Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I felt nauseous reading this bit from a clearly "approved" Muslim:
They do not realize that if a woman is condemned in Pakistan it will have an affect on Muslim women in America. And if a pastor in Florida threatens to burn the Qur'an, Muslims around the world are affected.

from Akbar Ahmed: Half of the world cannot go to war

He is equating a woman on death row with a mere threat to burn a book. And he is looking only at the consequences for Muslims! Basically, he is saying that we non-Muslims should cease to confront Islam in any way (whether by showing concern for its cruelty and religious bigotry or by showing contempt for its scriptures). In other words, we should submit quietly.

Ugh! This man is disgusting!


the two religions are enemies

This is part of a rejected article that tells it like it is a little too clearly for some:
Teaching Islam among “The World’s Great Religions” in the University of Hawaii, I learned how profoundly ignorant of one another’s religion those Christians and Muslims were. And worse than ignorant: misinformed. Growing up to the realities of our shrinking globe is painful, and obscuring differences stunts this growth. I taught the similarities and differences, and rejoice in the increasing efforts toward interfaith understanding. But we can make no essential progress, religious or political, unless we honestly and courageously confront the reality that our two religions are essential enemies, antagonists each to the other’s essence, mutual blasphemers. Only with that realism can the mutual blasphemers begin to learn to get along with each other without violence.

from Willis E. Elliott: Thou Shalt Not! The WaPo’s ‘On Faith’ Blog Spikes A Regular Contributor When He Writes On Islam

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Ratzinger on truth and freedom

Ratzinger is both a philosopher and a theologian and it's hard, in this essay, to tell where the one ends and the other begins:
The pathology of religion is the most dangerous sickness of the human mind. It exists in the religions, but it also exists precisely where religion as such is rejected [...] Where the purest and deepest religious traditions are entirely discarded, man severs himself from his truth, he lives contrary to it and becomes unfree. [...] If there is no truth about man, man also has no freedom. Only the truth makes us free.

from Joseph Ratzinger: Truth and Freedom, 1996.

See also Ratzinger's 1991 essay Conscience and Truth.

I came across these essays at the excellent wikipedia article on Truth. The views of Nietzsche and Foucault are interesting, especially the latter's concept of episteme (with its headless and right-handless statue of an Episteme goddess, her left hand lifting her outer skirt to reveal layers beneath).

Note also the many uses of female bodies personifying truth, especially this one.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

the mother of truth

A nice quote from the Chinese dissident inside an article by Mansur:
“Freedom of expression,” Liu Xiaobo wrote, “is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.”

from Salim Mansur: Beware Of China’s Meteoric Rise


Saturday, January 15, 2011

quotes from Arthur Miller

A couple of nice quotes from American playwright and essayist Arthur Miller (1915-2005):
Society is inside of man and man is inside society, and you cannot even create a truthfully drawn psychological entity on the stage until you understand his social relations and their power to make him what he is and to prevent him from being what he is not. The fish is in the water and the water is in the fish.
The Shadows of the Gods

Glamour, that trans-human aura or power to attract imitation, is a kind of vessel into which dreams are poured, and some vessels are simply worthier than others... A beautiful woman can turn heads but real glamour has a deeper pull... Glamour [is] the power to rearrange people's emotions, which, in effect, is the power to control one's environment.


Friday, January 14, 2011

gnosis as agnosis

"God is properly known only when he is known as an unknown," said St. Thomas.

from Pascal Bruckner: Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy, Princeton University Press, 2011.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

quatrain 257

From sunlight, two versions of quatrain #257:
Beyond this world and life we know
there is Someone watching over us.
To know Him is not in our power.
But once in a glimpse I saw
that we are His shadow
and our shadow is
the world.

Translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi
Rumi: Hidden Music
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001

out of this world and our lives
there is someone
who is nursing us
the one whom we
can never comprehend
i only know this much
we are the shadow
of this one
and the world is
the shadow of us

Translation by Nader Khalili
Rumi, Dancing the Flame
Cal-Earth Press, 2001

I prefer the Khalili version because "comprehend" is more precise than "know" and because the "someone" has no gender.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beaumarchais via Bostom

A strong defence of free speech by Bostom ends with a quote from Beaumarchais:
Since they can’t stop a man thinking, they take it out on his hide instead.

from Andrew G. Bostom: Will Conservative Media Elites Defend Lars Hedegaard?


talkin bout G0d

Jews standing up for Jerusalem:
"We're not here because of grace of world, but by the grace of G0d," he said in a Monitor interview in August 2010. "When we slap G0d in the face and say we don't want this land, we're willing to share this land … then we see the Oslo calamity."

from Christa Case Bryant: Shrewd development deal likely to preclude possibility of creating Palestinian state


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

a prophetess of biblical statue

An amazing summing up of where the West is at, by modern-day prophetess, Melanie Phillips:
You cannot resist or overcome a threat unless you first understand its nature.

The first thing to say is that this phenomenon is characteristic not just of the media animosity or economic or academic boycotts. It goes across the intelligentsia and political class, spreading well beyond the normal suspects on the left into the mainstream middle-classes.

In Britain, the universities, the established church, the theatrical and publishing worlds, the voluntary sector, significant elements within the Foreign Office, members of Parliament across the political spectrum, as well as the media have overwhelmingly signed up to the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.

The scale of this phenomenon is nothing short of a multi-layered civilizational crisis.

The west is experiencing a total inversion of truth evidence and reason. A society's thinking class has overwhelmingly subscribed to an immoral, patently false and in many cases demonstrably absurd account of the Middle East, past and present, which it has uncritically absorbed and assumes to be true.

In routine, everyday discourse history is turned on its head; logic is suspended; and an entirely false narrative of the conflict is now widely accepted as unchallengeable fact, from which fundamental error has been spun a global web of potentially catastrophic false conclusions.

This has led to a kind of dialogue of the demented in which rational discussion is simply not possible because there is no shared understanding of the meaning of language. So victim and victimizer, truth and lies, justice and injustice turn into their precise opposite.

This madness is being promulgated through a global alliance between state and non-state actors — diplomats and journalists, politicians and NGOs and websites. Many of these are waging war not just against Israel but against the west.


In other words, both Israel and diaspora Jews have to stop playing defense and go onto the offence. Israel has nothing to be defensive about or for which it needs to apologize. It is the enemies of Israel who are promoting injustice and the denial of international law and human rights. Playing defense intrinsically cedes ground to the enemy.

It is time for Israel and its defenders to stop conniving with that smokescreen for the war of annihilation being waged against Israel — the claim that the Middle East impasse would be solved by establishing a state of Palestine to which the settlements, and thus by extension Israel, are the obstacle. It is time for them to stop agreeing that the Jews are to blame for their own predicament.

Israel and its defenders need to make the argument from justice and reclaim that moral high ground from the enemies of Israel and the west, both at home — including within Israel — and abroad. It is those enemies who deny truth, justice and human rights. It is those enemies who should be in the dock. It is time to take the gloves off and put them there.

In short, Israel and its defenders must understand that the tsunami of bigotry against Israel sweeping the west is intimately related to Israel's seriously flawed diplomatic strategy.

For years, Israel has been playing a defensive diplomatic game, which suggests inescapably that it has a case to answer. Such diplomatic cringing has badly undermined it and hugely strengthened its enemies, who are taking advantage of such weakness over and over again.

It's time for Israel to realize that military campaigns against its enemies are not enough. It has to call time on its false friends too, and start fighting both these and its more obvious enemies on the battleground of the mind.

from Melanie Phillips: Israel's supporters better wake up!

It's good to see a fighting spirit emerging from among the Jewish writers. Caroline Glick also writes like this. It's quite ironic that it is the Jewish women who are showing the most balls. Good for them, I applaud them both.

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Feynman on God

What can I say? It's here.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Hornik on Spyer

A review of what sounds like a very interesting book:
The “new Israeliness,” Spyer suggests, “is steeped in a comfortable [though] not particularly rigorous attachment to the symbols of Jewish tradition,” including “the Temple Mount, the Hebrew language,” and “the Jewish festivals[.]” This “immensely powerful complex of images and ideas” forms a “bedrock” of strength, ultimately more solid than the latest wave of humiliated rage, known as Islamism, coming from the other side.

from David Hornik: Israel’s Stand Against Islamism Holds, a review of Jonathan Spyer: Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Murray via Rubin

I followed the link and read this article by Murray based on this recommendation from Barry Rubin: "It is the best single article on Western internal responses to Islam and Islamism that I've ever seen." It isn't sufficiently pointed for me, but it does come close to putting a finger on the main problems, associated with truth and with feelings. Here is the best short passage I could find to quote:
As we come to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we can begin to discern certain patterns in our recent behaviour. For the last decade, we have fought the war against Islamic extremism on exactly the wrong terms. And though Britain has led the charge in the wrong direction, the US is now following.

Defeating the Soviets during the Cold War required a large box of tools. They ranged from the doughtiest Washington-based Cold Warriors to Polish socialists who disagreed with tenets of Russian communism. In the same way, the war against Islamic extremism will only be won by a large toolbox approach. That will include Muslim reformers who will work for many years to try to wrench their religion away from its magnetic literalism. But it will also include those like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others, who believe that we must be allowed to say what we see when we look at this religion and retain the right to shine a light on it.

from Douglas Murray: Warning To The US: Don't Play By Islamic Rules

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

a philosophe on Islamophobia

A French philosopher is now also weighing in on the dubious nature of this term:

On a global scale, we are abetting the construction of a new thought crime, one which is strongly reminiscent of the way the Soviet Union dealt with the "enemies of the people". And our media and politicians are giving it their blessing. Did not the French president himself, never one to miss a blunder - not compare Islamophobia with Antisemitism? A tragic error. Racism attacks people for what they are: black, Arab, Jewish, white. The critical mind on the other hand undermines revealed truths and subjects the scriptures to exegesis and transformation. To confuse the two is to shift religious questions from an intellectual to a judicial level. Every objection, every joke becomes a crime.

from Pascal Bruckner: The invention of Islamophobia
Update: There has been a response to this essay at Sign and Sight but its main argument is that something does exist - some kind of racism or religious bigotry - and "Islamophobia" is as good a word as any to describe it.
Call it what you will: there is a form of criticism of Islam which is attempting, via expressions such as "Islamic culture" on the one hand and "Christian-Jewish Leitkultur" (guiding culture) on the other, to establish the concept of two different classes of European citizens. This attempt is driven by an irrational fear, which is comparable to McCarthy's Anticommunist hysteria and which I call "Islamophobia". (And, yes, there were Communist spies in the US Government, and yes, there are Islamist terrorists. But hysteria and fear are not good advisors in the struggle for an open society and against its enemies.)

I'm open to suggestions for better words. But anyone who denies that the process of exclusion and denigration that I've sketched is in fact happening, is obviously suffering from a kind of delusion, a disconnect from reality; and for that person, it is only logical to wish to forbid the words that might remind him that reality exists.

from Alan Posener: Pascal Bruckner and the reality disconnect


Monday, January 03, 2011

the genuine article

An example of forthright talk from true bigots:
Providing an alternative to Islam

The Muslims who have abandoned Islam will need somewhere else to go. Some will abandon religion altogether and become secularists, but as most people need some sort of religious belief in their life an alternative must be provided. This means that apostates (people who have converted out of Islam) will need protection from the murderous intentions of their former co-religionists . Attempts to intimidate apostates must be treated as serious hate-crimes and punished with the utmost severity.

Of the two 'universal' religions - Buddhism and Christianity - the most suitable Islam-substitute is probably Christianity and is better fitted to Muslims' intellectual capacities than the more philosophical Buddhism. The churches must therefore be encouraged to minister to Muslims, protect apostates, and even set up covert online churches where Muslims may privately convert to Christianity without taking the risks of 'coming out' by declaring their true faith while thy are still vulnerable.

from an English Defence League Forum topic posted by Bamiyan and titled How to defeat Islam - non-violently.; Altering the spiritual and material cost/benefits of being a Muslim


Islamomisos and Islamofovos

Good definitions and analysis here:
Might these facts have something to do with reality? After all, "Islamophobia" means fear of Islam. This is quite different from hatred of Islam or wanting to kill Muslims. A Greek friend informs me that the word for hate in Greek is "misos." Thus, "Islamophobia" is not the same as "Islamomisos."

In fact, what we are seeing is a rational fear in the West based on events (Islamofovos, to use the Greek word) alongside the hatred of the West (Occidentomisos) in much of the Muslim-majority world.

The real concern in Europe, then, is that making Muslims feel "excluded" (that is, unhappy) is more likely the prelude to them killing you than it is to you killing them.

from Barry Rubin: What's Happening in Europe: Holland As A Case Study on Islam and Israel

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