:: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 ::
The Fakirs of Reality
Posted by Edward Cline at 3:44 PM
Raymond Ibrahim, an associate director of The Middle East Forum, wrote an article for Pajamas Media, “The Ultimate Lesson of Egypt’s Faked Photo.” In it he explains why a leading Mideast newspaper, Al Ahram, decided to run a doctored photograph of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
One of the most widely circulated newspapers in the world, Egypt’s Al Ahram, recently ran a fake picture depicting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak walking in front of U.S. President Barack Obama and a pack of other Mideast leaders [at the White House]. In fact, based on the original photo, Mubarak, the octogenarian, appeared trailing last.
So poor in pride and apparently also in intellectual honesty, and desperate for recognition of some important role that Egypt was playing in world affairs, the editor rationalized the deception:
Al Ahram editor Ossama al-Saraya defended the fraudulent photo by referring to it as an “expressionist photo … a brief, live and true expression of the prominent stance of President Mubarak in the Palestinian issue, his unique role in leading it before Washington.” All well and good, but beyond the euphemisms and rationalizations, the fact remains: by portraying something that was not true, the state-run Al Ahram intentionally tried to deceive the people.
الانترنت شيء عظيم! or, The Internet is great! Some Egyptians, however, don’t appreciate the effort, reports Ibrahim.
As Wael Khalil, the Egyptian blogger who first called attention to the altered photo, pointed out, this anecdote is a snapshot of the routine deception the Egyptian government foists on the people: “They lie to us all the time. Instead of addressing the real issues, they just Photoshop it.”
Very reminiscent of how President Barack Obama and his administration report the successful “reality” of their programs and policies in their repeated and unsuccessful attempts to deceive the American people. But, that is another story. It is also reminiscent of the “toilet paper” fatwa pronounced on a German blogger who reported that Fatwa No. 40378 in the Encyclopedia of Fatwas specified that the New Testament and Torah could be used as toilet paper. Ever defiant, she also featured a graphic of the Koran as a roll of not-so-Charmin. That exercise in freedom of speech earned her a death fatwa. Nevertheless, Fatwa No. 40378 was removed from the Encyclopedia site in an attempt to deceive. Read the story here.
However, I am reminded by Ibrahim’s article of an episode of “Seinfeld,” in which George, the neurotic moocher, liar, schemer, and ne’er-do-well, buys a car from a used car salesman who tells him, quite tongue-in-cheek, that it was once owned by Jon Voight, the actor. George buys the car for that sole reason, and his chronically tenuous self-esteem is inflated because now he can boast to distraction that he owns a car once owned and driven by a famous person. It turns out that the car was indeed owned by a “John Voight,” by a near-namesake but not by the actor. George’s new-found self-esteem rapidly deflates like a defective balloon.
The episode described by Ibrahim here of the newspaper faking a photograph of Hosni Mubarak’s falsified place in the scheme of things is equally pathetic, and also points to a problem not only with Islam but with Muslim “culture.” If by a “culture” we mean a set of fundamental beliefs and practices shared by a specific group of people, then Muslim “culture” is fraught with many deterministic and nihilistic premises grounded on one core tenet which Islam shares with Christianity and any other religion: the assertion of an unprovable existence of a supreme being, one who authored creation and who is either omniscient or omnipotent, or, paradoxically, both.
The name of this being is immaterial. The formation of a moral code based on the belief in the existence and power of a ghost that no one has ever seen (except, apocryphally, by Moses in the Old Testament) is destined, and arguably even intended, to inculcate and encourage a dishonesty (in this case, Koran-sanctioned taqiya) that manifests itself in countless forms even among those who are not particularly avid devotees to the religion, including indifferent Muslims-in-name-only (“moderates”) and alleged secularists such as Hosni Mubarak and the newspaper’s editor. The tenet requires men to work against the evidence of their senses, and often to pretend that some things are “real” and significant, even though no one can observe them. It requires them to fake reality, to appeal to an attribute of man that the creed denigrates (faith is "superior" to reason) in order to perpetrate or perpetuate a lie, a fraud, or a myth.
While dwelling on how Islam and Muslim culture are mutually crippling in terms how the creed especially corrupts a society that is not entirely founded on an esteem for truth, Ibrahim notes:
…if Muslim culture is more tenacious and consequential than Muslim doctrine, still, the former has strong roots in the latter. Thus, while radical Muslims consciously seek to uphold the letter of the law, moderates unconsciously adhere to its cultural, social, and political manifestations.
Lest one still doubt that aspects of a religion can become casually embedded in the social fabric of a civilization, one need look no further than to Christianity, which continues to exhibit a strong, albeit unconscious, influence on the secular West, including upon those who most disavow it. After all, tolerance, human rights, a desire for peace, being the “nice guy”— indeed, all of those concepts most championed by today’s liberal secularist, did not develop out of a vacuum, but rather out of a 2,000-year-old Christian heritage that preached what was then absurd and today aberrant, but which nonetheless jibes so well with the West’s secular mindset. Surely not a coincidence.
The phenomena of dishonesty and a willingness to fake reality may be observed in cultures dominated by Christianity, as well. Witness the recent statements by Pope Benedict XVI in Britain that atheism or “godlessness” can only lead to Nazism, when in fact Nazism was founded on its own virulent brand of mysticism, with Hitler as its “prophet” (and it was mostly German Protestants who buttressed his regime, with a major assist by the knowledge-repressing Vatican) espousing the superiority of the German race and culture, Germany’s “rightful” place in the scheme of things, its “destiny” to rule the globe (an Islamic dream, as well), the elevation of instinct and force over reason, and so on.
In his address, the Pope spoke of "a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society.” He went on to urge the UK to guard against "aggressive forms of secularism.
He said: "Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny."
Churchill and Roosevelt did not fight Nazi tyranny solely because it sought to “eradicate God from society.” They fought it because it was tyranny. Benedict knows this. But, there he was, faking reality, begging the faithful not to abandon God by listening to those advocates of “atheist extremism,” because that would only lead to a repetition of the horrors of the 20th century.
But, there is an old, non-atheistic nemesis rising unopposed, and that is Islam. Historically, Christianity has acted like a ball-and-chain on Western civilization, hampering its progress and muting its capacity to foster human happiness. Nevertheless, men were and still are able to move forward. Islam promises destroy Western civilization from within and without, to condemn men to a state of miserable and permanent stagnation, and is the author of horrors past, present, and for the foreseeable future
I disagree with Ibrahim’s random list of benign concepts that were “casually embedded” by a ubiquitous Christian morality in Western civilization -- he omits individual rights, which are not the same as the vague notion of unspecified “human rights,” which any statist or power-seeker can champion by just filling in the blanks, while “tolerance” can also mean a toleration, and, by extension, a sanction of the irrational -- but he is right that “the teachings of a religion can subtly color the worldview of its non-observant posterity.” Not only subtly, but dramatically, such as America's self-sacrificing effort to "remake" Iraq and Afghanistan into so-called 'democracies."
The ultimate solution for “moderate” Muslims who wish to reform Islam and chuck its poisonous and tribalist influence in Muslim “culture” (whatever that may be, aside from the equally faked “Golden Age” of Islam and Cordoba) is to abandon Islam altogether and discover and advocate reason in all things, especially in all things moral. They must acknowledge, in such a commitment, that there is no room in reason for Allah, God, or faith. They must grasp that Islam cannot be “reformed” without turning it into a “ghost” of its former self.
They, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and other notable “apostates“ have done, must recognize that Islam, like Christianity, is a used car lot clunker or a money pit and was never a great deal even when it was new. It was once owned by scimitar-wielding thug who falsely claimed it won a NASCAR race, but it will require fortunes in labor and parts to keep it in running order as a “living“ religion. ”Moderate” Muslims should just cut their losses and walk away from it, and discover a philosophy of reason.
Reality cannot be Photoshopped. And the man who begs that it be, is a fakir who deserves the scorn of all who value the truth.
5 Comments ::
:: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 ::
Burning the First Amendment
Posted by Edward Cline at 2:44 PM
In the classic western, High Noon, Will Kane, the retiring U.S. Marshall of Hadleyville, must face a gang of criminals who have come back to town, intent on vengeance on Kane for his having helped send the leader to prison. Most of the townspeople, in an demonstration of mass cowardice (a “terror-stricken town,” as the trailer narrative goes), repair to a church after they have abandoned Kane, citing a host of rationalistic excuses. There they pray and squeeze their eyes shut in desperate hope that it is only Kane the gang will kill, and won’t run amok in the town itself. But they would much, much prefer him to leave to save themselves the bother of having any moral backbone.
A deputy refuses to help out of personal jealousy, and resigns. A former mistress packs up and leaves. Even Kane’s new wife, a pacifist Quaker, boards the train out of town, the same train that brings Frank Miller, the gang leader, into it. A young boy is the only person who volunteers to help Kane fight the gang.
The townspeople beg Kane to leave, more to protect their own hides than out of concern for his life. But for Kane, flight is not an option. He chooses to stay and face the gang because he knows they will eventually find him, wherever he goes.
Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, is not of the same mettle as Will Kane. Nor is Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Nor is President Barack Obama, Nor is General David Petraeus. After promising to burn copies of the Koran in protest against the erection of the Ground Zero mosque (aka “community center”) and against terrorism, Jones decided to not burn the Korans because he was warned that doing so might lead to Muslim rioting abroad and cause death and destruction.
Pastor Jones had a fundamental right to burn his Korans. They were his private property, or his church‘s. It was his or the church’s money. His gesture was loony, not “counter-productive” as some pundits have claimed, but rather a futile protest against the Ground Zero mosque and Islamic terrorism. It may have even been a bid for publicity, which he certainly garnered.
What about burning Bibles, or copies of Mein Kampf, or Das Kapital, or even Atlas Shrugged, or the Harry Patter novels? The same principle applies. Freedom of speech is inherently linked to private property. If property is regulated, controlled, or abolished, then, by extension, so is speech. This is what Obama, Cass Sunstein, and the FCC are creeping up to in wanting to regulate the Internet through “net neutrality.”
However, the author of a Pajamas Media article on the Koran-burning and Justice Breyer‘s comments about it on “Good Morning, America,”, does point to but does not raise a very relevant issue, which is the fear factor. Brow-beating or threatening Terry Jones (as is likely what happened) into canceling his over-publicized plan to burn some Korans -- because burning them might provoke Muslims to riot and kill and run amok is (as they promised to do, and as they did), and possibly endanger our troops in Afghanistan and Americans in general -- is, on the face of it, an act of submission to Islam.
President Barack Obama, technically, as commander-in-chief and representative of the American value of freedom of speech, should have filled Will Kane’s shoes and defended Jones’s right to burn the Korans. He should have taken a stand against the hue-and-cry of the press and Muslims and defended Jones’ proposed action. But, in conformance with his “Muslim outreach” policy, he defended Muslim anger and not Jones.
"This is a recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda," Obama said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" program. "You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities."
"I just hope he understands that what he is proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance," Obama said. "He says he's someone who is motivated by his faith ... I hope he listens to those better angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he's engaging in," Obama said.
Well, those “better angels” came down on Jones like a ton of bricks. General David Petraeus also wielded his cosh on Jones.
General David Petraeus said the planned torching of Islam's holy book by a Florida church would be a propaganda coupe for the Taliban in Afghanistan and stoke anti-US sentiment across the Muslim world.
"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," said Petraeus of the plan. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community," the general said in an emailed statement.
Why should anyone care that the burning would have been a “propaganda coupe” for the Taliban or any other Islamic gang? And note that Petraeus said that we are “engaged with the Islamic community” -- not at war with it. What is it that American lives and treasure have been spent on for the last nine years in Iraq and Afghanistan? Building “community centers”? And if so, aren’t the troops in harm’s way, with the Taliban and Al Quada and other Islamic gangs -- all those “community leaders” -- shooting at them already?
Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Jones to talk him out of the Koran-burning.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sept. 9 phoned a Florida pastor planning to burn Korans and warned him that he was putting the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk, the Pentagon said. Speaking to the pastor, Gates "expressed his grave concern that going forward with this Koran burning would put the lives of our forces at risk, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and urged him not to proceed with it," press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters.
It is almost as though Obama, Petraeus, and Gates had watched High Noon and decided to adopt the cowardly pragmatism of not fighting the Miller-Muslim gang. “You’ll only upset them and make them angrier than they already are. You’ll just stoke the fires of hatred.”
I have news for Gates: The hatred was always there, and the haters have never lacked an excuse to run amok. Imam Feisal Rauf also warned on the “Larry King Show” of a Muslim retaliation:
But, capping a day-long rhetorical offensive that began Wednesday morning with an opinion piece in The New York Times, Rauf said he intends to go ahead with the "multifaith" center near the site where Islamic terrorists killed nearly 2,800 people because not doing so would unleash fury abroad.
"There is a certain anger here [in America], no doubt," he said later in the interview. "But if we don't do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world. If we don't do things correctly, this crisis could become much bigger than the Danish cartoon crisis [over images depicting the Prophet Mohammed], which resulted in attacks on Danish embassies in various parts of the Muslim world. And we have a much bigger footprint in the Muslim world."
"I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Korans," Rauf said in a statement read to ABC News' Christiane Amanpour.
Some “anger” is more equal than others. American anger over the Ground Zero mosque should be restrained and stifled, if not outright prohibited. Muslim “anger,” however, is wholly justified and could “explode.” How? Like car bombs? Shoe bombs? IED’s? Fire-bombings? Homicidal rioting? Well, this is all out of the hands of the self-styled “bridge builder” and yearner for “peace and harmony.”
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning, America.” Breyer, a liberal, hedged on the question of whether or not Terry Jones had a right to burn the Korans.
… Democrats and Republicans alike assume that Pastor Jones had a Constitutional right to burn those Korans. But Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told me…that he's not prepared to conclude that -- in the internet age -- the First Amendment condones Koran burning. “Holmes said it doesn’t mean you can shout 'fire' in a crowded theater,” Breyer told me. “Well, what is it? Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death?”
For Breyer, that right is not a foregone conclusion. “It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully. That’s the virtue of cases,” Breyer told me. “And not just cases. Cases produce briefs, briefs produce thought. Arguments are made. The judges sit back and think. And most importantly, when they decide, they have to write an opinion, and that opinion has to be based on reason. It isn’t a fake.”
Maybe, said the judge and mayor and townsfolk in the Hadleyville church to Will Kane, just maybe you’re wrong. Maybe Frank Miller has a right to be angry with you. Maybe you hurt his feelings. You know that better than any of us. He’s a bad man, but must have his good points, we don’t know. Maybe he has a right to shoot you. We’re not saying he should. We don’t know. But, Will, you’ve got to look at this on a case by case issue. And it would be best if you just skedaddled, and saved us a lot of worry and grief. Who knows? Maybe we have a right to just hogtie you now and hand you over to Frank Miller ourselves (hah, hah) and save everyone a lot of trouble!
If one refrains from taking an action because the action may incur the wrath of Allah’s followers or of Wontonka or Attila the Hun or the thug down the street, who is the winner? Imam Feisal Rauf, for example, has claimed that not allowing him to build his alleged “community center” near Ground Zero will be taken as an assault on Islam and provoke riots and vengeance and so on. But then none of these parties has a clue about the link between private property and freedom of speech, except, perhaps Obama, spiritual grandson of Saul Alinsky, enemy of private property and freedom of speech. Obama, Petraeus, Jones, and Breyer have all submitted to Islam.
This is how Sharia law is insinuating itself into political thought. We do not demand that Islam and Muslims defer to secular law and individual rights; we should concede that we should defer to Muslims and Islam, because it's a "religious freedom" issue, because if we don't, Muslims will be angry and begin flying planes into buildings again, and stabbing people to death, or shooting Americans at random, and causing all kinds of unpleasantness, when we really all we want is to get along with them and not be so judgmental, because that’s such a bother.
None of these “moral leaders” had the courage and sense of consequence that Will Kane had. Collectively, they have told the Frank Miller gang (or Feisal Rauf) they can have the town.
Most other Americans, however, have demonstrated through the Tea Parties and their opposition to the Ground Zero mosque, that they still have the moral certitude of Will Kane. It is they who are telling looting politicians and dissimulating Islamic leaders to get out of town.
3 Comments ::
:: Saturday, September 11, 2010 ::
“Emotionalism” and the Ground Zero Mosque
Posted by Edward Cline at 9:18 PM
In today’s Daily Telegraph (London) article, Anne Applebaum asks:
Today, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there is only one relevant question to ask about this sudden outburst of anti-Muslim rhetoric: why now?
Why indeed, after nine years? She is somewhat stunned by the level of discussion and “anger” displayed by Americans, an emotion directed specifically at Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his Cordoba Initiative (now “Park51”) to replace a building damaged on 9/11 with a 13- or 15-story “community center” which only incidentally will contain a “prayer room.” That innocuous and ostensively non-controversial space means the building will indeed be a mosque.
But, on a broader scale, many Americans are finally grasping the fact that wherever Islam is concerned, “tolerance,” “religious freedom,” “sensitivity,” and “freedom of speech” constitute a one-way street for Islam. They are becoming wise to the sweet talk of so-called “moderates” like Imam Rauf, and disgusted with the conciliatory “gestures” of former president George W. Bush and the blatantly improper “outreach” efforts of President Barack Obama, and with practically every politician who has publicly frowned on the electorate’s “anger.”
After recapping the shenanigans of Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who may or may not burn a barrel full of Korans to protest the mosque, and of Bill Keller, another “pastor” who wants to build a “Christian community center” near Ground Zero to “balance” the new Islamic Center (there is another one on the upper East Side of Manhattan; Imam Rauf’s father oversaw its creation), Applebaum cynically concludes:
Still, anger is a popular emotion at the moment, and those who cultivate it can receive a lot of attention, as well as material rewards which follow. Attention brings book contracts, book contracts bring lectures, lectures bring money.
Why has the American "negative" response to the Ground Zero mosque been so intense?
Angry public response to the Ground Zero mosque has been largely characterized as "emotionalism." But, what is an emotion? Ayn Rand, the novelist-philosopher, noted that "There can be no causeless love or any sort of causeless emotion. An emotion is a response to a fact of reality, an estimate dictated by your standards," and also that, "An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man's value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man's reason and his emotions—provided he observes their proper relationship."
Why has the "negative" response to the Ground Zero mosque -- aside from its murky funding and the dubious character of its movers, such as Imam Feisal Rauf, Gamal, and another Muslim with direct ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Holy Land Foundation, among others -- been so intense? It is because Ground Zero is the grave of the Twin Towers, because Americans still remember the attack on this country that has not really seen any meaningful retaliation or the elimination of the enemy. Islam declared war on the West, but Western leaders and the Left refuse to acknowledge that war. Love of this country is a proper emotion; a value was attacked and destroyed, and so the overall American "intense" emotionalism is a response. The "emotionalism" is founded on facts and observations.
Muslims, obeying the commands of the Koran (particularly the later suras, allegedly written by Mohammad after he saw that his “peaceful” ones weren’t winning him converts) committed the act; so all Muslims must live with the crime. The "moderates" among them have come up with rationalistic excuses (the alleged "peaceful" verses of the Koran) in order to hang on to an irrational and barbaric moral system. It matters not that these “moderates” are sincere, or are practicing taqiya, the Koran-sanctioned art of dissimulation or lying to the infidel. Their only other option is to repudiate Islam altogether, as the more intellectually honest among them have (Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, et al.). Muslims can't have it both ways. All Muslims, if they are serious about Islam, are potential "Islamists" or “radicals.” Islam is a heinous ideology of conquest.
Islam is a creed for zombies, for manqués, for men human in form but essentially soulless, regardless of the professions Muslims may follow (it seems many of them go into engineering or medicine, but rarely follow any specific career path), for they all surrender their minds and lives to Allah and Mohammad, one a ghost and the other a “prophet” who was basically a barbarian (as was Moses in the Old Testament, who was equally and indiscriminately blood-thirsty and ready to slay “unbelievers”). Islam was not “hijacked,” no more than Nazism, Communism, and Shintoism were “hijacked” to commit mass murders. Islam, like Nazism, Communism, and Shintoism, is an ideology that seeks to eradicate individual rights, property rights, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. “Islam” means “submission. “Islam” is not “radical.” It is a totalitarian system of theocracy through and through. Islam declared war on the West, and in particular on the U.S. Americans are just now grasping that for nine years they’ve been short-changed by Presidents Bush and Obama. Their “emotionalism” and growing repugnance for Islam are entirely justified. They will not “submit” to the politically correct mantra that Islam is just another “religion.”
There is no "religious tension" that is the "burning issue," as Anne Applebaum, contends, nor is the tension merely "angry and unfocused." Rather, it is tension between a dawning knowledge of the theocratic and totalitarian nature of Islam and the freedoms and liberties that Americans have watched dwindle under the secular authoritarianism of the Obama administration. They see their values and freedoms being attacked, denigrated, ignored, and destroyed.
They are saying: Enough is enough. It is a tardy response, to be sure, but it is focused and proper.
(This article also appears in a shorter version on Capitalism Magazine, and is an edited version of a lengthy comment I left on the Daily Telegraph article.)
4 Comments ::
:: Friday, September 10, 2010 ::
H.L. Mencken, Au Contraire
Posted by Edward Cline at 7:15 AM
“So far as I can make out, I believe in only one thing: liberty.“
Henry L. Mencken to Ernest Boyd, 1925
It is rare any more that I do not feel compelled to address the rise of statism in this country, abetted as it is by the Millionaire Mendicants of Capitol Hill, the Mooners of Mecca, or the Mariachi Marauders of the Southwest. Not to mention the Ground Zero Gang. One of the most astute, devastating, and frequently amusing observers of American politics and culture was Henry L. Mencken (1880-1956). His “talent to amuse” is never pointless or irrelevant to the subjects of his scrutiny. It is always employed to make a point. The “Sage of Baltimore” once quipped, “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it." How true. Look to Washington, or any state capital.
I enjoy his journalistic style, which is consistently infused with acerbic wit and benign contempt. It is rarely vitriolic or bitter. And I concur with most of his observations, most of which still ricochet today with embarrassing veracity. I have not been able to find an exception to that rule. As a keen auditor of human behavior, he dealt in timeless universals and verities. One wonders what he would have to say about the likes of President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, and that whole, altruistically ambitious gang. They are, after all, moved by the urge to save America, even if it means ruling it. And they have demonstrated that they do want to rule. Regimes rule. Republics govern.
No President was immune from his mordant pen. Here is what he wrote in 1921 about President Warren J. Harding’s speeches:
He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of tosh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.
He would have been merciless had he been able to lay into Obama and his speeches:
Here is a man whom we foolishly elected President, but whose speeches are devilishly calculated to disarm the sentient among us by putting them to sleep so their klepto-liberal seat-mates may more easily pick their pockets, and, once he has ceased speaking, to cause the mesmerized congregation to yell Hallelujah and begin singing hymns of evangelical if discordant praise. From a distance, and even at arm’s length, one can see that the man obviously lacks some important mental faculty, mainly the capacity to remember what he intends to say. This is a fault usually associated with the hopelessly inebriated or octogenarians trying to recall their first roll in the hay. He lacks the skill exhibited by a rural carnival barker, or by a itinerant purveyor of patent medicine. He does not trust himself to memorize any of his banal blather, which he does not write, for I do not believe for a moment that he can compose anything so simple as one of the Ten Commandments or instructions on how to open a cereal box.
He speaks without apparent notes, as many of our great orators of the past did -- Patrick Henry, Calhoun, Clay -- however, he performs with the aid of a toy, a fancified flash card thing usually employed by ambitious kindergarten teachers to instruct their less-than-swift charges who cannot get a point if it is buried in a six-word sentence. Moreover, Mr. Obama has two of these cheaters, one on either side of him, and perhaps a third in the middle, so that he can read them alternately and create the impression that he is including all sides of a spellbound audience as he assaults it with fresh sumptuary poppycock, when in fact he is only addressing one or the other flash card. Nevertheless, his regular Sermons on the Dais command the stupefied adoration of countless select souls eager to be saved by him. He is credibly convincing in that role, but I think the country would be at better ease if Mr. deMille lured him from the White House with a fabulous salary and cast him as a fire-breathing prophet in one of his biblical epics.
Mencken also noted (and this is Mencken, not me):
It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume...that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him.
But there is one essay of his that I have wanted to tackle and rebut, which is his 1922 essay, “The Nature of Liberty,” which appeared in Prejudices (Alfred A. Knopf, 1922). On the surface, it contradicts what he wrote about the exercise of arbitrary government power to abridge the freedom of the individual. Mencken could be said to be the grandfather of modern conservatism, a conservatism, however, not rooted in religion, not even in “tradition,” but in “common sense.”
In his essay, he sets up an absurd straw man, in which a non-criminal individual going home from work is accosted by a policeman who abruptly remembers a crime committed years before in another city, and accuses the citizen of the crime. The accosted citizen panics and flees, is shot by the policeman, who then uses his rosewood to beat the man senseless for resisting arrest.
Mencken wrote this in the early years of Prohibition, which he vigorously opposed, and whose deleterious economic and criminal consequences had not yet gathered steam or been realized by the time it was repealed. On the one hand, Mencken roasted Prohibition, its advocates and defenders, and its ax-wielding, Tommy gun- and billy club-toting cops. On the other hand, he upheld the “right” of a cop to arrest a person on the most specious suspicion.
Policemen are not given night-sticks for ornament. They are given them for the purpose of cracking the skulls of the recalcitrant plain people, Democrats and Republicans alike. When they execute that high duty they are palpably within their rights.
No mincing of meanings there. Nor here. A policeman, he writes,
…is protected by the legislative and judicial arms in the peculiar rights and prerogatives that go with his high office, including especially the right to jug the laity at his will, to sweat and mug them, to subject them to the third degree, and to subdue their resistance by beating out their brains.
But, what about the Bill of Rights? What about unlawful arrest and incarceration. What of redress and restitution for an innocent man whose skull has been cracked? The Amendment he particularly objected to (without actually naming it in his essay) was the Fourth, which reads:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Mencken wrote about the Bill of Rights in his essay:
As adopted by the Fathers of the Republic, it was gross, crude, inelastic, a bit fanciful and transcendental. It specified the rights of a citizen, but it said nothing whatever about his duties.
I take issue with that characterization. In his essay he states that a cop has every right to arrest a citizen on his own cognizance. He is indemnified against personal error or ignorance or the injurious consequences suffered by his victim. But the indemnification assigns him the attribute of infallibility and dispenses with his error or ignorance. The citizen’s “duty,” on the other hand, is merely to submit to the cop’s authority, regardless of his or his victim’s knowledge or certainty, and regardless of the cost to the victim’s livelihood and reputation.
His unfortunate disparagement of the Bill of Rights reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of its purpose. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to act as an unequivocal and plainly worded check on government powers. It is neither to assign the citizen any duties or obligations, nor to define a reciprocal relationship between government and the citizen. It is strictly a “hands-off” and “no trespassing” warning to government.
Nearly midway in his essay, Mencken reveals his proto-conservative premises, which echo the cynical beatitudes of Thomas Hobbes and the Christian view that man is born in sin or is naturally a beast who must be constrained by law. In his obedience to a leviathan or a cop lies his salvation.
On the one hand, the citizen still retains the great privilege of membership in the most superb free nation ever witnessed on this earth. On the other hand, as a result of countless shrewd enactments and sagacious decisions, his natural lusts and appetites are held in laudable check, and he is thus kept in order and decorum.
It is reason and reality that constrain or limit men in their values and actions, not fiat law, not the most rational and wisest law. Men are not born sinners, nor as natural beasts, but tabula rasa. If they discard reason and flout reality, they will reap only misery, confusion, or death.
It is hard to reconcile Mencken’s opposing and incompatible positions. He was right about innumerable political, cultural, and social matters. He was particularly voluble about arbitrary and tyrannical laws and statutes. But his contradictory positions on police powers are of the kind that can sanction, multiply and sire worse fallacies in the future. Observe today the timid, conciliatory Republican and conservative opposition to ObamaCare and other statist legislative landmarks of the current administration. In policy, faced with such a contradiction, most politicians habitually seize upon the worst part of it to advocate and implement, because the better part of it grants them no leave or power to indulge in their own “natural lusts and appetites.”
Liberty is not a privilege or a blessing. It is a requirement for living. Knowing it demands of one, not belief, but absolute certainty.
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:: Sunday, September 05, 2010 ::
The Fatal Links of Servitude
Posted by Edward Cline at 8:32 AM
Quo Vadis, Redux
I sometimes imagine myself in the role of a latter day Roman contrarian, living in a time of my country’s certain dissolution on the eve of an invasion by barbarian hordes bent on loot and conquest. On one hand, will granting twelve million illegal, mostly Mexican aliens the right to vote and so skew the November election returns, secure for Democrats their continued occupation of Congress and President Barack Obama the freedom to “transform” the country? The Democrats have been put on notice by the electorate that they will be bounced, so will they resort to underhanded immigration reform and gerrymandering to ensure their hegemony?
On the other, will the country be inundated with hordes of Muslims, whose first allegiance is to the Islamic Ummah, whose creed regards the Constitution as an abomination? I would not be the first observer to note that illegal (and even many legal) Mexicans and Muslims harbor a peculiarly insular and ingrained xenophobia for their adopted country and a bizarre fealty to the countries they fled.
There is a synergistic linkage between submission to Islam, even to Christianity, and to Congress. All three institutions require, insofar as obeying the “law” is concerned, absolute and unquestioning obedience. These forces complement and buttress the other.
In Islam’s Koran -- and this is applicable to Christianity and Congress, as well -- there are no optional laws, proscriptions, and commands to observe or obey. It is all or nothing, either immediately, or in increments or stages over a lifetime. Once set in motion, however, regardless of the schedule, the observance and obedience cannot surcease unless the perils of submission are identified and the submission repudiated.
A modern Petronius might ask of the influx and presence of Muslims, as, in Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis, Petronius might have asked about Christians: Who are these strange people who cling together in this weird, joyless cult? What is this creed that brags so loudly and insistently that it is peaceful and loving? All I can espy, milord, are crossed scimitars on a black banner. I am sure they are not banquet carving knives. Is it the peace of the conqueror over the conquered that the cult offers? Its glossolaliac shamans do not say. They speak in tongues, behind the Thespian masks of comedy and tragedy.
The spectacle of grown, articulate adults believing in supernatural beings, whatever their names, attributes, characters, and legends, baffles me. Many authorities on Islam and its jihad subscribe to the notion that there are "moderate" Muslims who condemn terrorism in the name of Islam. Aside from its obvious totalitarian nature, what is there to Islam that stakes a claim to a "moderate" Muslim's devotion and loyalty to it? What is it about Islam that beguiles thinkers and observers, who concede its cruel, utterly primitive character, that it can be made benign? Is it the altruist morality of self-sacrifice and selflessness, which it shares with Christianity and practically all other creeds? Is it the seductive language of its "pacific" imperatives in the Koran and Hadith to do "good" and be civil to and tolerant of Muslims and non-Muslims alike?
Of all the religions I detest -- and oppose as an observer and critic, not as an obsessed proselytizer -- I detest Islam the most, because of its totalitarian nature (of governing every aspect of one's life and thinking, as Christianity did in the Dark and Middle Ages, up until the Enlightenment); because of its endless checklist of disparate, arbitrary imperatives both banal and belligerent; because its "prophet" was a barbarian, who, besides his belief in faith or force, is a personification of some unattractive personal characteristics which past and present Islamic theologians do not deny existed; and because its deity, Allah, is perhaps a worse psychopathic being than Jehovah of the Old Testament.
I recently came upon a site that features the “scientific” Koran. Reading the rationalizations of the various Suras is akin to reading the fortunes one finds in Chinese cookies. The language of the verses is so vague that it can be interpreted any way one wishes. It is elaborate tarot card reading. They are unintentionally humorous. It is like comedian Professor Irwin Corey declaiming and expecting one to take him seriously.
The Koran, unlike the Bible, does not cite Original Sin as one of man’s failings. It actually professes that men have a choice to follow good or evil. Only the instances of good and evil cited in the Koran are a bewildering kaleidoscope of virtues and sins. In Islam, however, there is a form of Original Sin; the only men who are innately evil are non-believers. Allah commands them to be enslaved or extinguished.
The relationship between the doctrine of Original Sin and the alleged necessity of regulating men by faith or force is also synergistic. Because men are by their nature irrational and criminal, men must be controlled by a moral code that sets them against their “nature.” Unquestioning faith in authority, selflessness and self-sacrifice, all redeem a person in the eyes of God or society. These are the links between Christian doctrine, Islam, and collectivist ideologies.
If man has any trace of innate (or potential) “evil” in him, it is the capacity to abdicate the responsibility for thinking, and surrender to the temptation to defer to the collectivists in the moral sphere. It is easy and requires no effort to otherwise maintain one’s life. One can have one’s mind and body without the burden of maintaining one’s freedom. All the abdicator asks of his master -- whether it is God, society, or government -- is to be allowed a modicum of time to pursue his own selfish values without interference. He cedes all his other time to authority.
But to abdicate and surrender is to sanction -- ultimately -- the full range of servitude over one’s existence, to defer to the “moral authority” of God or society or government, is to grant unlimited power over one’s every action and value. As the narrator of “Three Things You Didn’t Know about Islam” emphasized, there is no picking and choosing.
To secular statists like Obama and his Congressional and appointive cohorts, the American “original sin” is to have been born in independence. Americans, to them, need to “get religion” of the socialist/fascist kind, and just keep quiet.
Can Islam be reformed?
Christianity underwent reformation over several torturous and bloody centuries. In the end, in the West, religion was largely separated from the state. Why? Because one crucial element in Christian (and Jewish) doctrine emphasized one’s personal, private salvation and state of grace beyond the approval or control of any established authority, religious or secular. This was the wedge that allowed, over a few centuries, exponential swaths of dissension to be achieved, some measure of tolerated questioning. It led to much turmoil within Christianity itself, such as Henry II’s conflict with Thomas à Becket, Henry VIII’s conflict with Thomas More and the Church, and Martin Luther’s conflict with the Vatican, and so on. These conflicts within a moral system also contributed to the development of a philosophy of individualism vis-à-vis political power. The United States was the first to incorporate the idea of a necessary separation of church and state into its political philosophy.
But, in Islam, the union of religion and politics is essential to its existence. Dissension, questioning, and doubts about theological authority are absolutely and utterly forbidden on pain of death, except over picayune matters that do not create umbrage over the core tenets. One without the other would make them mutually irrelevant and impotent. Islam is a political/religious ideology, very similar in theory and in practice to Nazism and Communism. That is its prime identity. I think that many perceptive non-Muslim critics of Islam and some more thoughtful Muslims believe Islam can be "reformed." I do not think it can be "reformed" without killing it. Subject its doctrine to moral surgery to remove its belligerent, homicidal, racist, and rapacious elements, and what would be left but a creed as pacific as the Quaker or Amish? It could no longer be "Islam," but something else entirely.
The most important organ to remove from Islam would be its heart, the codified, nihilist hatred for life and existence.
As an atheist, I can score Christianity for as many valid reasons as I can Islam (or any other creed that claims fealty to a supernatural being, and that asserts that such an entity was the "first cause" of everything). But believing in a pacific Jesus Christ who counseled passive altruism and non-violence, and believing in the words of a barbarian who bypassed persuasion and resorted to the scimitar to spread his "faith," are two different things. Christ was a "flower child" to Mohammad's Attila the Hun. Mohammad is the source of all that "radical extremists" and "moderate passive" Muslims believe. Muslims, imams, mullahs, and rank-and-file of the two dominant sects, Sunni and Shiite, do not budge on that point. They are quite pentecostal on the matter. Mohammad received the word of God through the angel Gabriel, and that cannot be questioned. Jefferson, a Deist, held Christ to be his ideal man. I think he was wrong to and I do not esteem him any the less for that error. But who in his right mind would esteem Mohammad as an "ideal man" and practically a saint? One may as well elevate Hitler, or Mao, or Pol Pot.
Do the "moderate" Muslims rationalize Islam and compartmentalize it so they can get on with living? If they feel it necessary to compartmentalize it in their minds, wouldn't that suggest its impracticality as a guide for living on earth? I observe the same phenomenon in Christians and followers of other creeds, and I would pose the same question to them, as well. I think that attempting to "reform" Islam would not only be a dangerous enterprise -- its more doctrinaire spokesmen would raise holy hell and call for fatwas on anyone who tried it -- I think it would be a futile and profitless enterprise. Islam, like Christianity, must be renounced and repudiated in its entirety, and reason and rationality proclaimed in all things moral and political.
I do not think there is such a thing as "radical Islam." There is just "Islam." The "radicals," or the terrorists, are the ones implementing it in its purist, most consistent form, just as Mother Teresa practiced selflessness in India, acquiring her “saintliness” by keeping her fingers in the sores, wounds, and diseases of her charges. One may as well make the false distinction between Nazism and "radical Nazism" or between Communism and "radical Communism." Islam is more an ideology than it is a religion.
The religious elements of Islam are identifiable, and buttress the political or ideological elements (Allah, miracles, angels, Paradise, etc., all other-worldly). Islam can command the same loyalty and conformity as would a straight "non-religious" ideology such as Nazism, which had its own here-on-earth mysticism (the "race" or the German Volk) to "justify" its programs. Like Communism, it promised a better life for Germans "in the future." Aside from these differences, Islam and Nazism each found the other compatible as ideologies. Islam had a god, the unknowable Allah (by way of Mohammad), and Nazism had as its "prophet," Hitler. But the religious element is there, and so it is proper to refer to Islam as a political/religious ideology.
Mohammad the barbarian can no more be removed from Islam and Islam remain “Islam,” than can Christ the flower child or Moses the Law Giver be removed from Christianity and Judaism and those creeds retain their moral suasions.
In the main, however, one can view Islam as a purely political ideology, because, first, it requires literal submission to all its imperatives, in the same way federal law can override and subsume state and local law; not to mention Constitutionally guaranteed individual rights; and second, because its stealth jihad acts as a corrosive to insinuate itself into the “democratic“ secular jurisprudence of a nation. Its chief goal is to establish political hegemony. When viewed from this perspective, the religious element becomes a secondary factor. But together, the political and religious elements constitute an all-encompassing theocracy.
The Conservative Alternative
In a classically conservative article on what is necessary to move America away from socialism and collectivism, Adam Graham, in “To Reform Government, Reform the Culture First,” asserts, among other things, that “In the end, the majority of the world has little in common with the libertarian archetypes of Howard Roark or John Galt. We will either have strong families, strong houses of worship, and strong communities, or we will have strong government to take the place of all three.”
This triumvirate of cultural requisites for the survival of America is false. I am sure there are countless liberals, leftists, and welfare statists (the legislative and beneficiary kinds) who have “strong families,” attend “strong houses of worship,” and live in like-minded “strong communities.” The world may not now have little in common with the figures of Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark and John Galt, but its survival depends on how soon men recognize their value as individuals not beholden to God or society. They stand in stark contrast to what Mr. Graham claims are the fountainheads of moral strength. He does not dwell on why families, churches, and “communities” establish “moral strength.”
How does having or growing up in a “strong family” imbue one with the value of limited government? No answer. How does regularly worshipping a supernatural being instill the value of limited government”? No answer. How does living in a “community” move one to advocate limited government? No answer. In Rand’s novels, Howard Roark was always at odds with the architectural “community” of his time, while John Galt walked out on one that sought to condemn him to a lifetime of servitude to it.
To be sure, Mr. Graham is correct in saying that “We cannot effect a permanent reduction in the size and scope of government, or meaningful government reform, unless we change our culture’s demand for the government to provide our every need.” Conservative politicians, both the religious and middling kind, share with the collectivists the same altruist morality that is responsible for “big government.” Because they do not or will not challenge the morality of selflessness and self-sacrifice, all they have been able to do is simply endorse the more “radical” programs proposed and enacted by the more blatant collectivists, and merely criticize the size and cost of those programs.
I have always questioned the fearful reluctance of conservatives to champion the likes of Howard Roark and John Galt, or to acknowledge that they are the fundamental models of what this culture needs more of. I have always suspected that these heroes represent a morality as much a perilous nemesis to conservatives as they represent to the Obamas and Pelosis of the world. Roark and Galt are deemed “too extreme” examples of individualism. But in the final analysis, their “extremism” is precisely what makes living and innovation and progress possible, and their freedom to live and act for their own reasons are primary requisites, not families, churches, or society. No productive individual honestly acts out of a sense of family, church, or society. If he claims he does, he is deceiving himself and perpetuating a fraud.
The Question of “Is” And a Big Hunk of Stuff
Why cannot men just accept the fact that existence exists? Why must existence -- the universe -- have a prior or "first cause“, usually ascribed to a supernatural ghost whom no one has seen (except Moses) and who seems to be a bit shy about showing His face (unless it is in the form of “miracles“ and catastrophes that claim millions of lives and cause incalculable destruction and burning bushes and a divine derriere)? Scientists have kept going further and further back in time to date the “Big Bang.” But, was there ever such an event?
What is the nature of this obsession with “first causes” and the “Big Bang”? The two phenomena -- God and this measureless hunk of stuff (was it square, round, or Platonically “extra-dimensional?) that just exploded to form galaxies and everything else -- are manifestations of the same fallacy. They are conceptual doppelgangers. What caused the big hunk of stuff to explode? Aha! It must have been God snapping his fingers! For if this big hunk of stuff had existed for measureless time, why could it not have continued in that state? What caused God to snap his fingers? Was he bored with having this big hunk of stuff as his sole companion? Was he in a mischievous mood? One cannot imagine that the hunk of stuff was very talkative.
But, wait -- where did He come from? What are His antecedents? Can he produce a birth certificate? How did He come by his whimsical powers? What is His true gender? Or does that question apply? Is He genderless? How long has He been around? Or is “time” an inappropriate measurement? How did he occupy his time (not yet invented) throughout eternity? Did he just sit on His throne, tattooing His fingers on the not-yet celestial armrests, and then yawned? No answers are forthcoming, nor will they ever be found because God’s existence requires proof of a positive, and that will never be accomplished, because…there is no evidence. The concept of God and the concept of a “Big Bang” of a hunk of stuff that just grew tired of being a big hunk of stuff (was it matter as we know it, or just incomprehensible fairy dust?) are two sides of the same coin.
It is an illogical fallacy that philosophers and theologians have been wrestling with for centuries, sometimes as allies, sometimes with mutual, finger-wagging animosity, trying to find answers from the perspective of "infinite regression," which is as impossible as attempting to square a circle. Those who follow the path of infinite regression will find only madness. They simply cannot fathom the concept that existence exists, and has always existed in one form or another. I have always been skeptical of the "Big Bang" theory, anyway. It exactly parallels belief in a supernatural being. It is a “first cause.“ But no one has been able to credibly reconcile the existence of either as mutual phenomena. There was God, and there was this big hunk of stuff (not yet "matter" or "energy") floating in an indescribable void (the “nothingness“ of space, which to exist, must have at least two objects by which to measure it). Their other alternative to the exploding big-hunk-of-stuff hypothesis is that God simply wished existence into existence.
Then they face the questions of: What is He made of? And where did He get the idea of "existence"? If space and matter had yet to be created, where exactly did He exist? Believers will reply that such questions invalidly assume that God’s (or the big hunk of stuff‘s) resident venue of spatial dimensions is similar or are our own. After all, before God snapped his fingers, or the big hunk of stuff exploded, there were no “spatial” measurements. But if we can assume no commonality of spatial attributes -- if we cannot even know them -- why should we bother with speculation on what cannot be known?
A long line of philosophers, from Plato to Kant to Nancy Pelosi (she of the pass-the-bill-so-she-can-let-you-see-what’s-in-it school of reality) averred that we cannot know anything for certain or at all. The same approach applies: Why bother contesting the non-rational or the irrational?
You see that this cannot be resolved rationally. It is a close cousin to that hoary old lawyer chestnut, "When did you stop beating your wife?" The big-hunk-of-stuff argument and the supernatural argument both rest on the premise that there must have been a "first cause," which is an invalid application of cause and effect, which can only be applied to what one can perceive as real, that is, to what is, and not to what is unproven, unknowable, or impossible.
I can hardly improve on James M. Kaufman’s humorous queries to President George W. Bush about how to observe Jewish (and, by implication, Christian and Islamic) religious law. Kaufman is Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia’s education department I will merely settle for this observation about Moses.
According to Exodus, 33:21-23, the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me and thou shalt stand upon a rock. And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock; and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by. And I will take away mine hand and thou shalt see my back parts,” First, He appears to Moses as a burning bush. He, in effect, then moons him. What bizarre behavior. Then, like Mohammad, he has a secret meeting with God (or his envoy) and descends the mountain with the Ten Commandments and God knows whatever other instructions.
Furthermore, Moses was not what one could call a “nice guy.” He was as barbaric as Mohammad. Numbers 31 reports him as ordering his Israelite soldiers to kill every Midianite woman, boy, and non-virgin girl; virgin girls were shared amongst the soldiers. The Israelites killed the kings of other tribes. Moses was no exemplar of civil behavior, either. One could take bets on a contest between him and Mohammad on who was the most homicidal, rapacious, and looting. And his dealings with other tribes could be deemed “sharp practice,” in the same sense that Barack Obama, Charles Rangel, Barney Frank, and Nancy Pelosi could be charged with it.
I have always thought the Bible was just as bad and bloody-minded as the Koran. In fact, I suspect that the Koran is largely a knock-off of the Bible with great dollops of dogma and ritual borrowed from other Roman Empire and post-Empire creeds. Christian dogma, itself was a shameless shoplifter of other doctrines and dogmas, particularly pagan ones. It had a head start and began accumulating texts and apocryphal tales long before Mohammad's ear was bent by the angel Gabriel. He and Islam burst upon the scene a few centuries later. Only the names and places have been changed to protect the guilty and various tongue-in-cheek plagiarists who contributed to both texts over the centuries.
I am certain that the authors of the Koran cadged from the Bible and from other creeds. Both tracts emanated from the Mideast. The similarities between the Old Testament, which is about the adventures and longevity of primitive tribes (the bloody-minded and begetting and enslave and slay unbelievers part of the Bible, together with a psychopathic deity) and the Koran (with the same descriptive elements), which is a unified whole, with no "old" and "new" parts to it (except later verses or suras), are too eerie. Christ may have been an actual historic person, but probably one of many who "died for your sins" on a crucifix. Perhaps he was selected by lot by later authors of the Bible. It would be interesting to learn why him, and not someone else. (Recall Monty Python's The Life of Brian.). Mohammad may have been an actual historic person, as well, and I am inclined to believe he was, given how touchy Muslims are about him, because he was nothing to boast about. But on the other hand, that touchiness (excuse me, "sensitivity") may be rooted in their own suspicion that he was as fictive and attractive as Jabba the Hutt. No other religion shares so many prophets: Christ, Abraham, and Moses: Did the Koran cadge them, too?
Another aspect that makes me think Islam copy-catted Christianity's texts (and whatever actual holy books existed during Rome's decline and the beginning of the Dark Ages) is the Ten Commandments. I cannot help but suspect that the Muslims (Moslems, Mohammedans, whatever) seized on them and added about three or four dozen commandments of their own to fill out a pretty thin Koran. Then there is the anti-Jewish element in the Koran, which probably stems from the Hebrew tribes' conflict with Mohammad during the Arabian Peninsula conquest and his finally taking Medina. The Hebrews, after all, were just one of many such Semitic tribes in the region. And you must wonder when and how the anti-Jewish element evolved from being a mere difference in religious doctrine to an ethnic hatred of Jews, because everyone living in that region in that period was Semitic.
I fly in the face of countless academic careers and theological authorities here. It is the similarities in content and message in the Old Testament and the Koran that makes me think the Koran is a knock-off of early Christian holy texts, before the latter were assembled into one book, the Bible. Compilation of the Koran began probably after Mohammad's death in 632 A.D., and was added to and refined as circumstances permitted or allowed for centuries after. Islam was, after all, in direct competition for "men's souls" up to and during the so-called Islamic "Golden Age," it was the only truly rival creed, all the others having perished for a variety of reasons. Islam’s "birth" was about 500 years after Christianity's, and so there was a wealth of ready-made content Muslim theologians could adapt and tweak for their own purposes and claim was the true and only "word of God." After all, we have only their word for it that the Koran which exists today is the same which existed in Mohammad's time.
Deadness. That is what I see in Muslims here. Which is why I call them manqués -- human in form, but otherwise lifeless inside. Soulless and incomplete, from choice. Zombies who wish to feast on the flesh of the living. More so than in Christians and Jews, because Islam really does govern every aspect of a Muslim's life. I have no sympathy for them, and do not think "religious freedom" is their primary concern. No one who allows that to happen to him should be respected. Despised, yes. And it is a special malevolence in the creed and in the more "activist" ones -- not the terrorists -- but in the "community" types who are sanctimonious about their creed and "way of life," that should be identified and excoriated. Islam is not a way of life. it is a way of death, of living death.
The Last Link
Our federal government, together with Congress, also presumes it is a “first cause” of freedom, a font of freedom of speech, of property, of religion. Those “freedoms,” of course, are the inviolate political expressions necessary for men to live and trade together in organized society, “organized,” not by government, but by the nature of men. Those freedoms do not originate with government. They originate in man. They are recognized as rights by government, whose purpose is to defend them. Government cannot “big bang” legitimate, non-coercive rights into existence, it cannot simply wish them into existence. It can only invent privileges at the expense of real rights.
So, every time I hear a Democrat pronounce on the power of the federal government to compel Americans to buy health insurance or to submit to its edicts, I am reminded of a line from The Jerk, in which Steve Martin, a nouveau riche imbecile and ignoramus, instructs the sommelier in an elegant restaurant, “No more 1966. Let’s splurge! Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you’ve got -- this year. No more of this old stuff.” Obama, Pelosi, Frank, Dodd -- the whole fascist/socialist crew -- treat those liberties as that-was-then-this-is-now “old stuff,” and insist on serving Americans their bogus “fresh wine.” They are as ignorant and crude as Martin’s Navin R. Johnson -- but with this difference: They truly know what they are doing.
And those are the links between mysticism, belief, submission, and power that together form a chain being fitted around our minds, necks and ankles. Does anyone hear the clanking?
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