Saturday, March 22, 2008

Actualizing religious freedom 

An Italian journalist conspired with the Pope today to exercise actual freedom of religion:

Pope Benedict led the world's Catholics into Easter on Saturday at a Vatican service where he baptized a Muslim-born convert who is one of Italy's most famous and controversial journalists....

One of the seven adults he baptized on Saturday night was Magdi Allam, 55, an Egyptian-born journalist who, as deputy director of the leading newspaper Corriere della Sera, is one of Italy's best-known intellectuals.

Allam, a fierce critic of Islamic extremism and a strong supporter of Israel, is protected by a police escort because of threats he has received.


His conversion to Christianity was a well-kept secret, disclosed by the Vatican in a statement less than an hour before the Easter eve service started.

Think, for a minute, about the implications of that last sentence: "His conversion to Christianity was a well-kept secret...." How can anybody possibly argue that Islam is not attacking the most fundamental freedoms of the West and winning when the Pope must keep the conversion of a Roman secret for fear of violence against the worshiper and the Church?

Nevertheless, huge props to the Pope for stepping up and baptizing Magdi Allam in public for all the world to see. If the Roman church does not draw a line against Islamist intimidation, who will?

MORE: Glenn Reynolds: "Well, this will irritate the right people." Precisely. I've never thought much of the Roman church (the term we "high" Episcopalians often use to refer to the Catholics), but I do love it when the Pope is a vicar valiant, a conquering hero, and champion of the West.


By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Mar 22, 09:08:00 PM:

Hmmmm....Amongst fundamental follers of the religion of peace, isn't conversion punishable by death. I assume you would also forfeit the 77 virgins.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Mar 22, 09:35:00 PM:

Has the reward gone up? I had always understood it was 72 virgins. Or maybe a bowl of "white raisons".  

By Blogger Escort81, at Sat Mar 22, 09:53:00 PM:

Agreed, I thought it was 72 virgins (maybe there is inflation to factor in the tripling of oil prices.) Explain to me again what is so great about having sex with virgins?

Maybe Vatican City's Swiss Guard has been secretly traveling to Coronado, California to do some joint training with the Navy SEALS, so that they are better able to deal with the forces of Islamic extremism! The helmets and armour probably get in the way, though.

I would think that like every other western government, Vatican City figures, why take a chance? There are crazies out and about. You'd prefer that they announce it well before hand and double dog dare some whack job to blow themselves up near Allam? I am not sure that means Islamic extremism is winning, although it is clearly attacking and acheiving some level of intimidation.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Mar 22, 10:52:00 PM:

I can argue that Islam isn't waging war with the West: Islam is a religion, and followers wage war far more effectively than ideas and religious texts. Further, judging a religion by the actions of its extremists is about as fair as characterizing Christianity by the KKK or the Crusades, or the Germans by their modern day neonazis. Actual Germans do not, by and large, subscribe to the ideals of Nazism, to the point where acts glorifying or imitating such ideas and times are flatly illegal. Finally, such lazy characterization as "Muslim = Muslim extremist" is the type of crap that gets institutionalizes skepticism and fear of minorities/gets people to call the Republican party prejudiced.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Sat Mar 22, 11:07:00 PM:

"judging a religion by the actions of its extremists"

The problem is more mainstream than you think, Tory. Otherwise, why would Saudi Arabia be retraining 40,000 clerics?

From the BBC on Thursday: "Saudi Arabia is to retrain its 40,000 prayer leaders - also known as imams - in an effort to counter militant Islam."


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Mar 22, 11:47:00 PM:

I feel comfortable making a judgment of what "extremist" is regardless of the number of practitioners. If I have 5 run-of-the-mill soccer-mom Christians and 5 "don't wear different types of cloth at the same time, rotate your crops, stone your kids if they convert" Christians, the latter are extremists. This is true even if I have none of the former and 10 of the latter, because I'll draw the line of what extremism is based on philosophy of interpretation and not mere number; numbers aren't necessarily legitimacy.

Further, I'll reemphasize the idea that such lazy characterization is bad, for more practical reasons. American does have a good number of soccer-mom Muslims in it, and to stoke nativist fervor directed at these innocuous bystanders is unnecessary, immoral and risky; consider all the usual reasons why painting innocents with the same brush as the guilty is bad. Additionally, few things might make more persuasive propaganda for such extremists indoctrinating moderates than Americans decrying their religion.

This whole Islam = Islamofascist = "People who will rape, pillage and install Shari'a law" thing is tired, useless and wrong.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 12:03:00 AM:

Tory, do some research and find out what the Muslim position towards apostasy is. Compare what the Christian position on apostasy is. What you or I might consider extreme is quite often considered mainstream in the Muslim world. It is common for Muslim preachers in Saudi Arabia to refer to Jewish people as apes and pigs.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 12:16:00 AM:

You raise an important point, although remember, Allam did convert, and more like him and this will be the most important brain drain in recent decades.

Have a great Easter!  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Sun Mar 23, 12:22:00 AM:

"I feel comfortable"

I really don't care how you "feel," Tory.

I have done business regularly in Muslim countries for roughly 30 years. I lived in Egypt and Indonesia. I have visited most of the others nations in the Islamic world far too many times to count. As a supplier of military aviation products, I have been helping Muslim governments in the battle against radical Islam for more than 20 years.

You can legitimately argue tactics--Iraq or not, McCain's way or Obama's way. But you underestimate the size of the challenge at your own peril.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 12:39:00 AM:

I am inutterably pleased to see you latching onto a linguistic contrivance as a point of substance and thank you for your concern. (/sarcasm) Also, props on your business contracts. I in no way have made a claim as to the enormity of the problem; I agree that it is large, given the roles that Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc play in our nation's existence. However, I think your final distinction on helping Muslim governments in the battle against radical Islam is interesting: radical Islam is different from regular Islam, a distinction you apparently recognize. I'm advocating calling a spade a spade: radical Islam is radical Islam, and "Islam" is not, for all the reasons tactical and otherwise I have mentioned.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Sun Mar 23, 01:34:00 AM:

I agree it's not everybody, Tory. The Islamic world has a lot of Muslims who only pay lip service to the teachings of their religion. Nevertheless, radical Islam (Muslims often refer to it as "political Islam") probably has at least 100 million to 200 million supporters.

This fight will go on long after your grandchildren are dead.

In the end, Islam will have to reform itself (or disappear). Telling Muslims that everything is "okay the way it is" does not contribute to the solution.

Since the Middle Ages, Islam has taught despotism at home and aggression abroad. That must change. Right now some influential religious thinkers in places like Turkey are working very hard to bring about the necessary changes and to find ways to justify them. Iran is one of the places pushing the other direction.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 02:13:00 AM:

I think you are a fool Tory. Either that or a man who hates himself and his heritage. Either way, a fool.

Osama bin Laden promised terrorism to Europe ... for cartoons. Published in Denmark. And some speech the Pope gave as a cardinal in Austria.

Now, I'm a free man (unlike yourself). I do not grovel, bend, prostate myself, or beg Osama bin Laden's permission or ANY OTHER MUSLIM who presumes to tell me from some hellhole on earth what I can do in my own country.

This is what Muslims demand: that I live according to what THEY SAY as a free man in my own country. They, and their allies who hate freedom in the West (for people not to bow down to the Plantation master like Castro or Chavez or whatever) can both most assuredly go to hell or Muslim lands (which are a close approximation of the same).

Osama threatened the Pope for something he said. He and all Muslims can ... stay Muslims. Either way they and their head-chopping, polygamist, stoning, terrorist, and other barbarous ways are my enemy. And that of any other free man in the West.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 02:50:00 AM:

Interesting fact: except when responding to DEC, where I said that the problem was indeed massive at an international level, I never talked about the magnitude of the problem of militant Islam. Ever. Read my posts again. Nor did I decry my heritage, or proclaim myself as self-hating. My overriding point the entire time has been that equating "Islam" and "radical Islam" (or "political Islam," which is a fine enough term in my mind,) is "bad," for many definitions of the word. For reasons of tactics (as in propaganda,) morality (casting innocent and guilty in the same mold is bad,) philosophy (what does it mean to say something is mainstream,) or the blanket assertion that nativism is dangerous. Interestingly, none of these issues has been addressed in what are (so far) 4 reply posts. Instead, we have talked about 1) "my feelings," by which I mean a stupid turn of phrase which has no meaning other than to help form a grammatical sentence, 2) my heritage, which to my knowledge is not known to any of you, 3) flat (and false) assertions concerning my self-perception, and 4) how bad violent and radical Islam is. A political philosophy that regularly advocates the ritual assault, abuse and murder of some of its less powerful followers being bad? I didn't get around to that issue until my last post because I think its obvious.

Much like the tactical implications of decrying Islam generally rather than the school of thought which advocates murder, seeing as I can guess a likely demographic for converts to militant Islam: moderate Muslims.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Mar 23, 02:56:00 AM:

We Episcopalians Glen are Part of the Holy Catholic and Apostoic
Nicene Creed (Baby)
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

In it's entirety
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Happy Easter  

By Blogger randian, at Sun Mar 23, 07:19:00 AM:

radical Islam is different from regular Islam

If you believe that, then you surely will be able to show how, in specifically Islamic terms, the "radicals" are not following the Quran, Hadith, and Sura as the orthodox schools of Islamic jurisprudence interpret them, how the radical's claim to Quranic justification for their acts cannot be supported by such jurisprudence, and how they are not following the example of Muhammad himself. You should also explain how it is possible for the radicals to use claims of Islamic purity to attract recruits, if what they do is in fact repugnant to Islamic teachings.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Mar 23, 07:58:00 AM:

randian, I do not think your last point really holds, except in a legalistic sense. Islam is a big religion with no central authority; it is practiced in many different ways by many different people around the world, many of which are entirely benign. Some proportion of Muslims, though, believe in a particularly restrictive religious practice, and further believe that those practices should be enforced by the state. Those people are, in recent terminology, Islamists. There are then versions of those people who believe that Islamic states should project power externally against near and far enemies, meaning apostate Muslims, Israel, and foreign supporters of either. Those people are, more or less, jihadists. Some fraction of those jihadists are willing to take up arms or even go on a suicide mission if they can take enough of their enemy with them.

So there are many Muslims, probably by far the majority, who would live and let live and practice a form of the religion that few would find offensive. The tricky question, though, is to figure out the proportions of Muslims who are Islamists, jihadists, and jihadist soldiers.

But it is surely true that "radical Islam is different from regular Islam" in practice. We need not require an exegesis of Koranic texts to believe that.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Mar 23, 08:04:00 AM:

Separately, I'm incredibly bummed that nobody mocked me for my "vicar valiant - champion of the West" pun. I kill me, but apparently not you guys.  

By Blogger Moneyrunner, at Sun Mar 23, 08:45:00 AM:

Who would have thought that conversion to Christianity would have to be kept a secret ... in Rome ... lest the convert be killed?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 08:47:00 AM:

Hi Tory:

You write:

"I can argue that Islam isn't waging war with the West: Islam is a religion, and followers wage war far more effectively than ideas and religious texts. Further, judging a religion by the actions of its extremists is about as fair as characterizing Christianity by the KKK or the Crusades, or the Germans by their modern day neonazis."

But the followers rely on the texts to make their case--successfully. Islamic teachings objectively show that perpetual war against unbeliever through the institution of Jihad is an obligation upon the Islamic community. That's what you are forgetting about--the plain truth of the matter. None of your other objections can get past this fact.

Incidentally, you are wrong to badmouth the crusades. On the whole they were an honorable effort against Islamic aggression, and we on the West should defend them as such.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 09:01:00 AM:

Islam ought to be tolerated in the modern world about like cannibalism would. Or the KKK.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 09:56:00 AM:


I have to wonder how useful it is to distinguish between peace-loving Muslims and jihadists.

During WW2, it has been said that the vast majority of Germans and Japanese were peace-loving. But they looked the other way while the extemists among them dragged them into war, and built concentration camps in their midst. The extemists could not have succeeded without the support of a compliant population willing to look the other way. The case is made in more detail here.

To persuade oneself that there really is a war going on, check out this site. There, they list every Islamic act of terror that has taken place since 9/11. At the moment, they list 10,777 acts, and and the list grew by 39 in the last week alone.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing(***). Peace-loving Muslims stand accused of doing too little to root out the cancer in their midst.

(***) Commonly attributed to Edmund Burke, but no one can prove that he actually said it! See here.  

By Blogger al fin, at Sun Mar 23, 10:22:00 AM:

Either Hillary or Obama said the best way to deal with Islam is to convert the men to Christianity, and to take all their women away to live with normal people.

Haha. Maybe Tory said that?

Muslims need to understand how primitive and violent their religion is understood to be--how unfit Islam is for any civilized world. Their subsequent riots will only emphasize the obvious point.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 10:31:00 AM:

Toby, very interesting. The posting was about a very public conversion of a Muslim to Christianity. If a Christian becomes apostate, either by renouncing Christianity or converting to another religion, there is no consequence. For example, my Christian fundamentalist grandmother maintained loving relations with her children and grandchildren who had renounced her religion. Yes, she would have loved for them to have converted, but she did not make said conversion the criteria for seeing her.

Islam, on the other hand, has a different treatment of apostates .

The four major Sunni and the one major Shia Madh'hab (schools of Islamic jurisprudence) agree that a sane adult male apostate must be executed.They differ on the punishment for a female apostate - some schools calling for death and others for imprisonment.
A minority of medieval Islamic jurists…argued or issued fatwas that either the changing of religion is not punishable or is only punishable under restricted circumstances, but these minority opinions have not found broad acceptance among the majority of Islamic scholars.

Some prominent contemporary examples of death sentences or threated issued for apostasy include Salman Rushdie, who was condemned to death in 1989 by Ayatollah Khomeini, (ruler of Iran at the time) for his book The Satanic Verses; and Abdul Rahman, an Afghan convert to Christianity who was arrested and jailed on the charge of rejecting Islam" in 2006 but later released as mentally incompetent.

So, according to mainstream Islamic jurisprudence, Magdi Allam has put his life in danger by converting to Christianity. Not extremist at all. Mainstream.

Yet your response is to blather on about Muslim soccer moms. After 9/11, I had some conversations with a Muslim of Indian origin. He might have been a “Muslim Soccer Dad” by your definition. He had lived overseas much of his childhood because his father was a UN official. He was a US citizen and an entrepreneur. He had a low opinion of jihadists. At the same time, he claimed that Mossad had warned Jews beforehand of the 9/11 attack.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 11:32:00 AM:

Peace-loving Muslims stand accused of doing too little to root out the cancer in their midst.

And what is more, ed, is that they can't have it both ways. If they are unwilling to take the necessary risks to destroy this disease, they have no right to complain when they are collaterally damaged by the other victims of this totalitarian ideology when we defend ourselves against this violation of our rights.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 11:46:00 AM:

"randian, I do not think your last point really holds, except in a legalistic sense."

Don't forget that Islam is a legalistic religion; they care far less about what you think (orthodoxy) than what you do. (orthopraxy)

This whole conversation is a a bit misguided.

The idea that the jihadists are 'extremists' in the first place is wrong. The duty to fight in jihad against the infidels (and behead them, no less) is written down in black and white for every Muslim who cares to look it up to see. It doesn't require the theological gymnastics or tunnel vision that most 'extremists' require. 'Fight the non-believers and go to heaven' is literally written right in the middle of the Quran.

They're only 'extremists' from our perspective, where civilized, normal people don't do the things that they do. And since our 'extremists' are fringe elements, we assume that theirs must be too.

Not true. To them, just being an Islamist is not extremist, and being a jihadi is laudable. As long as you follow the rules of jihad, (don't kill Muslims!) you're a hero. If you recall, it wasn't until al-Qaeda started blowing up masses of Muslims that Muslim public opinion turned against them. (and then only in certain places) Blowing up Christians is fine and dandy. Blowing up Jews is fantastic and they'll put your face on a billboard and throw a party in your honor.

Joining the Army or Marines is not just for 'extremists' here in the US; it's an additional duty a citizen takes on voluntarily and most fellow citizens honor and respect that new soldier. Well, being a jihadi isn't all that different in Islam.  

By Blogger Jay Kactuz, at Sun Mar 23, 11:50:00 AM:

Yes, radical Islam is different from regular Islam. The difference is that the radicals preach hate and kill, while the regular Muslims make excuses and pretend that that the evil the radicals do has nothing to do with Islam.

As far as I know both groups accept the same Quran that teaches hate and war against non-Muslims (Quote from 8:55: "non-believers are lower that beasts"). Both accept the hadith (The traditions) that tell us that MOhammad attacked his enemies 26-27 times, plundered village after village after caravan after caravan, enslaved men women and children, murdered his critics, let his men rape the women, tortured and even beat his own wife. These things were written by his friends and followers, not his enemies.

Even so, Muslims, all Muslims, consider him a great moral example and say "Praise be unto him" after his name. Figure out, if you can, what that means.

Therefore Muslims cannot be honest about Islam. It is ignorance and denial, and lie after lie.

Therefore Muslims must blame all their actions and problems on others. They never consider Islam as the source of their troubles. Islam is perfect so it must be your fault.

Things are only going to get worse. The future will not be nice.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 12:03:00 PM:

Actually the practice of punishing apostasy or conversion to another religion like say, Christianity, with death, or admission to a psychiatric facility is not limited to what is being called radical Muslim here but is the normal practice in most Muslim countries. Any Muslim converting to Christianity can expect to be kicked out of his family, and if he is killed for his apostasy, in most Muslim countries the killer will not run afoul of the law. That may have happened at one time in Christianity but you'd have to go back hundreds of years to find the equivalent. So for this Italian to fear for his life as a result of his conversion would be a common occurence in most Muslim countries. What may be new is that it is taking place in a Catholic nation such as Italy, but the practice has been around a long time and didn't just arrive with the Muslim extremists.  

By Blogger Amos, at Sun Mar 23, 12:23:00 PM:

Explain to me what is so great about having sex with virgins.

Easy: they know only slightly better than the Jihadis what they're doing.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 12:36:00 PM:

Our war against Islamic Terrorism is quite new. We are currently in the same situation as President Harry Truman was in after World War II and it looked certain that the Communists would take over Europe. We are still defining the terms of the conflict and the nature of the enemy.

The problem is that our enemy is not a nation state; nor is it a religion, but is an ideology. It is the proposition that the Islamic culture may dominate the rest of the world. The Islamists have no hope of accomplishing that, but the West is rather weak now because of its internal conflicts.

The Socialist Multiculturalists are subverting our culture and the West has not begun to address that. Before we can define the differences between us and radical Islam, we must understand what values we represent in the West.

Many people in the Democratic Party pay lip service to the rule of law, representative government, individual freedom and human rights, but do not do so in practice. If anything, the Multiculturalists are the more intractable enemy, because we have not exposed the absurdity of their positions and they control our educational apparatus and Mass Media. It is one thing to value the other cultures of our world and to learn from them, but the Multiculturalists denigrate, and seek to destroy, our own culture.

It is difficult to fight an obstinate enemy such as the Islamists, while at home, we are harassed by Leftist hecklers. We will deal with this. We must consider this as the natural course of events, because this war is merely an extension of the Cold War under new leadership.

This is not truly a war against a religion, Islam. It is against a culture that combines the worst aspects of Islam with Fascism or Communism. Islam, as a religion, is quite fragile. The Muslims are under great internal stress to adopt the practices of the West, simply because they are successful. This conflict can be seen as a reaction to our power, influence and wealth. The Islamists express an extreme fear that their religion and culture will be overpowered by the West. This is quite realistic, since the Muslims have accomplished nothing of note since the Fifteenth Century.

The Socialists around the world are weakened by the breakup of the Soviet Union but are not yet defeated. Hence, we are fighting a Multi-Front war with external and internal enemies. No wonder then, there is so much confusion.

Since this war will last for decades, just as the Cold War did, this will work out. It must, or we, in the West, will not survive.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 12:45:00 PM:

So, one of the really big arguments I have heard addresses the references in the Qur'an to punishing apostasy and affiliated things. I contend that the text of a religion usually endures interpretation, as in these cases:

Exodus 35:2—"On the seventh day you shall have a holy Sabbath of solemn rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death."
Leviticus 20:10—"If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death."
Leviticus 24:16—"One who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer."
Deuteronomy 21:18-21—"If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother…Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death."

To be fair, the New Testament also has things like this:

1 Thessalonians 5:15—"See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all."

But the Qur'an also has these:

"O unbelievers, I serve not what you serve and you are not serving what I serve, nor am I serving what you have served, neither are you serving what I serve. To you your religion, and to me my religion!"

“Believers, Jews, Sabaeans or Christians - whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right - shall have nothing to fear or regret”

“Wilt thou compel men to become believers? No soul can believe but by the leave of God”

Maybe a religious text is more complicated than "ZOMG I WILL KILL EVERYONE." American Muslims manage not to kill people, which might give one pause for thought.

Anycase, I have made previously the other points I wish made, and found corroboration with some others. Props to Dawnfire for the orthodoxy/orthopraxy distinction.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 12:49:00 PM:

@ Urbanbard: I think you have made a distinction I find very clear, and one I find less so. Multiculturalist Socialists? Could you define that moniker by an ideology with some policy positions and some prominent advocates, please?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 01:02:00 PM:

Tigerhawk, as a Catholic, I thought the "vicar valiant, a conquering hero, and champion of the West" was a great line. Perhaps I am missing a historical reference. I was talking to a Baptist last week and mentioned that the gap between Christian churches sure seems smaller since 9/11. She smiled and said, "I totally agree with you". It is sad that the leadership in Rome has not been more open in their opposition to militant Islam. After Jerusalem, Rome is the next target. Hopefully some of the people who think we have nothing to fear will understand how difficult a position we have put ourselves in if the Pope has to hide things from the Islamists.  

By Blogger Elijah, at Sun Mar 23, 01:12:00 PM:

"Multiculturalist Socialists? Could you define that moniker by an ideology with some policy positions and some prominent advocates, please?"


"Could you define that moniker by an ideology"?

We are owed.

"with some policy positions"

The "white community," said Mr. Obama, must start "acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past -- are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds ..."The 'white community' must invest more money in black schools and communities, enforce civil rights laws, ensure fairness in the criminal justice system and provide this generation of blacks with "ladders of opportunity"

"and some prominent advocates"?

"I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists."

"the other race would always remain just that:

menacing, alien, and apart."

- Mr. Obama, age 33, in Dreams from my Father

Any more questions?  

By Blogger Escort81, at Sun Mar 23, 01:13:00 PM:

Tory -

Your argument is that the text itself doesn't matter, that it is how it is interpreted and acted upon? A pragmatic approach.

Obviously, if there were some orthodox form of Judiasm that followed to the letter all of that nasty stoning stuff in Leviticus, it might run afoul of the U.S. (and also the Israeli, I think) legal system.

I suppose any text can be taken too seriously. I am reminded of that funny Star Trek episode when the Enterprise visits a planet, previously visited many years earlier by a Federation ship, that bases its society on a history book (its "Bible") about the Chicago mob in the 1930s that was left behind by that ship. Kirk and Spock have to violate the Prime Directive and set them back on a normal course of cultural evolution.

If only God would make his Word clear to all 6.5 billion people on Earth at the same time right now, through a real time universal simultaneous telepathic and televised broadcast and say "follow it, or don't follow it, the choice is yours, you have free will, but understand the consequences of your decision." Knowing how human beings are wired, does anyone think that would stop all or even most conflicts?

Anyway, Happy Easter everyone.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 01:16:00 PM:

If you understood Christianity you would know that under the New Covenant, Christ fulfilled the law that you quoted from scripture so teachings about putting someone to death no longer apply. That's why your opposing quote came from the New Testament, inspired by the New Covenant. That happened over 2,000 years ago although there have been periods since when the church strayed from that teaching.

Punishing apostasy with death is a present day concept in Islam rooted in their scripture so to equivocate the two is terribly wrong. A friend of mine worked with a Pakistani Christian evangelist. When this man became a Christian, his father, who was an officer in the Pakistani military, had him committed to a mental institution for a year, and when he didn't renounce his faith, his father hired someone to kill him. The son fled to Europe and later emigrated to the U.S. The father was well within his rights under Pakistani law and Muslim teachings. You just don't see that happening in Christian countries.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 03:21:00 PM:

@ Tory:
@ Urbanbard: I think you have made a distinction I find very clear, and one I find less so. Multiculturalist Socialists? Could you define that moniker by an ideology with some policy positions and some prominent advocates, please?

Try George Galloway and the Respect Party. Galloway manages to consider the collapse of the Soviet Union as the “ ‘biggest catastrophe’ of his life.” Galloway also said of Saddam: "I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability."
The above-cited article in the Guardian, nobody’s definition of a right-wing rag, goes on to add the following about the Respect Party.

“Another key part of the Respect alliance is the Muslim Association of Britain, a group that is not renowned for its tolerance towards, for example, Israeli civilians. A significant donor to Respect is Dr Mohammed Naseem, who, according to accounts declared to the Electoral Commission, has provided £15,000 to the party.
Naseem is an executive member of the Islamic party of Britain, a group that believes Mossad were behind the 9/11 attacks. He is also chair of the Birmingham central mosque and after the 7/7 attacks, he suggested there was no evidence that Islamists were responsible.”

One of the founding members of the Respect Party Coalition, and current vice-chair is Salma Yaqoob.
The Wikipedia article on Salma Yaqoob mentions a magazine article she wrote about a future Islamic Republic of Great Britain. At the end of the article, Salmon Rushdie is seen fleeing Great Britain. Here is a pdf of that article.

So yes, there is documentation for an Islamist-left wing alliance. It is further along in the UK than in the US, but not nonexistent here. Recall that Jeremiah Wright’s church included a screed by Hamas in one of its church bulletins.

Walrus answered your citations regarding apostasy rather well. By their fruits ye shall know them. In any event, Islamic jurisprudence, not the Koran per se, is a better key for determining how Islamic societies treat apostasy. As you acknowledge, Islam is more concerned with behavior than thought: thus jurisprudence becomes more important.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 04:40:00 PM:

"Props to Dawnfire for the orthodoxy/orthopraxy distinction."

Well thank you. It is my job, after all.

Kudos back for bothering to look up Quranic verse, but there's more to it. For instance, in the immediately preceding verse God refers to 'people of the book' as unbelievers.

"al-Ma’idah—5:68-69: (68) Say: ‘People of the Book, you will attain nothing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed to you from your Lord. That which is revealed to you (Muhammad) from your Lord will certainly increase the wickedness and unbelief of many of them. But do not grieve for the unbelievers."

Rather than fisking all three of your examples, I'll just explain. The Quran was revealed over a period of years in bits and pieces in response to current events. In the beginning, it was more conciliatory and humble. As time progressed and Islam became dominant it became more hostile and expansionist. Chronologically later verses abrogate and improve upon earlier ones. So if an early verse says something to the effect of, "live in peace with your pagan neighbors," but a later verse reads, "fight your pagan neighbors until they convert to Islam or are destroyed," then the latter one is the one people should now follow. And that's what they did.

Also, the 'tolerance' of Christians and Jews doesn't mean 'tolerance' like you and I understand it; it means 'not killing them outright as long as they accept 2nd class citizen status.' Because that's what they did to people of other faiths, killed them unless they converted.

I'd recommend this article:


for a decent explanation of the place of violence and oppression in Islamic theology.

An excerpt: 'The verse of tribute concerns the "people of the book" -- generally understood by Muslims to be faith communities possessing a scripture, especially Jews and Christians. The command is to fight those who have been given the book "until they pay the tribute (jizya) out of hand and have been humbled." The command in the sword verse is to "kill the associators (mushrikin) wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush." At face value, therefore, polytheists appear to be at greater risk than Jews or Christians.'  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 23, 05:33:00 PM:


I think you just gave us a new verse to an old song.

Hail to the vicars valiant,
Hail to the conquering heroes,
Hail, hail, the Vatican,
The champions of the West!  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Mar 23, 06:02:00 PM:

Anon 5:33 pm:


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 24, 09:19:00 AM:

Just read the post -- sorry not to have commented earlier. Anon 5:33 hit the nail on the head.

As husband of a member of the Roman church and as a Michigander, I did catch it immediately, with a big chuckle.

Can you imagine a miter with the Fritz Crisler wings?


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