to be punished when it represents fitna or when it threatens the foundations of society."

Instead, as we have said, there is no punishment in this world for the apostate according to the Koran. But the imams rely on one of the Prophet's hadith of Islam handed down by Ibn 'Abbas: "Kill the one who changes religion." And they rely on the fact that Mohammad applied this punishment to Abdallah Ibn al-Azhal who, to avoid being killed, had sought protection in the Kaaba shrine, but Mohammad ordered his companions to kill him.

To all this must be added the reaction of Hegazi's and his wife’s parents. Questioned by Islamic judges, his father denied that his son converted to Christianity. His mother began screaming hysterically: "My son is dead, there will be no relation between us until the judgement day!" Ali Kamel Suleiman, the father of Zeinab, Hegazi’s wife, was more explicit. He declared to the independent daily al-Dustûr: "Bring me my daughter in whatever way possible, even dead." In our Egyptian mentality, this means: kill her, or bring her to me alive and I will kill her.
One element of what it means to covenant in the cause of freedom is to make promises to hold faith with those who want to be free while living under the most oppressive of social systems that now threaten all of us in this global village. The dissidents of the Muslim world need a support network in the West and this is something I want to get my colleagues talking about. How do we get people in Vancouver to pay attention to cases like this and to make a stand for freedom? How do we encourage a whole new era of public commitments and thus protect against dhimmitude? Don't hear much about the Mohammad Hegazis from Western "human rights" organizations and the liberal media? Maybe it's time for someone to start a new kind of human rights organization. Why not contact us to talk about it?

I would also like to point your attention to a story detailing how Catholic students are being forced to wear the Islamic veil in Indonesia. Once Sharia law is imposed in a predominantly Muslim area, everyone is pressured to comply.

But there are countless stories we could link of people suffering under the totalitarian Islam of today. Will the West try to hide from the third-world victims of Islam in an attempt to assuage its own "white" guilt, or to isolate and protect itself from the Jihad and Sharia? Or will we find the nerve and resolve to continue to engage Islam and demand it change? Why do we even believe that change in the Islamic world is possible? That, of course, is the question at the centre of endless debate in the blogs, including this one. For those who want to know why I think we have no choice in this nuclear-tipped global village but to confront the Islamic world - starting by making promises to stand with the lonely dissidents, the Christian converts, and other lovers of freedom - and in their name, boycott, isolate, and otherwise pressure a totalitarian world to change, you can find me in the Covenant Zone where all genuine commitments to real thinking and exchange are welcome.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quebec's veiled voters: no face but still a voice at the polls..!

Canada already had the secret ballot; has the new ruling from Elections Canada, allowing voting while wearing a veil, now brought us the secret voter..?

According to this report on Quebec's by-elections yesterday, over thirty voters followed their veiled threats and went to the polls in veils.... as well as masks, costumes and other variations on a theme. Their aim was to ridicule the Elections Canada directive that allows women to vote while wearing burqas or niqabs, essentially concealing their face while voting.

Here is a video , from a Quebec television news program, showing a wide range of these protestors. (If I find the video in a format that allows me to embed it within this post, I will, but until then you'll have to visit the news site in order to see it) The journalist describes several cases he had seen throughout the day, including a voter who was allowed to vote without removing his motorcycle helmet. Wait for the voter at 0:57 of the video, shown wearing a curtain ..! And allowed to vote.

The Journal de Montreal had some reporters on-scene as a masked gentleman followed the letter of the new law as he cast his ballot. Voting in a mask on principle: [my translation]

"Our soldiers wage war and die in the name of democracy while our politicians, here, do nothing to protect our democratic rights."

Joseph Basciano is nailed to his wheelchair due to deformities with his limbs. This does not prevent him, at 52 years of age, from wanting to express his point of view. Yesterday, despite his heavy handicap, he wanted to vote in Outremont with his ski mask over his head. Voting veiled, just like muslim women may now do with their burqa or their niqab.

"Because religions, no matter which ones, have nothing to do with politics. And it is not against a particular religion. It is a question of principle. Politicians have done nothing to prevent voting while one's face is veiled. Now, they have promised to [prevent it] but I do trust them", explains M. Basciano...

"The scrutineer refused to let me vote. He demanded that I remove my hood. Which I would not do. I am being deprived of my rights. It's politics of one weight, two scales."
"If you [reporters] hadn't been there, they would never have let me vote with my mask on. But they would have allowed women to do it for religious reasons."

Herouxville: the book

"Quebec has always turned to its rural forces for its nourishment, now it turns towards this force for its affirmation."

__ M. Pierre-Yves Pothier.

Such is the greeting awaiting visitors to the public notice page at the official website for the Quebec municipality of Hérouxville. The controversial community that took a stand against the stoning of women earlier this year is poised to enter the news once again, this time through the release of a new book: "The Hérouxville Syndrome, or reasonable accomodations". ["Le Syndrome Hérouxville, ou accomodations raisonnables"]
(Or maybe it is not poised to make much noise at all; the book was released this past August, and is currently available for sale. I had no idea that the book had even been written, having seen no mention of it in the media sources that I frequent. Maybe I need to be paying closer attention..?)
The author is Bernard Thompson, webmaster of Hérouxville's official site. His book is described as "an essay relating the history of the Hérouxville Affair so that the population of Quebec may better understand what happened within our municipality and to thereby rebalance their pendulums accordingly."

A letter written in sympathy to Hérouxville's concerns is included at the bottom of this page, following the news of the book itself. The letter is framed around the motto on Quebec license plates, "Je me souviens", "I remember".... As a catholic, I found this an extremely painful letter to read, but truth is truth whether we like it or not and truth must be sought for progress to be made.
If we are to understand What people believe, we must first understand Why they have come to believe it. It is towards those ends that I have translated a substantial portion of that letter, written by "Grandmother Johanne Chayer". [clarifications and corrections are, as ever, welcome in the comments section; this was a very powerful letter, and I hope its pressing tone survives my humble attempts at translation...]

I would have liked to meet these muslim women at Herouxville to share their culture and their recipes, but mostly to profit from the occasion and explain our motto Je me souviens to them.

I remember that, in my youth, we could not enter the church without a veil or a hat on our heads. In those days, I remember also that it was a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday. During that same decade, I remember how my mother was chased from the Church because after having brought forth four children, she did not want to have any more. I remember that for this reason, the forgiveness of her sins was refused her by the Church unless she gave her body to her husband, with or without pleasure, to risk reaching a dozen.

I remember that she refused to leave the Church like many other women of her generation. I remember that my mother then seperated from my father and that we became a target of disparaging looks and comments in our parish. Nevertheless, I remember that after the separation, we saw the white collar on the night table. Did the priest want to test the means of contraception of the day?

In that same decade I remember that, by turns, my mother and my step-mother saw an urgent operation delayed while waiting for their respective husbands, from whom they had been separated in fact and not legally, to affix their signatures authorizing the surgical operations.

Becoming an adult, I remember that thanks to the pressures of the previous generation, I had access to the first means of contraception that allowed me to restrain the number of my own progeny. I remember also that it was no longer a sin to eat meat on Fridays. I don’t know what became of those who had gone to hell. I hope that they have been repatriated.

Becoming an adult, I remember having worked in environments tradionally reserved for men. I remember frustrations from not having been treated to the same standard as the men in the workplace and especially in life in general.

I remember that after having had a son, I did not want any further children out of fear that these would not be girls, out of solidarity and because the work remaining to be done on attaining equality was so enormous. I remember the efforts that many women had to go to to make themselves heard and to obtain high level administrative posts. I remember the militancy of many women that worked hard as politicians, in the heart of chambers of commerce, in unions, in the Council for the Status for Women, etc, in order to obtain equality in our country.

I remember that it took more than fifty years of collective effort to free ourselves from the grip that the Church and religion had over our lives. I remember that it took more than sixty years (1940 to 2006) to obtain equal pay and that this [struggle] is still not over. My sixty years have taught me that nothing in life is forever and that we must maintain or redouble our efforts in order not to lose the fruit of all our labors. I am not racist, yet, when I see women of other ethnicities, held by their controlling religion, wanting to impose itself in our society, I am afraid. I am afraid because these men and these women do not know by what path we have traveled. More so, these young quebecoises who embrace this religion which veils its women do not remember. It is therefore by ignorance that one explains their choice.

I am now a grandmother of four marvelous little girls and I am afraid. I am afraid when I see a veiled woman working in a CPE or in a school or even when a child is left to wear a Kirpan. We had gotten rid of our all our religious symbols and now here they come back into the very place where the education of our newest generation is crucial and at the time in which one must inculcate the fundamental principles of social life to our children. The tolerance towards these religious symbols such as the veil, the Kirpan, the turban in the CPE, in our schools and in our institutions in general is a lack of respect for the preceding generations that worked so hard to escape the grip that religion had over our lives. You do not remember! But I, I remember and in this regard, I have no tolerance and I do not want any accomodation out of respect for my mother, my aunt and for my little girls.

I remember that the charter of rights and freedoms permits each to practice the religion of their choice, but for pity’s sake have this religion stay at home. The wearing of the veil in the muslim religion is for us the most important demonstration of the submission of the woman and this is what frightens us and shocks us because we remember. We remember that this symbol existed fifty years ago and we do not want to go backwards.

Whether one prays to Jesus, mohammed or Buddha doesn’t matter to me, but we have fought, quebecois and quebecoises, for our society to be secular. We quebecoises have fought to obtain the right of equality of speech between men and women as well as for equality for opportunities in the workplace. Remember that if you have immigrated to Canada and especially to Quebec, it is to take part of an open society that offers you, on a silver platter, all the gains that previous generations have won, particularly in the areas of rights for women. I want to believe that it is through the ignorance of our traditions and our customs and not by lack of respect that muslim women want to show to the light of day the imposition of this symbol of their faith that is the veil.

Maybe our society has gone too far with its liberties. But, the pendulum must stop in the middle and not regress back to the beginning. We must remember. The integration into a society must start with the respect of its traditions and its customs through the respect shown towards its male and female citizens who have participated in its practice.

Maybe our history books do not remember or maybe they simply have not been updated yet. It is therefore the responsibility of the government to apply our motto “Je me souviens” [“I remember”] to our History and to integrate this History with the efforts of our previous generations to reach the society of today and especially to assure all that the coming generations can remember. It is also the responsibility of
reception agencies for immigrants to make them know this Quebec motto “Je me souviens” so that these newcomers do not think that we are racist simply because we remember and we do not want to impose upon our progeny the need to take up the same struggles that we went through fifty years ago.
[Bold retained from original text]

Monday, September 17, 2007

France destroys her churches

A sad fulfilment of the saying, “use it or lose it”: small-town bureaucrats are proposing to tear down many old French parish churches, as cost-saving measures for their communities. These venerable buildings are sometimes in need of expensive repair, and the ever-decreasing size of their congregations are making it difficult for French city burghers to justify allocating equally dwindling city revenues towards preserving their historic churches.

And so some municipalities, for instance that of Maine et Loire, have reconciled their decisions to bulldoze 19th century churches, as a cost-cutting measures for their euro-conscious community.
Back in August 2006 they rolled up their sleeves to demolish the church of Saint-Georges des Gardes, freeing themselves from the long shadow of its weighty obligations... in more ways than one.

Here in Canada, we would call such acts "demolitions", but in France the current term is “deconstruction”. It makes it all sound so much more civilized..! (Photos at above left and at the top of the post represent a before-and-after view of the "deconstructed" church.)
For a sad chronicle of this and other successful "deconstructions", readers are refered to the excellent reporting done by La Tribune de l’art . In the article I've linked to, “The New Vandals”, you can see the degree of imagination, ingenuity and resourcefulness necessary for tearing down architectural splendours such as the church of Saint-Georges des Gardes and the Chateau de la Trésorerie in Hardinguen.
The drama is set to play out yet again, in the small community of Valanjou. Only this time the citizens are trying their best to stop it: [translated by me from the original french; we welcome any clarifications or corrections]

It is not certain that the work will begin before the municipal elections in March 2008, but the mayor of Valanjou (Maine-et-Loire) is determined: the steeple and the bells of the church of Saint-Martin-de-Joué will be destroyed.
By sixteen votes to one, the municipal council decided as much in the spring. “We have three churches for 2,000 citizens; for the year, the average maintenance of a church rises to 12,000 euros. City hall doesn’t have the means to finance the reclamation works”, noted [mayor] Bernard Briodeau.

“I understand the symbolic responsibility of this place: my own children were baptized there! But let’s stop talking [about] patrimony”, he says. “The departement consists of more than 300 churches of this type. In Saint-Martin, only the foundation dates to the XV century and it was never a question for us to destroy that part of it!” The destruction to the tall portions of the church will cost “about 280,000 euros”. The mayor is in search of subsidies. …

[French catholic blogger Michel Janva notices a detail glossed over by the Le Monde journalist: by the mayor’s own figures, the cost for the demolition is equal to the cost of maintaining the church for the next twenty-three years..! Back to the article...]

“For several years, one can see that the destruction of a church is no longer a taboo subject”, notes Alain Guinberteau, founder of the website 40,000 clochers [Note: this is a **fantastic** site, “40,000 belltowers”, with many beautiful photos of gorgeous buildings throughout France, all making me ache to visit them], who is undertaking a photographic census of French churches.
“The destruction of churches is an epiphenomenona”, confirms a member of the episcopate. “Their future depends on the manner in which the catholic presence can be acknowledged in our society”, thinks Mgr Claude Dagans…
There is a struggle underway to find the means to keep the majestic church of Saint-Martin de Joué alive. Concerned citizens of Valanjou have created a website as a rallying point for their cause, from which we hear of a slightly different take than the story reported in the Le Monde article:

For several years, the municipality’s project to demolish the church of Saint-Martin de Joué (essentially for reasons of security, financial and lack of cultural interest) has roused the opposition of some of the inhabitants of Valanjou, concerned about preserving their religious, historical and cultural heritage.
The meeting of 27 april 2007, organized by the mayoralty, showed its resolution to eliminate the Saint-Martin church. His honor the mayor had described two projects: a complete restoration of the church, for approx 1,500,000 euroes, a project that no one was demanding, such a restoration seeming futile; the partial deconstruction of the church, in order to only preserve the principal tower, for approx 993,000 euros, a project supported by his honor the mayor. This project permanently distorts the church and deprives Valanjou of a part of its heritage.
Is there a solution, or is France fated to continue to bulldoze its churches, burying its past under a mound of cheap rubble, to make room for... what, in its place?

Photographer Alain Guinberteau, this time writing at the website Clochers En Peril: est-il trop tard? (Belltowers In Danger: is it too late?) searches for a pragmatic, albeit depressing, solution to the challenge.

Cultural heritage is expensive, whereas a place of worship may take place anywhere, even in a building in the style of a hall with a cross on the roof. So what to do? In the face of the isolation of Mayors with too small budgets for these big churches, the mayors are more victims than perpetrators of the “deconstruction” as they like to call it. Therefore the greatest number of people possible must be informed about the “demolition” of our religious cultural heritage and maybe omit the word “religion” so that it only contains “cultural heritage” in order to have all the people feel concerned.…
Must it come to that? Is twenty-first century France, in de-constructing its faith in its past, also doing the same for its future?

I turn back to M. Guinberteau for his chilling last words on the matter, as the last bells toll for many of France's historic churches:

These churches are the witnesses to our architectural past and, until now, only wars destroyed our churches; therefore are we at war?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Sound of Smiling

Isn’t it curious how we can often “hear” a smile over the phone? In sharing good news with spouse, family or friends, in declaring our thanks for a service or a gift, the smile shines through, adding a sweet melody to the familiar voice at the other end of the line.

Partly the change in tone comes from the change of shape; when our mouth wears a smile it funnels the sound of our voice ever so differently than it would were we to shape it otherwise. The small tunnel our mouth forms into whenever we have to relate bad news serves as a good example of change in the opposite direction, hollowing out our tone when we need to admit things that we’d wish we could leave unsaid.

Sometimes the sound of smiling seems to sing in text as well as in the spoken word. Every so often I’ll read a blog post here or there and it seems for all the world as if its author was grinning from ear to ear as they composed it. That smile lifts up the words and fills them with a melody they would not possess, were it not for the spirit within the author as they work to bring shape to their inner thoughts.
Surely no sound is as moving to the human ear as that of smiling through tears. That smile has a mysterious sound all its own, unforgettable once you have occasion to hear it, either in person or through the written word.

I found one such bit of writing today, at least to my ear I think I have. It was in an unexpected place, nestled behind the hymn book waiting for me at Mass this morning. I took the time to read it, squinting through the crumpled lines and faded ink of the delicate piece of paper. It was an old newspaper clipping, an obituary. Beneath a beautiful, smiling face, one reads the following:
“Mom, you were right. You were always right. Family is everything. You always said we were your life and you showed it in all you did. Thank you for all the ways you loved us. It was always the 4 of us… and now, [we] will look after Daddy for you.”

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; maybe the sound that happiness brings out in people is subject to similar restrictions to one’s ear. During prayer at Mass this morning my thoughts wandered back to the last time I had attended a funeral, the one for my grandmother. How well I recall all the heartfelt expressions of gratitude and appreciation that were heard throughout that sad occasion... With every reason to weep from loss each chose instead to smile and share their fondest memory, inevitably an example of how deeply one may love another.

For my grandmother family was everything, much like the stranger in this old obituary. I remember the last time I spoke with her, over the phone on what proved to be her deathbed. I had been forewarned of her lack of strength, and the likely shortness of the call; it was a call to say goodbye, and thank you. Her faint voice was full of news, as she always was, good news about family growing in size and in love, carefully asking for hopeful news from us, if we were soon going to be able to have children again. And that tone; barely strength to speak, but still possessing strength to smile. I got to tell her that she was right, every time she would reprimand me in my callous, younger days for not calling home as often as I should have been, for not placing value on the true treasures of life.

Teaching to the very end, all her thoughts were on family, not job or money or promotions. On family: the job most worth having, the treasure most worth earning, and the blessing most worth growing.
In reading this stranger’s obituary I hear a familiar voice, a familiar smile. It’s the one I was wearing when I said good-bye to my grandmother, years ago. Even through torrents of tears, we can still summon the strength to smile, animated as such shapes are by the wondrous breath of life our Creator has given us to express the joy that comes from being alive, and living as Family.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Brussels' sprouting islamist problem (1)

In the wake of the over-the-top police and state response to the 9-11 anti-islamist rally in Brussels last week, I thought this interview would put that violence into context.

Dutch journalist Arthur Van Amerongen has been interviewed both in Knack magazine [translated into english here by Esther at Islam in Europe] and more recently on Belgian television, concerning his upcoming book, "Brussels Eurabia", sounding for all the world like an appropriate companion volume to Fabrice de Pierrebourg's "Montrealistan".

Bruxelles Eurabia
Uploaded by Tazda

The interview has been translated from Dutch to French by bloggers Pistache and Gedeon, and now from French into English by myself. I'd appreciate any corrections or clarifications to ensure it can be as accuate as possible. I haven't had time to do the entire interview, but this is a significant portion of it. The second half can be read here.

Host: The book “Brussels Eurabia” from Dutch journalist Arthur Van Amerongen will be in bookstores in a few weeks. The book talks about the muslim community of Brussels, and promises to be stunning and mesmerizing, if we are to believe our colleagues at Knack. To write this book, Van Amerongen infiltrated the muslim community in Brussels for one year. (0:36)

Arthur, you write in your book: “Brussels is a timebomb, there will certainly be an attack.” Isn’t this a little exaggerated? (0:47)

Arthur Van Amerongen : No, listen, it’s an enumeration; look at what happened in England: doctors orginally from India or Pakistan who commit an attempt… if you look at what has happened in 7 years: the Trabelsi affair, the attack on the Philips building… all foiled by your intelligence services. If we only look at the reports, I am certain that [an attack] will happen. (1:10)

Host: For you these are the clues that this will happen?

Arthur Van Amerongen : No, no no. I infiltrated the muslim community of Molenbeek and Marolles for one year. These folks want nothing to do with Belgium, they hate the Belgians. (1:24)

Host: What do you base that on?

Arthur Van Amerongen : I was among them, I speak arabic. They hate the Belgians, they have nothing to do with Belgians, nothing, nothing. (1:32)

Host: But can you… are you talking about the moroccan community, the entire Brussels muslim community?

Arthur Van Amerongen: No, the moroccans with their beards, their half pants and their bare feet in their shoes… no, it is a very dangerous community. It’s a time bomb. (1:47)

Host: A time bomb. But… you write this in your book as well. Aren’t you fostering a culture of fear? (1:51)

Arthur Van Amerongen: It’s reality. It’s not a culture of fear. Belgians are much too occupied with B-H-V, Bruxelles-Halle-Vilvoorde. You should be concentrating on the 25% muslims living in Brussels. The danger comes from there. You are pre-occupied by your linguistic quarrels. … The moroccans are more dangerous than the Walloons. (2:12)

Host: Yes, but… okay, you say “the muslim 25%” in Brussels… Are they all dangerous? Come on. (2:20)

Arthur Van Amerongen: No, but if 1% of them are dangerous, you are up the creek… (2:22)

Host: But… Can you say at what time… it will happen.. this…

Arthur Van Amerongen: The bomb?

Host: Yes, this “time bomb”…? (2:28)

Arthur Van Amerongen: euh, I would say.. next wednesay. [laughs] (2:21)

Host: No, seriously…

Arthur Van Amerongen: I have no idea, but it… it will happen. (2:36) Look at England, look at the Netherlands, Theo Van Gogh assassinated; look at what is happening in England: doctors, distinguished Indian doctors, who had obtained political asylum.. what must one think of the moroccans that live here? Do you think that they are loyal to the belgian government? No, they hate us. The moroccans hate us. (2:53)

Host: Yes, but you just said.. that the moroccans that live here in Brussels do not want to have anything do do with Belgium, with Brussels…

Arthur Van Amerongen: No.

Host: … that they hate us. (3:02)

Arthur Van Amerongen: They want a caliphate; quite simply they want a government that directs the umma from Bagdad to England. (3:08) It’s what they want. (3:10)

Host: These people are therefore free… free to do what they want here? (3:13)

Arthur Van Amerongen: That, you should report to the police. I mean… Go take a walk through the bookstores at Lemonnier… Look at the hate pouring out of there, against the jews, against the christians, against the shias… It’s there freely for sale, in french and in arabic. Euh, sorry! All this is possible in Belgium… One can also easily purchase arms…

Host: Let’s go back a bit, [buying] arms is another story. Let’s go back to the muslim community. You were able to infiltrate yourself into it. Was that easy to do? (3:38)

Arthur Van Amerongen: No, very difficult, I didn’t get to drink [alcohol] for 8 months, and I appreciate a short beer time to time…

Host: Yes. But how did you get the idea to infiltrate, to dive into the muslim world? (3:49)

Arthur Van Amerongen: Because Muriel Delgauque, who comes from Charleroi, went and blew herself up…

Host: In Bagdad…

Arthur Van Amerongen: … in 2004 if I am not mistaken.

Host: Yes, in Iraq.

Arthur Van Amerongen: She had a moroccan friend, who came from Molenbeek, and was the first “white” martyr from Belgium. (4:04) Belgium had the honor of having the first “white” martyr for al qaeda. (4:07)

Host: You speak of this woman who blew herself up, who committed a suicide-attack in Iraq. This is what triggered in your head, what decided you to want to do something, try to understand? (4:18)

Arthur Van Amerongen: Yes, I then said to myself: “How is it that a girl from Charleroi had gotten to such a point where she decided to go to Bagdad with her crummy car and blow herself up? It’s absurd. (4:27) This girl drank, with her friends, she did drugs, she smoked joints… (4:31)

Host: Did you find the answer to your question?

Arthur Van Amerongen: No. (4:33)

[Part 2 of the translation continues here.]

[ht to both bafweb and Insoumission for the story]