Imam Hussein Does Da’wa: The President’s Baltimore Mosque Visit

04obamawebb-master675-v3The president visited the Islamic Society of Baltimore on February 03, 2016.  A computer crash and a general nausea for things Islamic, particularly in the wake of the Brussels attacks, kept me from finishing.  Still relevant, I think.

I class his speech there as a form of da’wa, the call for non believers to rally to Islam.  In the early days of Mohammad’s religion Muslims called out to their enemies to accept Islam, or submit and accept Islam, and thus avoid attack. In his continuous presentation to the American public of an Islam that does not exist, he is, in my view, preparing the battle space for the Muslims.

The Islamic society of Baltimore, is in fact, a mosque.

Mosques in the US call themselves Islamic societies or centers, because they are aware that a lot of people don’t much like mosques,  as they often have been the sources of quite a bit of deviltry, including this very one.

Mr.Obama’s remarks add one more text to the long line of his laudatory, inaccurate, and frequently mendacious praise songs to Islam, that began with his 2009 Cairo speech and has continued through iftar dinners and prayer breakfasts, to the point where he has, in fawning submission, long since eclipsed George W. Bushes, fatuous, intellectually shallow, and deeply damaging post 9/11 declaration that “Islam is

bush-nihad-awad-muslim-brotherhood

President Bush at the Washington Mosque, 9/17/2001. At his right, Nihad Awad, Director of CAIR(Council on American-Islamic Relations), and Hamas supporter.  The FBI ended its outreach efforts with CAIR due to its ties to Muslim Brotherhood entities.

Peace.”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon.  And, Sabah, thank you for the wonderful introduction and for your example — your devotion to your faith and your education, and your service to others.  You’re an inspiration.  You’re going to be a fantastic doctor.  And I suspect, Sabah, your parents are here because they wanted to see you so — where are Sabah’s parents?  There you go. (Applause.)  Good job, Mom.  She did great, didn’t she?  She was terrific.

You can see Ms. Sabah’s introduction here:.

To everyone here at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, thank you for welcoming me here today.  I want to thank Muslim Americans leaders from across this city and this state, and some who traveled even from out of state to be here.  I want to recognize Congressman John Sarbanes, who is here.  (Applause.)

As well as two other great leaders in Congress — and proud Muslim Americans — Congressman Keith Ellison from the great state of Minnesota — (applause) — and Congressman Andre Carson from the great state of Indiana.  (Applause.)

So, does the President give shout outs to proud Catholic legislators?  This is telling, and shows just how different Islam is from other religions. It claims sovereignty, and increasingly, our leaders accord it such.  As for these two being leaders, let alone  great ones,Muslim or otherwise, there is no evidence for that, and their fame is due entirely to their being Muslim converts.

This mosque, like so many in our country, is an all-American story.  You’ve been part of this city for nearly half a century. You serve thousands of families — some who’ve lived here for decades as well as immigrants from many countries who’ve worked to become proud American citizens.

Now, a lot of Americans have never visited a mosque.  To the folks watching this today who haven’t — think of your own church, or synagogue, or temple, and a mosque like this will be very familiar.  This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and each other.  There’s a school where teachers open young minds.  Kids play baseball and football and basketball — boys and girls — I hear they’re pretty good.  (Laughter.)  Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts meet, recite the Pledge of Allegiance here.

One thing at this mosque would be familiar only to Orthodox Jewish communities: the gender segregation of worshipers.

Muslim women protest gender segregation while President Obama addresses Baltimore mosque. congregation. These women in fact have no support for their position anywhere in Islamic doctrine and practice.

Muslim women protest gender segregation while President Obama addresses Baltimore mosque. congregation. These women in fact have no support for their position anywhere in Islamic doctrine and practice.

With interfaith dialogue, you build bridges of understanding with other faith communities — Christians and Jews.  There’s a health clinic that serves the needy, regardless of their faith.  And members of this community are out in the broader community, working for social justice and urban development.  As voters, you come here to meet candidates.  As one of your members said, “just look at the way we live…we are true Americans.”

“…working for social justice and urban development.”

Well there we go, thanks for joining the progressive coalition.  Social justice?  Whatever it is, it isn’t the justice of the blindfold and equally weighted scales.  Justice modified is not justice at all.  As may be said for Islamic justice.

So the first thing I want to say is two words that Muslim Americans don’t hear often enough — and that is, thank you.  Thank you for serving your community.  Thank you for lifting up the lives of your neighbors, and for helping keep us strong and united as one American family.  We are grateful for that.  (Applause.)

Speak for yourself.  One needs only to look towards Europe to see the social discord that mass Muslim immigration has brought with it.

Now, this brings me to the other reason I wanted to come here today.  I know that in Muslim communities across our country, this is a time of concern and, frankly, a time of some fear.  Like all Americans, you’re worried about the threat of terrorism.  But on top of that, as Muslim Americans, you also have another concern — and that is your entire community so often is targeted or blamed for the violent acts of the very few.

In fact, given the continuous threats, the periodic devastating attacks, Americans, and liberal Western democracies in general, have shown a remarkable forbearance in the face of an aggressive minority, which in earlier times, would have seen the expunged from their national territories. It is fortunate for Muslims that liberal democracies are, well, liberal.

As for the violent acts a a very few, that violence outnumbers the actions of any other religious group, exponentially, and Muslims are a very small group in the United Sates, a fact that those running the numbers and coming up with Islamic and “Right Wing” terror casualties  in equal numbers.  Such analyses also often use post 9/11 as a convenient starting point. Those “few” do not spring from a void, but rather reflect the values of much larger segments of Muslim opinion globally.  They are analogous to Leninists receiving tacit approval from Fabians.

Personally, I’m not much worried about terrorism, but rather the economic and social distortion in responding to the threats, overwhelmingly Islamic, and accommodating the demands of Muslims in a secular society.

Muslims praying at UN, where they have taken over a public room formerly available to all

Muslims praying at UN, where they have taken over a public room formerly available to all

The Muslim American community remains relatively small –several million people in this country.  And as a result, most Americans don’t necessarily know — or at least don’t know that they know — a Muslim personally.  And as a result, many only hear about Muslims and Islam from the news after an act of terrorism, or in distorted media portrayals in TV or film, all of which gives this hugely distorted impression.

I guess the President doesn’t much care for “Homeland,” which in my view goes out of its way to be “nuanced.”

I know lots of Muslims, and over decades I have seen them become more extreme, which is once again borne out by well respected opinion surveys.

ISIS is Islamic, and as do all its allies and fellow travelers acts entirely consistently with Islamic tradition.  One telling example is the burning alive of a caged Jordanian pilot, burning being a historical penalty for apostasy within Islam.

As for conflation, Charleston church shooter

all hallaj

A heretic being executed in Medieval Baghdad.

Dylan Roof posted a picture of himself with a confederate battle flag, and that was the end of that symbol in public discourse, Dukes of Hazard be damned.

 

And of course, recently, we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country.

No surprise, then, that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged.

Well no they haven’t.  As always, the Jews are the major target, and Muslims come last.

Here at this mosque, twice last year, threats were made against your children.  Around the country, women wearing the hijab — just like Sabah — have been targeted. We’ve seen children bullied.  We’ve seen mosques vandalized.  Sikh Americans and others who are perceived to be Muslims have been targeted, as well.

OK, this stuff does happen, and so do a great number of fake hate crimes, quickly forgotten.  What is striking is that in the United Sates – a very large, diverse nation – is how few, and usually non lethal, hate crimes are recorded.  And you won’t find a statistic for something for which their is anecdotal evidence – faked anti-Muslim hate crimes.

I just had a chance to meet with some extraordinary Muslim Americans from across the country who are doing all sorts of work.  Some of them are doctors; some of them are community leaders; religious leaders.  All of them were doing extraordinary work not just in the Muslim community but in the American community.  And they’re proud of their work in business and education, and on behalf of social justice and the environment and education.  I should point out they were all much younger than me — (laughter) — which is happening more frequently these days.  And you couldn’t help but be inspired, hearing about the extraordinary work that they’re doing.  But you also could not help but be heartbroken to hear their worries and their anxieties.

Nah, bro.  A lot of the rest of us are tired and annoyed at the endless bleating from so many Muslims, when their religion’s assault on the west has “fundamentally transformed,” that is to say, deformed our institutions, depleted our treasuries, and stifled our civil discourse.

Some of them are parents, and they talked about how their children were asking, are we going to be forced out of the country, or, are we going to be rounded up?  Why do people treat us like that?  Conversations that you shouldn’t have to have with children — not in this country.  Not at this moment.

“Why do people treat us like that?”

Consult your holy book. And the entire corpus or Islamic tradition and jurisprudence, none of which offers anything  that we in the West would want, and much of which we by nature and experience, abhor.

Nothing like trotting out children to make a political point.

And that’s an anxiety echoed in letters I get from Muslim Americans around the country.  I’ve had people write to me and say, I feel like I’m a second-class citizen.  I’ve had mothers write and say, “my heart cries every night,” thinking about how her daughter might be treated at school.  A girl from Ohio, 13 years old, told me, “I’m scared.”  A girl from Texas signed her letter “a confused 14-year-old trying to find her place in the world.”

Sure.

I don’t believe a word of this, especially that last one.  Reminds me of Hillary and the “junior feminist.” Or Chelsea Clinton leaving the Baptist Church at age 6 over its stance on abortion.

These are children just like mine.  And the notion that they would be filled with doubt and questioning their places in this great country of ours at a time when they’ve got enough to worry about — it’s hard being a teenager already — that’s not who we are.

We’re one American family.  And when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second-class or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation.  (Applause.)

“….that’s not who we are.”

FABRICBoy, I’m getting sick of this.  Basically, it’s code for “shut up.”  As for the “very fabric of our nation,” this phrase appears in every speech this man makes about Islam, of which there are a considerable number.

Here, we’re back to the unity candidate of 2008.  Well, a unity that excluded those who cling to their guns and religion and had yet to tell Christians to get off their high horse

It’s a challenge to our values — and that means we have much work to do.  We’ve got to tackle this head on.  We have to be honest and clear about it.   And we have to speak out.  This is a moment when, as Americans, we have to truly listen to each other and learn from each other.  And I believe it has to begin with a common understanding of some basic facts.  And I express these facts, although they’d be obvious to many of the people in this place, because, unfortunately, it’s not facts that are communicated on a regular basis through our media.

“Facts,” repeated three times.

There is little that is factual in what follows.

So let’s start with this “fact:”

For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace.  And the very word itself, Islam, comes from salam — peace.  The standard greeting is as-salamu alaykum — peace be upon you.  And like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.  Whoever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad taught, “let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.”  (Applause.)  For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar.  (Laughter.)

Sheesh.  The factually challenged President of the Intercontinental Railroad, Austrian language, Maldives instead of Malvinas, 57 states, and so on, does it again.

While the two words in Arabic share a common root, Islam does not mean peace, but rather to submission to the will of God.  This is core to the very idea of Islam, and is in fact, its essence.

This is etymological and theological fact, and is acknowledged universally, by those against, neutral, and for Islam.

The concept of submission in Islamic jurisprudence extends to the non- Islamic world submitting to Islam.  This too is fact.

There is worse to come here.  Obama implies he is quoting an Islamic golden rule, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The alleged quotation is an elided version of the following from a hadith (Sahih Muslim 33:10) entitled the “Book on Government. Chapter: The obligation of fulfilling oaths of allegiance is owed to the first of two Caliphs.”

First, this refers to a very specific time and place, so there is nothing universal about the message.

Next, it applies only to Muslims.

“Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and enter the garden should die with faith in Allah and the Last Day and should treat the people as he wishes to be treated by them.”  The “people “here is not all people, but “the people,”  that is, the Muslim community, the ummah.

The next two sentences are:

“He who swears allegiance to a Caliph should give him the pledge of his hand and the sincerity of his heart (i. e. submit to him both outwardly as well as inwardly). He should obey him to the best of his capacity. It another man comes forward (as a claimant to Caliphate), disputing his authority, they (the Muslims) should behead the latter.”

So we have here instructions for political stability within the Islamic state, and that perennial Islamic favorite, beheading.

How can I be sure this is the source of the bogus quotation?

Simple.

As I was certain that no such words are in the Koran( and there aren’t) I simply pasted the quotation along with “hadith” and was immediately taken to a number of Muslim sites that pointed me to this hadith.

The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are as diverse as humanity itself.  They are Arabs and Africans.  They’re from Latin America to Southeast Asia; Brazilians, Nigerians, Bangladeshis, Indonesians.  They are white and brown and black.  There’s a large African American Muslim community.

Yes, a very problematic one, growing quickly through prison recruitment

That diversity is represented here today.  A 14-year-old boy in Texas who’s Muslim spoke for many when he wrote to me and said, “We just want to live in peace.”

Indeed, Islam is ethnically diverse. At one time, when I understood little, I found this very attractive.  In practice, however, while anyone can join the ummah, Arabs have always been primus inter pares.

Here’s another fact:  Islam has always been part of America. Starting in colonial times, many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim.  And even in their bondage, some kept their faith alive.  A few even won their freedom and became known to many Americans.  And when enshrining the freedom of religion in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, our Founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions.

This is a fascinating aspect of the Atlantic slave trade, on which there is growing scholarship.  The research to date, however shows that there is no lineal connection between those early American Muslims and any Muslim community today.  Like the Jews of medieval China, they died out, leaving linguistic and cultural traces, but no surviving communities, even with a distorted form of the religion, as did a sort of Christianity live on in Japan’s “Hidden Christians,” after the persecution, democide, in fact, of the Shogunate.

Back then, Muslims were often called Mahometans.  And Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths — and I’m quoting Thomas Jefferson now — “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.”  (Applause.)

Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran. Benjamin Franklin wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”  (Applause.)  So this is not a new thing.

Religious tolerance is indeed not a new concept in The United States; nor is looking askance at Islam.

Here is John Adams on Islam.

“In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth…

He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE

Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. (Blunt, 1830, 29:269, capitals in orig.).”

And,Title Page

“The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force (Blunt, 29:274Blunt, 29:274).”

There is much more.

Generations of Muslim Americans helped to build our nation. They were part of the flow of immigrants who became farmers and merchants.  They built America’s first mosque, surprisingly enough, in North Dakota.  (Laughter.)  America’s oldest surviving mosque is in Iowa.  The first Islamic center in New York City was built in the 1890s.  Muslim Americans worked on Henry Ford’s assembly line, cranking out cars.

A Muslim American designed the skyscrapers of Chicago.

All of them?  Chicago is known to architecture buffs everywhere as the first home of soaring reinforced concrete buildings. I am suspicious enough of  Mr. Obama’s motives that I don’t wonder that this sentence isn’t designed to give Islam the credit for the work of Louis Sullivan, whose first landmark Chicago building using steel skeletons is still renowned.

The Bangladeshi born Fazlur Rahman Khan was a notable designer of tall buildings in Chicago, in the 60s in and 70s.

What Obama is doing here is something often bruited: a linear narrative of vigorous Muslim participation in American history, equal to that of another but small, but influential minority present since colonial times, the Jews.

It simply isn’t true, and one wonders why so many are so desperate to sell this sketchy and largely unsupported narrative,  Whatever one might have thought of the Viet Nam War, I think Americans are generally pleased with the success of the Vietnamese refugee community, yet there is no effort to find a Viet Namese in the colonial militia, as one sees with Muslims.

Muslim Americans worked on Henry Ford’s assembly line, cranking out cars.

This is true, and no one seems to know why exactly, but the large Muslim community in Michigan does trace its origins back to the time of the Model A. Ford was a vicious –even for his time – Jew hater, so some posit that he thus preferred Muslims. There is no evidence of a causal link. The car maker also didn’t care much for black people, or the Irish.

In any case, while Muslims did work the assembly line, so did immigrants of many other origins.

In 1957, when dedicating the Islamic center in Washington, D.C., President Eisenhower said, “I should like to assure you, my Islamic friends, that under the American Constitution … and in American hearts…this place of worship, is just as welcome…as any other religion.”  (Applause.)

True again. Also at this time, the CIA worked with Muslim brotherhood elements, with Islam seen as an ally against Soviet Communism

And perhaps the most pertinent fact, Muslim Americans enrich our lives today in every way.  They’re our neighbors, the teachers who inspire our children, the doctors who trust us with our health — future doctors like Sabah.  They’re scientists who win Nobel Prizes, young entrepreneurs who are creating new technologies that we use all the time.  They’re the sports heroes we cheer for -— like Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon.  And by the way, when Team USA marches into the next Olympics, one of the Americans waving the red, white and blue — (applause) — will a fencing champion, wearing her hijab, Ibtihaj Muhammad, who is here today.  Stand up.  (Applause.)  I told her to bring home the gold.  (Laughter.)  Not to put any pressure on you.  (Laughter.)

Muslim Nobel Prizes

This one is so easy to shoot down, I wonder why anyone bothers to put it up anymore.

8 Peace prizes.  And we all know what a load of crap that category is.

2 in Literature (both well deserved, in my view)

3 in the sciences, one of whom was Egyptian American, and the only Muslim American to win a Nobel, ever.

So unless, Mr. Obama does not understand the proper use of plurals, I’ll call this debunked.

Sports, whatever.

This is all of a piece in the ceaseless effort to sell  the nobility and accomplishments of Islam, as in 1001 Islamic inventions, debunked here.

Muslim Americans keep us safe.  They’re our police and our firefighters.  They’re in homeland security, in our intelligence community.  They serve honorably in our armed forces — meaning they fight and bleed and die for our freedom.  Some rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  (Applause.)

Yes some do serve honorably and keep us safe.  Others are like Nidal Hassan,   the Fort Hood shooter, and Hasan K. Akbar, who fragged and shot his fellow soldiers in Kuwait, killing two and wounding fourteen.

“Homeland Security.” Indeed, and that should give you pause, as this guy did eventually to DHS, even given our obtuse leaders.

So Muslim Americans are some of the most resilient and patriotic Americans you’ll ever meet.  We’re honored to have some of our proud Muslim American service members here today.  Please stand if you’re here, so we can thank you for your service.  (Applause.)

Again, do we have shout outs for proud Baptist service members?

So part of the reason I want to lay out these facts is because, in the discussions that I was having with these incredibly accomplished young people, they were pointing that so often they felt invisible.  And part of what we have to do is to lift up the contributions of the Muslim American community not when there’s a problem, but all the time.

Let Muslims “lift up the contributions of the Muslim American community” if they so desire.  Not my job.  Note again here the hyphenation of Muslim and American.  One hears of American Catholics, but not  “Catholic-Americans.”

Our television shows should have some Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security — (applause) — because — it’s not that hard to do.  There was a time when there were no black people on television.  And you can tell good stories while still representing the reality of our communities.

OK, whatever. Social justice and diversity propaganda on television these days is so pervasive that a little more wouldn’t be noticed.  I don’t watch this crap anyway. And I predict that Fox will regret greenlighting a pilot for a “Muslim family sitcom.”  It will bomb, just as did “All American Muslim.”

Now, we do have another fact that we have to acknowledge.  Even as the overwhelming majority — and I repeat, the overwhelming majority — of the world’s Muslims embrace Islam as a source of peace, it is undeniable that a small fraction of Muslims propagate a perverted interpretation of Islam.  This is the truth.

How is it that such a wonderful, peaceful religion is so easily misunderstood, misappropriated and distorted?  Again, for anyone familiar with the texts, it isn’t. peaceful in any way that would make sense to a non-Muslim.

Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL, they’re not the first extremists in history to misuse God’s name.  We’ve seen it before, across faiths.

Wink, wink, the Crusades.

But right now, there is a organized extremist element that draws selectively from Islamic texts, twists them in an attempt to justify their killing and their terror.  They combine it with false claims that America and the West are at war with Islam.  And this warped thinking that has found adherents around the world — including, as we saw, tragically, in Boston and Chattanooga and San Bernardino — is real.  It’s there.  And it creates tensions and pressure that disproportionately burden the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Muslim citizens.

 

What about the burdens the rest of us bear, from putting up with the TSA, to paying for the enormous and ever burgeoning costs of the National Security State?

And the question then is, how do we move forward together?  How do we keep our country strong and united?  How do we defend ourselves against organizations that are bent on killing innocents?  And it can’t be the work of any one faith alone.  It can’t be just a burden on the Muslim community — although the Muslim community has to play a role.  We all have responsibilities.  So with the time I have left, I just want to suggest a few principles that I believe can guide us.

Um, no.  I had nothing to do with this, and defending innocents is your job.

First, at a time when others are trying to divide us along lines of religion or sect, we have to reaffirm that most fundamental of truths:  We are all God’s children.  We’re all born equal, with inherent dignity.

Absolutely.  Now get Muslims to acknowledge the same, supporting the assertion with their sacred texts.  They can’t.

And so often, we focus on our outward differences and we forget how much we share.  Christians, Jews, Muslims — we’re all, under our faiths, descendants of Abraham.  So mere tolerance of different religions is not enough.  Our faiths summon us to embrace our common humanity.  “O mankind,” the Koran teaches, we have “made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.” (Applause.)  So all of us have the task of expressing our religious faith in a way that seeks to build bridges rather than to divide.

Fine, have at it.  When will we see mosques hosting Christian services, as ecumenically minded – and deplorably stupid – Christian and Jewish clerics have done? I give Muslims credit for the strength of their convictions.  They see religion as a binary proposition: either all are false, or only one is true. I subscribe to the former, they the latter.

Second, as Americans, we have to stay true to our core values, and that includes freedom of religion for all faiths.  I already mentioned our Founders, like Jefferson, knew that religious liberty is essential not only to protect religion but because religion helps strengthen our nation — if it is free, if it is not an extension of the state.  Part of what’s happened in the Middle East and North Africa and other places where we see sectarian violence is religion being a tool for another agenda — for power, for control.  Freedom of religion helps prevent that, both ways — protects religious faiths, protects the state from  — or those who want to take over the state from using religious animosity as a tool for their own ends.

Well, this is pretty good, but of course Islam is not an extension of the state; in classical practice it is the state.

That doesn’t mean that those of us with religious faith should not be involved.  We have to be active citizenry.  But we have to respect the fact that we have freedom of religion.

Remember, many preachers and pastors foughthe evil of t to abolish slavery.

Rabbis too, although the Wesleyans take pride of place here, but not one imam, mufti or any Islamic cleric, ever.

The Arab slave trade in East Africa was the last to be suppressed by the royal Navy, and vestiges of it survive to this day

People of faith advocated to improve conditions for workers and ban child labor.  Dr. King was joined by people of many faiths, challenging us to live up to our ideals.  And that civil activism, that civic participation that’s the essence of our democracy, it is enhanced by freedom of religion.

Now, we have to acknowledge that there have been times where we have fallen short of our ideals.  By the way, Thomas Jefferson’s opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a Muslim — so I was not the first — (applause.)  No, it’s true, it’s true.  Look it up.  (Laughter.)  I’m in good company. (Laughter.)

Ah, Jefferson. Leftists misuse old Tom just as they do scripture.  I give you the Barbary Wars.

This fun historical snippet can only be described charitably as a stretch.  At best, partly true, sort of.

One Federalist called Jefferson the “great arch priest of Jacobinism and infidelity.” The Connecticut Courant suggested he might be a secret Jew or Muslim. It complained that no one seemed to know “whether Mr. Jefferson believes in the heathen mythology or in the alcoran (Quran); whether he is a Jew or a Christian; whether he believes in one God, or in many; or in none at all.”

But it hasn’t just been attacks of that sort that have been used.  Mormon communities have been attacked throughout our history.  Catholics, including, most prominently, JFK — John F. Kennedy — when he ran for President, was accused of being disloyal.  There was a suggestion that he would be taking orders from the Pope as opposed to upholding his constitutional duties. Anti-Semitism in this country has a sad and long history, and Jews were excluded routinely from colleges and professions and from public office.

Fair enough.

And so if we’re serious about freedom of religion — and I’m speaking now to my fellow Christians who remain the majority in this country — we have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths.  (Applause.)  And when any religious group is targeted, we all have a responsibility to speak up.  And we have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias, and targets people because of religion.

We’ve got to make sure that hate crimes are punished, and that the civil rights of all Americans are upheld.  (Applause.)  And just as faith leaders, including Muslims, must speak out when Christians are persecuted around the world — (applause) — or when anti-Semitism is on the rise — because the fact is, is that there are Christians who are targeted now in the Middle East, despite having been there for centuries, and there are Jews who’ve lived in places like France for centuries who now feel obliged to leave because they feel themselves under assault –sometimes by Muslims.  We have to be consistent in condemning hateful rhetoric and violence against everyone.  (Applause.)  And that includes against Muslims here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So, do I give the President kudos for finally getting around to the purge of Christianity from the place of its origins?

No

Further back, he said that Islam has preached its message of peace for a thousand years.

Yet he credits Middle Eastern Christianity with mere centuries, when in fact it predated Islam there by five centuries.  Now centuries sum up to thousands, so its hard to call this a bold faced lie, but it is clearly designed to place Christianity below Islam in the historical hierarchy.

That the thriving Christian –majority- communities of Late antiquity in the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean littoral have been largely obliterated, and this many centuries ago, a factual history readily available, is not discussed.

So none of us can be silent.  We can’t be bystanders to bigotry.  And together, we’ve got to show that America truly protects all faiths.

Which brings me to my next point:  As we protect our country from terrorism, we should not reinforce the ideas and the rhetoric of the terrorists themselves.  I often hear it said that we need moral clarity in this fight.  And the suggestion is somehow that if I would simply say, these are all Islamic terrorists, then we would actually have solved the problem by now, apparently.  (Laughter.)  Well, I agree, we actually do need moral clarity.  Let’s have some moral clarity.  (Applause.)

Groups like ISIL are desperate for legitimacy.  They try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors who speak for Islam.  I refuse to give them legitimacy.  We must never give them that legitimacy.  (Applause.)  They’re not defending Islam.  They’re not defending Muslims.  The vast majority of the people they kill are innocent Muslim men, women and children.  (Applause.)

So they kill mostly Muslims, so what?  Internecine warfare is hardly new to Islam.

And, by the way, the notion that America is at war with Islam ignores the fact that the world’s religions are a part of who we are.  We can’t be at war with any other religion because the world’s religions are a part of the very fabric of the United States, our national character.  (Applause.)

“What we are” again.

Islam is no part of me, and as I think I have demonstrated earlier, has not been a significant part of America.  If it wishes to be such, it will have to change its ways.

So the best way for us to fight terrorism is to deny these organizations legitimacy and to show that here in the United States of America, we do not suppress Islam; we celebrate and lift up the success of Muslim Americans.  That’s how we show the lie that they’re trying to propagate.  (Applause.)  We shouldn’t play into terrorist propaganda.  And we can’t suggest that Islam itself is at the root of the problem.  That betrays our values.  It alienates Muslim Americans.  It’s hurtful to those kids who are trying to go to school and are members of the Boy Scouts, and are thinking about joining our military.

I get tired of saying this, but try reading the Koran.  And the ahadith, and the Sira.

That kind of mindset helps our enemies.  It helps our enemies recruit.  It makes us all less safe.  So let’s be clear about that.

They seem to be recruiting just fine without us. It’s always, something: Israel, American bases in Saudi Arabia, the Iraq War. These putative “root causes” come and go, but the violence continues.

Now, finally, just as all Americans have a responsibility to reject discrimination — I’ve said this before — Muslims around the world have a responsibility to reject extremist ideologies that are trying to penetrate within Muslim communities.

(Penetrate is a transitive verb, you twat.  No preposition)

Um, no.  We have no “responsibility” to reject discrimination.  It’s not in the Constitution. We have reached a societal consensus to do so, derived from constitutional principles, but no one is compelled to join.  I wouldn’t expect our media acclaimed “constitutional scholar” President to understand this nuance.

Here at this mosque, and across our country and around the world, Muslim leaders are roundly and repeatedly and consistently condemning terrorism.  And around the globe, Muslims who’ve dared to speak out have often been targeted and even killed.  So those voices are there; we just have to amplify them more.  (Applause.)

Facts not in evidence.  Well, the President s a Chicago lawyer.

And it was interesting, in the discussion I had before I came out, some people said, why is there always a burden on us? When a young man in Charleston shoots African Americans in a church, there’s not an expectation that every white person in America suddenly is explaining that they’re not racist.  They can Everybody is assumed to be horrified by that act.  And I recognize that sometimes that doesn’t feel fair.

This happens because of the incessant dissembling of Muslim “leaders” who point to externalities. “it’s the “while I don’t condone terrorism, we should consider..”  seen so often in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

 But part of the answer is to make sure that the Muslim community in all of its variety, in all the good works that it’s doing, in all the talent that’s on display, that it’s out there visible on a consistent basis — not just at a certain moment.  (Applause.)

Actually, I’d prefer that the Muslim community, and every other strident identity group were not visible at all, and we just went about our business as Americans.

But what is also true is, is that there is a battle of hearts and minds that takes place — that is taking place right now, and American Muslims are better positioned than anybody to show that it is possible to be faithful to Islam and to be part of a pluralistic society, and to be on the cutting-edge of science, and to believe in democracy.  (Applause.)

While I’m not hopeful, were Islam to reform, it would be in America.

And so I would urge all of you not to see this as a burden, but as a great opportunity and a great privilege to show who you are.  To use a little Christian expression — let your light shine.  Because when you do you’ll make clear that this is not a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam.  This is a struggle between the peace-loving, overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world and a radical, tiny minority.  And ultimately, I’m confident that the overwhelming majority will win that battle.  (Applause.)  Muslims will decide the future of your faith.  And I’m confident in the direction that it will go.

This is getting rather repetitive.  I could have done this in half the length.

But across the Islamic world, influential voices should consistently speak out with an affirmative vision of their faith. And it’s happening.  These are the voices of Muslim clerics who teach that Islam prohibits terrorism, for the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.  (Applause.)  These are the voices of Muslim scholars, some of whom join us today, who know Islam has a tradition of respect for other faiths; and Muslim teachers who point out that the first word revealed in the Koran — igra — means “read” — to seek knowledge, to question assumptions.  (Applause.)

for the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.

Ah yes, this hoary chestnut.

A direct crib from the Talmud.

Here is the complete verse:

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

 

And here is the following verse:

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,

 

“Mischief” here is fitna, which more precisely means discord and disorder such as arises when Islam is challenged or refused.  Thus, the Talmudic injunction against killing is modified, to say the least, in favor of Islam.

Muslim political leaders have to push back on the lie that the West oppresses Muslims, and against conspiracy theories that says America is the cause of every ill in the Middle East.  Now, that doesn’t mean that Muslim Americans aren’t free to criticize American — U.S. foreign policy.  That’s part of being an American.  I promise you, as the President of the United States, I’m mindful that that is a healthy tradition that is alive and well in America.  (Laughter.)  But like leaders everywhere, these leaders have been offering, and need to continue to offer, a positive vision for progress, and that includes political and economic progress.

Try not blaming everything on Israel. I have asked Muslims what would change in the ummah if there never had been an Israel, or were the Jewish state to disappear tomorrow.  Still waiting for an answer.

And we have to acknowledge that much of the violence in places like the Middle East is now turning into fights between sects — Shia, Sunni and others — where differences are often exploited to serve political agendas, as I said earlier.  And this bloodshed is destroying Muslim families and communities, and there has to be global pressure to have the vision and the courage to end this kind of thinking and this approach to organizing political power.

Again, as far as I’m concerned, Sunni vs. Shia is Alien vs. Predator.  Got no dog in this fight.

It’s not historically unique.  It’s happened in every part of the world — from Northern Ireland to Africa, to Asia, to right here in the United States — in the past.  But it is something that we have to fight against.

Northern Ireland, my ass. Neither of the parties was fighting to establish their faith.  Can this Harvard educated President really believe that there has been religious war in the United States?

And we know it’s possible.  Across the history of Islam, different sects traditionally have lived and thrived together peacefully.

Now and then, but it tends to end badly. Ask the Sufi.

And in many parts of the world they do today, including here in the United States.

I’d like to know which parts of the world those are, outside the west.

In the United States, you’re not allowed to beat people up, for religious reasons or any other.

Like people of all religions, Muslims living their faith in a modern, pluralistic world are called upon to uphold human rights, to make sure that everyone has opportunity.  That includes the aspirations of women and youth and all people.  If we expect our own dignity to be respected, so must we respect the dignity of others.  (Applause.)

Hmm, this strikes me as slightly critical.  Even Mr. Obama must be aware of the dismal human rights –not to mention wretched human development indices – of majority Muslim nations.  At this point, I’ll take what I can get.

So let me conclude by saying that as Muslim communities stand up for the future that you believe in, that you exhibit in your daily lives, as you teach your children, America will be your partner.  We will — I will — do everything I can to lift up the multiplicity of Muslim voices that promote pluralism and peace.

We will — I will — do everything I can to lift up the multiplicity of Muslim voices that promote pluralism and peace.

Why is this your  job?  Did you run for Defender of the Faith?

(Applause.)  We will continue to reach out to young Muslims around the world, empowering them with science and technology and entrepreneurship, so they can pursue their God-given potential, and help build up their communities and provide opportunity.  It’s why we will continue to partner with Muslim American communities — not just to help you protect against extremist threats, but to expand health care and education and opportunity — (applause) — because that’s the best way to build strong, resilient communities.

Our values must guide us in this work.  Engagement with Muslim American communities must never be a cover for surveillance.  (Applause.)  We can’t give in to profiling entire groups of people.  There’s no one single profile of terrorists.  We can’t securitize our entire relationship with Muslim Americans.  We can’t deal with you solely through the prism of law enforcement.  We’ve got to build trust and mutual respect.  That’s how we’ll keep our communities strong and our communities united.

Over and over again ,mosques are shown to be harboring subversive individuals with clear designs against the country, but God forbid they should get the same treatment the German American Bund once did.

As I was in discussion with the young people before I came in here, I said this will be a process.  Law enforcement has a tough job.  Some of these groups are specifically trying to target Muslim youth.  We’re going to have to be partners in this process.  There will be times where the relationship is clumsy or mishandled.  But I want you to know that from the President to the FBI Director, to everybody in law enforcement, my directive and their understanding is, is that this is something we have to do together.  And if we don’t do it well, then we’re actually not making ourselves safer; we’re making ourselves less safe.

This goes on for a good while.  I’m about out of gas.  I do find it interesting that, while just now the President seems to be apologizing for “profiling,” in fact the entire security apparatus of the United States has purged any mention of Islam from its threat assessment, doctrine and training.  Take a look at “Countering Violent Extremism.

And here, I want to speak directly to the young people who may be listening.  In our lives, we all have many identities.  We are sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters.  We’re classmates; Cub Scout troop members.  We’re followers of our faith.  We’re citizens of our country.  And today, there are voices in this world, particularly over the Internet, who are constantly claiming that you have to choose between your identities — as a Muslim, for example, or an American.  Do not believe them.  If you’re ever wondering whether you fit in here, let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States:  You fit in here — right here.  (Applause.)  You’re right where you belong.  You’re part of America, too.  (Applause.)  You’re not Muslim or American.  You’re Muslim and American. (Applause.)

Don’t grow cynical.  Don’t respond to ignorance by embracing a world view that suggests you must choose between your faith and your patriotism.  Don’t believe that you have to choose between your best impulses and somehow embrace a world view that pits us against each other — or, even worse, glorifies violence.  Understand your power to bring about change.  Stay engaged in your community.  Help move our country forward — your country forward.  (Applause.)

We are blessed to live in a nation where even if we sometimes stumble, even if we sometimes fall short, we never stop striving for our ideals.  We keep moving closer to that more perfect union.  We’re a country where, if you work hard and if you play by the rules, you can ultimately make it, no matter who you are or how you pray.  It may not always start off even in the race, but here, more than any place else, there’s the opportunity to run that race.

And as we go forward, I want every Muslim American to remember you are not alone.  Your fellow Americans stand with you — just as Sabah described her friends after she decided that she was going to start wearing a hijab.  That’s not unusual.  Because just as so often we only hear about Muslims after a terrorist attack, so often we only hear about Americans’ response to Muslims after a hate crime has happened, we don’t always hear about the extraordinary respect and love and community that so many Americans feel.

I’m thinking about the seven-year-old boy in Texas who emptied his piggy bank to help a mosque that had been vandalized. (Applause.)  Or all the faith communities that rallied around Muslim Americans after the tragedy in Chapel Hill.  The churches and the synagogues standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their local mosques, including the woman carrying a sign saying “We love our Muslim neighbors.”  Think of our men and women in uniform who, when they heard that a little girl was afraid because she’s a Muslim, sent her a message — “I Will Protect You.”  (Applause.)

I want every American to remember how Muslim communities are standing up for others, as well.  Because right now, as we speak, there are Muslims in Kenya who saved Christians from terrorists, and Muslims who just met in Morocco to protect religious minorities, including Christians and Jews.  (Applause.)  The good people of this mosque helped this city move forward after the turmoil of last year.  Muslim Americans across the country helped African American churches rebuild after arson.

Remember the Muslim Americans in Boston who reached out to victims of the Marathon bombing; the Muslim Americans across the country who raised money for the families of San Bernardino; the Muslim Americans in Chattanooga who honored our fallen servicemembers, one of them saying, “in the name of God, the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, God bless our fallen heroes.”  (Applause.)

We are one American family.  We will rise and fall together. It won’t always be easy.  There will be times where our worst impulses are given voice.  But I believe that ultimately, our best voices will win out.  And that gives me confidence and faith in the future.  (Applause.)

After more than 200 years, our blended heritage, the patchwork quilt which is America, that is not a weakness, that is one of our greatest strengths.  It’s what makes us a beacon to the world.  It’s what led that mother who wrote to me — the one who worries about her young daughter — it led her to end her letter with hope, despite her fears.  She said, “I still believe in one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  (Applause.)

I was about to quit, cut this part and just direct the reader to the text, but low and behold another tell:

…our blended heritage, the patchwork quilt.

A mixed metaphor that works to describe Mr Obama’s view of our country.

Blended heritage – E Pluribus Unum, as we used to be,but now but what really interests him is:

Patchwork quilt – multiculturalism

 May God’s peace be upon you.  May God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

Yeah, you too.   What a slog.

Who do I bother?

Just more of the same: falsehoods, half truths, irrelevancies, interspersed with boilerplate patriotism, all clumsily stitched together (thanks for the quilt image!) in a repetitive, and often seen before narrative that attempts to falsely place a problematic faith alien the American experience at its center.

There are many theories as to why the drive to do this is  so strong among western leaders, but rather than get into the here, I will simply say that the effort is unseemly, and fools less and less of the every day.

A reckoning will come.

 

2015: The Year in Review in Islamic Kinetic Outreach

Even those who don’t follow Islamic issues as assiduously as I do must have a sneaking feeling that something big is afoot, with more to come.

First, for 2015, I’m going to compile a list of what I can dredge up from my memory –without recourse to the net.

Charlie Hebdo and the Jews

Garland

Memphis

Frenchman beheaded

Copenhagen

Kenyan college massacre

San Bernardino

Bangkok bomb

Tunisian attacks on tourists

Paris

Australian kid kills accountant

Russian Airplane

Bangladeshi bloggers murdered

UC Merced knife wielder

All right then. This is what I come up with, after checking my list and deleting some from 2014.

I’ve kept this to events that were widely reported and generally, involved western targets; the ongoing carnage in war zones such as Nigeria, together parts of Africa, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Southern Philippines, Israel, the Russian Caucasus, India, and the failed state of Pakistan is so unremitting that it amounts to background noise. The events I list are clearly jihadist, in that Muslims specifically targeted non-believers.

Now, let’s now look at these stories in chronological order, with the internet as an aide memoire.;

Charlie Hebdo's firsst Cover after the attack. Cowardly Printand and broadcst media largely refused to show it. Oh yeah, try turning it upside down. Heh.

Charlie Hebdo’s first Cover after the attack. Cowardly Print and and broadcast media largely refused to show it. Oh yeah, try turning it upside down. Heh.

7 January 2015 Paris, Charlie Hebdo . Most will be familiar with the murder of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s editor Stephane Charbonneau and nine others. Once again Islamic rage at uncomplimentary graphics results in death. Two days later the two killers were taken out after a pursuit and manhunt that mobilized some 80,000 French Security forces.

Around the same time Ahamed Coubaily held patrons of a Paris Kosher supermarket hostage, killing two, before being taken out.

15 February, Copenhagen: In fallout from the Muhammad Cartoons  affair of the last decade, a free speech debate at which Lars Vilik, Dansh cartoonist, and the French ambassador, among others, met to discuss the issue and show solidarity with the dead of Charlie Hebdo, when a Muslim gunman attacked. One attendee was killed. The killer then fled, to go on to kill a security guard at a synagogue, before security forces gunned him down. The usual excuses, obfuscation and ludicrous hand wringing ensued. “Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said there were no signs the gunman was part of a wider terror cell.

“This is not a conflict between Islam and the west,” she said. “This is a conflict between the core values of our society and violent extremists.”

The Roys in better days.

The Roys in better days.

February 27: Dhaka, Bangladesh: Avijit Roy, an atheist blogger and American citizen, is chopped to bits on the street in Dhaka. His wife survives. This may seem like a stretch for this list, but as this blogger was both an American, and a defender of Enlightenment values, I see this as a proxy attack on Western beliefs. Mr Roy was neither the first nor the last such blogger killed in this manner in the streets of Bangladesh.

Mrs.Roy minutes after the attack.

Mrs.Roy minutes after the attack.

Tunisia, birthplace of the “Arab Spring” this year saw two murderous attacks on Westerners, the first at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, on 18 March, thronged with visitors from a cruise ship. 20 dead, of many nationalities

Museum visitors flee Bardo Museum, Tunis

Museum visitors flee Bardo Museum, Tunis

Later in the same month, tourists, mostly British, along with two Tunisian nationals, are gunned down on a beach resort. Final toll: 38.

Some of the dead, Sousse, Tunisia.

Some of the dead, Sousse, Tunisia.

April 2: Garissa, Kenya. Islamists kill 147 students and staff at a teachers college. All were Christians. Muslims were spared, as the killers examined potential victims for knowledge of Islam before deciding to kill them, just as they had done to(number) at the Westgate mall massacre in Nairobi, 2013. I include this atrocity because Kenya has long discarded the puerile anti-Westernism of the immediate post-colonial era.  The medium of instruction at the college is English. Kenya is with us.

Garissa, Kenya: dead multitudes

Garissa, Kenya: dead multitudes

May 30: Once again, cartoons rile up the faithful. In Garland, Texas,a ”Draw Muhammad” contest is attacked. Only the gunmen die, as security and local LEOs take them down. A particularly egregious bout of “blame the victim” follows as the sponsors of the contest are told they asked for it, and should show more respect.

15 February,Copenhagen:  In fallout from the Muhammad Cartoons affair of the last decade, a free speech debate at which Lars Vilik, Dansh cartoonist and the French ambassador, among other met to discuss the issue and show solidarity with the dead of Charlie Hebdo when a Muslim gunman attacked. One attendee was killed.

Frenchman beheaded in suburban Lyon.

Frenchman beheaded in suburban Lyon.

June 26 Chasseue, France. A Frenchman is beheaded, by an ISIS sympathizer who also tries to blow up the bottled gas plant where the victim was manager.

July 26 Chattanooga, TN.   Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez shoots up a recruiting center, then moves on to Naval Reserve center where 4 die immediately, one later of his wounds. Police then blow the jihadi away.

17 August, Bangkok: Erahwan Shrine, a popular site for locals and tourists, is bombed. 20 die. A murky plot emerges – to date not wrapped up – involving local muslims, Turks, Uyghurs (Chinese muslim minority) and Pakistanis.

A familiar sight in the wake of Islamic terror. This time, Bangkok.

A familiar sight in the wake of Islamic terror. This time, Bangkok.

October 2. Paramatta, Australia. An accountant working for the Police is shot outside the station where he worked. Cops then take out 15 year old killer, Farhad Khalil.

Some ofthosewho died as ISIS borught down their plane in the Sinai.

Some of those who died as ISIS brought down their plane in the Sinai.

Ocober 31: Egypt: Russian plane bound for St. Petersburg downed by a bomb stowed aboard.   224 holiday makers die. Officials eventually confirm ISIS chatter: Islamist terror brought down the plane.

Paris: 13 November There is no need for me to get  into this very deeply, as it is still so fresh in public memory that even politicians are forced to refer to it. As did SOS John Kerry, when he said:

“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that.”

“There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, ‘OK, they’re really angry because of this and that’,” Kerry said.

“This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people.”

So as long as it was people with a beef against Islam, and Jews, not such a big deal

November 4, Merced California. Faisal Mohammed, 18 year old student, knifed 4, before bystanders tackled him, and then campus cops plugged him fatally. Despite having a Xerox of an ISIS flag,and copious notes invoking Allah, we are told that he wanted revenge for being kicked out of a study club. This story pretty much died after the FBI came in and took over the investigation. We have a picture of the kid, accounts that say he was from Santa Clara, or Santa Clarita, two entirely different places, a banal statement from the family released by a lawyer and nothing more. Looking at the kid he could be of Pakistani descent, but who knows? The incurious media performs as expected.

Faisal Mohhamed: Why was this kid? We'll probably never know.

Faisal Mohhamed: Who was this kid? We’ll probably never know.

December 2, San Bernardino, California. This too needs no recapping. 14 dead Americans in the Inland Empire,and Obama was finally forced to concede that threre amy be a problem.

That’s it for 2015, as far as I remember. Post Paris, we saw the three day lock-down of Bussels, capital of the Belgian state,as well as the EU, and home of NATO headquarters.

So, we have attacks on almost every inhabited continent , with Latin America unscathed. This region is, coincidentally, home to a vanishingly small Muslim population. The attackers are Middle Easterners, Africans, East Asians  and native born Americans, some of immigrant descent, some not. All are Muslims, all citing Muslim scripture and tradition, despite the  risible efforts or authorities to deflect.  A common thread in official response is that we are somehow supposed to be calmed when told that an event has no links to terrorists groups. So what?  It is the lone actor who will most likely succeed.

In fact all have links to the organized terrorism that is Islam. Not only do authorities, the press and academia continue to obfuscate, but, I suspect, are sometimes involved in active concealment. Consider this story:

Belgian military barracks attack: ‘Hooded man’ tries to storm Flawinne Army base

This was Ocotober 26, 2015. The story is around for a couple of days after that, then we are told a suspect is in custody, and that there is no terrorism link. The end. Nothing further in English, nor in the Belgian press, neither in Flemsh or French, as far as I can find.

No name has ever been released. Given the prominence in jihadist activity Belgium has achieved, I find this interesting.

The year ended with much anxiety, reduced celebration over the holidays, and a final scare in Munich. As was the case in the story of the three American Dudes Who Kicked Jihadi Ass on a Train, despite all the horror I’ve recalled above, the real story is what doesn’t happen.  Or hasn’t happened yet.

No large scale attacks, just the usual pranks by les jeunes/youths/jongen such as this

Diverse youth firebomb Christmas tree, Place Clemenceau,Brussels

Diverse youth firebomb Christmas tree, Place Clemenceau,Brussels

Car

Car Burning is so last year. Again, Place Clemenceau, Brussels.

Christmas tree demolition, and quite creative roll – a-car –down- a- pedestrian- stairway- to- the- underground, both in Brussels. The lads enjoyed themselves,as their enthusiastic “Allahu Akbar” demonstrates.

So now we are in 2016.  So far, so good.  The new year did see a minor incident in France on January 1, first broken as a story of an attack on a mosque, but in fact another of the faithful was instead attacking the French Army guarding a mosque.  So, attacked by Muslims, the French guard mosques.  In the US, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and other prominent Democrats visit a mosque in the wake  of San Bernardino, as the New York Times tells us “American Muslims Under Attack After San Bernardino and Paris Terror”

As I suppose they are:

“FBI offers $5,000 reward after raw bacon found on door of Las Vegas mosque.”

Or perhaps not:
Man charged with setting Houston mosque fire says he was a devout attendee

It’s tricky to predict the future.  I certainly hope 2016 does not see the acceleration in Muslim violence that many predict.  I can confidently say, however, that the official cover for the religiously motivated crimes of Muslims will continue, and no doubt reach new heights of absurd mendacity, as public trust continues to decline.

Houston Mosque Arsonist

Houston Mosque Arsonist

Stock popcorn and beer

Happy New Year

Allahu Akbar!

 

The Coming Civil War

The coming civil war in the West will be fought in the parliaments and the streets, will certainly begin in Europe, and may, one hopes, end there before it spreads.

648x415_deux_policiers_surveillent_le_26_decembre_2015_l_entree_de_la_salle_de_priere_saccagee_a_ajaccio

Police guard mosque, Ajaccio, Corsica. 25 December, 2015.

There will be fighting between native Europeans and immigrant, largely Muslim populations. The first skirmishes have already started, as in Ajaccio, Corsica on December 25, 2015.

Muslims attack firemen and police. The following day, after a rally in support of their first responders, at which some of the injured appeared, some Corsicans trashed a Mosque. The full security force of the French State, as well as its media and academic components has come down against the protestors and on the side of the immigrants against “Islamophobia.”

Here we see the fissures that will define the conflict. The most important fight will be in the minds of the native European population. Nothing indicates any substantial part of the Muslim population joining the forces of secularism. Rather, they will sit it out while the Europeans, and other Western nations, deicide where they stand. The ruling class has demonstrated that it will not listen, so the choice will come down to acceptance, or resistance.

I see this divide in my own circle of family and friends. In a family of very progressive

Police hold back Corsican demonstrators in front of Arab populated housing project. Saturday, December 26, 2015.

Police hold back Corsican demonstrators in front of Arab populated housing project. Saturday, December 26, 2015.

Obama supporters, one spouse is worried about Islam. The other asked me what I thought about the probability of ISIS terrorism in the US. At the time, I said it was low. Events proved me too optimistic, yet the woman who asked me this question, clearly concerned, will not hear anything against Islam, and is joined in this obduracy by their gay son

I’ve been a little coy with the references here. This is a same sex union. One of the spouses clearly understands that such as she and her family are in the sights of Islam, and while hopeful for “reform” and an ascendance of “moderate Muslims” is reaching out to learn more about the threat.

Yet for her partner and one of their sons it it is as if to criticize Islam is to somehow betray liberal and progressive values. They prefer to support Bernie Sanders and worry about the Koch brothers.

At a Christmas dinner here in Bali with European friends the same division arose, to the point where it was best to pour more – lots more – drinks and calm everyone down. The husband is firmly committed to the European idea, proud of the welfare state. No dependent he, a good earner all his life, he happily pays taxes  in his home country and makes his contributions to social programs. While he shakes his head at the inroads of Islam in Indonesia, he’s always been committed to pluralism, and the idea of a Europe incorporating new strains of ethnicity is something he has, and does support.

Recent events have shaken his confidence that assimilation and integration would take place, bringing a Europe that is still itself but renewed. His wife, however, has seen the videos CNN never shows: the vast columns of young men surging through the European countryside. She is terrified.

They spoke of parents who had always been liberal now sounding “almost racist.”  And being “racist” is the worst thing one can be.

Not long ago, I ran into a British guy I’ve worked with on and off over the years. We never before discussed politics, but as a university educated teacher of English abroad, he’s from a demographic that doesn’t include many Tories.

Out of nowhere, a torrent of rage and despair at what Britain has become, and anger at those who seem to feel that this invasion is payback for the white man’s sins.

Such discussions, I’m sure, are now common between families and friends, in millions of homes. Many will have to go through a wrenching reappraisal of their values, and perhaps make common cause with people at whom they have long looked askance, even despised. A coastal progressive lesbian finds herself agreeing with Franklin Graham; an urbane European finds he may have to agree with the Front Nationale.

It is a realignment I have already gone through, but my change was not quick, nor was it pleasant. I had two immigrant grandparents. I knew many fine immigrants, some legal, some not, and in the 80s supported Reagan’s amnesty. One night, the first Christmas season after the law passed, I found myself in a miles long traffic jam headed North along the Mexican coast, most of the vehicles with California plates, as the newly legalized Mexicans returned from their holidays.  I didn’t mind the delay; I celebrated it, and the change it represented.

I can no longer do so.

Our liberal values have served us well. Recent decades have seen an end to institutionalized discrimination and a vast expansion of opportunity for all. Now superseded by an anti-assimilationist ethos, a denigration of Western Civilization, and the introduction of Islam, they must be reexamined, reformulated, and thoughtfully applied

An increasing number of secular conservatives, liberals, and libertarians have realized is that Islam is antithetical to our values. Thus, having truly bettered our societies by discarding the idea of judging groups of people, we now find that we must judge one group, and find it wanting.

This is a war that will divide families, end friendships, and raise discourse from Sunday dinner discussion to matters of life and death.

Parents against children.

Brother against brother.

Civil war.

Hurricane Joaquin: Latest Poster Boy for Uninformed AGW Alarmists

Hurricane Joaquin. Pretty scary, eh?

Hurricane Joaquin. Pretty scary, eh?( Source: Daily Beast)

Well, sure enough, as I guessed they would, the Global Warming alarmists are out touting their newest poster boy, Hurricane Joaquin,-as here in the Daily Beast. At this writing, the storm seems most unlikely to make landfall in the CONUS, making it close to a decade since a category III or larger hurricane hit the coastal US. The last one was in 2005, when there were three Cat III’s, one of which was Katrina. “Super Storm” Sandy was Category I at landfall. High tide and a cold front turned it into a very bad time for millions. The last Category V, was Andrew in 1992.

How do I know this stuff?

Another view of Joaquin. Nah. It's something or other from

Another view of Joaquin. Nah. It’s something or other from “The Day After Tomorrow,” 2004. A year before the very active hurricane season of 2005, followed by the 10-year “Hurricane Drought.”

Well, gosh, I checked the NOAA historical data website. Have a look and you will see no pattern of increased storm activity, nor strength that in anyway correlates to increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. And the last decade has been very quiet, despite predictions to the contrary from NOAA itself.

But, as we’ve been told now for a very long time, it will get really bad. IN THE FUTURE. SWEARSIES.  NatGeo was speculating about this ten years ago.  Still waiting.

The writer of the Beast piece, Michael Shank, is a Phd, as his byline tells us. I smelled a rat when I saw that he is “Director of Media Strategy” at Climate Nexus. The polite term for a media strategist is PR flack; the accurate definition is propagandist.

But hey, he has a doctorate, so maybe he’s a scientist?

Nope.

PhD, Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University
M.A, Conflict Transformation & Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University
B.F.A Theater, Kent State University
Graduate Certificate, Maryknoll Institute of Language and Culture

Also, Adjunct Faculty at S-CAR, George Mason University. So, no tenure. Getting poppycock like this published helps put (most likely organic, or perhaps vegan) groceries in the larder.

Shank’s PhD is in “Climate Conflict.”  Kurt Vonnegut had this kind of doctorate figured out:  “I’m a doctor of cowshit, pigshit, and chickenshit…When you doctors figure out what you want, you’ll find me out in the barn shoveling my thesis.”

For all his sheepskins, he seems to have missed instruction on the most basic research techniques.

This guy is no more qualified to comment on this stuff than I am. Frankly, I’d say I’m more qualified: I have an MA in creative writing and could easily come up with more plausible bullshit. (OK, anyone with a mastery of high school English Composition could do so.  My degree is bullshit, too.)

Serious proponents of the AGW hypothesis do themselves no favors by giving any credence to such poppycock

Encounters With Islam: Conclusion: 2000 – 9/11/2015

National Mosque, Jakarta

National Mosque, Jakarta

(To read  the series from the beginning go here )

 

I began this months ago. Readers of earlier segments will see the inevitable conclusion. Nothing that has occurred across the world since I began series has done anything but reinforced my sense that Islam is fatally flawed. So it’s time to finish, and fitting that I do so on another 9/11, as the reports of  the Islamic invasion of Europe come in, towards the end of another year of escalating Islamic violence in nearly all quarters of the globe.

September 11, 2001

I had grabbed my coffee and turned on the computer. The start page was Yahoo. I took in the top headlines.

“Hey,” I called out to my older daughter,” somebody’s hacked Yahoo!”

No.

The older girl and I were now in Bandung, where she was in her junior year of high school. Suffice it to say that the radical move from the States had not produced much in the way of favorable outcome. Her mother and younger sister remained in Bali for a time, then returned to the U.S. Eventually we divorced. I had gone back to work, as an English instructor.

Stupefied, I went off to work, riding the public minibus. Indonesians are a gregarious lot, and regular commuters and and even one off riders will quickly strike up conversations. Today they were silent.

I was the only American at the school, and the British lady who ran the place, on learning I had family in New York and DC, let me call Stateside on the company dime. I was unable to get through anywhere (It’s parenthetical, but I cannot resist the near miss stories that so many of of us have. My sister worked in Midtown, but had a regular downtown meeting canceled that day; brother in the Pentagon had taken the day off to go to a daughter’s soccer game; and at the same time, most fortunate, but saddest, my NYFD cousin, a company commander, was off that day, and both towers had fallen by the time he got there.)

The minute I knew those headlines were real, I knew what kind of people had done it. There was no point hoping it wouldn’t be Muslims. This was after the East Africa embassies, the Khobar towers, the U.S.S. Cole, and others.

Al Qaeda wasn’t until that day a household name, but it was no secret.

Yet, aside from the school head, if you listened to the to other foreign staff that day, you’d have thought that America did it to itself. This was my first exposure up front and personal to the familiar litany: Israel, imperialism and oh yeah, Israel. Worse than their perfunctory and patently insincere expressions of sympathy that prefaced these diatribes was their manifest cowardice.

What would America do, they wailed, and how would it effect them there in Bandung? There was talk of sewing British and Australian flag patches on their clothes. This cravenness in the face of Islamic violence is drearily familiar now, but it was new to me then.

As the names of the hijackers came out, I was for putting some hurt to Saudi Arabia, but in the end we invaded Afghanistan, missed Bin Laden and later, invaded Iraq as well.

Shortly after the Bush ultimatum to the Taliban and the countdown to the invasion when they failed to produce Bin Laden, an army unit, with some APCs and light crew served weapons, showed up in my neighborhood, home to many foreigners and my daughter’s international school. The commander came to my door and assured me that he, his men, and the nation guaranteed my safety. This was quite refreshing after the reaction from my colleagues.

For many years, it’s been common for those in opposition to Islam, radical Islam, or jihad to say “I learned everything I needed to know abut Islam on 9/11. This was not the case for me.

Signs and Portents

Perhaps I had simply not looked around me until Islam was in the worldwide news, but the Increasing Islamization in Indonesia that I had noted over previous decades seemed to have accelerated.

Bandung remains the most Dutch of Indonesian cities.

Bandung remains the most Dutch of Indonesian cities.

Right away, there were Bin laden T-shirts for sale . A small boy wore one to my class and I sent him home. His parents complained and I found myself in a sit down with the mother – hijab – and father, dressed normally in Western clothes but with what looked like a fairly recent scraggle of chin beard.

I got an earful of how evil America was, but held my tongue, and explained that this had hurt people I knew, and nearly killed some of them.

We smiled, shook hands – well not the mother – and I went away with hate in my heart.

Which, in time, subsided.

I taught there for two years. Religion, I found, played a huge role in the young students’ lives. Ask “What’s the best book you’ve read” and the answers were the Bible, or the Koran, according to confession. I found such discussions mind-numbingly dull. However, Christians and Muslims seemed to get along well, and while many girls wore the hijab, they were not a majority.

The kids loved to hang out with their teachers, and one day during Ramadan, we went out for pizza. After a text message telling them the fast had lifted, we dug in. I’m not sure when I first heard the word Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, but in my childhood I have no memory of it being used, but instead the Malay, ”bulan puasa,” fasting month. Now it was ubiquitous, with special sales in the malls, deals on iftar(fast breaking) buffets, and Arabic music.

Bandung prides itself on being a university city, a place for the young, artistic and hip, and so it is. It was early oughts and “gap” was in style, with hip hugging jeans and bare tummies. Around the universities, one might even see coeds wearing a hijab but showing belly button.

Outside town, things changed quickly.

Early one morning, on the first day of Eid ul Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, we drove out of town early., bound for Bali. The roads were jammed with people making their way to the mosques, torrents of them pouring in from the small villages up in the hills, thousands, all in Muslim dress. My daughter remarked that she didn’t remember this from previous years, and her boy friend, a life long resident, said he too thought that the crowds were far larger than before.

Dieng, Central Java, 2002.  There was no mosque there when I visited in 1975.

Dieng, Central Java, 2002. There was no mosque there when I visited in 1975.

I had occasion in the next couple of years to take other trips across Java, and it was apparent that Islamic observance was far more strict than it had been when I had first traveled the island as a young man. Women working in the fields still wore the conical “coolie hats” that reflected an ancient migration from southern China, but now wore head scarves underneath, surely adding to the heat and discomfort.

Islamic schools and other institutions, with their Arabic signs, were in the smallest villages. One day, not far from the great Buddhist monument Borobudur, on a country road winding through the rice terraces, I came upon a sight I will never forget.

An open truck full of young men lumbered a long in front of me. They were waving banners, which said, “Front Anti-Yahudi,” the “Anti-Jewish front.” They wore once piece black costumes, painted with white skeletons, as if for Halloween. Waving, and cheering as I overtook, some then donned skull masks.

There, in the green valleys of Java, with the volcanoes rising to clear blue sky, scenery that had long inspired postcards and landscape painters, was raw hatred from the desert lands

This wall in the former Sultan's compund  shows both Hindu-Javanese and Chinese decorative styles

This wall in the former Sultan’s compound shows both Hindu-Javanese and Chinese decorative styles.  Java has absorbed one culture after another, but will it survive Whaabbism?

I had left so many years before.

My daughter graduated and went back to the States; I moved to Jakarta,where there was better pay and considerably more fun. The old regime under Soeharto had kept Islamists under tight control, imprisoning, or outright snuffing any who looked to be a problem.

Now, the new president, not directly elected but voted in by a legislature that was put in place by clean elections, was all for letting people express themselves. While a Muslim himself and a cleric, he was a of a liberal cast of mind. Physically frail, and nearly blind, his “why can’t we all be friends” outlook(He spoke for a while of recognizing Israel) led him to myopia towards the forces being unleashed.

I taught at a school in a shopping office complex in Central Jakarta. There were plenty of nice restaurants and nightclubs nearby. Many of my classes were off site, at major businesses, and my students were well educated and well dressed. It was rare to see woman in a hijab.

Yet even in this milieu, I would at times catch a whiff of something going on. I remember our personnel manager, a married woman, very good looking, always in well fitted suits and heels, remarking that Bin Laden was “hebat,” an Indonesian word that in that context would be best translated as “bad ass.” There was considerable admiration for Saddam as well, but as in this was often in the context of tirades about American hegemony and regurgitated Chomsky, so chose not to see it in as related to religion.

On the streets, beyond the highrises, deeper trouble was brewing. An organization called

View from my terrace, Jakarta, 2002.

View from my terrace, Jakarta, 2002.

Front Pembela Islam(Islamic Defenders Front) took upon itself the role of a civil auxiliary in suppressing vice. They attacked night clubs and bars, starting out in the seamy dance clubs and semi-brothels of North Jakarta, where eventually the largely Chinese owners came to a modus vivendi in a protection racket that would be familiar to the Mafia, but then striking Kemang, home to diplomats, multinational executives, fine dining establishments and quite legitimate music clubs.

Nothing at all was done to stop them.

It was then that I saw a trend that has only continued. Radical Islamic elements push, engaging in mob action, while the civil apparatus of an ostensibly non-confessional state, not only does not punish offenders, but accommodates them.

Ramadan came, and for the first time, the City government decreed that late night venues must close early, and the sale of alcohol in such places was suspended during the fasting month. That this meant a month without paychecks for tens of thousands was of no import. Nor did anyone point to the underlying absurdity that alcohol and fornication are forbidden to Muslims at all times, not just one month in a year.

This attempt to put the city’s residents in a pious state of mind appropriate to the season lead to some quite absurd accommodations. The hot tub at my health club was drained, as apparently being in the water with ladies was an affront during Ramadan.

A popular hangout with a classical theme, put pasties on its faux-Greco-roman statuary. There, as at other places, the bar was cleared of bottles, but you could get some beer in a coffee mug. We grumbled that no good Muslim would be in such places anyway, so why couldn’t they just leave us alone.

As I was learn in the coming years, that wasn’t the point. Islamic behaviors, even practiced by unbelievers is an affront to Islam, as are the unbelievers themselves.

In late 2003, I went back to the States for a while, to work with my younger daughter on her college applications. I had left just after the Iraq War began, and I saw its effects when I was substitute teaching in Phoenix. Many kids were enlisting after graduation. They seemed to be disproportionately Hispanic, Black and Native American. Another war in the Middle East, anther conflict among Muslims, yet it still wasn’t something that would direct to me to examine Islam closely.

I was offered a job in Surabaya, East Java, where I stayed for seven years, where I again taught English, living with my partner, an Indonesian Chinese, and an atheist as I was. And am.

becakoldhousel

Dutch era buildings, Surabaya, 2003

Surabaya is and has long been a center of industry and commerce, known as the “City of Work,” because largely that is what there is to do there. I had first seen it n 1970, when it remained a somewhat cobwebbed display of faded grandeur from the Dutch East Indies. Later in the decade, when I was working in Kalimantan, I often had occasion to come down to Surabaya to procure goods and services, and the place had clearly picked up. I dealt largely with Chinese businesses, and the Chinese are today still quite prominent in the city.

Yet, while it is in some ways fairly cosmopolitan, it fronts on a vast agrarian hinterland, and it is in these small towns an villages that the struggle between traditional syncretic Javanese religion, a meld of Islam and older beliefs, against Orthodox Islam, continues, after a very bloody start in 1965.

Synagogue, Surabaya, 2003.  Long disused, but maintained with a grant from overseas,  it was the site of demonstrations when anyone was angry at Israel.    It has since been demolished.

Synagogue, Surabaya, 2003. Long disused, but maintained with a grant from overseas, it was the site of demonstrations when anyone was angry at Israel. It has since been demolished.

This is a long stretch of time, and I could here provide a string of anecdotes to buttress my case, but I’ll instead provide a general outline of those years.

After 9/11, it was the consensus among Western governments that much of the problem was due to misunderstanding between cultures. Thus, a concerted effort was made to reach out, identify and select young Muslims for education in Western nations. Indonesia, bastion of “moderate” Islam was key to the program, and the school where I worked, was involved in many programs financed with American,British,Australian and New Zealand money

One day, we were warned to keep a low profile. Hizbut Tharir, a world wide organization( banned in UK, legal in the US) was demonstrating in favor a of a universal Caliphate. Completely covered women in black held up signs condemning the US and Israel, and demanding global Islamic rule.

In 2005,many of my students were in an uproar about Israel’s “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza. The world, I thought, has many examples of pain and oppression. Why was it that these young people, so far from the Middle East, were so concerned? And as I read more about Islam, and Islamic history, I came at last to the conclusion that the Arab Israel conflict was, in fact, the Islam-Israel conflict. Territory once Islamic, simply cannot be given over to non-believers, and that the Jews, reviled in the Koran and other foundational texts, had taken Muslim land was an affront past bearing.

I said nothing about these things, and if anything, were pleased with my knowledge of Islamic belief and practice. I wanted to be liked, and as my doubts grew, I still dissembled.

Yet the atrocities and violence across continents continued, never relenting.

Beslan.

The spin was “Chechen Nationalists,” nationalists who called, “Allahu akbar!”

Soccer Field, Darussalam University, Aceh 2006.  Since I was there, sharia has sitigtnd and unrelated men and women may not ride together, or be alone anywhere

Soccer Field, Darussalam University, Aceh 2006. Since I was there, sharia has tightened, and unrelated men and women may not ride together, or be alone anywhere

For some years we had a large contingent of Achenese students, beneficiaries of study abroad programs established in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami. They were fine students, hard workers, but fun-loving, coming from a linguistic tradition that valued poetry and oration. It was, and still is a source of great pleasure for me to see how well they have done.

Still, all the women wore the hijab. The rebels let a few errant locks peep out. One fellow, a secret free thinker, was reduced to hiding when drinking coffee and having a smoke during Ramadan. At one point the program took me to Aceh to do some preparatory work with students before they came to Surabaya.

It wasn’t so bad. There was a lively coffee house scene, and it was common to see couples double dating. Of course, around ten, the boys would take their girl friends home, then come back and watch the footie. Rather charming, perhaps like small towns in America in bygone days

Outside town was a newly constructed governmental complex, and one large building was devoted to the administration of sharia law. It was not yet in force, but notices said it was coming. One would not need to be a forensic accountant to state that the building was at least in part paid for by the charitable citizens of the West who donated to tsunami relief.

Now, in Aceh, offenders are whipped publicly. Amputations and beheading have yet to arrive, but one wonders. A number of my students asked me to return to Aceh to attend weddings, but I am never going back.

With some of my Aceh students, Surabaya, 2006.  My late mother was astonished at this picture, as she had never herself seen Indonesia women so dressed.

With some of my Aceh students, Surabaya, 2006. My late mother was astonished at this picture, as she had never herself seen Indonesia women so dressed.

Looking back, I can find no road to Damascus moment. I read the Koran, I various translations,learned about the hadith and the sira, delved deeply into the history of Islamic expansion, so that around2009, when I first started hearing of Boko Haram, I spoke of these matters one evening to my partner.

She asked, seriously, “are you an Islamophobe?”

I spoke of somewhat to what I have written here,and she began her own journey of discovery.

And my distaste only deepened.  Sometimes people refused to sit next to me on the minibus I took to work everyday. Indonesians generally assume that foreigners don’t speak their language, but I understood the word, “najis,” unclean, as are all unbelievers. This did get me shotgun all by myself, where normally two passengers were crammed in.

I simply couldn’t take it anymore, so retired earlier than I had thought I would.

It’s been a little more than four years since I retired to Hindu Bali. I conceived of the project that became this “Encounters” series before I even got here. Yet I have tarried, and I tarry now,

My father-in-law, the late Haji Kamal, 2005, Bandung.  Dutch educated, civli servant in both the conolnial and independe regimes, Natioalist Party actvist, at teh endof his life, besides his beloved coffee and cigarettes, there was only Islam.

My father-in-law, the late Haji Kamal, 2005, Bandung. Dutch educated, civil servant in both the colonial and independent regimes, Nationalist Party activist, at the end of his life, besides his beloved coffee and cigarettes, there was only Islam.

Because in the end, I know the conclusion, and even after all these many years,it’s hard to just spit it out.

I’m done.

With Islam and with Muslims.

I’ll continue my study of the issues, and of course will be civil when meeting Muslims. I enjoy hearing from some of my former students. But as for all the efforts and blather at outreach, understanding, bridging the divide, and on, and on.

It’s useless.

This is to use a Marxist term, a world historical process. Islam is what it is. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, this is Islamic reform.

Those who await some kind of Islamic Episcopalianism are fools. A millennial conflict will not be resolved by church suppers.

This is my stand. I have come to it through long experience and study. Others will make their own journeys of understanding, in their own way, in their own time.

Mine has ended.

3 Dudes on a Train: The Thalys Smackdown as Written by the Guardian: A Progressive Take on the TGV Terrorist Takedown

Bros befo MOs

Bros befo’ Moes

While many in Europe, and particularly in the U.S. celebrate the actions of three young Americans, as well as a Briton and a Frenchman, in averting what was likely to be a massive loss of life as a jihadi prepared to attack train passengers en route from Amsterdam to Paris, others might not feel so festive.  The progressive outlook has an uncanny ability to look at what has traditionally been seen as good and noble, and turn it into a dark narrative. It’s always  gloomy in progressive land, where the sky is dominated by an overcast of cisnormative oppression, with a threat of fascist thunder showers.

You can bet your pork pie hat and hipster glasses that the KOS kids and Guardianistas are already spewing pixels as they break out their tedious memes so as to find white privilege hubris in heroism.  Hell, I’ll throw in a case of Pabst.

Here’s how they might see it:

Aggressive American  SUV Lovers Assault  Religious Minority on French Public Transportation.

Ironically the cowardly attack began when 26 year old Ayoub el Khazzan, of Moroccan heritage, and an aficionado of collectible guns, hearing American voices, thought to share his enthusiasm.
One of the Americans, Spencer Stone, an American airman, began pummeling the Frenchman.  The USAF has of course been assaulting   civilians for many decades, most notably at Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.  A second friend, Alec Skarlotos, no doubt desensitized by his time serving in the American Occupation of Afghanistan, upon seeing a man of Middle Eastern appearance  – and  one exercising what many Americans stridently proclaim is their right to bear arms – gleefully joined the assault.

Sadly, the third friend, Anthony Sadler,  of African heritage, was unable to see the sick contrariness of his joining in the brutality towards a fellow person of color.  Mr. Sadler is described only as a college student, but whichever institution he is attending needs to ensure that it students are better informed as to privilege, colonialism, and the post colonial othering of marginal communities.

A despicable but predictable codicil to this sorry account was that  Chris Norman, a 62 year old Briton, in true Blairite lackey tradition, joined the assault.

 LOSER!

Reports say the three Americans are middle school friends.  They should have remained in kindergarten until they learned to fight fair.

Discuss Immigration? Shut up, because Nazi

‘Let the hag burn’: Rise in attacks on refugees fuels German debate on racism (Washington Post 16 August 2015)

If you’ve been following international news at all, you’ll be aware of the massive migrant movement of Africans from Libya across the Mediterranean to Italy and then beyond, as well as from Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan via Turkey and onward to Greece or the Balkans.

This hardly is occurring in a void; immigration, largely legal, has been an issue in Europe for decades. Now, the flow of “asylum seekers” seems unstoppable, unopposed and unstoppable. One would then, expect vigorous discussion of what, among others, Angela Merkel has termed a crisis.

Yet, discussion of this historic movement north is under severe constraints of Orwellian vocabulary restrictions, and the risk of stigmatization of dissent by academic, media, and governmental elites.

We Right Wingers are fond of referring to the media as the MSM(Mainstream Media), LSM(Lame Stream Media), MFM(Mother Fucking Media), and the State Media. And of course, the predictable response is “conspiracy theorist, “Tin Foil Hat” wearer, and “Winger.” These are venerable institutions, with distinguished histories, staffed by able professionals. Why should we question them?

This article is a clear demonstration on a vital area of concern that the media will frame a issue so that those who dissent are beyond the pale, and “journalists” will not refrain from slander and falsehood to do so.

A surge in xenophobic attacks and hate speech targeting asylum seekers in Germany is igniting a firestorm in the nation where the Nazis taught the dangers of intolerance.

Godwin’s law does not apply to liberal opinion. Those who question a massive demographic shift are of course xenophobic ( And phobias are irrational, so therefore, crazy) and like Nazis, which is a nice way of saying they are Nazis.

German public broadcaster anchorwoman Anja Reschke, is apparently leading the charge in Germany:

“If you’re not of the opinion that all refugees are spongers who should be hunted down, burned or gassed, then you should make that known very clearly,” she said in her commentary.

I can Godwin, too. How died and made him king, anyway?

Wartime New Yorker cartoon, caption “I think I may say without fear of contradiction…”  I can Godwin, too. Who died and made him king, anyway?

 

 

She’s managed to evoke both the einsatazgruppen and the extermination camps, and if you don’t get on board and welcome “immigrants” and “asylum seekers” you are not only a Nazi, but a member of the SS, and by default if you don’t stand up and salute.

“I received e-mails saying, ‘Let the hag burn’ and calling me a ‘negro-gypsy-whore,’ ” said Reschke, a white ethnic German. “And then there were the people who said, ‘Look, I’m afraid our race is getting polluted by all those evil people from the whole of Africa, but no, I’m not a Nazi.’ ”

Well, maybe. I’d like a screenshot or two.

And before we move on, go back to the headline. “Attacks on refugees” was the focus of the lede. So, one would expect to see accounts of beatings, or at least someone getting egged.

Ah, no.

The most important “attacks” in this story are the verbal attacks to which Ms Reschke says she was subject. I have seen this time and again: headlines completely unsupported by the story, and at times even completely contradictive. Media types are well aware that most news consumption these days is a cursory glance at headlines on mobile devices. Anyone complaining of this deceit will be pointed to paragraph twenty whatever, which few will have read.

Here we find, much later in “attacks” on refugee homes, but not refugees. This article in the Stars and Stripes provides more details, and despite the usual loaded terms, does provide a sense that many Germans are disturbed by this migrant surge, as well they should be.

Says the Stripes,

 

“Germany unnerved by scores of xenophobic attacks against refugees”

 

It’s liberal  bed wetters and far left Europe haters who are, or pretend to be, unnerved by these largely exaggerated, or imaginary attacks. Ordinary Germans, startled by tent cities arising overnight in their public spaces, and one more massive unfunded liability ( see Greece) should indeed be unnerved.

The numbers are astonishing.  The German  government has revised its forecast of 450,000 arrivals to 750,000.  This being a government forecast, I’d bet on a million plus.

The word “refugee” itself is a catchall term deliberately misused so that any border jumper assumes victim status.  Here is the definition form the U.N.’s 1951 declaration, as amended in 1967.

Article 1 of the Convention, as amended by the 1967 Protocol, defines a refugee as:

“A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it

That these “asylum seekers” do not seek refuge in neighboring countries but instead head for European countries with the most liberal benefit regimes, is prima facie proof that most are not in fact asylum seekers.  Last year, in the U.S. summer ” border surge,” the same dishonesty was seen in media reports describing the plight of “refugees” from the “war torn” countries of Central America.  The Guardian described the situation there as “tantamount to war.”   If you say so.

Were Central America in a state of war, real refuges would move to camps in Mexico (were they allowed in), just as Cambodian refugees fled to neighboring Thailand in the 70’s, and as various famines and upheavals in Africa has seen millions flee to next door countries. ( I would posit that the Vietnamese boat people were in a different situation as they were surrounded by hostile communist regimes and had no choice other than to flee by sea to more distant havens.)

And equally astonishing is the general forbearance in the face of what is in essence an invasion. Since the 1980s at least, the European intelligentsia has been obsessed with “skinheads” and “neo-Nazis,” who, in their tiny numbers, were, and remain beyond the pale of bourgeois society, but if finally the fascist resurgence that the left has squealed about for years( and in my view, secretly desires) it will be on them.

Politicians, academics, and media can stigmatize, marginalize, and ignore the masses they so despise for only so long.   Just as Jimmy Kimmel can weep for Cecil the Lion with no regard for African workers who earn badly need cash for hunters,

Claus Kleber of ZDF television, welled up as he told the story of a Bavarian bus driver who, when a group of 15 refugees boarded his bus, made the following announcement in English:

“I have an important message for people from the whole world in this bus: Welcome!” Kleber’s voice cracked while translating the driver’s message into German, adding: “Sometimes, it can be so simple.”

Kleber later tweeted apologetically: “Sometimes I react more emotionally to small positive details than to big stories. Not very professional. But okay? The next show is waiting.”

No, it’s not very professional, but entirely typical. Fewer and fewer are listening. There will be a reckoning.  Let’s hope it’s at the ballot box, and not in the streets.

And finally, Ms. Reschke, you got nasty emails, you say. You are a public figure. I’m a nobody and I get beheading threats on twitter now and then.

Suck it up.

Encounters With Islam: Part 4: 1980-1999

(To read this series from the beginning, go here )

This, the penultimate installment will cover around two decades, and as I set out to write it, I can see no narrative thread that follows the topic, Islam. So, I’ll commence, and see what develops.

I left Saudi Arabia, went back to San Francisco where I and my wife found work, and settled in. An old friend, who worked in movies and TV, in a minor but interesting position, came to me with an idea. Like everyone on the fringe down there, he wanted to make a score, and thought my experience in Saudi Arabia might yield some fictional gold. First a novel, then a screenplay.

The protagonist would be a young American educated Saudi man, love interest a Jewish American woman he met in the States, with, at first unknown to him, ties to Israeli intelligence. He stumbles on, and then infiltrates, a fundamentalist plot to take over the Kingdom and use its resources to finish off Israel, once and for all.

Ikhwan troops, 1911, prior to their revolt.

Ikhwan troops, 1911, prior to their revolt. via Vox

This required a lot of research, because as I found when my friend asked various questions, having lived in the Kingdom without access to English language books and press on the place, was by itself not all the informative. I was astonished to read that almost from the beginning of the Kingdom there had been elements that considered the House of Saud to be traitorous to Islam, in particular for not continuing the jihad that had unified the country onwards beyond its borders. These were the Ikhwan(Brotherhood), who revolted in the late 20’s and were only suppressed a couple of years later with British help. It was to their descendents I then ascribed the plot in the novel.

Also informative was Raphael Patai’s “The Arab Mind,” which if you look at the reviews on Amazon is condemned by many as “racist,” usually, and certainly here, in my opinion a sign that the work makes uncomfortable points.

Thus I first encountered the Islamic concept of a binary world: Dar-ul –Islam, the House of Islam, and Dar ul Harb, the House of War, that part of the world which has yet to accept Islam, and which in its very unbelief is an affront and an aggression in itself that must eventually be subdued.

In any event, we got a certain way into the project, and my friend sold a couple of scripts to a show he was working on, while I started to quail at the extent of research I would have to do into espionage and security trade craft. So we never finished. Yet, one could take my concept and start fresh right now.

My father-in-law came to visit. Then I learned that my conversion was not at all expected to be pro-forma. This is when I first had to conjure up excuses and sometimes comical ( running around comedy terms) to conceal what an utter fraud I was. Kamal wanted to go to the mosque. We told him there wasn’t one, which was technically true at the time, but we did know people who met for Friday prayers. So, we prayed at home, and there would be an after you Alphonse Gaston routine, in which he suggested I be the imam and lead the prayer, and I deferred to his age and dignity. It was a dispute that I had to win, because as Imam he would face forward, and sit in front of us.

Older Roman Catholics may remember the Latin version of Nicene Creed, recited after communion. I served mass – certainly not my idea – and never learned the whole thing. Somewhere half way through I was reduced to “mumble,mumble, somethingque et otherbus.”

Having never again recited the Islamic prayers again after an initial demonstration to the father in law before the wedding, similarly here, I was reduced to something on the order of “Obble, Allah, gobble, Allah.” It was a charade I was to master in later years. Or, perhaps not. I may have fooled none, but was never called on it.

For much of the 80s I was busy with work, and the two daughters born during that time. Yet I did follow the news as always, and while events in the Middle East and the greater Islamic world were framed within the Arab Israel conflict, and that also within the ongoing Cold War.

There was the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 to Beirut, where passengers with Jewish sounding names were segregated and an American navy diver murdered and his body dumped on the tarmac. Here was a clear sign of Islamic Jew hatred, yet I had been programmed to process it as part of the Israel issue, with Arabs wrongly but perhaps understandably conflating Jews with Israel. And I suppose this implanted algorithm kicked in when poor Leon Klinghoffer was dumped into the sea from the Achille Lauro.

Much of the violence was Iranian inspired: The Berlin disco bombing, the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing, the many kidnapped Western hostages held for years,  but there was also Lockerbie. Television news had horrifying, yet also inspiring stories of the resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan. After so many decades of appeasement and indifference, Reagan supplied weapons and, less spoken about, advisors, so that American policy was killing Soviets. This was refreshing after the hand wringing during the Viet Nam War that we might accidentally sink a Soviet ship moored in Haiphong.

One day In 1989, that same friend with whom I had worked on the abortive novel, called me.

The Red Army that day had withdrawn its last units.

“Victory!” my buddy shouted, so hard I had to hold the receiver away.

Red Army withdraws from Aghansitan, February 18, 1989

Red Army withdraws from Afghanistan, February 18, 1989  Via RT

Indeed. Victory, something we had never in our lifetimes known, and this win was only a prelude to the final triumph when the wall came down. Where I lived, San Francisco, there were a few long faces among old time reds, and there wasn’t the dancing in the parks that I remembered from the day Nixon resigned, and again, which had disgusted me, when Saigon fell, but generally, across the board there was a sense of jubilation, a great weight lifted. The garrison state into which I had been born had done its duty, stood fast, and now so long after 1945, we had truly won the peace.

The Reagan, and the Bush years, had also been good for me personally. After futilely waiting out the doldrums in the energy business, around 1984 I moved to a major defense company with a big bump in pay. My wife and the older daughter had gone back to Indonesia to visit family but I had felt insecure and financially stretched, so from 1981 to 1987, I went without a vacation.

Finally, I felt secure and prosperous enough for all of us to make the trip.

President Soeharto, the general who had pushed aside Soekarno in the late 60s was still in charge. The Indonesia I had known in the 70s was still recovering from the socialist excesses of the 60s, with onerous interest rates after the hyperinflation of Soekarno’s last years, and little prospects for those who did not not work for International organizations, as had my wife, or in energy.

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National Mosque, Jakarta 1987.  National Cathedral in the distance.  Those who showed us around were eager to point out that the mosque’s architect had been a Christian

Now, despite the crash in oil prices a middle class seemed to be developing rapidly. Friends and family were prospering, some with foreign employers in manufacturing others in their own businesses, and some in the rapidly developing tourism and hospitality sector.

There was another change, small at first, which I noted: some family members had begun wearing the hijab. This was an article of dress I had never seen in Indonesia before, and could only name because I had read of changes occurring in Egypt. You saw them here and there in Indonesia that year, and it looked kind of weird. Still, to each his own, I told myself and gave it no more than a passing thought.

We were traveling with another American family, that of a work buddy, who had heard my tales of the islands and decided to have a look. They enjoyed themselves immensely, and in the following years we evolved a routine wherein I traveled in remoter islands with them, as my kids were too young for such adventures, and in any case more interested in hanging out with their cousins.

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Muslim women singing as they prepare for a wedding in Bandaneira, 1989. No one wore Islamic dress. In 1999, the entire Christian community, about 10% of the population, was evacuated.

Over the next few years we came to focus on the Moluccas, the Spice Islands, an island group with a storied history from the Age of Discovery, and one in which we found mixed Muslim and christian populations living in harmony and tolerance, as they were quick to tell us. It was a lovely story, one which we bought gladly, and which was to unravel with astonishing speed and brutal results a decade later.

April 19, 1995

My older daughter and I were traveling to visit relatives in Texas were between planes in Dallas, and like everyone else, transfixed as the monitors showed the horror in Oklahoma City. After some minutes we spontaneously looked at each other and said, “I hope it’s not Muslims.”  It was barely more than two years since the first World Trade Center bombing.

Indeed,this was my standard response to any such outrage, and when it was Muslims who were the perpetrators, I was an early adopter of the “anti- backlash” fear, which while still never having occurred anywhere in the West that I am aware of, is the standard media and political response in the West, even as the wounded are being given first aid, and the body bags zipped closed.

For, you see, these were people, indeed, by marriage,my people, and as tedious and annoying as I found their religiosity, people for whom I cared, and in whom I found enjoyment for their other traits. And sticking by them was critical to my own self image. From my earliest encounters with world geography, I  had wanted to roam the world, and it was its peoples, not the exotic beasts of National Geographic, whom I wished to meet and know.

My older daughter was now in Middle School, and had a unit on Islam, or was it just Arabia?. I don’t remember, but her assignment was one of those collaborative exercises where she and her friends imagined themselves running a caravan service to Mecca. I supervised, made suggestions, thought the who idea was fun. The whole history of conquest is now elided, and I think it must have been then as well, because neither of my daughters, as adults had any idea of this until I brought it up.  Just the other day, reading about the terrible situation in Syria,I thought of my trip there in 1980, and the Christian villages around the Krak des Chevaliers, a crusader fortress.   I distinctly recalled my thoughts that day, how I said to myself, these Christians must have been  there since the Crusades.

Which is utterly false. They had of course been there since Roman times.  How could I have thought such a thing, when, by the time I finished elementary school I had a basic grasp of both classical times and the middle ages?

This is a testimony to the power of pro-Islam, anti- Western propaganda, which has been building for decades, and these days is disseminated everywhere, and not even discernible as such to most.

Sometime in the late 90s local TV in the Bay Area started broadcasting Ramadhan greetings.  I thought that was nice.

It is hard to remember how and when things changed in that part of the Islamic world familiar to me, and in the hearts of the Muslims I knew.. This was a large span in a life, and the changes were gradual. I don’t remember when it was no longer proper to buss my sister-in-law on both cheeks in the Dutch style, and instead, hold my right hand over my heart in the Muslim style. Nor do I remember when she began wearing a hijab. Her children did not, but by the end of the 90s, married and with children, they all did, as did the granddaughters. I noticed that people I had known who used to keep a bar at home no longer drank. The empty bottles stayed for a while as decorator items, then vanished entirely. Those who had ignored the fast entirely now fasted, and their very young children joined them.

No do I remember when my brother-in- law became admirer of Khomeini. There were many more changes to come, and those I saw in family in friends only mirrored what was shaping the world at large.

Children in Minangkabau(West Sumatra) costumes, Indonesia National Day.  San Francisco, 1990s

Children in Minangkabau(West Sumatra) costumes, Indonesia National Day. San Francisco, 1990s

We joined the local Indonesian community for national days, and events aimed at raising the profile of the country in the US. Many of these took place at the Indonesian consulate in San Francisco. Earlier there had been heaps of liquor, then a new consul and the place was dry and convocations began with Islamic invocations, despite the fact that a large part of the community, who had attended for years, were part of a long established settlement of Christian, mixed Dutch Indonesians, centered in San Jose.

I returned a number of times to the Moluccas. These were storied isles indeed. H.L. Tomlinson, in “Tide Marks,” (1924) quoted a sea captain who had spent his life sailing them: “They are like stars in the sky, these islands. Some are great kingdoms; others are one coconut. And you could not see them all in a thousand lifetimes.”

The pull for me was as much as – if not more than – than their astonishing beauty, but their

The Muslim settlement of Wahai, North Ceram, 1991. Note the schoolgirls do not wear Muslim dress.

The Muslim settlement of Wahai, North Ceram, 1991. Note the schoolgirls do not wear Muslim dress.

place in history and the  cultures that remained to testify to those who had come from all quarters of the Old World(And the New for that matter: I have read an account of Spanish adventurers,who arriving inn Peru too late to join the Peru, took off for the Moluccas, and washed up shipwrecked at Wahai, a town we visited) Spain made a try for the spice wealth of the great Sultanates of Ternate and Tidore, but lost out to Portugal, and later the Dutch took them all, after giving the upstart English a drubbing.  And well before them had come the Arabs, those great seafarers who learned the secret of the monsoon, tying these distant dots to the Red Sea and Africa, and the greater world of Islam, as the dynasties they established built states – the “great kingdoms” of Tomlinson’s words  – that traded with all who came – from China, India, and even pre-Tokugawa Japan. Here, in one place were all those currents that had entranced me as a boy.  India, China, far Araby, and the island peoples themselves.

Aboriginal Nuaulu man, North Ceram Island, 1993. This group maintains its animistic beliefs.

Aboriginal Nuaulu man, North Ceram Island, 1993. This group maintains its animistic beliefs.

Mauslea, Central Ceram, 1991. Tearerails  build thechurch had been brought over an 8000m pass, carried on men's backs.

Manusela, Central Ceram, 1991. Materials for the church had been brought up  over an 80000m pass, carried on men’s backs.

Christianity came with the Europeans, and as in most such contacts, the Muslim populations were largely impervious to evangelizing, but some animist groups, a few of which survive today, remained unconverted.  Thus one might find a cluster of villages, all with the same name, but with a sobriquet: Islam, Catholic, or Protestant, evidence that various branches of an ancient clan had embraced different religions.

One such was Hitu, on the north shore of Ambon, capital and largest island in the south Moluccas. Ancient ties of blood and obligation knit the separate communities. The Western New year is a major feast day in the Moluccas,and in fact, the celebrations go on pretty much throughout January, ending when  the booze runs out,

In HItu, during this time,  Muslims will join  Christians in painting and repairing the church, and Christians return the favor to the mosque.  When the work is finished, there is a great feast, but the two confessions eat separately, so the Muslims might avoid pork, but gather together after, for an all night boozer. As Muslims drink less, they help the staggering Christians home.

Early in 1999, fighting broke out in Ambon, capital of the South Moluccas. First reports showed Christian and Muslim youth groups armed with spears and bows and arrows screaming at each other in the downtown area. The BBC and CNN had some film, but the area soon went dark, and the conflict went on for another four years, strangely under reported. The origins remain obscure, but the Muslim side drew in support from across Indonesia,and beyond, with the army supplying some weapons to the Muslim side, and more coming in from the southern Philippines.

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“…isles Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring Their spicy drugs…(Milton, “Paradise Lost.”) Here Tidore, seat of an ancient Sultanate, one of the original Spice Islands.

My brother in law was from Halmahera,an island north of Ambon, populated by Muslims and Christians, as well as tribal animists in the interior. Halmahera natives in and around Bandung had a mutual aid society that served both social and business networking needs. A relative had headed the association for many years. He had been born Christian, seen which way the wind was blowing and converted to Islam. He prospered in West Java, owning a fleet of small trucks and distributing consumer goods to smaller villages throughout the province.

He was an an impressive man, and I had always liked him. And he was on to me. When we visited, he always saw that one of his sons found something interesting to show me on his extensive property when the rest of the family was gathering for prayer.

Thus I was shocked and appalled when, as it  turned out, the last time I saw him, he berated one of his sons before a house full of relatives and neighbors. The boy had gone to Ambon to fight, lost heart, and come home.

“I would be a kshatriya(a Sanskrit word translated as knight in Indonesian, and in India the warrior caste) were I your age. I would, fight jihad, drive the kaffir away, but you., you…”

This was the first time I ever remember an Indonesian using the Arabic word that we would translate as infidel, or unbeliever. Nowadays, sadly, Indonesian Muslims are so arabized that they use the plural kuffar, correctly. And these days, jihad needs no translation.

During this time, that lovely village, Hitu, turned on itself, and both its 17th century mosque and 18th century church were destroyed.

Imanuel church, Hitu village, Ambon Island, 1991. Destroyed in intercommunal fighting.

Imanuel church, Hitu village, Ambon Island, 1991. Destroyed in intercommunal fighting.

So as my account moves to the millennium, little seems to have change in my attitude towards Islam. My knowledge of its theology was no deeper than it had been when I was a schoolboy, and still the avid news consumer I had always been, as I read of each large scale Islamist attack, I still placed them in a long internalized context of inter -state(Israel and the Arabs) and communal conflict.

When I was in Indonesia I would note increasing fundamentalism, but still see much of Islam, as it had long been practiced there, as part of the country’s fascinating cultural mosaic, with many aspects actually quite charming.  1995 had marked

These young women wear tradtional clothing from across Indnoesia.  The oe coverig her face wears a drees from interior Kalimantan, where inhabitants are either animist or Christian.  Teh others are in costumes from Muslim r3egions.  I have been correcting epole for decades whenthe efer to the hijab as traditonal muslim dress.  It is not.

These young women wear traditional clothing from across Indonesia. The one covering her face wears a dress from interior Kalimantan, where inhabitants are either animist or Christian. The others are in costumes from Muslim regions. I have been correcting people for decades when they refer to the hijab as traditional Muslim dress. It is not. (Sumenep, Madura, 1995)

the 50th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence and on a bus trip through Java and Madura there were celebrations everywhere,the smallest villages putting on shows of both national pride and love of their traditions. Along with the red and white bunting of the national colors, there was yellow, from the land’s ancient Hindu and Buddhist past. Children and young people dressed in traditional costumes, and wore garlands of jasmine. Islamic green was absent.

Independence celebration parade, Sumenep, Madura, 1995. The bare legs would be totally unacceptable today.

Independence celebration parade, Sumenep, Madura, 1995. The bare legs would be totally unacceptable today.

Yet, in the back of my mind synapses were firing, and connections being made, for its only now, fifteen or twenty years after the fact, that I recall a late afternoon, early evening conversation at work. The office was quiet and only I and one other guy, an Indian – a Parsee- remained.  I cannot recall how we came to speak of such things, but a shared antipathy to Islam surfaced and I said, in reference to the Iran Iraq War, that one bunch of Muslim motherfuckers killing another was all to the good.  We high fived.

Yet somehow, I packed this inchoate sense of enmity away.

Sumenep, Madura, 1995. Headmaster of a pesantren(Islamic boarding school) and drum line director. Many such schools were later to become hotbeds of extremism. His wife, earlier in the sequence of photo wore a kind of mantilla,but here leaves her hair uncovered. Just couldn't resist, I reckon.  She is a handsome woman.

Sumenep, Madura, 1995. Headmaster of a pesantren(Islamic boarding school) and drum line director. Many such schools were later to become hotbeds of extremism. His wife, earlier in the sequence of photos wore a kind of mantilla,but here leaves her hair uncovered. Just couldn’t resist, I reckon. She is a handsome woman.

Shortly after this, a confluence of events – a reorganization at work that sidelined me, the retirement of a beloved boss who had been my mentor, the fall of Soeharto and an economic crisis that made Indonesia a bargain basement, my wife’s longstanding discontent in the United States, and my own middle aged yearning to do something entirely different -, not to mention an inflated sense of wealth from the dotcom boom – led us to sell up and move to Bali, Indonesia.

Crazy.

But we did it, and in the event, this

brought me closer to Islam than I had even been.

Encounters with Islam, Part 3: 1975-80

Al Khobar 2

Old town, al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, 1978

Dead_Iranian_generals

Executed Iranian generals, 1979

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Old City, Lahore, Pakistan, 1978

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Shalimar gardens, Lahore Pakistan, 1978

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Mughal fort, Lahore, Pakistan 1978

Ghost_Dance_at_Pine_Ridge

Plains Indians Ghost Dancers, 1880s

(Read part One here, and Part 2 here)

It was late 1978. I pulled my truck up on an embankment to watch the spectacle. For three days, white C-130s with the Iranian tricolor had been roaring in to the American airbase at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Every fifteen minutes, one came in, and another took off, heading back north. The Shah was tottering, and this was a sure sign of the end. Scuttlebutt was that these planes were clearing out technical assets from CIA listening stations in Iran. Iran had been a bulwark in CENTO (Central Treaty Organization), an arc extending from Turkey to Pakistan. A few months before, on the recommendation of a coworker, I and some buddies had bought tickets for Shiraz in Iran. They had Israeli beer, a few discos, the ruins of Persepolis, beautiful ancient mosques and gardens. Iran Air went on strike and Saudia was full, so we didn’t go. I got my money back, and given a last-minute choice between Oktoberfest in Munich, and Pakistan.  I’d been to Munich as a child, so I went to Lahore on  the recommendation of my Pakistani travel agent.  There, one could – with a police permit – have a drink, and explore a city that combined a jumble of slums, markets, the British cantonment, and some of the finest examples of Islamic architecture anywhere.  It beat Saudi all hollow. The change in Iran was spectacularly swift. And yet, although the old regime fell to the Ayotollah, the events were still couched in the familiar vocabulary of nationalism and Cold War alignments. Pundits ascribed the anti –Americanism to memories of the coup against Mossadegh, hence the prominent role of the Tudeh(Iranian Communists) in supporting the Revolution, and some geo-strategists saw it as a wash. While Iranian leftists were celebrating the end of American influence, it was unlikely the Ayatollah would align with the godless Soviets. The Tudeh, of course, are long gone, mostly murdered by the regime. At the time, I did see a little beyond this, thinking and writing that this was in a sense, “Ghost Dancing,” in that just as the Plains Indians on the verge of defeat and near extinction had put their faith in spirits, so here was Islam, lashing back at Modernism, in a violent death throe. I still think I was right, but at the time I would never have thought such issues would still be foremost in discourse today.

POster

Indonesian movie poster from the 70s

My road to Saudi Arabia had led through Indonesia. In 1975, the San Francisco based construction company for which I worked won a contract for an LNG project on the east Coast of Kalimantan(Borneo) My background put me up on the shortlist of candidates for an open position in logistics, and May of that year found me back In Indonesia after an absence of five years. Soekarno was gone, a general ruled, and for our reposes here, I could almost elide these years, as Islam, while present, was not ascendant. It was the 70s, and bell bottoms, short skirts, and big hair were as popular in here as anywhere else. There was still only one television station, state-owned, black and white, and it broadcast a prayer call in the evenings, but the local cinema ground out comedies that were thinly plotted efforts on which to hang chicks in short skirts and showcase local rock bands.

Jalan Thamrin, Jakarta 1974.  Photo: Thomas J. Strei

Jalan Thamrin, Jakarta 1974. Photo: Thomas J. Strei

Jakarta was a roaring town. Oil and gas ruled. There were slot machines in the bars, and there were a lot of bars. Along the new thoroughfares, high rises went up, but from the roof top lounges, one still looked out over a vast, poorly lit sea of shanty towns. There was far more going on than I imagined. (V.S.Naipaul describes repressed Islamist sentiment in 1970s Indonesia in his “Among the Believers.”) Indonesia then, as now, was a supremely religious country. Nor were questions we would find cultural offensive of the table. “How old are you” “What is your religion?” I had long since taken up agnosticism, but I knew better than to answer that I had no religion. After 1965, Communism, and the entire left, by extension had been discredited and were beyond the pale, but this was not due to matters of economic policy or political organization, but rather the atheism considered fundamental to Marxism. So I answered, simply, Catholic, as I had been raised, and of which there were quite a few in the country, with the national Cathedral in Jakarta just across from the National Mosque. With the Indonesians with whom I associated, religion was hardly an issue. I was young, and so were they. Mostly we talked about the job, and of course, girls. A group might meet in a Chinese restaurant, where the westerners and Chinese Indonesians had pork, the Muslims chicken, and we all drank the excellent local beer ( now sadly diminished as successive hikes in the excise tax have forced the brewers to lower the alcohol content.)

Me with local staff, Balikpapan, 1977. One of these ladies was Muslim, the other Christian.  Which was which wasn't obvious back then.

Me with local staff, Balikpapan, 1977. One of these ladies was Muslim, the other Christian. Which was which wasn’t obvious back then.

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Big hair and bell bottoms, Palu, Central Sulawesi, 1977. For the last twenty years this area has been a hotbed of Islamist violence, with may gruesome murders, inter communal mayhem, and volunteers going off to fight jihad abroad.

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Muslim Malay villagers, Sengatta, East Kalimantan, 1977.

After some months, the project build took off and I moved up to Balikpapan, an oil town not far from the job site, and later, towards the end of the project to the site itself. In all this time, working with local staff, no one ever broke off from his duties saying he had to go and pray. No doubt many managed to meet their devotional obligations, but it was never an issue. At evening one heard the call for prayer from the old town below the oil company compound, but as it had been in Sumatra for me, years before, it was a pleasant reminder that I had gotten out in the world and was someplace different, and exciting. At the site, the mess hall provided both Western and Indonesian food. There were separate lines, but all came from the same kitchen. The chef was German, and there was pork. And I was utterly delighted when as the operational team formed for the plant start-up but who should show up but Abu Bakar, from Sungai Gerong, famous for his wild boar barbecues. He was soon off in the forest banging away and put on a great pig roast for all, and as before, while not eating the porker, happily swigged on the bourbon that was his secret barbecue sauce ingredient. We had Sundays off, access to speed boats and free fuel, so we ranged up and down the coast, exploring the rivers and estuaries, stopping at small towns little changed from Conrad’s time( he had mucked about these parts)

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Bugis settlers, from across the strait of Makassar. Renowned as sailors and traders, the Bugis have been Muslim for many centuries, but here, in 1978, no head scarves.

These were Muslim settlements, each with its tin-domed mosque, but there were no head covers on the women and if we had run out, it was easy to find more warm beer to throw in the igloo coolers. There were thousands of Muslim workers on site, but no prayer times, and work continued through the fasting month, with no acknowledgment. When the work was done, and the plant dedicated, oil industry grandees, along with the President of the Republic, General Suharto showed up . It was quite a party. Two major headliners from Jakarta, stars of stage and screen. The late Benyamin S. the still revered Muslim son of West Sumatra, and Grace Simon, a Christian from North Sulawesi (Celebes) put on a show, singing duets half way to dawn, at a well lubricated party.

CyberViewX v5.11.00 Model Code=58 F/W Version=1.12When it was time to go a couple of months later, I joined a buddy and I embarked on a long-planned trip across the interior of Kalimantan and into Malaysia. This was an epic in itself, but has little bearing on this narrative other than that we were surprised at how far up the river the reach of Islam extended. It was week and more before we came ashore at a long house settlement of the native Dayak people, and finally a town, without a mosque. Months later, we stumbled across the border into Malaysia and made our way to Singapore. So,I left Southeast Asia, and returned to California, where I stayed only briefly. I had left a girlfriend in Jakarta. It was far too early to make a commitment, but I needed time and money to go back and forth to Indonesia.

Dayak longhouse, Long Pahangnai, East Kalimantan, 1977.  Dayaks are largely Christian, but many remain animist.  Those that enter Islam must perforce leave all their traditions behind.

Dayak longhouse, Long Pahangnai, East Kalimantan, 1977. Dayaks are largely Christian, but many remain animist. Those that enter Islam must perforce leave all their traditions behind.

Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia 1978

Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia 1978

There was work in Saudi Arabia. So it was that in May 1978, from 25,000 feet, I looked out into the night and saw as far as the eye could see, the gas flares of the Saudi fields. It was as a small cog in the vast Aramco effort to capture those flared resources that I was employed. Saudi Arabia. No women, no whiskey, but so what, I thought. I had known Muslims the better part of my life. No problem. I bought Lawrence’s “Seen Pillars of Wisdom,” Douty’s “Arabia Deserta,” and “Thesigers “Arabian Sands.” These famous men had found adventure and fulfillment there; so might I. Arabia!! Like China and India, one of those fanciful lands from childhood tales.

In the event, Saudi was, as you might expect, awful. The visible population was overwhelmingly male. The Aramco television station showed “Love Boat” Reruns, which we watched assiduously, just for the pool scenes. There were some echoes of the sleepy kingdom in those slides my father’s friend had shown us back in the 50’s In downtown Al_Khobar , where the old whitewashed houses had jalousies in the upper stores, from which women might look out. Down the road was the town of Qatif, with winding alleys, a mud-walled Ottoman fort, and dhows at the quayside.

Qatif, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia,1978

Qatif, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia,1978

The strange and anti-human segregation of the sexes was difficult, indeed, for me, impossible to adjust to. Friends of mine in Riyadh told me of getting random phone calls from women, who passed around expatriate telephone numbers among themselves. They would talk yearningly, for hours, but never meet.

A Safeway opened in Dhahran, and it was soon thronged by veiled women who made a great show of examining produce and reading ingredients on cans. For this they had to throw back the veil over their faces, and one saw, as they glanced away from the lettuce, towards you, great dark eyes, perfectly made up, deep pools in which hid shadowed souls. It was here that I saw what remains the single most erotic vision in my life. Late one day driving along a road crowded on both sides with mid-rise apartments, the street empty, and the sun sinking in the east filled the corridor with orange light. Then a woman, all in black, but clearly young, for the light pierced her dark cloak and illuminated the full curves of her body, as if she were naked., She was faceless, and magnificent.

There was a train line from Dammam to Riyadh, and once I rode with some friends as a lark. Sitting opposite us was a jolly fellow, in his thobe and dishdasha.  He was a trader of some sort, had traveled extensively, and spoke his own variety of expressive and quite amusing English. As he regaled us with stories of his travels, he continuously cracked a variety of nuts, and passed the meats s around. A stand up guy. Next to him was , I presume, his wife, all in black and with a leather mask, something one saw among the Bedouin. She might as well have been a piece of uninteresting luggage. Yet, while I knew this was a consequence of Islam, I saw it as Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. I was not at all ready to write off Muslims in general, or even Saudis, although I learned they weren’t all that popular among Arabs.

There were still those touching human interactions that are part, or even the main reason, that some people seek out time in other cultures. The kind of contact that says, yes, we are, in the end all just people, and such differences as we have,are worthwhile in themselves. Shortly after I arrived in Kingdom, I realized I was going the wrong way while out working one day, pulled off a very a narrow road and got bogged down on a deceivingly solid shoulder. A Caprice slowed down and stopped. The locals loved these behemoths: they were hardy and up to all the crap the desert could throw at them. A portly fellow in Arab dress got out, smiled, pointed to the tow hitch on the back of his car, hitched me up and pulled me back to the road. Then he gave me a cake. An enormous chocolate wonder in one of those pink cardboard boxes. His card said he was a baker, from Kuwait. We shook hands and he took off.

Then there were the middle-aged and elderly merchants who dealt from their stores in the old towns, while their MBA sons ran huge warehouses on the outskirts. It was a pleasure to sit with them, exchange intricate pleasantries, and sip tea and coffee, before getting down to business. One of these guys was a cat fancier. Islam prohibits dogs

Old commercial district, Al-Khobar, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, 1978

Old commercial district, Al-Khobar, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, 1978

but the human love of companion animals will out. He would had me a cup of cardamon infused coffee and – a cat. While exchanging praises to god for he good weather and our fine health we would sip our drinks and pet our purring friends.

And this I shall never forget.

Salim was the proprietor of a busy machine shop.  Black, he had been born into slavery, and when slavery ended in the kingdom, he had gotten work in the oilfields and eventually set up on his own. His crew was also black, from similar backgrounds One day, I was dropping off some drawings, when a commotion broke out.  A worker had been injured – I don’t remember how exactly –  but as his crew gathered around anxiously around for the ambulance to come, Salim cradled the moaning man cooing to him,  and kissing his shaven skull.  Salim was an excellent and reliable supplier, and he was also a good man.

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Bahrein, 1979

Saudi Arabia was full of foreigners, from high paid executives to laborers, and many of them were Muslims .. I hung out with French-speaking Tunisians who made their own wine, and Pakistani guys who cooked up amazing curries and biryanis in their quarters. While I spent most of my leaves in Jakarta, I did see a little of the Middle East. Bahrain had alcohol, old British hotels, and souks filled with Arabs, Europeans and Indians. Syria, while under the thumb of Assad Pere,

Palmyra, Syyria, 1979

Palmyra, , 1979

was nevertheless a wonderful place to visit, Damascus a jumble of classical ruins, stunning mosques from the first Caliphate and an Oktoberfest at the Hilton. Jordan was a friendly, open place, with television in Arabic, English, French and Hebrew. Like Saudi Arabia, these were Muslim lands, but there the similarity ended.

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Damascus, 1980. This engine was part of the order to Krupp for the Baghdad-Berlin railway. Lawrence blew some of them up in the Hijaz.

Looking back, it’s bemusing – and discouraging -to see forerunners of today’s strife in the area. The Grand Mosque in Mecca was seized by rebels who thought the royal family corrupt and un-Islamic, and there were uprisings in the majority Shia Eastern Province where I was. The Press was tightly controlled and we learned the truth of such things via letters from abroad, although rumors and unease abounded in 1979.

One night I was driving home after a day visiting friends up north. Suddenly the light traffic piled up. The Army was checking everyone. Some vehicles were waved though after brief conversations, others searched. I had a load of homemade wine stashed behind the seat, and I thought I was in big trouble. Fortunately, my night class in Arabic paid off, as I was able to understand a demand for my license, and produce it with the usual polite pleasantries.

Old city center, Homs, Syria. Now almost completely destroyed.

Old city center, Homs, Syria. Now almost completely destroyed.

As the soldier and I talked, I heard distant fire, and looking back as I drove on, saw flashes of light to the East. Months later, I learned that gunships had been putting down a revolt in Qatif.

Plus ca change.

Jerash, Jordan, 1980

Jerash, Jordan, 1980

I was in the Kingdom for a little over two years( Well, two years, there months and six days. If you took extra days off to travel, without pay, it was added to your sentence, erhm, contract) I often took extra time, because I was going back and forth to Jakarta. The girlfriend and I decided to marry. She was a secretary at one of the UN affiliated international organizations in town, had friends among the embassies and foundations, and also knew quite a few people in music and film. Jakarta was in a certain way, a small town back them. In short, she was quite sophisticated for the time and place. We had never at all discussed religion. I had met her sister who was married to a hotel manager in a nearby city, but her father was a distant figure. She had always said they didn’t get along. My fiance’s mother had been his first wife, and had died young. He had had quite a few since then.

One day he showed up in Jakarta, on a mission. If we were to marry, I must become Muslim. So this man, in his floppy trousers and Muslim skull-cap, was the father of my fiancée, who had excellent English, some French and Dutch, and was an accomplished stenographer. He was from West Java,and his native language was Sundanese, but of course he spoke Indonesian. Nevertheless, I had great difficulty understanding him, at least in regards to the matter at hand, since a good deal of what he was saying was Arabic. This was a bombshell. I had not attachment to the religion I had been raised in, and had gleefully stopped going to church as soon as nobody made me do so. Nevertheless, I didn’t like anyone telling me what to do, and Islam, the religion of those difficult raghead over in the Sand Box, was not at all something I wanted to take up. I said no, and there was an enormous scene. I called the movers to pack up my stuff, Then, I backed down. I had sent out the invitations, liked the idea of being married, and well love and all that stuff. I went back to Dhahran with an Indonesian language booklet on Islam that told me how to pronounce the Shahada(the Islamic profession of faith), how to pray and so on. I chanted the payers until I knew them, and in the end not so resentfully. Just anther cultural exploration, I thought. So it was, on my next leave from Saudi, I went down to the mosque and recited the Shahada. First I had had to go tot a doctor, drop trou, and show that my junk was regulation. Wen I was born, circumcision was seen nearly universally as a hygienic necessity. ‘Nice work.” said the doc. The imam congratulated me,and we all exchanged a lot of “Alhamdullah,” Arabic for Praise the Lord. I was then able to marry in the Islamic rite. Then I shredded the conversion certificate, and no doubt the mice have since eaten the carbons. Some months after the religious wedding, we married at the civil registry and had a big reception with enormous amounts of booze: I returned to Saudi to finish out my contract. At the Jakarta airport,there were a large number of young Indonesians, dressed in a manner I had never seen before, the boys in skull caps and thobes, and tho women in white, faces visible,  hair covered. They were boarding a Saudi flight, and they told me they were on the way to the Kingdom for religious education. I thought then, what kind of ideas will they bring back?

(To continue to Part 4, go here )

Signs, Portents…and Squirrels: Our Times: At Once, Dire and Inane

portentsAs I write the date is 27 February, 2015.

If one needed any proof that the United States, and a good deal of the rest of the world has simply abandoned any pretense of being serious, the top stories of today and a few days prior are convincing proof.

JohnLast night, the story broke that “Jihadi” John, the masked killer of at least five in Iraq and or Syria had been identified. Along with this came a presser by CAGE, a “human rights” organization in the UK, which attempted to blame the nation’s security services for “radicalizing” Mohammed Emwazi, who

Cage

Cage directer Asim Qureshi in a diptych with the “beautiful young man” who went on to practice halal butchery on humans. Qureshi’s zabiba(prayer bump) should be a dead giveaway that he’s just another of the lying Islamic shills to whom Westerners give so much credence. The Qureshi were the tribe of the “Prophet” Muhammad, and half the swinging dicks in Muhammad land claim to be descended from them.  Liars all.

turned out to be a degreed computer programmer raised in comfortable circumstances. A week before, the Obama administration had re-floated the idea that “violent extremists” are fueled by poverty and exclusion, a moronic, Marxist inspired, and easily debunked trope that has been around since Dubya.

 

Since I was a child, I've loved antiquity.  However, I remember many of my classmates hating those museum field trips.  This, though, is a bit much

Since I was a child, I’ve loved antiquity. However, I remember many of my classmates hating those museum field trips. This, though, is a bit much

ISIS took a break from releasing snuff films to putting out a video of the lads having a blast smashing statues from Ancient Assyria.

blogger

Nothing to do with Islam, of course. Bangladeshi-American atheist blogger Avijit Roy’s wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, who survived, but lost a finger.

In Dhaka, a Bangladeshi atheist blogger, who also held American citizenship, was hacked to death on the street, with his wife also attacked but surviving. While the White house had nothing to say, a reporter did manage to coax a statement out of Jen Psaki, who was careful to note that at this point the attackers’ motive is unknown.

U.S. State Department spokesbimbo, Jen Psaki.  While lacking empirical evidence, I'd say she's a genuine ginger, and I bet those hooters are real as well, unlike anything that comes out of her mouth.

U.S. State Department spokes-bimbo, Jen Psaki. While lacking empirical evidence, I’d say she’s a genuine ginger, and I bet those hooters are real as well, unlike anything that comes out of her mouth.

The United States government, with zombie FDR nodding approval, decided to regulate the internet under a statute written in 1933. All data packets are equal. Down the road, some will be more equal than others. On the BBC, of all places, a commenter shook his head and said the US government has decided it wants the internet or free. Someone on state owned British media gets economics better than Mr. Obama.

In the same category of unaccountable Federal agencies we have the BATF talking about banning ammunition for the AR-15, a big scary looking rifle that anti-gun legislators have been unable to touch. It’s basically a .22, well .223.

A gang of Uzbeks from Brooklyn are

indicted on terrorism charges. What would Adam Yauch say?

In the United States Congress, the Republican majority, in its strongest position since the 1920s decides that funding DHS, the security super agency that has yet to catch a terrorist, is more important than keeping its promise to the electorate to fight and defund the President’s unilateral amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The president and functionaries of the regime, I’m sorry, government, natter on about “Climate Change,” (Nee Global Warming; isn’t it nice to see her all grown up?) as a foot of snow falls in Alabama. Winter Storm

In other times, people looked to the heavens for signs and portents of evil days to come.

My necromancer didn’t return my texts.

 

We have the United Sates, guarantor of the peace for some seven decades, in a constitutional crisis, a centuries old civilization conflict bathing vast areas in blood, the ancient nations of Europe suborned by Islamic fifth columns, and much more than I need go into here.

What is to come?

I have no idea, the best minds of our time are trying to determine the color of THE DRESS.

What color is this dress? Beats me.  It's  an internet thing.

What color is this dress? Beats me. It’s an internet thing.

What color is it?

Ask the llamas.

A Mexican guy driving by uses a lariat to lasso a llama.  All these words are Spanish. What the hell, I like Mexicans, and I'll sure take them over Muslims.

A Mexican guy driving by uses a lariat to lasso a llama. All these words are Spanish. What the hell, I like Mexicans, and I’ll sure take them over Muslims.