Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Pope’s Words

NYT There is more than enough religious anger in the world.

And the New York Times is responsible for aggravating a lot of it, and doing almost nothing to counter it. Where are your editorials about some of the things that Muslim clerics have said?
So it is particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting a 14th-century description of Islam as “evil and inhuman.”
Should he have quoted someone from the 7th century, or someone from the 21st century? I am sure that quotes could have been found from both eras?
In the most provocative part of a speech this week on “faith and reason,” the pontiff recounted a conversation between an “erudite” Byzantine Christian emperor and a “learned” Muslim Persian circa 1391. The pope quoted the emperor saying, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Muslim leaders the world over have demanded apologies and threatened to recall their ambassadors from the Vatican, warning that the pope’s words dangerously reinforce a false and biased view of Islam. For many Muslims, holy war — jihad — is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence.
Actually you have merged two concepts. It is accurate to say that for many Muslims jihad is a spiritual struggle, within one's self, to do what God wishes. And we have absolutely no problem with those Muslims; we just more of them would speak out against the Islamofascists that have perverted the concept of jihad into that of a Holy War, willing to kill anyone that disagrees with you.
And they denounce its perversion by extremists,
But they do not do it anywhere nearly as loudly as the Jihadists. Show me a street march against Holy War, against Jihad, or for Peace
who use jihad to justify murder and terrorism.

The Vatican issued a statement saying that Benedict meant no offense and in fact desired dialogue. But this is not the first time the pope has fomented discord between Christians and Muslims.
Nor is it the first time a Muslim Cleric has formented discord between Christians and Muslims either.
In 2004 when he was still the Vatican’s top theologian, he spoke out against Turkey’s joining the European Union, because Turkey, as a Muslim country was “in permanent contrast to Europe.”
He may not have visited many parts of Londinistan at that time.
A doctrinal conservative, his greatest fear appears to be the loss of a uniform Catholic identity, not exactly the best jumping-off point for tolerance or interfaith dialogue.
Not at all. John Paul reached out to other faiths, and he was not trying to suppress the Catholic Church.
The world listens carefully to the words of any pope.
I hope they listen to this one.
And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.
Show him how. Let the New York Times apologize for their printing of Chris Ofili’s portrait of of the Virgin Mary, painted with elephant dung when they were talking about the Cartoon Wars and not printing those cartoons at all.
Allah Pundit blogged Most will lunge at the third paragraph but the whole piece is right there in the opening line. It’s an all-weather rejoinder to any criticism, however meritorious, of Muslims, who happen to be the source of most of that unspecified “religious anger” the Times is so wary of. Don’t provoke them, they’re saying; it’ll only make things worse. Not a word is wasted on the filth that pours regularly from the lips of Islamic religious authorities around the world. Instead they blame the Pope for having “fomented discord” and jeopardized interfaith relations by being a little too much of a stickler when it comes to “uniform Catholic identity.” The Pope. Not, say, the Saudis.

Damian Thompson wrote in Telegraph It is ironic that Benedict XVI finds himself accused of crude anti-Islamic prejudice after quoting a medieval emperor's opinion that Mohammed's violent teachings were "evil and inhuman". For no pope in history has made a deeper study of Islam. Having explored every verse of the Koran, and engaged in long debates with Muslim scholars, he rejects the simplistic notion — held by fundamentalist Christians, and by the Roman Catholic Church until the middle of the 20th century — that Islam is evil. Yet he is convinced that some of its doctrines are morally indefensible.
And he is right in both cases.
In Benedict's view, a profound ambiguity about violence lies at the heart of Islam, arising from the Prophet's belief that faith can be spread by the sword. Mohammed, after all, was a general whose troops beheaded hundreds of enemy captives.

Asked recently whether he considered Islam to be a religion of peace, the Pope replied: "Islam contains elements that are in favour of peace, just as it contains other elements." Christianity, by contrast, he sees as a religion of pure peace — which is why he adopts a near-pacifist approach to conflict in the Middle East.

Where the pontiff differs from his predecessor is in his impatience with what might be termed "Islamic political correctness".
And that Islamic political correctness would say that there can be no criticism of Islam, no matter who makes it, nor about any violent reaction to that criticism, and that people must apologize anytime a Jihadists says he is insulted, thus making him think he is stronger and more powerful than he really is, and making him respond more violently the next time he feels insulted.
John Paul II hoped that prayer could bring Christians and Muslims closer together, and famously prayed alongside Islamic leaders at Assisi in 1986. He also reassured Muslims that "we believe in the same God".
Let us hear that more often from Islamic leaders. They can even quote Surat al-Baqara, 136 (Qur'an 2:136) which says Say ye: "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them or Surat aal-E-Imran, 3 (Qur'an 3:3) which says It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). We are all "People of the Book" (or ahl al Kitâb) Surat Al 'Imran, 64 (Qur'an 3:64) says "O People of the Book! Let us rally to a common formula to be binding on both us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God."
Benedict would emphasise that the Islamic understanding of God is radically different from that of Christians.
And he is right.
He has also refrained from issuing the apologies for historical misdeeds made by John Paul II, arguing that they are never reciprocated.

Last year, at a private seminar, the Pope implied that he agreed with conservative Muslim clerics that the teachings of the Koran cannot be modified in any way. More-over, Islam, unlike Christianity, makes no distinction between sacred and secular.

"The Koran is a total religious law," he wrote in 1996, "which regulates the whole of political and social life." Therefore, a devout Muslim living in the West must aspire to live under sharia law. A multi-faith society "is not consistent with Islam's inner nature".
If a devout Muslim living in the west wishes to comport his own actions as being consistent with sharia law that is one thing, but if he expects a western country to change its laws, and impose sharia law on everyone, he is crazy. If he wants to live under sharia law, he should move to a Muslim country.
In other words, the Pope subscribes to a version of the "clash of civilisations" theory, which sees a fundamental incompatibility between Western and Islamic cultures. In his opinion, the primary aim of Christian-Muslim discussion is to avoid conflict.

For example, he supports the right of Muslim children to be taught their own religion in European schools — but on the strict understanding that their communities respect human rights.
But that is precisely what the Jihadists do not do.
Benedict's lecture at Regensburg University merely sought to elaborate his existing views. Beautifully written and constructed, it was intended for scholars interested in the relationship between God, rationality and coercion.

Although he described the Muslim approach to violence as defying God-given rationality, the Pope had no intention of offending ordinary Muslims or creating media headlines.

Yet the leader of the world's Roman Catholics has done both. How could a man who is so notoriously careful with words have committed what, in the eyes of liberal society, is a diplomatic blunder? The answer may be that underlying Benedict's nuanced world view is a deep-seated fear of Islam, which crops up in the daily conversation of Italian Catholics and stretches as far north as his Bavarian homeland.
Let us hope that his deep-seated fear of Islam can wake up the heads of some of the European countries before it is too late for them.
He does not believe that the Koran condones terrorism; he bears no animosity towards peace-loving Muslims; but he is worried that the aggressive ethos of authentic Islam may provoke a crisis in Western society. And if the price of making that point is a "diplomatic blunder", then so be it.

Captain Ed blogged All this has shown is that Muslims missed the point of the speech, and in fact have endeavored to fulfill Benedict's warnings rather than prove him wrong. If one reads the speech at Regensburg, the entire speech, one understands that the entire point was to reject violence in pursuing religion in any form, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Bahai. The focal point of the speech was not the recounting of the debate between Manuel II and the unnamed Persian, but rather the rejection of reason and of God that violence brings.... Islam bullies people into silence, and then obedience. We saw this with the Prophet Cartoons, a series of editorial criticisms that pale into insignificance when seen against similar cartoons from the Muslim media regarding Christians and especially Jews. It is precisely this impulse about which Benedict warns can occur in any religion, but modern Muslims show that they are by far the widest purveyors of this impulse.

Gerald Augustinus blogged By the way, note that the Vatican's statement said the Pope was sorry for the misunderstandings, it did not say he was sorry for what he said. Of course now every stupid media outlet, from Drudgereport to newspapers, headlines "Pope sorry".

Ed Driscoll blogged why would a leftwing newspaper written largely by atheists and agnostics want to lecture two of the world's dominant religions, in the first place?

Mark Finkelstein blogged The Times is only being fair and balanced, I suppose. After all, hardly a week goes by that you can't pick up the paper and read an editorial condemning this or that mullah, imam or ayatollah for the latest fatwa ordering the death of such-and-such infidel or the destruction of entire countries found to be an annoyance. Or not.

But the Times suddenly gets religion, if they'll excuse the expresssion, when it comes to the Pope. Oh well. At least there's one hopeful sign in all this. It was of course Stalin who dismissively asked how many divisions the Pope had. By its editorial according great weight to the words of the Pontiff, the Times would appear to be breaking with Uncle Joe. Might this be the start of a hopeful trend?


Friday, September 15, 2006

No such thing as a moderate Muslim

Sun2Surf reported There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim

Then maybe we should just kill all of them
and US President George W. Bush is mistaken in casting his war on terror in terms of a "struggle for civilisation", former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says.
He is right. It is a struggle to maintain civilization, or drop back to the 14th century.
Mahathir, who is known for his frequent barbs against what he has called Western double standard, said he believed even the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US were at root linked to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. "What is happening today has got nothing to do with religion. It has got to do with territorial disputes, mainly the dispute over Palestinian land," he told Reuters after a religious congress here.
Then get the Palestinians off of it. As God said in Joshua 1:1-4 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: 2 "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea [Mediterranean] on the west
He said Bush's description of America's "war on terror" as "a struggle for civilisation" on the fifth anniversary of the attacks was flawed, as was the West's hope that moderate Muslims would have a dominant voice. "There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim," he said. "We are fundamentalists in Malaysia. We follow the true teachings of the religion and the true teachings do not teach us to bomb and kill people without reason."
Then you need to condem the nutcases that do.
On Bush's comments, Mahathir, 81, said: "He's not civilised, he shouldn't be talking about civilising others."
Things were confusing back in the 7th century, wern 't they
Although most of the men who carried out the Sept 11 attacks were Saudis, Mahathir - whom Israel has in the past dubbed anti-Semitic - said he saw the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands as the root cause of Islamist extremism.
You can end the occupation immediately. Get the Palestinians off the land.
"They (the hijackers) had no direct link but there is a great deal of sympathy for the sufferings of the people of Palestine," he said.
Which they caused when they told them to leave Israel when they attacked in 1948, expecting to defeat Israel and then let them claim the Israeli land.
"Maybe that is because they are co-religionists but it is not because their religion urges them to do so. The West tends to blame religion, they blame Islam for whatever happens and associate Islam with terrorism," he said. He said he believed dubbing a fight against Islamic extremism as a struggle for civilisation risked becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. "(Muslims) are without arms, they are weak and they are pushed into a corner. If you are pushed into a corner and the only thing you can do is bite, you bite," he said.
You could die; would you prefer that alternative.
The tactics used by the US and allies such as Britain were an attempt to "out-terrorise the terrorists" and would therefore fail, Mahathir said. - Reuters
Saddam Hussein terrorised his people, he killed many people. But how many did he kill compared to the numbers the Americans have caused to be killed?" he asked.
Many fewer.


Muslims Assail Pope's Remarks on Islam

AP reported Turkey's ruling Islamic-rooted party joined a wave of criticism of Pope Benedict XVI on Friday, accusing him of trying to revive the spirit of the Crusades with remarks he made about Islam. Muslim leaders in the Middle East expressed dismay, and Pakistan's parliament unanimously condemned him.

Actually it is the wave of bitching from Turkey's Islamic rooted party and the IslamoFascists that is trying to revive the spirit of the Crusades, because it points out when Christianity had to whip their butts a number of centuries ago.
The Vatican said the pope did not intend the remarks _ made in Germany on Tuesday during an address at a university _ to be offensive. The pope quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam.
What truths are there in Islam. It seems to mean whatever the cleric translating it wants it to mean.
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,'" he quoted the emperor as saying. He did not explicitly agree with them nor repudiate them.
That was wrong. He should have agreed with them.
Turkey's top Islamic cleric, Religious Affairs Directorate head Ali Bardakoglu, asked Benedict on Thursday to apologize about the remarks and unleashed a string of accusations against Christianity, raising tensions before the pontiff's planned visit to Turkey in November on what would be his first papal pilgrimage in a Muslim country. Bardakoglu said he was deeply offended and called the remarks "extraordinarily worrying, saddening and unfortunate."
And just think what we think about your reaction. Cartoonists, ink your pens!!!
On Thursday, when the pope returned to Italy, Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said, "It certainly wasn't the intention of the pope to carry out a deep examination of jihad (holy war) and on Muslim thought on it, much less to offend the sensibility of Muslim believers."
But such an examination is long overdue. The pope is certainly familiar with Fascism, and he knows what Islam says and what the Islamofascists have twisted it to say. Who better to explain to the world the real threat of Islamofascism
Lombardi insisted the pontiff respects Islam. Benedict wants to "cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue toward the other religions and cultures, obviously also toward Islam," Lombardi said. On Friday, Salih Kapusuz, a deputy leader of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party, said Benedict's remarks were either "the result of pitiful ignorance" about Islam and its prophet, or worse, a deliberate distortion of the truths.
If there is A TRUTH in the Koran, why do Yusufali, Pickthal, and Shakir come up with different translations in when translating what the Almighty Himself (swt) gave to the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (saas)? Which were listening to which side of the conversation?
"He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages. He is a poor thing that has not benefited from the spirit of reform in the Christian world," Kapusuz blurted out in comments made to the state-owned Anatolia news agency. "It looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades."

Blue Crab blogged An official of the ruling Turkish Islamic-rooted party has compared Pope Benedict XVI with Hitler and Mussolini. We have a real-time violation of Godwin's law in record time. The rioting will commence as soon as enough of the proper flags, effigies, fuel and ignition sources can be obtained, one suspects. It takes time to organize a "spontaneous outpouring of rage", after all.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

I'm Back

Sorry the blog has been blank for the past few days. I was in the hospital. It points out that I need to have one or two guest bloggers that can take over when needed. Is anyone interested?


Is that George Bush’s fault?

Byron York wrote in The Hill Ask yourself this question: What actions, or series of actions, could President Bush and GOP leaders in Congress have taken in the war on terror that would cause Democratic leaders to say, seven weeks before mid-term elections, “We are all united in a common effort to defeat the enemy. President Bush and Republicans in the House and Senate have brought us together like never before. We see no need to change leadership.”

They did not even say that right after 9/11. They supported the President's retaliation and security requests, because they knew that if they opposed them, the country would turn against them for so long that they would never have a chance of getting into power in the next 100 years.
Can you argue, with a straight face, that there is there any set of circumstances imaginable today, five years after September 11, that would lead to such a statement? I didn’t think so.
There is nothing Bush could do, regarding not just the war on terror that would cause the Dems to say that. If he shot Cheney on National TV, absolutely guaranteeing his impeachment, and Cheney not able to take over, they still would not be happy, because Hastert would become President. They might try to drag the impeachment out until after the election hoping to have a Dem Speaker sneak in, but that would be the only possible thing.   Read More
Their only plan is OEBD (Ooppose Everything Bush Does).
So why do so many people accuse George W. Bush of “politicizing” the war on terror? That war is just the biggest issue facing the United States today, and has been for five years. How could it not be — how should it not be — an issue for intense debate by, well, politicians?
They do not support the war in Afganistan either; they just look at the hole in the ground in a state they must win, and know they can't be too strong against finding those who caused that, but they can certainly lie when he goes after a related matter that is equally dangerous.
After the president’s 9/11 anniversary speech, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) released a statement which read, in full: “The president should be ashamed of using a national day of mourning to commandeer the airwaves to give a speech that was designed not to unite the country and commemorate the fallen but to seek support for a war in Iraq that he has admitted had ‘nothing’ to do with 9/11. There will be time to debate this president’s policies in Iraq. September 11th is not that time.”

By my count — actually by Microsoft Word’s count — the president’s speech was 2,623 words long. Of those words, 516, or a little less than one-fifth of the total, were devoted to Iraq.

The other four-fifths were devoted to general memories of September 11, to the government’s efforts to make the American public safer, and to the president’s steadfast belief that the spread of democracy will end terrorism — all perfectly reasonable topics.

But it also seems perfectly reasonable to argue that if the president were to give a speech about national security on the anniversary of September 11, that part of that speech — perhaps a little less than one-fifth — should be devoted to Iraq.

In fact, given that the war is a major part of the government’s strategy in the post-9/11 world, wouldn’t it have seemed a little weird if Bush’s speech hadn’t mentioned Iraq at all?

Not, apparently, to the Democratic leadership in Congress. Talking about Iraq in a speech on September 11 amounts to “politicizing” a national tragedy.
And the Dems bitching about it is not "politicizing" it?
Okay. So how, looking back on the last five years, could Bush have made Democrats happier?

What could he have done that would have brought Democrats together with Republicans in one united effort to defeat our terrorist enemies?

Listen to virtually any Democrat and you’ll hear the answer: He should have stuck to Afghanistan.

“We all voted to go into Afghanistan,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said recently. “We should have stayed there to get the job done. Instead, the president chose to be distracted from catching Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban, and now, as was described earlier, Afghanistan is in a dreadful, dreadful situation.”
And that is because there are dreadful people there, but their wings have been clipped, and other equally dreadful people in Iraq are now also dead or in jail. Now what is between Iraq and Afganistan? Are there some dreadful people there? What should we do, march back to Afganistan through that dreadful country, taking care of any dreadful people we pass along the way?
“He took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said of Dick Cheney after the vice president’s recent appearance on “Meet the Press.”

“Congress responded in a bipartisan way [after 9/11],” Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said recently, “overwhelmingly giving the president the authority to go to war against al Qaeda, the Taliban in Afghanistan. We all stood together in that. We understood the enemy. We understood what we had to do.”

But now, Democrats say, we are bogged down in a giant distraction in Iraq. We should have kept our focus on Afghanistan.

But imagine this.

Imagine that George W. Bush had remained focused like a laser beam on the war in Afghanistan.

Not content with toppling the Taliban, he sent 130,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan in a determined effort to kill or capture every single member of al Qaeda.

He accomplished much, but Osama bin Laden remained in hiding, somewhere in the world’s most inhospitable territory in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Should we have marched into Pakistan, and turned that country, the only Muslim Country with Nukes, against us, rather than being our "friend"?
Meanwhile, resentment against the American presence built. An insurgency rose up, using improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers to kill U.S. soldiers. The American death toll mounted.
Sounds like what Russia did, and they did not succeed.
Now, do you believe that, if that had happened, Democrats would still be supporting the president’s policy in Afghanistan?

Do you believe that Pelosi, Reid, Durbin, and others would not be accusing George W. Bush of pursuing a misguided strategy in the war on terror, charging that the president was so obsessed with tracking down every last terrorist in Afghanistan that he ignored threats from places like Iran, North Korea, and — yes — Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? Do you believe that Democrats today, seven weeks before Election Day, would be united behind the president? I didn’t think so.

Blue Crab blotted Byron York points out, quite correctly, that there is literally nothing whatsoever that the President could have done that would not bring criticism from Democrats in an election year. Nature of the beast and all that