November 27, 2002
Salman Rushdie Wishes for an Aggressive, Confident, Tolerant Islamic Movement

In today's New York Times it is Salman Rushdie's turn to bang his head against the wall: "At least in Iran the students are demonstrating. But where else in the Muslim world can one hear the voices of the fair-minded, tolerant Muslim majority deploring what Nigerian, Egyptian, Arab and Dutch Muslims are doing? Muslims in the West, too, seem unnaturally silent on these topics. If you're yelling, we can't hear you."


No More Fanaticism as Usual: It's been quite a week in the wonderful world of Islam.

Nigerian Islam's encounter with that powerhouse of subversion, the Miss World contest, has been unedifying, to put it mildly. First some of the contestants had the nerve to object to a Shariah court's sentence that a Nigerian woman convicted of adultery be stoned to death and threatened to boycott the contest — which forced the Nigerian authorities to promise that the woman in question would not be subjected to the lethal hail of rocks. And then Isioma Daniel, a Christian Nigerian journalist, had the effrontery to suggest that if the prophet Muhammad were around today, he might have wanted to marry one of these swimsuit hussies himself.

Well, obviously, that was going too far. True-believing Nigerian Muslims then set about the holy task of killing, looting and burning while calling for Ms. Daniel to be beheaded, and who could blame them? Not the president of Nigeria, who put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the hapless journalist. (Germaine Greer and other British-based feminists, unhappy about Miss World's decision to move the event to London, preferred to grouse about the beauty contest. The notion that the killers, looters and burners should be held accountable seems to have escaped notice.)

Meanwhile, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hashem Aghajari, a person with impeccable Islamist credentials — a leg lost in battle and a résumé that includes being part of the occupying force that seized the Great Satan's Tehran embassy back in the revolution's salad days — languishes under a sentence of death imposed because he criticized the mullahs who run the country. In Iran, you don't even have to have cheeky thoughts about the prophet to be worthy of being killed. The hearts of true believers are maddened a lot more easily than that. Thousands of young people across the country were immature enough to protest against Mr. Aghajari's sentence, for which the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, duly rebuked them. (More than 10,000 true believers marched through Tehran in support of hard-line Islam.)

Meanwhile, in Egypt, a hit television series, "Horseman Without a Horse," has been offering up antiSemitic programming to a huge, eager audience. That old forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" — a document purporting to prove that there really is a secret Jewish plot to take over the world, and which was proved long ago to have been faked by Czar Nicholas II's secret police — is treated in this drama series as historical fact.

Yes, this is the same Egypt in which the media are rigorously censored to prevent anything that offends the authorities from seeing the light of day. But hold on just a moment. Here's the series' star and co-writer, Mohammed Sobhi, telling us that what is at stake is nothing less than free speech itself, and if his lying show "terrified Zionists," well, tough. He'll make more programs in the same vein. Now there's a gutsy guy.

Finally, let's not forget the horrifying story of the Dutch Muslim woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has had to flee the Netherlands because she said that Muslim men oppressed Muslim women, a vile idea that so outraged Muslim men that they issued death threats against her.

Is it unfair to bunch all these different uglinesses together? Perhaps. But they do have something in common. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was accused of being "the Dutch Salman Rushdie," Mr. Aghajari of being the Iranian version, Isioma Daniel of being the Nigerian incarnation of the same demon.

A couple of months ago I said that I detested the sloganization of my name by Islamists around the world. I'm beginning to rethink that position. Maybe it's not so bad to be a Rushdie among other "Rushdies." For the most part I'm comfortable with, and often even proud of, the company I'm in.

Where, after all, is the Muslim outrage at these events? As their ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art and philosophical reflection is hijacked by paranoiacs, racists, liars, male supremacists, tyrants, fanatics and violence junkies, why are they not screaming?

At least in Iran the students are demonstrating. But where else in the Muslim world can one hear the voices of the fair-minded, tolerant Muslim majority deploring what Nigerian, Egyptian, Arab and Dutch Muslims are doing? Muslims in the West, too, seem unnaturally silent on these topics. If you're yelling, we can't hear you.

If the moderate voices of Islam cannot or will not insist on the modernization of their culture — and of their faith as well — then it may be these so-called "Rushdies" who have to do it for them. For every such individual who is vilified and oppressed, two more, ten more, a thousand more will spring up. They will spring up because you can't keep people's minds, feelings and needs in jail forever, no matter how brutal your inquisitions. The Islamic world today is being held prisoner, not by Western but by Islamic captors, who are fighting to keep closed a world that a badly outnumbered few are trying to open. As long as the majority remains silent, this will be a tough war to win. But in the end, or so we must hope, someone will kick down that prison door.

Posted by DeLong at November 27, 2002 12:32 PM | Trackback

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Comments

Thank God Salman Rushdie is speaking out. He is actually saying nothing new, but his liberal credentials compel the New York Times and others of the intellectual Left to take him seriously. Minor leaguers like myself have been uttering similar sentiments for a long time, but of course we are merely scum bag reactionaries not worthy to be seen in polite company. Have you ever heard of Daniel Pipes? This great scholar's writings are available at wwww.danielpipes.org Heck, he is far ahead of the curve than the better late than never Rushdie.

My guess is that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate. Sadly, the fascist minority seem to be in control. Those who dare dissent risk life and limb. We who reside in the West must offer both encouragement and a degree of protection to those willing to combat this threat.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 27, 2002 12:57 PM

"And then Isioma Daniel, a Christian Nigerian journalist, had the effrontery to suggest that if the prophet Muhammad were around today, he might have wanted to marry one of these swimsuit hussies himself.

"Well, obviously, that was going too far. True-believing Nigerian Muslims then set about the holy task of killing, looting and burning while calling for Ms. Daniel to be beheaded, and who could blame them? Not the president of Nigeria, who put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the hapless journalist."

Today, I heard a BBC reporter insist that Isioma Daniel must indeed be to blame for the Nigerian violence.

Posted by: on November 27, 2002 01:34 PM

Please have the goodness or intelligence to note that Salman Rushdie has spoken out against intolerance for many many years. To suggest otherwise is astonishing.

So to, Thomas Friedman and Mureen Dowd of the New York Times have long spoken against intolerance as has the editorial page of the Times. Well, why not credit every columnist for the Times over the years.

Posted by: on November 27, 2002 01:46 PM

Any religion whose members feel under threat will react with radicalization. We see this at work in post 9-11 US as well as in Muslim countries.

From what I know from speaking with American Muslims, it's clear that they are very critical of Arab regimes (including the PA) and "Islamists" but they also feel that the US needs no help to talk down those regimes at this point.

After all, Iraki Shiahs and Kurds are used as pretext to justify morally the likely killing of at least 250,000 innocent Irakis in the almost inevitably coming invasion of Irak. Muslims surely wouldn't want to volunteer reasons to invade other Arab countries.

On the other hand, Rushdie has expressed his support for the war on Irak, hence his rhetorical stance on Islam and Arab regimes. Perhaps his stance is to be explained by his living in the UK rather than the US...

How strange Muslims care about innocent Muslim lifes and the sovereignty of Arab countries! Give them a reason to think that modernity is there to help them, and you'll see a constructive reaction. After all, the recent Iranese uprising is coming the wake of a warming-up is the US-Iran relionship...

And when American Christian fundamentalists disrupt (or worse!) an abortion clinique or when hate crimes against gays are commited, how much criticism do we hear from inside?

The root cause of Ismalization of Arab politics is desilusion by a large population of young unemployed with West-backed "democraties" (coupled with frustration about the failure of the West to deliver its promises regarding a Palestinian state - although it's unclear whether this is a root reason or a byproduct of the above).

If the US and Europe were genuinely supporting democracy in the Arab world rather than their near-sighted geo-political-economic-great-game interests, this would simply not be happening. There would still be Islamists but they most likely would not have the upper hand.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 27, 2002 02:06 PM

“Please have the goodness or intelligence to note that Salman Rushdie has spoken out against intolerance for many many years.”

I am utterly unaware that Salman Rushdie has previously blasted Islamic fascists in such a direct manner. He has mostly danced around the subject previous to 9/11. I can even remember Rushdie practically kissing the mullahs’ rear ends to get the death sentence fatwa lifted. Am I really being unfair? I don’t think so. However, I will issue an apology if you prove me wrong.

Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer are among the very few who have consistently challenged the Islamic nihilists for the last twnety years. Needless to add, the disgusting political Left has done everything to make their lives miserable. Kramer’s excellent study “Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America” is a must read.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 27, 2002 02:11 PM

>>but of course we are merely scum bag reactionaries not worthy to be seen in polite company<<

It's amusing you depict lefties as characterizing you under this light as you are the only poster in this forum to have used the "scum bag" descriptive:

>>We should not hesitate to criticize evil because of the scum bag’s race.<<

Besides, I would expect folks in a reactionary forum to kick out and insult any radical poster much more readily than liberals would do anything else than to engage in criticism.

Rushdie is a liberal after all. When have I heard a Christian concervative critical of Chritianity? Must have been a while...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 27, 2002 02:27 PM

We should never forget that Salman Rusdie "converted” to the Islamic faith around 1996. Many cynics suspected that he did so only to appease the mullas. The following link might be of genuine interest:

http://www.hvk.org/articles/0597/0220.html

PS: I’m not a Christian and could care less if anyone of this faith persuasion has recently taken to task their theological belief system.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 27, 2002 04:03 PM

Are your fundamentalist Christians any more tolerant? If they had power, would they call for the execution of those they abhor, e.g. abortionists?

Posted by: MIke on November 27, 2002 05:04 PM

Are your fundamentalist Christians any more tolerant? If they had power, would they call for the execution of those they abhor, e.g. abortionists?

Posted by: MIke on November 27, 2002 05:04 PM

Are your fundamentalist Christians any more tolerant? If they had power, would they call for the execution of those they abhor, e.g. abortionists?

Posted by: MIke on November 27, 2002 05:04 PM

Are your fundamentalist Christians any more tolerant? If they had power, would they call for the execution of those they abhor, e.g. abortionists?

Posted by: MIke on November 27, 2002 05:04 PM

Here is a case of a moderate American Muslim group which came into serious conflict with a more fundamentalist group. The story has gotten a little local publicity, but only recently, and none nationally that I know of.

I don't think that it will have any effect on those who have made up their minds about Islam already, but maybe others will find it interesting.

http://www.portlandtribune.com/viewcurr.cgi?id=14308

Posted by: zizka on November 27, 2002 05:38 PM

Try this link.

Posted by: zizka on November 27, 2002 05:40 PM

>>PS: I’m not a Christian and could care less if anyone of this faith persuasion has recently taken to task their theological belief system.<<

P.S. I am not a Leftie. My friends in Belgium consider me at worst as a reactionary, at best as a center-rightist... And I'm (unfortunately) not as young as you think I am, David... Thanks for these compliments, though :)

Yes, zizka, I have also read calls to modernity and moderation by Muslims in several other places. But, we're unlikely to be exposed to them in US mainstream media... Would they spoil the fun?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 27, 2002 05:51 PM

For the record, Mr. Thomson, the overwhelming majority of democratic leftists in the Western countries have been breathing fire and smoke against Islamic theocracy for years -- if you haven't seen it in their newspaper columns and magazine articles, you haven't been looking very damn hard. (It's noteworthy that, when American rightists try to find prominent Western leftists who DO apologize for what that prominent leftist Christopher Hitchens calls "Islamic fascism", all they can do is chant the names of Noam Chomsky and Robert Fisk over and over.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on November 27, 2002 07:15 PM

I'm used to ignorance in bloggerdom, but I don't see why anyone should put up with abuse - and xenophobic abuse at that. It indicates stupidity. Ignorance can be cured but stupidity is forever.

If David Thomson can't keep a reasonably civilised tone in his comments then I suggest we all just ignore them - no responses (remember you can't cure stupidity).

Brad - words such as 'scumbag' must come awfully close to breaching your guidelines.

Posted by: derrida derider on November 27, 2002 08:20 PM

zizka,
Regarding your link to the news story in Portland, I don't know anything about this story except the news article you linked, but there are a couple of minor things that are omitted or incorrect in the news story. I don't really know Arabic but I think "zendiq" doesn't mean "people who should be burned alive" as stated in the article. Also, the moderate mosque is of Ahmedis, a sect that is considered heretical by quite a few orthodox Muslims. Ahmedis do consider themselves to be Muslims however. Though the founder of the Ahmedis did have a different take on jihad (specifically as related to fighting the British in India, I think), the major disagreement is over Ahmed declaring himself to be a prophet while orthodox Muslims consider Muhammad to be the last prophet.

Posted by: Zack on November 27, 2002 10:26 PM

"xenophobic abuse at that"

Please provide even one incident where I've engaged in xenophobia.

"scumbag"

When have I ever called anyone a scumbag on this discussion board? You are definitely taking me out of context:

"...but of course we are merely scum bag reactionaries not worthy to be seen in polite company."

Posted by: David Thomson on November 27, 2002 11:24 PM

"For the record, Mr. Thomson, the overwhelming majority of democratic leftists in the Western countries have been breathing fire and smoke against Islamic theocracy for years."

A mere handful do not comprise an "overwhelming majority." The exact opposite for the most part is true. The Liberal politically correct establishment has done everything to destroy those who criticize Islamic fascism. Please note that I have just been charged with xenophobia. This form of intimidation has been standard practice for many years. An individual employing the pseudonym of derrida derider is even advocating my expulsion from this discussion board.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 27, 2002 11:44 PM

Persons interested in Muslims who speak out against aggressive fundamentalist Islam could do worse than to read this post from weblog writer Jim Henley.

Posted by: Patrick Nielsen Hayden on November 28, 2002 07:17 AM

As noted by “Bill Thomson” Salman Rushdie once wrote “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet” and so he blasphemed against his beliefs in atheism, secularism, honesty and truth. Since “Bill Thomson” has not merely been condemned to death with a price of $1,000,000 his head, dead or dead, but threatened by liberals who might quote him accusing them of calling people like him “scumbag reactionaries” I do not dare question his moral courage. I can however swear, and put in writing, that I would be perfectly willing to say that “there is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet” or “There is no God but Satan” or even “George W Bush was legitimately elected president of the USA” or ,indeed, anything at all, to save my personal life. Those of us who have not be under Fatwa or the potential risk of being quoted accusing others of calling us ““reactionary scumbags”” might, perhaps, have a trace of an inclination to pretend that we have some conception of what it must be to have some sense of decency.

Robert Waldmann born in Washingtonon DC USA 9 November 1960 and resident in via delle vigne di colle reti 6 Frascati (Rm) 00044 Italy ssn 220-78-61

Posted by: Robert James Waldmann on November 28, 2002 11:07 AM

This is easily the most valuable social-economic web site I have found for postings first, then for discussion. What is a bit discouraging is having responses posted in discussion that merely serve intolerance. Probably such responses are inevitable now and again, but the rest of us do not have to pay attention or respond to mere attacks. Professor DeLong can delete a response if there is need.

Posted by: on November 28, 2002 12:30 PM

this thread is so lame its disgusting...

bruce: the main question from people like me is, if leftists are so opposed to regimes like Iraq and Afghanistan, why do they oppose all means of alleviating the suffering they cause? We can't have sanctions, we can't bycott, we can't invade, yet we also can't have normal relations nor trade with them... this is complete incoherence!

as for stijns... 1 it's Iraq, rather than Irak! (repeated errors aren't typos) 2 it's the general assumption that there is a cost for everything... if we are to stop hussein from oppressing his people, and to assit democracy and freedom in the arab world, how are we to go about this? war is out, as is funding the opposition, assassination, sanctions, normalizing relations, etc... in the 1940s the Frnch, the Poles, the Dutch, and the Czechs asked for British, American, and other help. They knew that vast numbers of their people would die in combat and from the after effects of war. They chose freedom.

Many North Americans believe that "it is to better to die on your feet than to live on your knees" and that they want to "live free or die". So we were mistaken in believing that a desire for freedom is a universal feature of humanity. We should let the ethnics live in their preferred autocracy, as they really like strong leaders. Right! North America can be involved, or it can not be involved, but it will be involved on its own terms in ways that will be productive.

We have no desire for the complexity that says that the EU can not have an investigation into whether its money given to the PA funds terrorists, because that would undermine moderates in the PA. That statement by Chris Patten implies that the PA either does not understand how democracies must show that tax money is being spent honestly (the transparency that is the foundation of modern culture) or that everyone knows there is vicious corruption and evilness, and that it is better to support that so as to support the "moderates" in the PA.

I feel sick that American and Commonwealth soldiers ever left England. We should have left Europe to the Europeans, except for surgical strikes to rescue the victims of the concentration camps (Jews, Gypsies, gays, etc). It is time to disband NATO, and to declare that continental Western Europe is not under US protection. Ensure the security of the UK and Eastern Europe, but anyone is welcome to do whatever they want to Western Europe. How long would the "sophisticates" last in the real world. What a bunch of crap

Posted by: Libertarian Uber Alles on November 28, 2002 04:44 PM

"It is time to disband NATO, and to declare that continental Western Europe is not under US protection. Ensure the security of the UK and Eastern Europe, but anyone is welcome to do whatever they want to Western Europe. How long would the "sophisticates" last in the real world. What a bunch of crap"

It's indeed time the Europeans assume the responsibility of adulthood. They have parasited off America for far too long. This has resulted in their envy and bitterness and inability to come to grips with their own problems. Never forget that even Brad DeLong concedes that the Clinton administration desperately hoped the Europeans would be the leaders during the Balkan tragedy. Finally, Clinton could wait no longer and gave the order for our Air Force to kick some Serbian behinds. The irony is that Europe is the older civilization, but the far younger United States is truly their senior partner.

This following article by Amir Taheri on why the French are “Not Normal” is most interesting:

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-taheri112602.asp

Posted by: David Thomson on November 28, 2002 05:07 PM

Re:

>>I can even remember Rushdie practically kissing the mullahs’ rear ends to get the death sentence fatwa lifted. Am I really being unfair? I don’t think so. However, I will issue an apology if you prove me wrong.<<

Well, yes. But it is important to remember that you don't have to be brave all the time: you just have to be brave once.

Salman Rushdie did not volunteer for the position that he is now in. Yet I think that he has, by and large and on balance, conducted himself with honor and with considerable bravery as well...


Brad DeLong

Posted by: Brad DeLong on November 29, 2002 12:23 AM

Re:

>>It's indeed time the Europeans assume the responsibility of adulthood. They have parasited off America for far too long.<<

Put me down as one who hopes that Germany, at least, will become and remain a pacifist nation protected by America's aegis for centuries to come...


Brad DeLong

Posted by: Brad DeLong on November 29, 2002 12:29 AM

Rushdie has been vocal about this issue for a long time. Here is a February 6 link to Rushdie speaking out against Islamism.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,645562,00.html

Here's another from November 2001

http://main.faithfreedom.org/Articles/rushdie/yes_its_about_islam.htm

Here's an excerpt from the first:

Meanwhile, those elements in the Arab and Muslim world who blame America for their own feelings of political impotence are feeling more impotent than ever. As always, anti-US radicalism feeds off the widespread anger over the plight of the Palestinians, and it remains true that nothing would undermine the fanatics' propaganda more comprehensively than an acceptable settlement in the Middle East.

However, even if that settlement were arrived at tomorrow, anti-Americanism would probably not abate. It has become too useful a smokescreen for Muslim nations' many defects - their corruption, their incompetence, their oppression of their own citizens, their economic, scientific and cultural stagnation. America-hating has become a badge of identity, making possible a chest-beating, flag-burning rhetoric of word and deed that makes men feel good. It contains a strong streak of hypocrisy, hating most what it desires most, and elements of self-loathing ("we hate America because it has made of itself what we cannot make of ourselves").

Posted by: Dave Roberts on November 29, 2002 01:39 AM

We have been inhibited for far too long from realistically analyzing the cultures of those with darker skins. Brad De Long has a very valid point regarding the culture of the Germans. Nobody is going to charge him with racism. Yet, similar sentiments expressed about the radical Muslim world could get him into a lot of trouble.

I had to take a second look at the Salman Rushdie quotes provided by Dave Roberts. Holy cow, do I have a right to charge him with plagiarism? Better yet, does Bernard Lewis have a legitimate complaint? They echo what the great Lewis has been saying for a long time. The irony is that Rushdie is officially a Liberal and his words are therefore deemed courageous and thought provoking. People like myself are of course described as merely xenophobic bigots. Oh well, it’s nice to have someone of Rushdie’s stature telling the politically correct Liberal establishment the truth of the matter. Maybe now they will listen.


Posted by: David Thomson on November 29, 2002 03:27 AM

Of course the issue has nothing at all to do with skin shade or color. Writing that has a racist bent is truly sad and debilitating. After attacking Germans and Mexicans and women and liberals and astonishingly "cultures of those with dark skins," I suggest a self examination. Racism is truly horrid.

Posted by: on November 29, 2002 05:45 AM

“Of course the issue has nothing at all to do with skin shade or color. Writing that has a racist bent is truly sad and debilitating. After attacking Germans and Mexicans and women and liberals and astonishingly "cultures of those with dark skins," I suggest a self examination. Racism is truly horrid.”

Attacking Germans? Both sides of my family tree are of German descent. Could I possibly be a self hating German-American? Oh wow, do you suggest that I hurry to the nearest store selling Nazi paraphernalia and purchase my own swastika? I guess I should get ready for the next German Nazi pride week.

Political correctness has rendered many people unable to distinguish between legitimate insights about certain groups and outright immoral prejudice. The inadvertent damage has been enormous. I personally blame liberal political correctness for our guard being down on 9/11. How did we get ourselves in such a pickle? There are two incidents that come to mind that took place in the sixties. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was attacked by the Left for his valuable work on the breakup of the black family. Soon afterwards, Harvard University disgraced itself by not disciplining students for making fools of themselves in the classroom of Edward Banfield.

And yes, Liberals usually can rightfully discuss the cultural backwardness of Louisiana red necks who place little value on education. These same folks, however, come unglued if the discussion turns to the same problem in lower class Afro-American and Mexican-American families. Do you doubt me on this? If so, I dare Brad DeLong and others at Berkeley to try a few experiments on their own. Political correctness is so pervasive that they probably have come to be unaware of its very existence. They take as normal what should be soundly rejected. Am I off the deep end on this one?

Posted by: David Thomson on November 29, 2002 09:01 AM

Islam is beside the point. Every religion has its fundamentalists, and whether they become ascendant depends on the particular economic and political conditions of the time. When we talk about the the 'character' of any religion independent of those issues, all that will result in is an irrelevant round of finger pointing. Moreover this discussion unwittingly ends up playing into the hands of the fundamentalists on all sides, who want to portray everything as a religious issue.

Instead of looking at the situation in Nigeria and asking 'what is it about Islam that caused this to happen?', we should be asking 'what is it about the economic and political situation in Nigeria that caused this to happen?' After all, this kind of thing is not happening in Turkey.

A more important example: the Taliban didn't come to power in Afghanistan primarily becasue Islam is a good or bad religion. Islam came to be expressed in the particular form of the Taliban because of the tremendous death and destruction wrought by a 20 year civil war fomented by the cold war powers, who abandoned the country to chaos once the cold war ended.

Of course the moral responsibility for Afghanistan lies with the Taliban, who were surely an evil bunch. But a less short sighted U.S. policy probably could have stopped them from practicing thier evil, and better served our security as well.

And yet since 9/11 we as a country have spent more time debating Islam than we have debating(and trying to learn form) the U.S. policy mistakes made in Afghanistan.

It's almost as if debating and discussing the problems in another religion allows us to keep from looking more self critically at ourselves. It worries me.

Posted by: RC on November 29, 2002 02:16 PM

“Islam is beside the point. Every religion has its fundamentalists, and whether they become ascendant depends on the particular economic and political conditions of the time. “

There is simply no other religion in the world that has so many of its adherents embracing such a radical agenda as does Islam. The frightening estimate is that minimally 100 million Muslims practice this nihilistic interpretation. You can’t find anything comparable in the present day Judeo-Christian traditions.

“Instead of looking at the situation in Nigeria and asking 'what is it about Islam that caused this to happen?', we should be asking 'what is it about the economic and political situation in Nigeria that caused this to happen?' After all, this kind of thing is not happening in Turkey.”

Ataturk and the “young Turks” in the last century took deliberate steps to impose a secular government and culture. They made sure that the religious nut balls were rendered virtually powerless. My guess is that the Nigerians pretended that they didn’t even have a problem.

“A more important example: the Taliban didn't come to power in Afghanistan primarily because Islam is a good or bad religion. Islam came to be expressed in the particular form of the Taliban because of the tremendous death and destruction wrought by a 20 year civil war fomented by the cold war powers, who abandoned the country to chaos once the cold war ended.”

You might have a legitimate point. The United States, in hindsight, should have never abandoned the Afghan people. Still, we have to deal with the present reality.

“And yet since 9/11 we as a country have spent more time debating Islam than we have debating(and trying to learn form) the U.S. policy mistakes made in Afghanistan.”

We need to do both. A strong emphasis, though, must be placed on learning more about the Islamic fascist threat. One must know their enemy. This single article by Bernard Lewis printed in The Atlantic some twelve years ago should not be ignored. Please do yourself a favor and read “The Roots of Muslim Rage”:

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/90sep/rage.htm

PS: Bernard Lewis was warning about our current crisis long before the better late than never Salman Rushdie

Posted by: David Thomson on November 29, 2002 03:14 PM

Strangely, I do not see "moderate" capitalists, who no doubt exist in the world, marching anywhere to disassociate themselves from the atrocities committed in the name of that ideology in Argentina, Russia and anywhere else that the IMF has been recently.

Posted by: dsquared on November 29, 2002 04:24 PM

>>as for stijns... 1 it's Iraq, rather than Irak! (repeated errors aren't typos) 2 it's the general assumption that there is a cost for everything... if we are to stop hussein from oppressing his people, and to assit democracy and freedom in the arab world, how are we to go about this? war is out, as is funding the opposition, assassination, sanctions, normalizing relations, etc... in the 1940s the Frnch, the Poles, the Dutch, and the Czechs asked for British, American, and other help. They knew that vast numbers of their people would die in combat and from the after effects of war. They chose freedom.<<

It's French, not Frnch! :) Are you seriously keeping a scoreboard with my mistakes and the corresponding probabilities that they are typos vs. unacceptable spelling mistakes from an unrepentant foreigner? You know what people say over here? Get a life, man!

Is there a remote possibility that America's military blunders and the corresponding oh-so-low-and-oh-so-necessary collateral damages may have anything to do with Anti-Americanism? In fact, I am amazed that Vietnamese people don't hate Americans more than they do...

>>Many North Americans believe that "it is to better to die on your feet than to live on your knees" and that they want to "live free or die". So we were mistaken in believing that a desire for freedom is a universal feature of humanity. We should let the ethnics live in their preferred autocracy, as they really like strong leaders. Right! North America can be involved, or it can not be involved, but it will be involved on its own terms in ways that will be productive.<<

I don't believe most Americans have that kind of courrage (anymore?) Most people I see in the street and on television look more to me as: so long as I can surf and eat junk-food don't bother me with politics (and least with foreign affairs).

North America is misleading as a term. You seem to imply A. that North America is a person with a will that can be defined, B. that Canada is nothing but an American protectorate, C. that Canada shares America's political culture of violence and paranoia.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 29, 2002 08:20 PM

P.S. And here is a chess player's saying for the road: one learns more from one lost game than from a 100 won games. Basically, the US and Europe left WWII behind drawing almost opposite conclusions. The Europeans left thinking NO MORE NATIONALISM, and the Americans went home thinking WHAT A GREAT NATION WE ARE.

After Vietnam, the right lessons were drawn but the carefully chosen victories that followed (and are still to follow) have almost erased all traces of that learning episode. And so we're in for many more bloodbaths in the name of freedom, democracy, tolerance, blah, blah, blah... Bizzarely reminds me of the cruisades where non-Christians were killed in the name of the god of Love... Amen!

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 29, 2002 08:32 PM

"You seem to imply A. that...Canada is nothing but an American protectorate"

That is correct. Canadians made their own choice to parasite off the United States. The tacit motto of Canada is "let the Americans do it. We have welfare benefits to enjoy." What am I saying? This is also the attitude of most Europeans.

The North Vietnamese Communists were vicious totalitarian monsters and not freedom fighters. "And so we're in for many more bloodbaths in the name of freedom, democracy, tolerance, blah, blah, blah," adds our European commentator. This takes a lot of nerve considering that the United States saved their bacon during the Balkans crisis.


Posted by: David Thomson on November 30, 2002 04:16 AM

Some people may wrongly believe that I’m being unfair toward the Canadians. Well, take a look at the following piece:

November 21, 2002
Canada AWOL From The War On Terrorism

Canadian Defence Minister John McCallum is mad at George Bush because the Bush Administration keeps complaining about the low level of Canadian defense spending.

Mr. McCallum said yesterday he is fed up with the Americans hectoring Canada about its low defence expenditures, even though he himself has been publicly lobbying for greater military spending.

"I would not urge the president of the United States or the U.S. ambassador to Canada to do my job to ask for more defence spending. I think that is a Canadian matter," Mr. McCallum told reporters.

Canada's defense spending is less than half of the NATO average. Yet in the face of declining military capabilities Chretien's administration tells lies about how useful Canada's military has been in various conflicts. While a small number of Canadian soldiers performed admirably the quality of their performance is hardly a reason to trumpet Canada's total contributions.

If the level of Canadian defense spending is purely a Canadian matter then why is Canada part of multinational joint defense organizations? Does Canada have no obligations to other nations in exchange for what its membership does for Canada?

Does anyone know whether the Canadian government ever awarded medals to those Canadian sharpshooters who did such a great job in Afghanistan? Also, did the Canadian government ever let the US military award them medals? And what became of the Canadian soldier who was possibly going to be punished for what he said in Afghanistan that was supposedly insenstive?

Meanwhile, David Frum points out that the Canadian government is not cracking down on terrorist organizations:

On the other hand, Canadian laxness in the war on terror makes me twitch irritably. On Tuesday, Britain and the United States froze the assets of a large Canadian Muslim charity, the weirdly misnamed Benevolence International Foundation, as a terrorist front. Yet the Canadian government refuses to act – as it has refused to act to halt Hezbollah fund-raising on Canadian territory or to crack down on terrorist sleeper cells inside Canada.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s theory seems to be that by tolerating terrorist activity within Canada, Canada can buy itself a degree of immunity from terrorism. It’s a policy that disgusts a great many people in Canada. But it’s a policy that looks likely to last as long as Chretien’s hold on power does. Fortunately, his days do seem numbered ....

Canada enjoys military protection provided by the US and it also has a large trade surplus with the US. Under the circumstances you might think they'd be willing to make some small moves to help reduce sources of threats to the US. But if you thought that you'd be wrong.

Update: Chretien has the audacity to call Canadian defense spending "competitive" with NATO:

"We are at the level that is competitive in NATO. Some say we should be higher, but Canada is Canada. It's not our highest priority -- defence."
Posted by Randall Parker at November 21, 2002 10:35 PM

http://www.parapundit.com/archives/000678.html

Posted by: David Thomson on November 30, 2002 08:58 AM

The War Party... It's _ALL_ about war, NOTHING but WAR. War is now officially the meaning of life. War is freedom and war is democracy.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 30, 2002 03:13 PM

Shoot, I forgot the best one... War is peace.

WAR! WAR! WAR! WAR! WAR! WAR! WAR!

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 30, 2002 03:15 PM

"War is freedom and war is democracy."

Not quite. War, though, is sometimes required to defend freedom and democracy.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 30, 2002 03:44 PM

"when American rightists try to find prominent Western leftists who DO apologize for what that prominent leftist Christopher Hitchens calls "Islamic fascism", all they can do is chant the names of Noam Chomsky and Robert Fisk over and over.) "


And when did CHomsky or Fisk apologize for Islamic fascism?

Posted by: A QUESTION on November 30, 2002 04:21 PM

David Thomson:
I agree with you in this debate more than your opponents. But it is unfair and inaccurate to say that guys like Chomsky are at all representative of American liberals. The far left are not liberals. They are whatever they are. Chomsky is an anarcho-syndicalist. Many are socialists. And the vast majority of the American left (actually center-left) disagrees with them. American liberals like myself feel as disgusted by far-lefties like Chomsky as we are by guys like Pat Buchanan. The American Prospect seems fairly representative of the average liberal's opinion. I'm more of TNR guy. But read this TAP article and see that we are not Chomskyites.

Mr. Stijn:
250,000 thousand Iraqi deaths! Ha! Even the worst possible realistic scenario doesn't have 250,000 deaths, not anywhere near there. And what about all the people Saddam and his sons will kill over the next 25 years if they stay in power?

Posted by: Mitch on November 30, 2002 08:00 PM

Mitch, You are assuming that once Saddam is gone, Jeffersonian democracy will flourish in Iraq. It might even happen, but that is very unlikely, considering the local political landscape and the US track record of "nation building" in the Third World.

Remember that Saddam was an ally not long ago.

Posted by: A QUESTION on November 30, 2002 08:19 PM

"I agree with you in this debate more than your opponents. But it is unfair and inaccurate to say that guys like Chomsky are at all representative of American liberals"

“The American Prospect seems fairly representative of the average liberal's opinion. I'm more of TNR guy.”

Chomsky is indeed off the reservation. I doubt that he (or Pat Buchanan) even represents 5% of the American voting public. TNR has consistently published superb articles advocating the destruction of the terrorists. Most recently, a writer for the American Prospect bluntly declared that Liberals must morally support the war on Iraq. Nevertheless, I am not so sure that the centrist Democrats are truly influential within their own party. This is especially true after the last election. Also, they are behind the curve in realizing that the Europeans and Canadians are losers. We can no longer afford believing the fantasy that many of these nations are worthy of respect. This link provided by Instapundit is most revealing:

http://www.theamericanenterprise.org/taedec02a.htm

Posted by: David Thomson on December 1, 2002 06:13 AM


Mr. Thomson writes, "Ataturk and the “young Turks” in the last century took deliberate steps to impose a secular government and culture."

Dare I remind Mr.Thomson, so did a Afghani government or two which the United States responded to by arming some religious 'nutcases'. I would ask Mr.Thomson to consider the fate of a generation of Muslim secularists, in Afghanistan, Iran, Algeria, PA and other places, and the role of Western governments in funding Islamists in three of the above.

And far from ignoring the threat of Islamism, leftists were the first to call attention to them, and the first to get slaughtered. They were leftists with darker skin, tho, so perhaps their voices are easily ignored by Mr.Thomson. And Mr. Rushdie. I have expressed my contempt for Mr.Rushdie's propensity to advertise his ignorance elsewhere on Mr.DeLong's site so I will not belabor the point, but Mr. Rushdie's remark, "If you're yelling, we can't hear you," strikes me as more perceptive than he intended, perhaps. I have footnoted my contempt on my own blog.


Posted by: Drapetomaniac on December 2, 2002 03:14 AM

>>Dare I remind Mr.Thomson, so did a Afghani government or two which the United States responded to by arming some religious 'nutcases'.<<

Indeed! The point is quite general religious regimes were often what was backed the US against more democratic, albeit socialist, regimes. The paradox is still alive today, as Hussein's regime is under threat, as opposed to the Saudi's and Iran, while it is the most secular of the three.

The new best friend is Pakistian, where islamists have just been voted into power. Even more disturbingly, secular Turkey -the middle-East ally par excellence- has now elected in a semi-islamist party... How strange! Makes me think of the far-left tide in South America... Even Mexicans (and Fox, of all!) are getting upset at Dubya's policy of indiference to the issues of their democracies...

What else can this administration think about but war? Is sane, intelligent and sustainable diplomacy unsellable to the average Dubya elector?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on December 2, 2002 08:59 AM

hello

I am MOSHOD Mobutu Sese Seko, son of the late
President Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo Democratic
Republic former Republic of Zaire presently there is a
war going on in my country and so my family members
escaped to Morroco while I am presently at
Cotonou/Nigeria Border monitoring events. Because of
the present crises, my environment is not conductive
for investment and more over, most of my fathers
properties and account have been frozen by the present
government of Laurent Kabila.

Now, I want to set up a business overseas and I have
about $50 Million united state dollars set aside for
this project, I decided to contact you to help me in
setting up a business, but would not want my name or
family name to be used.

I am prepared to give you 20% of the total sum if you
can assist me in claiming this fund from a security
volt in Europe where my father (Mobutu Sese Seko)
deposited this fund before he died.

Please, do contact me immediately for us to discuss.
As soon as I hear from you, and confirm your
assistance every documents regarding to the claiming
of this fund will be handed over to you as the
family’s foreign partner.


Best regards

MOSHOD SEKO

Posted by: mobutu on December 3, 2002 02:35 PM
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