The first post tells why. It may be too little, but hopefully not too late.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mosque and state

I watched Fox News a couple of days ago - what else a wingnut would watch? A minister, Reverend Barry Lynn, whose main occupation is to fight for separation of church and state (he heads an organization with that mission), had a dispute with Walid Shoebat, a former Muslim and an anti-Islamist. Shoebat was translating, from his native Arabic, the "Cordoba mosque" imam Rauf's comments regarding the need for America to become a Shariah state.

Now, I understood why Lynn could have been invited to the program. After all, Islam does not consider separation of "church" and state at all: Islam was created by Muhammad to be the foundation of his perfect state. It is the only option an Allah-fearing Muslim may entertain. Witness Iraq, liberated from a dictatorship by the sacrifices of American soldiers only to ensure that "Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation" (Iraqi Constitution, Article 2). Quoting further, "A. No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established." Somehow, the next clause is that "B. No law that contradicts the principles of democracy may be established", which hardly makes sense, because any law deviating from Shariah will contradict clause A, and democracy is supposed to make laws outside of the established provisions of Islam, i.e., the Shariah. There has never been a democratic Islamic country, unless you consider voting a sufficient proof of democracy. If you do, we also had democracy in the Soviet Union, have it in Gaza, and I have the proverbial bridge to sell. Of course, when in a foreign non-Muslim country, serving Islam in the land of infidels like imam Rauf does, one has to be realistic, but nobody can stop a man from dreaming. Particularly when this man's idea of the ideal state is Muhammad's totalitarian empire.

What a shocker it was, however, when, instead of criticizing Islam for its non-separation from state, Rev. Lynn turned out to be a protector of Islam. In response to Shoebat's translation, the minister announced that it was a "misstatement". No idea whose misstatement he meant. No, he does not read or speak Arabic. He knows, however, that he can with  impunity accuse Shoebat of "misstatements" when telling truth about Islam is considered lying - that is the view of the mainstream media that sings in happy unison with the US government. Except for that repeated statement of "misstatement", and the usual straw man of the Muslims' "right to build", Lynn provided no argument.

The same straw man has been raised by The State, i.e., the US government, including the president. Nobody has questioned that right. What is questioned is the propriety of that construction in  that location. It may take a long time for the public to understand that it is a cynical distortion of justice for governmental officials, with the US president on top, to proclaim rights of a Shariah-toting imam to build a house of worship for a faith that denies that right to other faiths. It is also an obscene distortion of the principle of separation of church and state, when these officials, representing the state and trying to silence a public dispute, suggest that the nation's disagreement with construction of an Islamic monument near the mass grave of victims of violent Islam is tantamount to hate crime.

Then again, what can you expect when Barack Hussein has announced that "America and Islam ... overlap". Perhaps church and state, let alone synagogue and state, are separated in Obama's America. Mosque and state is a different matter. It would be a sure sign of Islamophobia to hold them separate.

Related posts: Monument to Murderers; Just Thinking; Thinking Ahead"First We Take Manhattan"; Islamophobia?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


You hear that, and bad things come to mind. Claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and other similar extreme anxiety conditions disabling people. Judeophobia, which is a more precise synonym of antisemitism. Phobia is an irrational, intense fear/hate and avoidance of something that poses little or no actual danger. There are phobias related to animals (e.g., spiders), environments and situations (heights, storms). There are some phobias peculiar to a culture, such as taijin kyofusho, specific to Japan - an exaggerated fear of offending somebody. Most if not all  phobias appear to be extreme variants of normal human fears and apprehensions. It follows that once this word is attached to an entity, you know that the latter is really nothing to be afraid of, let alone hate. It is a disease or extreme prejudice not to see that.

Is that what we are dealing with, when the word "phobia" is attached to "Islam"? Is there indeed an irrational fear or hate of Islam? If so, is it as grotesque and morbid as agoraphobia, or perhaps as dangerous and murderous as Judeophobia? I won't delve much into the ancient history, because the fears or comfort of the living are not so much influenced by what happened centuries ago, unless the same events occur in the present, and then the present may not connect with the past. For instance, in the Russian language there is an archaic word, бусурманин (busurmanin), that is derived from "Muslim" and was used as recently as in 19th century to scare children and designate any enemy. The origin of that scare is in the times of Muslim raids on the Russian territories and in the centuries of Muslim khans' domination and enslavement. The word was not revived, however, when the children of Beslan were murdered by Muslim terrorists, or hostages of suicidal Muslims died in a Moscow theater, or Muslim "Black Widows" blew themselves up in the Moscow metro. Indeed, even though Chechens are Muslims, and it is hard not to see Islam's involvement in their cause, that cause is more nationalist than Muslim. Nowadays, the language is either more specific  - "Chechens", "Wahhabites"; or more generic - "terrorists". Muslims comprise a large proportion of the population in Russia, and are not persecuted for their religion. Russia, like the Soviet Union before, is good friends with  Islamic countries. Interestingly though, devout Muslims to this day call Christians "Crusaders". They also jumped at the word "crusade" (against terrorists), used by Bush in the wake of 9-11 in no connection to a Christian cause. Of course, because for Muslims the suicidal mass murder of 9-11 was an act of their faith, they considered any response to be religious  as well - Jewish and Christian. Never mind that Bush became a spokesperson for Islam, "religion of peace".

According to Obama, the explanation of 9-11 is in the "tension [that] has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies". Not according to Osama. His "fatwa" was titled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places" - his grievance was in the violation of Muhammad's prohibition of any religion but Islam in that land, one of the early manifestations of Islamic tolerance. That's why the Saudi monarchy that allowed the American/non-Muslim presence on the Arab soil is Osama's enemy as well. According to Obama, "America and Islam ... overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings." Not according to Islam, which denies justice and dignity not only to other faiths (unless you consider dhimmitude just), but to even Muslim women and children. OK, let's assume that Islam is not defined by Muhammad's "marrying" a six-year old Aisha and raping her at the ripe age of nine, by his genocide of the Jewish tribes in Arabia, by the bloody conquests and Islamization of North Africa, Asia and large part of Europe  - that's all ancient history. There is a lot, they say, bad stuff in any religion's past.  What good is Islam defined by in our times? What is coming out of the Muslim world that serves, or at least does not hurt and promise to hurt more, humanity? These questions are rhetorical. No, I take it back. There is good coming out of Islamic world - people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who leave us hope that Islam's hold on its adherents is not absolute even in the darkest places of Dar al-Islam.

Ancient history aside, it's hard to miss Islam's influence in present-day events. The negative stuff in the name of Islam, by Islam and for Islam happens - well, every day. Everybody knows about that, so I'd like first to consider the positive. Let's see.  Can you? I can't. What I can see is that the only way for a Muslim not to think or do horrible things - not just to others but to family members - is to become a "bad" Muslim and neglect the Koran of Allah and the Sunna (tradition on the conduct) of the Prophet, which a "good" Muslim is supposed to dutifully follow.

Inconsistent with the definition of phobia, the fear of Islam is not irrational - it is well justified by the actions of Muslims in the name of Allah, whether it is a stoning of Muslim "adulterers" or Jewish children, a decapitation of a captive,  or incessant murderous attacks on anybody, any group, or any country that Muslims view as a problem. It does not matter how small the proportion of the 1.5 billion of Muslims that commit those actions is, as long as they are committed, not prevented, and condoned or even celebrated by the majority of the Muslims. It is those actions that are justifiably hated - not Muslims, who are the first victims of the cult of Allah. As a real phobia is a mental disorder, so is a lack of fear of something that presents clear, present and mortal danger - this is the other side of the same psychological coin. It is pathological or at least not very smart not to fear a lion and jump into his cage in a zoo. It would be pathological not to fear Islam.

Attaching "phobia" to "Islam" does not make the fear of Islam prejudicial, bigoted, or morbid. It is an attempt to subvert reality and turn the norm into pathology. In the same manner, Russian fascists invented the word Russophobia, serving a similar purpose - to render pathological the fear of the antisemitic and repressive Russian nationalism. Many Russians see through that and use the term only ironically. Those who use it seriously are known for what they are - fascists, who often are so transparent as to use swastika in their symbolics. I hope, the Americans are able to hold on to their rational fears, including that of Islam. The alternative is too dire - and scary.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"First we take Manhattan...."

Trying to defend indefensible, The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof has become telepathic. He has penetrated the mind of al-Awlaki, and discovered that the Muslim terrorist "must be cheering the Republicans on as they demagogue against the mosque and feed into his terror recruitment narrative" (I guess, Harry Reid is a closet Republican).  This is in Kristof's blog, and a similar connection - between Muslim terrorists and Republicans - is made in his op-ed in the paper. To prove to the non-telepathic part of the population that building that Islamic center will be "force for moderation", he tells us that we already have strip clubs and liquor stores nearby, that Crusaders burnt Jews while singing, and that in Pakistan he knows a woman who fears of honor killing by her Christian brothers. Irrelevant as all that is, she is fortunately alive though, in contrast to so many Muslim women killed by their Muslim fathers, brothers and husbands. We do not know how Mr. Kristof knows of those brotherly intentions, but with his telepathic talents there is no need to doubt his knowledge. Instead, we should confidently rely on his "hunch... that the violence in the Islamic world has less to do with the Koran or Islam than with culture, youth bulges in the population, and the marginalization of women." Now, it is surely common knowledge, isn't it, that "the Koran or Islam" cannot be part of culture, and marginalization of women has nothing to do with Islam. What can Islam have in common with culture when it regulates every single moment of a believer's life? There is simply no room left for culture. Projecting his powerful telepathic probe into the feeble but evil minds of his true enemies, Kristof finds that "many Republicans are prepared to bolster the Al Qaeda narrative, and undermine the brave forces within Islam pushing for moderation." Those must be the very same forces that bravely want to rub this moderation into the wounds of those whose loved ones were murdered by the cultureless 9-11 shahids.

Arguably, the objections of even a single survivor of a victim of the 9-11 Muslim terror should be sufficient to stop the construction, if the Golden Rule still means anything in our culture. In Mr. Kristof's bright mind's eyes, however, such sensitivity to these survivors' anguish would be "just like [that of] the Saudi officials who ban churches, and even confiscate Bibles". Now, it is common knowledge, isn't it, that banning churches in Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with Islam, even though that is done in accordance with Muhammad's prohibition of any faith but Islam in the land of Arabs. Mr. Kristof knows better. The brave Mr. Kristof even brought a Bible with him on his trip there - not because he needed it, but "to see what would happen". His courage, however, went only so far and did not extend to showing it to the customs officer, who did not check our hero's belongings. Nothing happened. Not sure what this proves, but Mr. Kristof got his pointless experiment that may get the customs guy fired if his superiors read the Times, and nobody will be able to bring any Bibles there anymore. Even the curious Mr. Kristof, who thinks that Saudis do that "out of sensitivity to local feelings", not because of the Saudi law. See, the law is Shariah, Islamic, which does not quite fit into Mr. Kristof's "hunches".

But the most interesting piece of Mr. Kristof's convoluted logic is related to Israel's wishful thinking regarding Hamas: "Israeli officials thought that if Gazans became more religious, they would spend their time praying rather than firing guns." The rationale for that, as Kristof recognizes, was the idea that "Palestinian violence has roots outside of Islam". Obviously, but imperceptibly to Kristof who still thinks that to be true, history has shown that to be a grievous mistake. The religious Hamas-led Gazans chant "Allahu Akbar" that surely has nothing to do with Islam, sending rockets to Israeli kindergartens.

I could never understand what that Leonard Cohen song exactly was about. It does not say it clearly, and I am not telepathic. Then again, maybe it's contagious - now, I think, I have a "hunch". With people like Kristof forming the public's opinion, any terrorist can sing, "You know the way to stop me / But you don't have the discipline." Kristof did not have to exercise his telepathy. Like he, Mahmud Zahar of Hamas approves of the 9-11 mosque and thinks that "Muslims have to build everywhere".  As I said before, why not right where the Twin Towers stood? It'll show them...  moderation, Hamas/Kristof style.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thinking ahead

by Galina Kirillova

"First, do no harm". So stated Hippocrates, the father of medicine. The ethical principles he declared are embodied in the Hippocratic oath taken by physicians before they enter their profession. These ethical principles, necessary to practice medicine, are on top of the long years of medical education. And despite all that, we the patients still try to improve our choice of a doctor, because our life and its quality depend on that. We take into account everything: credentials, experience, reputation. We want to make sure that "our" doctor knows his stuff. What happens when we choose our country's president? What criteria determine the choice of a candidate who must operate the complex governmental machine, maneuver in the entangled system of international relations, make decisions that are thought through many steps ahead, upon which many people's life and its quality critically depend? During the 2008 presidential elections, standing in a queue to vote, I asked a student standing ahead of me why she was voting for Obama (her choice was clear from the picture on her T-shirt). She said she wanted "change". To the question what change, she answered, "Any". At first, I was sorry for her, but then, there were many young people like her there, wearing the same popular T-shirts.

My choice was different, but I was impressed by their enthusiasm. Perhaps they are right, I thought. A young candidate, educated, confident in his abilities,  biracial and raised in a multicultural environment. Perhaps he is that hero who finally will rid the country of the brewing religious intolerance and racial prejudice. On the other hand, however, there was that "godfather", Reverend Wright, dubious friends, and slogans that were sadly familiar to any immigrant from the Soviet Union. I think that in that moment of fateful choice the majority in America was led by enthusiasm and expectation of a miracle rather than by sober deliberations.

The miracle, however, has not happened. I state this without glee but with sincere regret and anxiety for the future. I do not root for a particular team. I am for professionalism and reason. Political life is certainly more complex than the information about it available to "simple" Americans through mass media. As a "simple" American of Soviet origin, I do not make special effort to disentangle political complexities. I am a biologist and politics is not my sphere. But as a citizen of this country, I can see when things are getting out of control. It is usually easy to criticize, but in this case it is particularly so.

For a president, to make responsible decisions, defining the fate of not just this country but the world, requires knowledge of history, political experience, and a principled personal position. Friendly handshakes and warm embraces, unfortunately, have never been guarantors of mutual understanding in the world. To think that flattery and praise will melt hearts and disarm enemies is naive for a professional politician. As we have seen, this approach only exacerbates regional conflicts, stokes appetites of political blackmailers, and activates the race for world leadership. Politics resembles a game of chess with multiple opponents and is very risky, because the consequences of losing may be dramatic and irreversible. Unsurprisingly, in chess, only real masters play such games. It is possible but doubtful that Obama will draw correct conclusions from his almost two-year presidential experience, and if not improve the complex situation in the country and in the world then at least will "do no harm".

In two years we will again have to make our choice. Sometimes key words and analogies help to find a way in complex situations. For instance, would you want to have a doctor who would practice on you? Do you consider presidency an appropriate position for political training and radical social experiments? Hopefully, among the future candidates there will be people voting for whom will not call for choosing a lesser of evils, and the jingling "change" will not dampen the voice of reason.               

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just thinking

Barack Hussein: "I believe that Muslims have... the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan".

Why not build it right where the towers stood? As tall or taller than they were? Nu, why not? Just a thought...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Monument to murderers

by Galina Kirillova

It is said that great times call for great people. Apparently, such times have long since passed for America. During the relatively long period of American prosperity, the government has become replete with individuals who are inordinately cynical, corrupt and simply daft. Driven by personal interests, they manipulate social consciousness, juggling with the concepts that for the majority of people still have moral value: the Constitution, equality before the law, freedom of speech and conscience, peaceful coexistence, respect for religious views, etc. Worse even, they shrewdly substitute and rig these concepts, counting perhaps on the simplicity of "simple Americans" - a recently popular definition of a part of the American population, about which the liberals care so much. Along with that, there is another popular expression, "rich people", with whom members of the government tend not to identify themselves. The prevalence of violations of law and unconscionable lies among the ruling elite is frightening. People who are not afraid of dishonor are dangerous, because little if anything keeps them from committing crime.

Is it then surprising that while the human tragedy of 9/11 is perceived as a personal disaster by the majority of Americans, decision-makers actively support building a mosque on the territory where 3,000 people were executed in the name of the same Allah who would be worshiped in that mosque? Can there be a monument to a murderer on the grave of his victim? Is it believable that the leadership of New York indeed protect the principles of the Constitution and democracy in this manner? If so, why is this protection so one-sided? Or is it that the structure priced at $100 mln is more attractive than common human values? There is nothing complex in the situation related to the plans of building a Muslim center, but it appears that in the structure of the American government there are no effective mechanisms capable of stopping the unethical actions with profound consequences for the American population. Probably the Founding Fathers could not foresee the degree to which morality, instinct of self-preservation and simply common sense might decay. And this is a national problem. Building the center is certain to result in a deep psychological trauma and will only exacerbate distrust toward the Muslim community.

There is no reason to believe that the planners of the construction worry about healing the wounds that their coreligionists inflicted on 9/11. They know that the center will be salt on those wounds. Those interested in this issue are likely to be familiar with the ideology of Islam. The media is full of materials about this amazing "religion of peace", which for centuries wages wars against the kuffar, "unbelievers". At the time of substantial social shifts in America, when some Christians got tired of Christianity, and Jews of Judaism, when America got tired of its well-being and world leadership and is rushing to the Utopian shores of social equality on which the Communist world has already crashed, America remains the country of endless possibilities. To wit, political promiscuity provides endless possibilities for the inhuman ideology that, in almost 1,500 years, has changed neither its goals (world domination) nor methods (subjugation and extermination of infidels), and, as Europe's example shows, has started taking over new territories.