Is There Such A Creature As A Good Muslim?
Whether Muslims can be decent people is a primal and essential consideration.
As soon as the question arises, it demands definition: by which standards of goodness shall we measure Muslims, theirs or ours?
A “good Muslim” may be defined as a person who follows the dictates of the Koran; in that sense, the meaning of “good” is something like “a high degree of fit between the (Koranic) ideal and the real.”
If, however, “good” is defined according to Western ethics and jurisprudence, then the answer must be that it is impossible to be at once good and a person who believes and lives by the Koran/hadith.
There is no escaping this conclusion. Those books were written by evil people, and they can be used to perpetrate monstrous evil because evil is precisely what they demand of Muslims.
Just as today’s Christians and Jews manage to live what they consider pious lives even as they ignore many of the teachings and commandments and examples found in the Old Testament, millions of Muslims pay no attention to the hatred Mohammed preached. They are content to be nominal Muslims. Many are not even aware of the passages in the Koran/hadith that are ethically indefensible.
This is the inevitable consequence of a faith that damns and endangers those who would leave it.
Yes, there are many genuinely good people who consider themselves Muslims, who go to the mosque to pray, who would never convert to any other faith, and who cannot be held responsible for the mass murder committed in the name of Islam. You can and should read about these thoroughly decent folk. They are a reminder that Westerners can find kindred spirits in the Muslim world. The appellation “Muslim” can be misleading, and must never be allowed to become a brand of Cain.
Let us set aside for the moment the issue of whether Muslims who ignore the Koran’s absurdities are really Muslims. Practicality dictates that we might as well assume that if a person says he is a Muslim, then he is a Muslim. Many in the Islamic world believe that the passive skeptics who do not accept the entire Koran as the commandments of the creator deity are not Muslims. They are considered apostates. According to Islamic law, they must be forced to submit, for the Islamist tyranny is as absolute as humanly possible. That tyranny tries to render our question a priori answerable only in the positive, and therefore nonsensical. In fact we can genuinely ask whether there are good Muslims only outside the frame of reference (Weltanschauung, implicate understandings, tacit assumptions) of Koranic literalism.
The remaining problem — how to deal with evil people who preach an evil doctrine — has no solution. The West can only adapt and cope.
Adaptation means maintaining the military capacity to prevent violent Muslims from achieving their goals. Coping means conducting military operations, enhancing security, encouraging quasi-democratic regimes (such as Iraq), implementing practical ad hoc policies that can never be perfect, and realizing that the West is fighting a war that began with Mohammed and never ended. We are challenged by an unevolved, primitive teaching that simply cannot be allowed to prevail.
Our civilization does not have to perish because a sociopathic paedophile perpetrated a hoax some fourteen centuries ago. Somehow, we have to find ways to deal with the implications of the enormity that is the Koran. We either adapt and cope, or our heritage will be literally eradicated.
If that happens, history will halt. There will no hope for the many millions of Muslims who neither accept fully nor practice all the hideous teachings of Mohammed.
Our greatest mistake would be to believe that it cannot happen.
The Claim That Global Warming Is Our Fault Should Have Been Discarded As Absurd Long Ago
In spite of many attempts to inform the public regarding the facts, a great many people still believe that mankind can do something to cool a dangerously warming earth — an earth whose rising temperature has been caused by mankind’s abuse of the environment.
As noted in PenPo 12, faith trumps facts in discussions of climate. The belief in anthropogenic global warming is not a conclusion deduced from evidence, but a quasi-religious article of faith. If you are willing to discard faith and consider climate as subject to scientific inquiry, by all means read this authoritative attempt to explain the complex truth to non-scientists. For additional perspective, consider how our friends in the “green” movement are helping matters along.
More: perhaps some minds are wavering, as this article suggests. Finally, if you want to study the highly technical refutation of one fraudulent attempt to convince the world that virtually all scientists are in agreement that man causes climate change, give this paper a try.
A Poem In Honor Of The Grate US Culture War
We’re hip, we’re cool and so arty;
We’re Democrats, the smarter Party.
We’re sophisticated unlike you:
We understand merci beaucoup.
We’re urbane and you’re provincial;
We’re worldly-wise, so existential.
We’re cultured, complex, so refined,
We’ve left you ignorant serfs behind.
We’re witty authors of clever puns,
While you clods cling to God and guns.
Were you not so closed and clannish
We’d have you peons speaking Spanish.
We say all this with knowing smirks;
We’re Democrats, you Red-State jerks.
“We’re so…” by Russ Vaughn, via American Thinker
This Was Not Just A Mistranslation, It Was Also A Revealing Glimpse Of Reality
In some circles, the report by the German magazine Der Spiegel (“the mirror”) that the Iraqi PM was endorsing Obama’s proclamations — and thereby virtually asking the US electorate to put Obama in the White House — was taken with a pound of salt from the first. Then, hours later, the truth came out, and the damage was done. Damage to whom? To virtually everyone. Consider:
1. Obama’s campaign jumped on the bogus announcement like a dog on a bone, and issued a statement it must now wish it had withheld until the unlikely story was debunked.
2. The German magazine’s professionalism and credibility have been dented. Of course its loyal readers will say, “Everyone makes mistakes,” but that is scant reason to excuse the breakdown. After all, getting an accurate translation of what an important political figure says is not just vital, it is the first thing an editor must make sure he has before he approves a story. This was a blunder of huge proportions.
3. A lot of folks are going to wonder why the blunder was made, and they may even notice that the international press has an irrational love affair with Obama. If that realization ever sinks in, Obama may find his support eroding in some crucial states. In plain language: some fence-sitters in “flyover country” are going to wonder why the Obama people were so quick to swallow the improbable story. What, no suspicion of something that requires a willing suspension of disbelief?? Hasn’t Obama learned anything from his new buddy Hillary? Or is he afraid to exhibit any skepticism at all?
4. As the PenPo headline above suggests, this story from the German magazine smells ideologically biased; it is likely that the translator and reporter(s) and editors(s) heard what they wanted to hear, not what was said. The Iraqis must wonder what in the world the Western media are up to. There could be a consequent subtle shift away from respecting the European media in particular. This will be very difficult to measure, and of course no major news outlets will be interested in it. Nevertheless, it could make a contribution to the Iraqi attitude of how to deal with the foreign press in the future. Does one dare say anything consequential in front of those aliens with the expensive cameras?
5. Sooner or later, a significant number of US voters may see the breathtaking stupidity in announcing to the world, “On (insert date here), we are going to stop fighting, no matter what — and retire from the field.” It’s a mystery why the sheer insanity of such a statement has not become obvious to everyone with an IQ above the speed limit in the business district. After all, the only Iraqis cheerful about the announcement of a pullout date are part of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Well, we shall see. Here is the full sordid story, at least as the PenPo went to press.
Hold it, there’s more on this Keystone Kops-like mess and — can you believe it — yet more? Amazing how confused these journalists get. They are, after all, professionals….
News And Comment Of Varying Levels Of Importance And Fascination
This is it in a nutshell: the sides taken in the continuing debate over how the federal supreme court of the USA is to understand the constitution. For the “progressives,” we have this from Associate Justice Kennedy:
These matters [abortion in 1992, sodomy in 2003], involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
And then, for the “strict constructionists,” we have this rejoinder to Kennedy from Robert Bork, rejected nominee to the high court:
(Kennedy’s claim is) not an argument but a Sixties oration. It has no discernible intellectual content; it does not even tell us why the right to define one’s own concept of “meaning” includes a right to abortion or homosexual sodomy but not a right to incest, prostitution, embezzlement, or anything else a person might regard as central to his dignity and autonomy. Nor are we informed of how we are to know what other rights will one day emerge from some person’s concept of the universe.
They are still at it, eh? Yep, as this depressing report on the Human Rights Commissions (HRCs) in Canada makes clear. Excerpt:
Over the past decade, the HRCs have made a mockery of 800 years of British common law: in HRC tribunals, truth is no defense; guilt, rather than innocence, is assumed; and defendants are often bankrupted while plaintiffs have all their legal fees picked up by taxpayers. It isn’t unusual for HRC employees to troll “white supremacist” websites under assumed names, post racist remarks, and then charge the site owners with publishing “hate speech.” Bloggers who’ve questioned these tactics have been sued.
Well, what’s new? The latest report from the ethically frozen north is that a comic has been charged with not being funny. Click on the first link (“this depressing report”) and read how a pair of hecklers are using an HRC to try to finish in a star chamber what they started in a drunken brawl in a night club.
Is gasoline too expensive? If you think so, then what’s your opinion on the mining of US oil shale? Here is some useful information that could help you make up your mind. It may also make you wonder just what Pelosi and Reid are up to. Be sure to take a look at the graph.
All right, this disgusting and disgraceful photo is quite enough to set a decent person’s teeth on edge as is. Worse, the folks at Yahoo do not remind you that the poster-sized photo on the right is the image of the man who planned and directed the murder of hundreds of US Marines in a suicide bombing in Lebanon many years ago. Meditate on this: these UN troops felt constrained to salute respectfully the remains of some of the most evil people ever to bestride the earth. Now… imagine chickens coming home to roost. Might the arriving fowl not rededicate Turtle Bay to a worthwhile purpose?
Next: a post that is devastating — utterly devastating. It’s a summation (with references) of hypocrisy, ideological lunacy, incompetence and sheer malice that deserves your attention. By all means, give it a careful read.
What’s it about? US foreign policy, the failures and successes of the Bush administration, the conduct of professional journalism, the vagaries of political extremism that pretends to be rational moderation, and the machinations of those who would propagandize the electorate.
Here’s a tiny teaser that hints at just part of the story:
…the Times now insists that we should have incorporated CIA intelligence about Pakistan, while at the same time rejecting CIA intelligence about Iraq.
Even if you feel you must refute every word of it, this expose-cum-analysis requires your consideration.
Ah, China. Such decent, trustworthy folks, so cooperative and cosmopolitan! And so progressive in the application of modern standards of jurisprudence and suppression of crime!
There’s A Lot In This Issue On Obama — But Then Should A Candidate For The Presidency Expect Otherwise?
Obama in office will have to behave very differently from the Obama of the campaign and before. That will be instructive to the world; the requirements reality places on a president cannot, absent insanity, all be brushed aside. British leftist weblogger Oliver Kamm has a few trenchant remarks on this aspect of an Obama presidency. Yes, this will be a problem for Obama, but he is expected to cope — even though his “progressive” supporters will throw a seismic fit.
Here’s part of the reason why Obama the president will not behave as Obama the candidate has led his staff, his party and the voters to believe. The Washington Post, a bastion of “progressive” politics, has produced a surprising editorial that signals a major shift in its advocacy.
Yes, this is news, and yes, it forecasts what Obama will do. But don’t expect many on the left to follow the paper’s lead, and, as for ingratiating itself with moderates and those to the right of center, well, that’s hopeless. The WaPo’s notoriety, where it is perceived, is indelible.
Everybody knows what to say about the New Yorker cartoon cover featuring Obama and wife, but nobody gets it right except Christopher Hitchens. Herewith, two samples of his wisdom: The cartoon is “…sophisticates in the metropolis laughing at a portrayal of the fears of the lowly white hicks.” Precisely. And then:
…the Obama team disagrees strongly with those readers who don’t see it as tasteless and inoffensive, as well as those who interpret it as an attempt to draw the sting from a whispering campaign against Obama. Take that, you broad-minded and humorous rabble! Satire can do no more.
Now for something truly bizarre. First, conspiracy theorists claim Obama was born in Africa and that his Hawaiian birth certificate, if he has one, must be a fake. “Produce it,” they insist. The Obama camp ignores the fuss. Then a leftist weblog somehow comes up with a photo of a Hawaiian document that is supposed to settle the issue. (Why would this weblog be the source of such a document? How did they get access to the original?) Finally, an expert insists the weblog’s photo of the birth certificate depicts a forgery, and, barring a hoax he perpetrated, he has proved his case.
We know McCain is not constitutionally qualified to be president, but does this crude forgery (look at the website linked above) prove anything about Obama’s birthplace or qualifications?? No; it merely suggests that Obama has a great deal to hide. It proves nothing.
This looks as if it just might spiral wildly into a hurricane of malicious accusations and hatred.
In McCain’s case, it’s entirely a matter of law. There are no documents with mysterious origins, nor are there refusals by the GOP to provide information. The dispute surrounding Obama, however, is reminiscent of the hoax abetted by, among others, Mad Mary Mapes and Dan Rather: who created this document that is claimed to be genuine, but obviously is not? Why? Is or was there ever an original? Is the document fake, but true?
The Obama camp had better get cracking. There is work to do, there is proof that needs to be made available, and there are questions that require answers. It seems likely that all of the above will be ignored, which will only fuel the fires being laid by conspiracy nuts.
Flip-flop, flip-flop — but, as asserted in the previous PenPo, nobody who will vote for Obama really gives a hoot. Let it be noted instead that Obama is all business, and that business is promoting, never chuckling at, himself. So?
So this, according to a popular weblogger:
Obama is humorless, and full of himself. That would make him a great target for satire, except that his followers take the position that any mockery or criticism is racist. The prospect of four years of that sort of thing is the best reason I can think of not to vote for him.
That could hurt Obama in several battlefield states.
In days to come we’ll see a lot more reminders of the candidate’s lofty “We are not amused” attitude, as well as jokes about the besotted journalists who prostrate themselves before him. For instance, here’s a website that serves up a lethal parody of Time magazine’s unprofessional exaltation of The One.
Memo to all political candidates, whatever your aspirations: never get into a quagmire like this. How to avoid it? Here’s a list.
1. Don’t talk without thinking. Prepare, in other words, by thinking about all the topics that might be thrown at you.
2. Remember that your words will be remembered, and you will be asked to clarify them if they are not crystal clear.
3. Always make your conclusions and pronouncements conditional, unless you are dealing with utter absolutes (2+2=4, freedom of the press, the current local temperature).
4. Leave yourself room to wiggle by saying things like, “We have to find a way to bring justice to these people,” “This agency has not been open-minded and imaginative; I’m going to be very firm with them, demanding and getting the full story, and then I’m going make some things happen, genuine reforms,” and so on.
It appears that Obama did not read the PenPo’s piece on how he can win. Now there’s a shock.
The Sale Of False Hope
It’s a common pattern: browsing a newspaper or watching a TV broadcast, we learn of a scientific breakthrough that appears about to provide a cure for (enter here the name of a disease such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, malaria, or “all viral and bacterial infections,” and so on). Incomprehensible diagrams and/or information follow, and we catch our breath, for (fill in with the name(s) of family member(s), close friend(s), or the word “I”) has/have that condition. A cure! Or at least an effective treatment! How wonderful….
Then two terrible things happen. First, we are told that “Scientists hope this will lead to the development of new approaches…” or “Clinical trials on animals are expected to begin in two years.” Our disappointment is palpable. We must wait, and that almost always means that the suffering will end in death before help arrives.
The second terrible thing is a hushed, gentle event, but it is even worse. We never hear of the “breakthrough” again.
This heartbreaking scenario is so common that we have to ask whether the “breakthrough” should ever have been reported in the first place.
Well. Most new drugs fail. Almost all research into disease and injury results in dead ends. Such a high percentage of “breakthroughs” is useless that one might wonder why the research continues at all.
The answer is simple. As the trite but true saying goes, “There are no failures, only additional data.” Every avenue must be explored, because knowing that a given one is useless is immensely helpful.
And of course research is a slow process; it has to be, and the development of new medications or therapies is so fraught with dangers to the patient that everything must be conducted with the fastidiousness of a tea ceremony. We understand that, and we appreciate the patient persistence of our researchers. Which is why we are pleased to support them with literally billions of dollars from many sources. (Pfizer alone spends some one hundred million dollars on research and product development — every week.)
What is wrong with this picture? The behavior of journalists who report on health-related research.
Peddling false hope is unethical and shameful, yet many health writers unabashedly make good money doing it.
When some scientist has findings that indicate he may be busy for three years learning whether he might be able to advance health care, there is no reason for the public to know about it.
Yes, of course the results of clinical trials should be reported. A prerequisite applies, however: the public should understand that the difference between unwarranted optimism regarding preliminary suggestions for further research and honest news is the difference between rumor and fact.
So: don’t believe much of what you read in the health news area. The reporters are almost always more misleading than accurate, their babble is much more likely to be sensational than properly nuanced, and they can hardly write a word without exploiting our fears. That’s how and why they sell their stories.
Large segments of the public, terrorized by earlier health reports that were no more responsible than rumors of miracle drugs, hang on every word the science writers produce. The anxiety involved makes the premature suggestions and predictions popular. Money is made. Journalists abuse desperate people, and no one calls them on it.
Do you remember the near cure-all, Interferon? It made the cover of Time magazine because it was going to be so universally used. Viruses of all sorts and bacteria were going to lose their lethality. It was a stunning advance for health care, better than penicillin, and more useful than vaccination.
All right, you don’t recall Interferon. A PenPo staffer does, however, because the drug blinded a friend of his. Today a modified form of Interferon is very narrowly used, producing limited benefits. This drug therapy was almost certainly the biggest embarrassment to medical science ever, and it has been virtually forgotten.
The Entero-Vioform story is similar. Nobody in the health care industries wants to talk about it. Mention either Entero-Vioform or Interferon to a physician or pharmacist, and you will find yourself conducting a monologue.
Well, you do remember bird flu, don’t you? It’s a perfect and contemporary example of media-induced hysteria over a coming killer pandemic. The plague never materialized. Now the media are back at it, trying to exploit that almost-forgotten, overinflated horror. A recent quote:
ScienceDaily (July 16, 2008) Scientists and researchers have taken a big step closer to a cure for the most common strain of avian influenza, or “bird flu,”…
Here’s the PenPo’s challenge: check it out, make a note, and let’s see how this cure develops. If it is like well over 90% of the speculation purveyed by the health journalists, this will sink without a ripple.
Predictions of that sort are pretty much like saying that there will be accusations of voting irregularities in the forthcoming US presidential election.
Much of health news reporting is utterly gratuitous information that excites and then crushes people who desperately need help. That’s unethical. Health reporters often fuel false hope with stories that are unnecessary (no one needs them) and contain unwarranted prognostications and breathless, baseless enthusiasm. Those people should be put to writing children’s books.
This in, just as the PenPo was about to be mailed: it works, it has no nasty side effects, it will save thousands of lives — and it will be three years before you can get it. So why, exactly, did we have to know about it??