Krauts Will Be Krauts

The Germans are considering spying on their domestic islamophobes, Der Spiegel reports.  Well the krauts have plenty of experience in keeping the lid on subversives concerned with individual liberty and who oppose oppressive supremacist ideologies.

The old Nazis are pretty much gone, but here are plenty of Stasi geezers left to show them the ropes.  The folks over at islammonline view this as a positive developmentt and provide a handy guide to Islamophobia that should quite helpful to the security services.

Ms Zeller -Hirzel survived the Nazis, and saw the end of communism, only witness the rise of a new totalitariansim.

From the film, "The White Rose."

They can start by going after whack jobs like Suzanne Zeller – Hirzel, a survivor of the White Rose resistance group, six of whose young members were decapitated in 1943 after the Gestapo rolled them up  She  sees similarities bewteen Islam and Nazism:

Zeller – Hirzel: The fanaticism, the absolute claim of possessing the only truth and the spiritual simplicity are very similar between Islam and the Nazism.

Ein reich, ein volk, ein fuehrer


Ein Gott, ein religion, ein ummah

Meanwhile, it’s good to see the FBI still has its eye on the ball, sntching up those “Massachuseettss men” before they can do any harm:

(CNN) — A 26-year-old Massachusetts man with a physics degree was arrested and charged Wednesday with plotting an attack on the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol with a remote-controlled model aircraft, authorities said.

Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen from Ashland, Massachusetts, planned to use model aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives, authorities said.

(BTW:  WordPress spell check doesn’t think “islamophobia” is a word.  That’s because it isn’t.)

Big Mullah Is Watching YOU

Campaign 2012: The Souls Of Black Folk

(Living abroad, I have little cause  to think much about American race relations but the coverage of Morgan Freeman’s remarks on CNN September 25 caught my attention.  Like millions of Americans,I’ve long been a Freeman fan.)

Morgan Freeman as God: Not as wise as the Almighty, after all.

Given past statements on race, Morgan Freeman taking on the Tea Party is not as predictable as might appear, and is thus deeply disappointing to many.  Freeman has played America’s wise grandfather for so long, that many thought that he was that for all of us.  His semi-coherent diatribe on Piers Morgan Tonight is just one more, and quite prominent, indicator that post racialism is as far away as ever,

Early in, there is an echo of the Freeman, who in an interview with Mike Wallace in 2009 said the best way to solve the race problem was to stop talking about it, when asked  whether he wanted to be perceived as a black actor:

MORGAN: You don’t think the word “black” should now really be used in any context to–

FREEMAN: Not really, you know, it — what use is it? What good does it do? You know, what we’ve almost always done, when you label someone, you know, say for example, while he’s the best Chinese this or he’s the best Latin that or the best black that, nobody ever says the best white anything.

But that doesn’t last.

In his later remarks, Freeman exhibits the same vague unease, but lack of facts, that accompany much Tea Party Criticism.   He doesn’t care for Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, but seems unsure of just exactly who the senator is.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Made it(the election of President Obama) worse. Made it worse. Look at, look, the Tea Partiers, who are controlling the Republican Party, stated, and what’s this guy’s name, Mitch O’Connell. Is that his, O’Connell?

.He ascribes this sentiment, but not a statement, to the Minority leader and the Tea Party
“…we are going to do whatever we can do to get this black man out of here.”

The interviewer points out that a white Democrat President also had problems with Republicans, to which Freeman can only say “…Clinton, they tried, but still…”

What can one say?  Mr. Freeman, it’s politics and this goes on in all election cycles, regardless of party?

Then we get to the money quote:

“Yes. Well, it just shows the weak, dark  underside of America… “
“…And then it just sort of started turning because these people surfaced like stirring up muddy water.” 

Racist Scum

Vicious racist pond scum just waiting to spread.

Sad.  I hope, and really don’t doubt, that most Americans are still well disposed to Black people.  When people have asked me what I miss about America, I found myself responding, the sound of Spanish, and Black people.  Like many white Americans, I can’t say I really know any black people.  In the course of my life I’ve only been fairly friendly with a couple, but am in touch with neither anymore.

So many decades after the March on Washington, it is deeply troubling to see these

1963: The March on Washington. The most inspiring event of my lifetime.

controversies go on and on.  I’m sure many ,if not most of my generation, had you asked us in the late sixties, would have confidently predicted a post racial America by now.

I have my issues with Black folks, the high crime rate, bloc voting, elevation of charlatans like Sharpton and Jackson to prominence,  although in the last instance, one wonders if the white dominated media are the real culprits. Rowdy kids acting out on buses.  And yes, a certain hollow feeling when I have strolled unthinkingly and suddenly found myself in a neighborhood that was entirely black.

And then to return to one of those neighborhoods for services at great small businesses. A friendly bar where I could have a beer and a bit of chit chat between work and night classes.  A fantastic takeout where the Korean War vet owner presided over amazing smells, and great food that the Asian kids he hired served up with big smiles, as if it were not a a job but just a great big goof.  Hot links, and brisket sandwiches, slaw an potato salad.  Sweet potato pie if you possibly had any room left.


I get to the States only occasionally and a few years back, staying with a friend and lifetime resident of largely white West side LA, I remarked that the black people we encountered,  working at restaurants, cashiers, salespeople and so on, seemed not only quick at their work, but genuinely outgoing and friendly. Many were young, and casual chats revealed that they were working part time and going to  the colleges and universities that abound in West LA. My cynical friend thought that this relaxed interchange between races was due in part to a feeling of solidarity with whites, versus the Latino migration.  He had to agree, however, that things seemed to have improved,  “It’s not all Compton, anymore,” he said,

A long time back, a different friend was railing against  blacks, and my response was, “If they all disappeared one day, you would miss them.“

The first cargo of Africans arrived in Jamestown quite by happenstance, but the trade grew quickly.

Who, after all, is more American than black people?  Schoolchildren still learn, as I did, that the first cargo of African arrived In Jamestown in 1619.  What wasn’t taught back then was that there were some who were free men from the start.
This certainly beats  snooty Mayflower descendants.  As the legal importation of Africans for slavery ended in 1803, it’s a safe bet that the ancestry of the average Black American will predate that of many whites.

I make a choice in this post to use the term “Black.”  People of my age

The memory of merely seeing the segregated South is indelible; It is not possible to imagine what living there as blacks was truly like.

clearly remember signs saying “No colored,” “No Negros,“  and while these were polite terms at the time, it was easy to understand why Blacks would shed them.

How many remember Jesse Jackson decreeing in a Chicago speech sometime in the 80s that henceforth, Blacks would be called African-Americans?  And the Orwellian speed with which the media and academia adopted it?

At the time, and now, it seemed to me that hyphenating this group whose migration, involuntary as it was, predated that of most of the ancestors of their fellow citizens, was insulting, and more importantly, inaccurate.  Black Americans are foremost among the very first Americans and their unique history and culture, and their contributions to the nation they inhabit were made here, not in Africa.

Of course, as a white person, I have no “right,” to take a stand on this, but everyday usage indicates that Black is still preferred.  After all, W.E. Dubois wrote about “Souls of Black Folks,” not African-Americans.  Yet, the term African-American does indicate the distance that many blacks still feel from their country, an estrangement that in some quarters seems to be entrenched, and growing,

The clearest signs are bloc voting, with 95% of Black voters going for President Obama in 2008 and the frenzied, and paranoid stockade mentality many prominent blacks are taking in defending his, at best debatable record as Chief Executive. Take Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on  conservatives and the Tea Party, when commenting on the Freeman CNN Interview:

“I can tell you that it’s clear from the evidence that the ‘Heck with the interest of the common good and whatever we need to do to derail this presidency’ has characterized some if not all of Tea Party behavior in the Congress of the United States, no doubt about it,” Patrick said.

O.J. The Verdict

46% of the electorate did not think electing Obama as President would foster the common good, and after the fact,  more have come to the same conclusion. If many more blacks approve of the president’s performance than do whites, is this because they are right, and whites racist?  This divide trumps any facts because it is consistently so lopsided.  I remember too well the sinking feeling at the conclusion of the Simpson trial, when my black colleagues gave out a shout and fist pumps when the acquittal came in.

If the Tea Party, and conservatives in general, are predominately white, is Governor Debal a racist for criticizing them?

“The governor also described conservative behavior as ‘seditious,’ saying that patriots come together in crisis to work on a solution.”

“Sedition: Conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch. ”

Or even worse: “Conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of a state.
2. Insurrection; rebellion

Yes insurrection , such as the rebellion of the South, the suppression of which resulted in Emancipation.

“The notion that the singular focus of the hard right today is to defeat this president,  even if there’s an idea he puts forward to help-that they used to support-is incredibly worrisome to me and a very different political climate, I think, that we’ve been dealing with for a long time,” he said.

The governor does not specify which of the administration’s ideas might be ones
Republicans once approved, but now oppose.  Once again, there is nothing particularly remarkable here. It’s called an election, much as Governor Bev Perdue of North Carolina might like to dispense with them.

“Patrick was not the only one to respond to Morgan’s comments. GOP presidential contender Herman Cain had told Fox News that Morgan’s remarks were “short-sighted.”

“Most of the people that are criticizing the Tea Partiers about having a racist element, they have never been to a Tea Party,” Cain said.

“Short sighted,” indeed.  This hysteria among the black electorate, that the Tea Party wants to bring back slavery and lynching as Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana and others have said , is more than silly: it is a sad and depressing indication that much of Black America has no memory of its proud history before its open-ended indenture on the Great Society plantation.

“Black History is American history,” Freeman said in a better and very lucid moment in the Wallace Interview.  It is indeed, and a proud part of it. I said the same thing in introducing my self to the Black Literature Club, of which I was the sole white member, where I worked in the 90s. ( This was no statement as to my enlightened racial outlook. I like to read, and the stuff these people were doing fit  well with some night classes I was taking.) We had lunchtime meetings, read Zora Neale Houston, slave narratives, MLK, and Toni Morrison, who sadly racist that she is, is a wonderful story teller and stylist.

Sojourner Truth

A high point was MLK day, when members brought their scrubbed and dressed up kids, to deliver memorized speeches and sermons of Dr King, Fredrick Doublass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and others, The art of memorization and declamation was alive there, long after being lost in the public schools

Downsizing and brutal hours put an end to the club’s activities, but that was the not the only glimpse I have had into black America where I think something good, decent remains, an older culture in opposition to the underclass rage, one that if revitalized would not only help black America, but the nation as a whole.

One reads of inner city hell hole schools.  I did sub in one predominantly Black and Latino High School on the western edge of Phoenix.  The first day I had that same trepidation as in entering an unknown black area.   Immediately I was flagged down by some big black adults, sitting on a courtyard bench.  They were security, ex military mostly, some studying for the police academy exam.

They knew everything that went on.  A kid even thinking of acting up got his name called out, and a meek “yes sir” and apology usually followed quickly. They were funny guys and made me welcome at break times.   This assignment came after a few weeks at a school in an affluent area, where kids drove their own new SUVs to school.  There were a lot of spit wads and backtalk,

It struck me immediately that these kids said “Sir,” and “Mr.”.  There was an old fashioned level of courtesy towards adults.  Sure ,they acted out, and sometimes it was hard to discipline them because they were so hilarious. Two in particular I remember, Jimmy a gawky kid, Mississippi dark, with a constant smile who simply could not keep still.  More than once I had to send him out, but he just went with the same smile. And came back the next day and did it all over again.

Then there was Sheniqua. (Yes, that was the name)  a tall Nilotic exotic just a little too aware of her looks, who once flashed me her tummy, and very taut it was.  The shorts that barely met dress code requirements were bad enough.

Yet she submitted a highly readable and passionate assessment of her favorite singer, Usher, complete with musicology references and footnotes, making an argument for placing him in the tradition of black jazz and blues singers.

I had much less trouble with these kids than with their far more well off peers in the other side of the valley,  Indulging in amateur sociology, looking back at the small business men in San Francisco, the church going book readers in the literature club, the firm but caring security guys and the sassy but bright students at that Phoenix school, did I see an echo of an earlier black America, one that began in the rural South where blacks had no choice but to do for themselves, and which carried over into the urban neighborhoods that people like Bill Cosby fondly remember, before they were destroyed by welfare and redevelopment?

One must take political biographies skeptically, yet a look at people like Herman Cain seems to say that this Black  America is still out there. Whether it can prevail against those who would exploit it for political purposes, as they have for so long, is a question that will  effect not only the election outcome, but the lives of all Americans. Campaign 2012 will be about many things, but one will be the souls of Black folks.

Politicans Search for the Electorate’s G-spot

On Monday,  I was startled when  I did my morning headline glance at MSNBC to see the President’s speech to the CBC headlined “Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’ “with the elided “g”’s clearly signaled.  Remembering criticisms of Bush for forced folksiness, and recalling that the intensity  of Clinton’s Arkansas speech rose and fell, I wondered it this were another sign of Obama‘s slide in the estimation of the MSM.  I didn’t watch the accompanyin’ video as Youtube  was not cooperating.

Now a few days later, I see that it has kicked up an excremental weather front, but not the one I would have predicted,

From the
Sept 27, 2011

“Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’,” President Obama lectured the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on Saturday, according to the Associated Press. According to the White House transcript, the president said: “Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.” Dylan Stableford of Yahoo! News reports that the case of the missing g’s is now prompting charges of racism:

On MSNBC, the African-American author Karen Hunter complained the news service transcribed Obama’s speech without cleaning it up as other outlets did–specifically including the “dropped g’s.” . . .

    Hunter called the AP’s version “inherently racist,” sparring with New Republic contributing editor and noted linguistics expert John McWhorter, who argued the g-less version “is actually the correct one,” noting that the president’s victory in the 2008 election was due, in part, to how effortlessly “he can switch into that [black] dialect.”

It does seem, in the eyes of his supporters, that our first post racial president is all about race.  For me, the issue in this instance is in the last sentence.

“…how effortlessly “he can switch into that [black] dialect.”

Are politicians really unaware of the internet and Youtube? Do they still think they can get away with addressing one audience one way, and another quite differently?

Is it worth considering that the racism here might be the president’s, in that he felt Blacks must be addressed in “their “ dialect to get the message, or that they are so self obsessed that they will not consider a message, even from an ally, if not couched in group approved language?

Herman Cain speaks with a heavy black intonation – “g”’s intact, as far as I can see, to wildly appreciative, mostly white audiences.  I’m no linguist, but his speech sounds more ”black” to me than the President’s mildly African American inflection.

Mr. Cain understands that it is best to be one’s self.  This elocutionary metamorphism on the part of the President might lead one to wonder if Obama indeed knows how exactly he is, or  feels the need to present different selves to different electoral segments.

If the latter, he has, and has had plenty of company on both sides of the aisle, but is unwise.  Despite, or perhaps as a result of a media saturated culture, authenticity will prevail over calculated and hastily erected and and just as quickly disassembled multiple persona.

Rick Perry to the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans: no “g’s”
His Presidential run announcement in South Carolina: no “g”s

Presidential debate     Some “g’s” present.  Perry would appear to be genuine “g-dropper,” struggling to maintain standard pronunciation when he thinks it is appropriate. He should be consistent, and himself.

I didn’t bother to check up on Romney.  It’s impossible to imagine him as a “g” dropper.

Those who live in a region, or come from a class or linguistic group that pronounce “ing”  as “in”,  should a politician suddenly start dropping “g’ just to address you, might think about drop kicking him or her out of the race.

We will be listening.

Church Bombing in Java’s Heartland

Batik workers at Danar Hadi batik museum, Solo. The television is not part of some oppressive surveillance apparatus, but for the entertainment of the workers.

"Rumahku," My House, a refurbished 1930s Dutch era house, now a guesthouse and restaurant.

Slamet Riyadi, Solo's main street. The city moves at a slower pace than larger cities nearby. The quiet heart of old Java.

Here's the guy. Pretty tastless of me to put it up, right? Well, tastelessnespales in the face of moral cowardice. The daily outrages, 10 dead here, 30 there, these are real people, as is this man, as much a victim of a vicious and death worshipping ideology as the people he attacked. Churches burned, mosques bombed( by other Muslims, with Shia and Ahmadiiah, as well as the occasional moderate Sunni cleric taking the hit from the more pious). Buddhist monks, and children, beheaded in Thailand, cross border shoppers bombed there too, beer drinkers executed in Nigeria, and on and on…all real people. So have a look at it once in awhile to remember who these people are, and what happened to them. Tastelessness is nothing in the face of this holocaust. I like Solo. This pisses me off, so I put the pic up. Deal with it.

Solo, or its formal name Surakarta, the seat of an ancient sultanate, is a  center of  highly refined Javanese culture epitomized in its batik, court ceremonies, dance and gamelan music.

Less visited than its better known neighbor, Jogjakarta, it is quiet place with good accommodation, excellent shopping without the touts and traffic of Jogya, accessible by domestic air lines, with Silkair coming in from Singapore. Tourism will not be enhanced by the latest outrage in “moderate“ Indonesia, a  poor omen for  success in the country’s drive to  improve arrivals numbers, 7.2 million in 2010, compared to 12.6 for tiny neighbor Singapore.

Solo is also the birth place of Abu Bakar Basyir, radical Islamist and convicted, although lightly sentenced, terrorist mastermind.  In Solo, the cultural civil war between syncretistic Hindu-Islamic Javanese culture and Wahabiism  rages just below the surface.  The historic tendency of the Javanese toward syncretism and openness to different spiritual beliefs also resulted in a large Christan population,  Now there are jihadis to attack them.

Egypt’s and Tunisia’s tourist industries have been ruined, and will most likely never rebound as they become shariah dominated Islamic republics. This could be Indonesia’s fate as well.  Jihad is bad for business,

From  Reuters, via MSNBC
“A suspected suicide bomber attacked a church on Indonesia’s Java island on Sunday, killing himself and injuring 17 people, police said.”

The ubiquity of cell phones here, and lax policing procedures means that a pic of the dead bomber is already viral.  He looks like an offal stand in a wet market,  No “suspected” about it.

The story goes on: “Religious tensions still bubble near the surface in the officially secular nation.”  “Bubble” is a rather weak verb in this context.

“Officially secular”…yes, but not in a sense that nations like the US or France might recognize.  The country has a Ministry of Religion, which, given the demography concerns itself mostly with Islamic affairs, but does allocate some funding to other beliefs.  Domestic airliners, along with the emergency instructions and barf bag, have prayer cards for the major religions in the seat pockets, just the thing for white knuckle fliers,

In Indonesia, religion trumps everything , and one religion trumps all others.

And… “Religious conflicts flared up between Muslims and Christians in Maluku and Sulawesi, in the eastern part of the sprawling archipelago, following the overthrow of former President Suharto in 1998.”

This is a case where “religious conflict,” rather than being the value neutral and history shunning whitewash it usually is, may be an appropriate term, at least in terms of the inception of the conflicts, which were actually large scale regional civil wars.  Both sudden explosions, over perceived slights that quickly spread and dragged on for years.  However, in both areas was only the Muslim side that brought in arms and fighters from outside, with the indifference, if not outright collusion of the security forces,   To my knowledge, no clear journalistic account, in any language, has been written for either conflict.  At the time, local media withdrew and foreigners were banned.  Despite widespread lawlessness, and the deaths of thousands, only three people ever prosecuted, Christians Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva, and Marinus Riwu, all executed in 2001.  No one, Christian or Muslim was ever charged in the Maluku war.

Instead, academics, religious leaders and government actors spoke of “horizontal conflict,” convened conferences and hammered out intercommunal agreements.  This is the Indonesian way, where confrontation is avoided, and consensus, regardless of justice, is valued above everything else. That is, until tempers rise too far.  “Amuck” after all is a Malay word(for non- Indonesian readers, the  Indonesian language is based on the Riau-Johore dialect of
Malay.)  This, as much as political indebtedness to Islamic parties, may be at the heart of President Yudhyonos’s passivity in the face of rising Islamist agitation and violence.

In its story, the Jakarta Globe quotes police sources as saying the attack may be linked to recent violence in Ambon.

Note that once again, a “clash“ is Muslims attacking Christians, just as this is usually described wherever it may be, Egypt, Nigeria, or Indonesia, among others,

Since the end of the wars in Maluku and Sulawesi almost ten years ago, I would challenge anyone to find an instance of a Christian initiated “clash” in Indonesia; If nothing else, those “conflicts” taught the minority that they are not going to win, even in areas where they have numerical equality, or even superiority.

Another Globe story quotes Christian and Muslim clerics as warning against a plot to stir up “conflict.“

Here in microcosm, is Indonesia’s quandary, and the world’s, in confronting Islamist extremism.  A refusal to look at the core texts of Islam, not the various islams practiced in different forms across continents, but the texts whose exact words motivate terrorists and jihadi fighters, results in logical fallacies, x-factor searches for conspiracies, leading to abject  failure in defending the societies attacked.s

Just as is standard procedure in the Us and Europe, when a “lone wolf” jihadi is caught, or acts,, we are told that he or she is not part of a network, as if that is reassuring, and police and press speculate as to motive.

Motive?  I posit Islam.

“When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them and lie in ambush everywhere for them.”

Surah 9:5 Al Saif(the Sword)

Obama Unveils Deficit Reduction Plan, ‘Buffett Rule’ Tax On Millionaires

Redistribu­tion is theft. Taken to its logical extreme, and the kulaks are liquidated­.

Rob your neighbor so the government can decide what to do with his money, and maybe give you some of it. Envy is ugly.

And it’s stupid.The President’­s plan will also increase the complexity of the already insane tax code, But as half of American don’t pay any income tax, it will appeal.

A flat tax would be fair and consistent­, but it will never happen due to the base emotion of envy.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Paranoia and Intolerance in Central Sulawesi

Sunset, Prince John's Dive Resort, Donggala, Palu Bay, CentralSulawesi, Indonesia

From the Jakarta Post, Sunday, September 18, 2011 13:47 PM

US family in Palu evacuated over rumors of proselytizing

In this story you have all the elements behind both the truth and the wishful thinking behind the phrase “Moderate,  modern Indonesia.”

The Central Sulawesi Police have evacuated a family of four American nationals from their rented house in the BTN Bukit Kabonena Permai residential complex in Palu to the local immigration office, allegedly because they were in danger due to rumors they had been proselytizing to locals.

The Graeff family, including father David Ray, 41, mother Georgia Rae, 41, and children Benjamin David, 12, and Daniel Earl, 14, were evacuated on Sunday evening reportedly after locals had begun to question the family’s presence in the region.

Locals then burned the family’s car after they were evacuated.

Palu Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Deden Granada said that David Ray Graeff, who had been in Kabonena for two weeks, was a teacher at Uwera Theological School in Marawola, Sigi regency, Central Sulawesi.

“We had to evacuate the family for their own safety,” Deden said.(more)

I’ve been to Palu,  the capital of a region of stunning natural beauty, three times.  The town lies at the head of an lovely mountain girded  bay, so long that the sea is not visible from the city.  The first time was in in 1975, when I  flew over from Balikpapan, in East Kalimantan, to buy and sand and gravel for the LNG project I was working on.  Then, there were no hotels, so I stayed in a dirty boarding hose with light so weak I had to supplement it with candles.   Now there is a Swiss Bel-Hotel.  In 1994 there was a decent small hotel in town with air conditioning and hot water, and cable TV. Later in that trip  I stayed up the bay at a  German run dive resort, and returned there in 05.  During my first two visits, Islam never crossed my mind.  The last time I flew up there I was struck that every woman on the flight, including small girls, aside form two Chinese and the stewardess wore a hijab,  By that time, I had read that a local cell of  the terrorist Jemaah Islamiah had met at the Hotel Central..

In the thirty years between my first and last trip, communications, and the standard of living had increased immensely, and the natural beauty, and tourism potential was still evident, but little more exploited in 05 than it had been in 95.  The material culture was greatly advanced, but something ancient, and foreign has seeded the minds of many with distrust and hatred.

The story quotes Habib Saleh , a teacher at an Islamic boarding school, as saying he had heard rumors of foreigners engaging in missionary activity, and being transported by helicopter.  These schools, called pesantren, are often hotbeds of extremism, and sometimes incubators of terrorism.  The public can be rather volatile in Indonesia, and rumors spread by both the traditional gossip network, and nowadays, text messages, are often the source of violent incidents, as in Ambon last week.

The helicopter story is an example of  paranoid fantasy apparent not only in matters of religion here.  Despite the internet, cable TV, and more frequent travel abroad, many Indonesians believe there are dark forces ranged against their country.  I had students tell me that the US was working to break up Indonesia in order to seize its resources.  I tried to explain that a breakup  would be a security nightmare for America, but to a little avail.

Habib Saleh wondered why the seminary would import English teachers.  Having made a living as such in Indonesia  for more than ten years before my retirement, I can easily answer his question.  Since independence, English  has always been the second language of the Republic, and with the economic expansion the country has enjoyed the past few years, the thirst  for competence in English has become universal.  Even isolated villagers speak of globalization, and ask for a quick lesson or two.  The more progressive and modern pesantren have incorporated English competence into their curricula. It is clear that Mr Saleh is unaware of this, as he as quoted saying,  “What was going on? There must be some other agenda.”  The Indonesian phrase here for “must be”  is likely pasti ada, used in both a kind of conspiratorial subjunctive( “9/11 must have been an inside job,” widely believed here), or to express a fond, but unsupported hope( “There must be a gas station up ahead, I really have to go.”)

So were the Graeffs proselytizing?

Proselytizing is not illegal in Indonesia.  The Constitution  acknowledges one god, but there is no state religion.  The state officially recognizes five religions, a stricture introduced under the Suharto regime.  Atheism is not outlawed, but all citizens must state one of the recognized religions on their identification cards, and religion is recorded in all kinds of transactions, such as school registration, where it would be prohibited in the west. In theory, all are free to change religions, but bureaucrats make it very difficult to change a registration in Islam for a different belief.

Nevertheless, preaching Christianity to Muslims  In Indonesia, as in any Muslim majority country,  is extremely risky.

I don’t doubt that the Graeffs are dedicated Christians. Such schools as the seminary offer little more than a work visa and a token salary of perhaps two or three hundred dollars a month at most.  Like many I have met, they mostly likely financed their sojourn largely from their own resources. The province is almost 25% Christian, so their would be more than enough scope for pastoral work without proselytizing. Local Christian institutions are well aware of their inferior status, and would not encourage open preaching.

Indeed, all versions of the story, both in English and Indonesian, refer to rumors, and provide no proof.  The headline in the large circulation Indonesian Islamist newspaper, Republika,  took the proselytizing as fact, and only deeper in reported it as suspected.  Readers’ comments were uniformly incensed at the evidence of “Christianization,” and complimentary to the police for handling the situation.  Some were angry that the government had not dispatched the crack U.S. trained Densus 88 anti-terror brigade to capture the missionary terrorists,  seeing this as a sign of systemic discrimination against Muslims by the central authorities, and that the Jakarta government is subservient to Washington.

The religious school  teacher found it suspicious that the family lived in Kabonena, rather than in town. In Palu, as all over Indonesia, new suburban housing estates and satellite towns with modern facilities are springing  up to meet the needs of a growing middle class. Republika reports, but doesn’t comment on the fact that the Americans rented their home from a member of the provincial assembly, H. Nasir Djibran, clearly a Muslim name, and a person of some substance locally. The housing estate is one kilometer from the city center.  The seminary is in Wera ( not Uwera, which is in Uganda), near the port of Dongggala( where Joseph Conrad met Olmeijer, the protaganist in his first novel, “Almayer’s Folly,” so that Palu could add literary tourism to its already considerable attractions!) halfway up the western shore of Palu Bay, a reasonable and very scenic commute on the quite decent road, which I have traveled, in the large and comfortable Toyata Kijang the Graeffs no longer have.

This story summarizes all the difficulty caused by the insidious spread  of a dry, desert ideology, call it wahabism, salafism, or what you will, that threatens to overwhelm and supplant the syncretic forms of Islam that worked well for so long here, and reflected the reality of the archipelago’s cultural and religious history.  Palu, a region with immense potential for investment, tourism and recreation, and a decent life for its inhabitants of all faiths, could lose its chance to progress further and succumb to ”religious tensions.”

As has been seen many times on Java, the authorities do not punish attackers, and consider their work done if they merely prevent grave harm to those attacked, reflecting a greater malaise, and dangerous inertia, as the government  of a secular republic refuses to acknowledge its subversion.


Obama’s Daily Affirmations

Gimme, gimme sum lovin'!

The President seems to be needing a boost, and some of his recent moves might have been inspired by Al Franken’s ( figures) memorable SNL character,Stuart Smalley.

Yesterday , the President sought help and validation from, as CBS News described them, “a fired up crowd of students” at North Carolina State University.  When one called out “I love you, Barrack(sic” –  first name use indicating a serious crush – the President responded “I love you back, but if you love me, you’ve got to help me pass this bill!”    Obama made sure sure to spread the love, offering large numbers of jobs in the construction industries and the public sector, as usual.  A look at NCSU’s list of majors shows, with the exception of Gender, Africana(sic) and Native American Studies, an impressive range of both traditional majors , and many newer ones related to industry and technology, with quite a few specific to North Carolina’s diverse economy, where forestry and agriculture continue to be important along with growing tech and financial sectors. Why a few thousand temporarily funded construction and teaching jobs in a bill yet to be written should inspire palpitations in this college crowd beats me, but hey, he’s the President and clearly needs some lovin’.  And a lot of us remember falling in love with someone who wasn’t right while we were at college.

If you want to do more than just shout declarations of passion and blow kisses, take a shot in the “Have Dinner with Obama” lottery.  It’s only five bucks.  Whether you go dancing afterward, or directly to his or your place, isn’t stated.  Chris Mathews should buy a bundle.  He might get to do something about that tingle.

You have to be pretty to old to remember Firesign Theater’s groovy president singing “Do You love me,” but that’s kind of what we have here,

I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, around 47% of the People Like Me!

Give the Taliban a hug

Yesterday, September 13, reports appeared in the press that the U.S. has approved the establishment of a Taliban representative office in Doha, Qatar.  On Sunday, September 11, the Taliban celebrated the ten year anniversary with an attack on a base in Southern Afghanistan that  left 77 NATO troop wounded. August  was a particularly bad month, with 80 coalition troops dead, 71 of them Americans.

Within hours the wisdom of this outreach to “bring the Taliban  in from the cold” as MSNBC put it this morning, was validated with a coordinated attack on NATO in downtown Kabul.  Wait, Ambassador Crocker now blames the Haqqani, a Pakistan based group affiliate with both the Taliban and Al Quaeda.  Same bunch that attacked a Kabul luxury hotel back in June.  Forgot about that one, did you?  Me too.

And as things were settling down, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on a school bus near Peshawar.  The Taliban often go after schools,and school kids.  Their name means “students,” but they don’t much care for studying, unless the Koran is the subject.  As I write, the BBC is reporting a large car bombing in Iraq.  Huge one yesterday, too, 51dead as I recall.

Taliban, Haqqani, Al Qaeda, whatever, they all blow stuff up, and they don’t like us at all.  As to why this should be, the President, forign policy wonks, and academics  caught up in the embrace of Religion of Peace explainers and apologists, remain clueless.

Sometimes, I just can’t take it.  So, I wrote the President a letter.  Here it is:

“It was with both rage and despair that I read the press reports that your administration has approved Taliban representation, in Qatar.  This is the Taliban that tortured Afghanistan under the most brutal theocracy of any age, marked by wholesale slaughter, gender apartheid , and the obliteration of ancient cultural artifacts.  These are people who perform public executions, and impose hudud punishments: stoning, beheading, and amputation.  And the Taliban that just hours ago took responsibility for attacking a school bus in Pakistan.,

Taliban means students, students of the Koran and hadith.  They know these texts well.  It is clear that you do not, nor did  your predecessors for the decades that elements in the Islamic world have warred on us.

If you had studied Islam,  you would understand that it is inherently violent and has always been so.  Do you know why the name for the mountain range Hindu Kush means  “Killers of Hindus“?  Do you acknowledge the Arab slave trade that for centuries enslaved black Africans, and to some extent still does so?  Have you ever read the history of the North African Muslim abduction and enslavement of  a million or more innocents  over three centuries from Northern Europe?  And one can leave history and simply look at the daily news.

Instead, it is more important to you to, as you said in your Cairo speech, root out “Islamophobia” wherever you find it, without ever giving any thought to why so many are concerned, and even terrified of this ideology,

Madam Clinton, at your behest, works with the OIC  to end criticism of Islam.  Why should any religion be free from criticism?.  It is disappointing in the extreme that you show little, if any concern for the Muslim assaults on Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities that occur daily in many countries, yet are always ready to address the concerns of Muslims,  Your intelligence  advisor ludicrously called the Muslim Brotherhood largely secular when their goal has always been a sharia governed Caliphate.  I learned this more than thirty years ago.  The information was available in  the pubic library.

Mr. President, I too grew up in Indonesia some years before you, when Islam was just one strain in a gorgeous tapestry of cultures.  The Islam you and I knew then was not the Islam of the Koran, the hadith and the Sira.  Have you read these texts, or do you rely on advisors and “community leaders” to tell you what Islam is?

Your persistence in the same useless outreach efforts as  your predecessors is baffling.  This opening to the Taliban is the most egregious of a long series of such failed, useless, and ultimately dangerous efforts. Yesterday’s attack in Kabul should show anyone not yet convinced of the inevitable end of these diplomatic openings which only emphasize the weakness of our resolve.   Worse, it is an insult to our forces who already labor under ridiculous rules of engagement which place them in even more danger in the course  of pursuing a perilous mission.

Some believe your ultimate allegiance is to the ummah, not the nation.  I do not, but your view of Islam is remarkably uninformed, and can only be due to willful arrogance, or nostalgic sentimentality.  If it is the latter, I can be sympathetic to some extent.  My childhood in Indonesia led me to be favorably disposed to Islam, and later residence in Saudi Arabia, and even 9/11,did not dispel this impression.  When, however, I finally read the texts, and watched how their adherents acted, I came to know the truth.

You too, need to read and understand them, Mr. President.  They are not that complex, and you need not be a scholar or Arabic linguist, despite the obscurantist claims of many defenders of Islam. The  foremost translations are wholly consistent. They say what they mean, and Islamists mean what they say, and do what their texts tell them to.

If you do not make this effort, you will be judged wanting, if not by the electorate in 2012, then by history.”

I figured I could count on the President to understand the Arabic terms I used.  If I get pulled aside the next time I go to the States, I’ll know “rage” was a little strong.

HuffPoofery: My Response to Ariana’s 9/11 Piece

I wouldn’t expect other than fatuous nonsense from this source.  What is disturbing is the many who agree with her.  So I put my two cents ( actually around 750 words in four sections due to 250 word limitation per post).

Here it is in its entirety:

I of course expected Ms Huffington to make no mention of Islam in her 9/11 piece, and after scrolling through the first six pages of comments I find it almost completely absent from the the  thoughts expressed.  One commenter viewing American foreign policy as a “root cause,” mentioned Iran in 1957.  I would be rather surprised  if Osama Bin Laden  had ever heard of Mussadegh, and if he had it would be ludicrous to assume this Sunni  Salafist would care about a Shia secularist from the left in Iran.  This is typical of  the logical gyrations in which some  people  engage so as to  exonerate Islam.

Whatever one thinks  of the “Wars to Help Muslims” (Beginning with the Gulf war, I have I opposed all five – count them – other than taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan, which was fumbled) and the growth of the National Security State, these developments have their origins in a total lack of understanding in the US of what Islam is, and how it affects statecraft in nations that profess it.

The absurd lengths to which people will go in order not to mention Islam stuns me at times.  Israel, or US foreign policy have nothing to do with the ongoing  murder, oppression and violence against Christians and other minorities in parts of Nigeria, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh,  Sudan.  They have nothing to do with the internecine Muslim violence endemic in Iraq and Afghanistan,and the persecution, suppression and murder of Ahmadis in Indonesia.

One simply has to look at the rest of the world to see that there is no other belief system giving rise to such persistent and high levels of violence, not to mention appalling human development indices, outside the rich Gulf nations, and a general disregard for basic freedoms, most especially manifested  in low status for women, and in places, outright gender apartheid. Simple logic dictates that this is no coincidence.

On 9/11 we were attacked by Islam, a renascent Islam fueled by petro-dollars, another term  for our money. There have been other such  attacks throughout the history of Islam, starting from its base in the Arabian Peninsula,  sweeping hence to  rapid  dominance of the southern Mediterranean littoral and on into Western Europe

Tarik ibn Zayid, Arab conqueror of Spain. Artist's rendition, as no true portraits exist due to Islamic restrictions on depicting living being. He landed at Gibraltar, which is a corruption of Jebel Tarik, "Tarik's Mountain.".

Charles Martel, King of the Franks, who decisively broke Muslim power in France, at the Battle of Tours, 732.

from Africa, and later from Turkey into Southeast Europe .  These waves were beaten back, but never has a country or region relinquished Islam voluntarily, or more accurately, has Islam peacefully relinquished territory.  The secular experiment of Ataturk in Turkey is at an an end, and Malaysia and Indonesia( where I live) may follow. We are, in a sense, experiencing the Third Jihad.  It will be the last.


Despite continuing attempts, increasingly from lone actors, and of fairly amateurish nature, the US will most likely not see another 9/11 in my view.  This hardly means the danger is past.   We must prepare for an Islamic World from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia that, while chaotic and disunited, will be unified in its hatred of us and our values.

On September 11, 1683 King Jan Sobieski III Of Poland joined battle with the Ottoman Turks to lift the Siege of Venna, begining the roll back of muslim power in Central and Southeastern Europe

One commenter here suggested withdrawing form the region( the Middle East and Afghanistan.  I would agree, and extend this withdrawal to ceasing any attempt to reach out to, understand, interface with, or influence developments in  the Islamic world.  Withdraw, but maintain our guard toward both external and internal threats. This would make as safer, and perhaps afford us the time and resources to heal  ourselves.

Finally, I exhort one and all: read the texts of Islam!  I sincerely doubt Messers Bush the elder and younger, Clinton or Obama ever have.

September 13: It is noteworthy that the anniversary of the two day battle outside Vienna in 1683,  in which the advance of Turkish Muslim power in Central Europe was stopped, is September 11/13.  Now we have no captains to fight the crescent, and Europe lies supine, while America slumbers.

A Good Word for VP Biden, and a Good Word from HIm

It’s easy to make fun of Joe’s malaproprisms and misspeaking, but at
Shanksville he upstaged the President. I applaud his graciousness to both former presidents, most especillau hi thanks to President
Bush for the leadership provided in going after Al Quaeda in the beginning. His modesty in ellipsis – not contrasting the Bin Laden killing with Bush’s failure to take out Al Quaeda’s leader was noteowoyrth. It was a speech that, while, once again not mentioning the enemy as I would like, spoke of citizen warriors past and present, not focused on silly notions of “service,” but real service that can cost lives.. In a post speech interview with CNN, he spoke of his concerns that jihadis might use the occasion for a strike. For those uneasy with referring to muslims in this struggle, jihadi is an excellent term. It is truthful. Thank you, Mr. Vice President.