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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Downgrading Gandhi

As the Wall Street Journal reports on a new biography of Gandhi (the respective quotes that follow are from that review), he was "the archetypal 20th-century progressive ­intellectual, professing his love for ­mankind as a concept while actually ­despising people as individuals." Regrettably, the progressives (aka leftists, aka socialists, aka communists - with various degrees of totalitarianism in their ideology) have not changed in the third millennium. It has been known for a long time that when Karl Marx was told, "I cannot think of you in a leveling society, as you have altogether aristocratic tastes and habits," Marx replied, "I cannot either.  That time will come, but we will be gone by then." (Unfortunately, some of us were not so lucky). Gandhi was not alien to luxury either, when he could afford it, adopting his simplicity principle only upon return to India where it would be good for his public image.

It is something new though, when we learn from Great Soul that Gandhi "advised the Czechs and Jews to adopt nonviolence toward the Nazis." His realism and humaneness come clear from his opinion that "'a single Jew standing up and ­refusing to bow to Hitler's decrees' might be enough 'to melt Hitler's heart.'" It is particularly striking that "he advised the Jews of Palestine to 'rely on the goodwill of the Arabs' and wait for a Jewish state 'till Arab ­opinion is ripe for it.'" The Jews knew then and know now how long they would have to wait for that opinion to ripen. What is really amazing, however, is that the world still relies on the expectations of the "good will of Arabs", so generously promised by that "mortal demigod". The one who turns out to be - according to this sympathetic biography - another fallen idol, a great deceiver and racist, who called Hitler "My friend".

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A perfect metaphor

This is what happens (or finally should) when Israel reaches its limits of patience:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fair militancy

Militant atheism is frequently selective - not in its deity-rejection but in its militancy. For instance, even though Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all "three anti-human religions" for Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), they come from "a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament". The latter, "known as...", of course, only to Christians (it's Tanakh for the Jews, without the changes introduced by the Christians), is, of course, responsible for everything, being a "tribal cult of a single fiercely unpleasant God." Definitely more unpleasant to Dawkins than the deity of his own religion, in whose hands he was molested as a boy - after all, that was for him only "an embarrassing, but otherwise harmless experience". Judaism is somehow to blame even for the death penalty for blasphemy practiced in Pakistan. As if penalties for blasphemy did not exist in other religions entirely independent of Judaism, and Islam did not contain enough violence that is unique to it.

It is thus comforting when an atheist is at least fair in his militancy. This is the case with Bill Maher. He is derisive of Christianity and Judaism, as he is of anything he dislikes. In his fairness though, interviewing Keith Ellison, a congressman and a Muslim convert, he called the "holy" Koran a "hate-filled book", where "Islama bin Laden" (must be a slip of the tongue) takes his instructions. Unapologetically and matter-of-factly. He sees a greater threat from Islam than even from the "right-wing" and the KKK (which would not say much if he did not consider everything on the right of Marx to be equal to KKK). There is no need to transcribe the short dialogue - just watch it.

What is interesting in that dialogue is not Maher's mumbling attempts at critiquing Islam, fair as they are - unusually for this self-styled "comedian", - but Ellison's helpless response. The only Koranic quote Ellison was able to produce to contravene Maher's "hate-filled book" statement was deceptively incomplete: "anyone who takes the life, it's as if he killed the whole world". That's what you usually hear from Islam's disingenuous apologists. What they never say is that the complete quote of this Koran 5:32 verse is, "Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors." So yes, there is a belief that murdering one human is like murdering the whole humanity, but this is a Jewish belief, indeed found in the Talmud. It is referred to as a Jewish belief in the Koran. Nowhere is it seen that Islam accepts it. What it does accept is Koran 9:5, "Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war." Then again, Ellison, who referred to the eternal Koran as "compiled" and stated that he accepts "non-believers", may have not done his conversion right, or perhaps has forgotten what it was since he was 19, and there is a hope for him yet.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Talking tough

Remember courageous Mr Kristof? The one who took a Bible to Saudi Arabia with him - not because he needed it, but "to see what would happen"? You can feel how Mr. Kristof is excited about his bravery in his new piece now: wow, he got enough of it to ask "a politically incorrect question: Could the reason for the Middle East’s backwardness be Islam?" (I like that preemptive recognition of "incorrectness" - Allah forbid somebody decides he does not understand how severe that thoughtcrime is). 

Nah, don't worry, surely this question is only to dismiss it with alternative balanced views, the best of which he finds to be that it's all because of "various secondary Islamic legal practices that are no longer relevant today", not because of Islam. One wonders, however, why those "secondary practices" are still working today well enough to keep 1.3 billion people in "backwardness". And how, if those practices are Islamic, is there no connection between them and Islam. Well, it's the same Mr. Kristof, after all, who thinks that Saudis ban Bibles from their country not because of Islam, but "out of sensitivity to local feelings". Where do those "feelings" come from, I wonder, if not from Mohammad's ban on any religion but Islam in Arabia? You can imagine what the chances are for realization of Kristof's "hope we'll have some tough, honest conversations on all sides about what went wrong". Perhaps the Muslims would be talking tough. One could even risk a guess, they already are. "We" - won't.