Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Because Bush, America, and/or Christianity are not to blame
Because Bush, America, and/or Christianity are not to blame
Dark Ages, Live from the Middle East
By Victor Davis Hanson
The Washington Times | October 30, 2006
The most frightening aspect of the present war is how easily our premodern enemies from the Middle East have brought a stunned postmodern world back into the Dark Ages.Students of history are sickened when they read of the long-ago, gruesome practice of beheading. How brutal were those societies that chopped off the heads of Cicero, Sir Thomas More and Marie Antoinette. And how lucky we thought we were to have evolved from such elemental barbarity.
Twenty-four hundred years ago, Socrates was executed for unpopular speech. The 18th-century European Enlightenment gave people freedom to express views formerly censored by clerics and the state. Just imagine what life was like once upon a time when no one could write music, compose fiction or paint without court or church approval?
Over 400 years before the birth of Christ, ancient Greek literary characters, from Lysistrata to Antigone, reflected the struggle for sexual equality. The subsequent notion that women could vote, divorce, dress or marry as they pleased was a millennia-long struggle.
It is almost surreal now to read about the elemental hatred of Jews in the Spanish Inquisition, 19th-century Russian pogroms or the Holocaust. Yet here we are revisiting the old horrors of the savage past.
Beheading? As we saw with Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, our Neanderthal enemies in the Middle East have resurrected that ancient barbarity — and married it with 21st-century technology to beam the resulting gore instantaneously onto our computer screens. Xerxes and Attila, who stuck their victims’ heads on poles for public display, would’ve been thrilled by such a gruesome show.
Who would have thought centuries after the Enlightenment that sophisticated Europeans — in fear of radical Islamists — would be afraid to write a novel, put on an opera, draw a cartoon, film a documentary or have their pope discuss comparative theology?
The astonishing fact is not just that millions of women worldwide in 2006 are still veiled from head-to-toe, trapped in arranged marriages, subject to polygamy, honor killings and forced circumcision, or lack the right to vote or appear alone in public. What is more baffling is that in the West, liberal Europeans are often wary of protecting female citizens from the excesses of Shariah law — sometimes even fearful of asking women to unveil their faces for purposes of simple identification and official conversation.
Who these days is shocked that Israel is hated by Arab nations and threatened with annihilation by radical Iran? Instead, the surprise is that even in places like Paris or Seattle, Jews are singled out and killed for the apparent crime of being Jewish.
Since September 11, 2001, the West has fought enemies who are determined to bring back the nightmarish world we thought was long past. And there are lessons Westerners can learn from radical Islamists’ ghastly efforts.
• First, the Western liberal tradition is fragile and can still disappear. Just because we have sophisticated cell phones, CAT scanners and jets does not ensure we are permanently civilized or safe. Technology used by the civilized for positive purposes can easily be manipulated by barbarians for destruction.
• Second, the Enlightenment is not always lost on the battlefield. It can be surrendered through either fear or indifference as well. Westerners fearful of terrorist reprisals themselves shut down a production of a Mozart opera in Berlin deemed offensive to Muslims. Few came to the aid of a Salman Rushdie or Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh when their unpopular expression earned death threats from Islamists. Van Gogh, of course, was ultimately killed.
The Goths and Vandals did not sack Rome solely through the power of their hordes; they also relied on the paralysis of Roman elites who no longer knew what it was to be Roman — much less whether it was any better than the alternative.
• Third, civilization is forfeited with a whimper, not a bang. Insidiously, we have allowed radical Islamists to redefine the primordial into the not-so-bad. Perhaps women in head-to-toe burkas in Europe prefer them? Maybe that crass German opera was just too over the top after all? Aren’t both parties equally to blame in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan wars?
To grasp the flavor of our own Civil War, impersonators now don period dress and reconstruct the battles of Shiloh or Gettysburg. But we need no so such historical re-enactment of the Dark Ages. You see, they are back with us — live almost daily from the Middle East.
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From the desk of Paul Belien on Wed, 2006-10-25 20:57
The German author Henryk M. Broder recently told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (12 October) that young Europeans who love freedom, better emigrate. Europe as we know it will no longer exist 20 years from now. Whilst sitting on a terrace in Berlin, Broder pointed to the other customers and the passers-by and said melancholically: “We are watching the world of yesterday.”
Europe is turning Muslim. As Broder is sixty years old he is not going to emigrate himself. “I am too old,” he said. However, he urged young people to get out and “move to Australia or New Zealand. That is the only option they have if they want to avoid the plagues that will turn the old continent uninhabitable.”
Many Germans and Dutch, apparently, did not wait for Broder’s advice. The number of emigrants leaving the Netherlands and Germany has already surpassed the number of immigrants moving in. One does not have to be prophetic to predict, like Henryk Broder, that Europe is becoming Islamic. Just consider the demographics. The number of Muslims in contemporary Europe is estimated to be 50 million. It is expected to double in twenty years. By 2025, one third of all European children will be born to Muslim families. Today Mohammed is already the most popular name for new-born boys in Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other major European cities.
Broder is convinced that the Europeans are not willing to oppose islamization. “The dominant ethos,” he told De Volkskrant, “is perfectly voiced by the stupid blonde woman author with whom I recently debated. She said that it is sometimes better to let yourself be raped than to risk serious injuries while resisting. She said it is sometimes better to avoid fighting than run the risk of death.”
In a recent op-ed piece in the Brussels newspaper De Standaard (23 October) the Dutch (gay and self-declared “humanist”) author Oscar Van den Boogaard refers to Broder’s interview. Van den Boogaard says that to him coping with the islamization of Europe is like “a process of mourning.” He is overwhelmed by a “feeling of sadness.” “I am not a warrior,” he says, “but who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.”
As Tom Bethell wrote in this month’s American Spectator: “Just at the most basic level of demography the secular-humanist option is not working.” But there is more to it than the fact that non-religious people tend not to have as many children as religious people, because many of them prefer to “enjoy” freedom rather than renounce it for the sake of children. Secularists, it seems to me, are also less keen on fighting. Since they do not believe in an afterlife, this life is the only thing they have to lose. Hence they will rather accept submission than fight. Like the German feminist Broder referred to, they prefer to be raped than to resist.
“If faith collapses, civilization goes with it,” says Bethell. That is the real cause of the closing of civilization in Europe. Islamization is simply the consequence. The very word Islam means “submission” and the secularists have submitted already. Many Europeans have already become Muslims, though they do not realize it or do not want to admit it.
Some of the people I meet in the U.S. are particularly worried about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. They are correct when they fear that anti-Semitism is also on the rise among non-immigrant Europeans. The latter hate people with a fighting spirit. Contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe (at least when coming from native Europeans) is related to anti-Americanism. People who are not prepared to resist and are eager to submit, hate others who do not want to submit and are prepared to fight. They hate them because they are afraid that the latter will endanger their lives as well. In their view everyone must submit.
This is why they have come to hate Israel and America so much, and the small band of European “islamophobes” who dare to talk about what they see happening around them. West Europeans have to choose between submission (islam) or death. I fear, like Broder, that they have chosen submission – just like in former days when they preferred to be red rather than dead.
It turns out that the Somali cabdrivers in Minneapolis who refused to carry passengers with alcohol were inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, as part of a larger effort to bring Sharia to the United States. For what may seem to be a pragmatic and fair solution — the airport’s initial plan to color-code the cabs as Sharia-compliant and non-Sharia-compliant — actually opens the door to numerous other Sharia provisions in the U.S., as Daniel Pipes has pointed out. Will an unmarried man and woman be allowed to share a cab? A man carrying a ham sandwich? This kind of effort, especially now that the Ikhwan turns out to be behind it, must be seen for what it is and resisted strenuously.
“Airport taxi flap about alcohol has deeper significance,” by Katherine Kersten in the Star Tribune, with thanks to Fjordman:
The taxi controversy at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has caught the nation’s attention. But the dispute may go deeper than the quandary over whether to accommodate Somali Muslim cabdrivers who refuse to carry passengers carrying alcohol. Behind the scenes, a struggle for power and religious authority is apparently playing out.At the Starbucks coffee shop in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, a favorite Somali gathering spot, holidaymakers celebrating Eid, the end of Ramadan, filled the tables on Monday. Several taxis were parked outside.
An animated circle of Somalis gathered when the question of the airport controversy was raised.
“I was surprised and shocked when I heard it was an issue at the airport,” said Faysal Omar. “Back in Somalia, there was never any problem with taking alcohol in a taxi.”
Jama Dirie said, “If a driver doesn’t pick up everyone, he should get his license canceled and get kicked out of the airport.”
Two of the Somalis present defended the idea that Islam prohibits cabdrivers from transporting passengers with alcohol. An argument erupted. The consensus seemed to be that only a small number of Somalis object to transporting alcohol. It’s a matter of personal opinion, not Islamic law, several men said.
Ahmed Samatar, a nationally recognized expert on Somali society at Macalester College, confirmed that view. “There is a general Islamic prohibition against drinking,” he said, “but carrying alcohol for people in commercial enterprise has never been forbidden. There is no basis in Somali cultural practice or legal tradition for that.
“This is one of those new concoctions.”It is being foisted on the Somali community by an inside or outside group,” he added. “I do not know who.”
But many Somali drivers at the airport are refusing to carry passengers with alcohol. When I asked Patrick Hogan, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman, for his explanation, he forwarded a fatwa, or religious edict, that the MAC had received. The fatwa proclaims that “Islamic jurisprudence” prohibits taxi drivers from carrying passengers with alcohol, “because it involves cooperating in sin according to the Islam.”
The fatwa, dated June 6, 2006, was issued by the “fatwa department” of the Muslim American Society, Minnesota chapter, and signed by society officials.
The society is mediating the conflict between the cab drivers and the MAC. That seems odd, since the society itself clearly has a stake in the controversy’s outcome.
How did the MAC connect with the society? “The Minnesota Department of Human Rights recommended them to us to help us figure out how to handle this problem,” Hogan said.
Omar Jamal, director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, thinks he knows why the society is promoting a “no-alcohol-carry” agenda with no basis in Somali culture. “MAS is an Arab group; we Somalis are African, not Arabs,” he said. “MAS wants to polarize the world, create two camps. I think they are trying to hijack the Somali community for their Middle East agenda. They look for issues they can capitalize on, like religion, to rally the community around. The majority of Somalis oppose this, but they are vulnerable because of their social and economic situation.”
What is the Muslim American Society? In September 2004 the Chicago Tribune published an investigative article. The society was incorporated in 1993, the paper reported, and is the name under which the U.S. branch of the Muslim Brotherhood operates.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. The Tribune described the Brotherhood as “the world’s most influential Islamic fundamentalist group.”Because of its hard-line beliefs, the U.S. Brotherhood has been an increasingly divisive force within Islam in America, fueling the often bitter struggle between moderate and conservative Muslims,” the paper reported.
The international Muslim Brotherhood “preaches that religion and politics cannot be separated and that governments eventually should be Islamic,” according to the Tribune. U.S. members emphasize that they follow American laws, but want people here to convert to Islam so that one day a majority will support a society governed by Islamic law.
PARIS – Youths forced passengers off three buses and set them on fire overnight in suburban Paris, raising tensions Thursday ahead of the first anniversary of the riots that engulfed France’s rundown, heavily immigrant neighborhoods.
No injuries were reported, but worried bus drivers refused to enter some suburbs after dark, and the prime minister urged a swift, stern response.
The riots in October 2005 raged through housing projects in suburbs nationwide, springing in part from anger over entrenched discrimination against immigrants and their French-born children, many of them Muslims from former French colonies in Africa. Despite an influx of funds and promises, disenchantment still thrives in those communities.
About 10 attackers — five of them with handguns — stormed a bus in Montreuil east of Paris early Thursday and forced the passengers off, the RATP transport authority said. They then drove off and set the bus on fire.
Late Wednesday, three attackers forced passengers off another bus in Athis-Mons, south of Paris, and tossed a Molotov cocktail inside, police officials said. The driver managed to put out the fire. Elsewhere, between six and 10 youths herded passengers off a bus in the western suburb of Nanterre late Wednesday and set it alight.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said the events “should lead to an immediate response.”
“We cannot accept the unacceptable,” he told reporters in the northern suburb of Cergy-Pontoise. “There will be arrests. … That is our responsibility.”
Villepin also said efforts should be directed to “revitalize” troubled neighborhoods, and repeated the government’s insistence that authorities rid France of “lawless zones” where youth gangs operate.
The overnight attacks and recent ambushes on police have raised concern about the changing character of suburban violence, which is seemingly more premeditated than last year’s spontaneous outcry and no longer restricted to the housing projects. The use of handguns was unusual — last year’s rioters were armed primarily with crowbars, stones, sticks or gasoline bombs.
Regional authorities said the Nanterre bus line, which passes near Paris’ financial district, had not been considered at a high risk of attack. Francois Saglier, director of bus service at the RATP, said the attacks happened “without prior warning and not necessarily in neighborhoods considered difficult.”
The transit authority in the Essonne region south of Paris on Wednesday suspended nighttime bus service for security reasons following “multiple incidents,” including a tear gas bomb.
France’s inability to better integrate minorities and recent violence against police are becoming major political issues as the campaign heats up for next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, who is considering whether to run for president, said that attacks demonstrate “a desire to kill.”
“Some individuals are looking for provocations, and sometimes go further,” she said on i-Tele television. She acknowledged people facing unemployment and living in overcrowded housing projects “have trouble finding their place” in society.