The New Terrapin Gazette
16 January, 2012
Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell.
Can the USA win in Afghanistan, however you define “win”? In the event that question strikes you as rational, and whether you have researched the issue or not, you should consider reading this commentary. It’s grim and not optimistic.
Perhaps the single most important question one can ask before beginning an examination of this dismal subject is whether the loss of Afghanistan to Islamist extremists could possibly matter to the USA. Of course some spoilsports would reply with references to United 93, the Pentagon, and the World Trade Center towers, but…as long as you believe that smelly lunatics living in mud huts can’t harm a developed nation, that sort of argumentation is just fatuous.
Then too, perhaps the high price tag on a stable and pacified Afghanistan is actually the price tag on US national security. It all depends on your priorities.
Finally, there is this consideration, and the peculiar thing about it is that no one seems to be talking about it at all: the USA is deeply involved in a religious war.
No, of course the West does not believe in religious wars, having abandoned not only the practice but the theoretical concept. The fourteenth century eventually taught Western Civilization something, though the lesson was slow and very costly in every way.
Still, the lesson was learned. That’s why today Methodists are not pulling Presbyterians apart with pickup trucks, and Roman Catholics are not being roasted over slow fires by Southern Baptists.
Religious wars are somehow dirtier, more foul, less justifiable than other wars. Accordingly, very, very few in the West like to say much of anything about what the Koran actually teaches. It’s just too incendiary to point to the many endorsements of hate and murder that Allah passed to the archangel Gabriel to pass along to an incestuous sociopathic paedophile who was commanded to convert his tribe and begin the eventual conquest of the world.
Consider the example of Thailand, which continues to wage a slow, interminable civil war against some of its Muslim citizens. The violence is at a relatively low level now, and no one is paying much attention; exact figures on how many Buddhists have abandoned their homes to flee the lethal danger are impossible to come by.
In a discussion with a Western-educated Thai, a NTG staffer remarked that the teaching and preaching of Islam in the south of Thailand was promoting murder; the Thai responded to the effect that this sad truth was indeed causing serious problems. Then, in words that have been mirrored by President Obama, he went on to say that the villains fomenting mayhem in Thailand were using phony Korans and other faked Islamic literature in their incitement of violence. Islam, according to the Thai, was being perverted by dishonest radicals.
When this intelligent and college-educated (UCLA) Thai was informed that fake religious texts are absolutely not needed for the promotion of violence, and that the Koran and hadith preach the murder of those who reject Islam, his demeanor clearly betrayed disbelief. He was convinced that this unwelcome information was all lies.
Is Islam actually the religion of peace? Yes, in a technical sense, it is, for there would be peace if everyone were a Muslim. (Well, Sunnis and Shias do insist on murdering one another.)
In a final attempt to impress his Thai friend with the grim truth, the Westerner explained the etymology of the word “carnage”, and quoted the Koran precisely: “Idolatry is worse than carnage”. (It’s in 2:190 in the Koran.) To Muslims, Buddhism is idolatry, for Buddhists bow to images of the teacher who founded the philosophy that many (mistakenly) take to be a religion. “This means nothing less than that merely being a Buddhist is a capital offense under Islamic law”, the exasperated Westerner said. Again, it was obvious that his words had fallen on deaf ears. He was simply not believed.
Why did he lack credibility? Because the truth is too horrible to be believed.
Suppose for just a moment that one can accept the claim that many Muslims — not all, certainly — mean to press the war on Western Civilization, no matter the consequences. Suppose further that there are tens of thousands of Muslims who believe that their deaths in holy warfare against the West and Israel will guarantee the holy warriors and their entire families entry into heaven.
Yes, those two notions hypothecate a true nightmare scenario. They presuppose convictions on the part of some Muslims that are not just fanatical or irrational, but monstrous. Implacable, suicidally inclined mass murderers do not seem to be truly human.
Yet there they are. Whether they are called Twelvers or Taliban or Al Qaeda or “Palestinians”, they exist, and their blood lust is real. Their faith demands that they set aside their humanity and become far worse than wild beasts.
The existence of these holy warriors demonstrates, among other truths, that the struggle in Afghanistan is one front in a genuine religious war.
That fact is so horrid, so appalling, that the West’s leaders cannot speak it. Fabrications replace facts: “Islam is a peaceful faith, jihadis are motivated by their poverty, one can negotiate with the mullahs, the Koran is distorted by criminals.”
Denial, not the military and financial difficulties presented by the Afghan war, is the fatal danger the West faces.
Begin, if you possibly can, with the truth. Once that has been grasped, the terrible single course that leads to survival will be clear.
Reason Requires That A Reform Be Effected
NTG announces a change in its punctuation protocol. Yes, you probably noticed it; the English rather than the American system is now observed here. The difference is a matter of logic, and the languages of computer programming have served as models. American: “I don’t know,” he said. English: “I don’t know”, he said. The comma is not part of what he said, so it does not belong within the quote marks.
The change to British usage will be narrow and precisely defined. NTG will not adopt the English convention of single quote marks followed by double. There will be no dustbins, spanners, or sparking plugs mentioned here; no one will bath the children, and plans will be in, not on, the cards.
Of course the egregious flaws that plague British English will still be shunned here. Not ever will “all right” be spelled as “alright” (horrors!), and abominations such as, “Arriving late, the library was already closed” will be banned, along with the illogic of treating “firm”, “company”, “team” and “staff” as if they were somehow plural forms. Let the British retain their dotty linguistic ways — those eccentricities contribute to the charm of the cousins across the pond — while US residents drop the needless, pointless u in “colour” and “honour”, and so on.
That said, the fact is that if you want to improve your English, you would do better to rely on British rather than US reference materials. Do resort first to Oxford, not to Cambridge (the latter tends to be much too flexible and not authoritative enough), and if you do not have a copy of Fowler’s, by all means remedy that at once (the British often refer to it as “Burchfield”, so try that on the clerk). Check every dictionary of whatever origin before you purchase, looking for a clear distinction between standard and nonstandard usage (slang, vulgarisms, and polite usage), and reminders that some words are easy to mistake for others, such as “flout” and “flaunt”). If “enormity” is simply defined as “large size”, move on; its real meaning should be present. “Problematic” should not be defined only as “constituting or presenting a problem”; while the word is used that way frequently, that definition is wrong (unfortunately, the Oxford Concise Tenth Edition makes the error; no reference is utterly inerrant). Remember that a dictionary can be either a chronicle of usage or a guide, and chronicles do not often or reliably advise you of levels of propriety. You do not care what the ignorant are saying because you seek only what is correct.
Finally, if you want a true adventure in the language, try to find a copy of The King’s English by H. W. & F. G. Fowler (ISBN 1-85326-304-4). The joys of the subjunctive mood are accessible in this neglected volume, and its advice on style challenges the reader with numerous subtly nuanced specimens. It is a genuine treasure.
This weblog post on Romney, Gingrich, business and capitalism is level-headed commentary that will help you to understand who is what. Recommended.
In 2006, an interesting article was published on how Islamist bombers might obtain a true atomic bomb. The author did some field research, and his observations are worth reading today.
If Mark Steyn does not like somebody, he won’t be reticent about it. He does not like the mayor of NY City. (Who does like him? — Never mind….) Steyn’s account of just how ugly an elected official can be, once a goofy mythological concept has been swallowed and transformed into law, is a true horror story.
Related: background that will make the above item more comprehensible.
The world suffers from a plethora of upsetting things to avoid — music in restaurants, the word “morph”, virtually all TV programming — but ayatollahs with atom bombs pretty much trump all other outrages. So: should the key scientists making atomic bombs for religious fanatics be assassinated? Before you answer, remember that The Twelvers hope millions of Iranians will die in an apocalyptic conflict, because that catastrophe will summon The Mahdi. This undead entity, a.k.a. the Twelfth Imam, will then soak the earth with blood in order to eradicate Israel and the West. This is not a limited war the lunatic mullahs want to start — nothing as small as World War II. They expect to achieve the total, permanent victory of Islam and put a literal end to history.
Related: one can make the case that killing a scientist working on Iran’s atom bomb is not terrorism. Remember, Iran is not Pakistan!
Will Al Gore remark on this report, or denounce it as a fake? Neither is likely. In 2007 he predicted that in five years the north pole would probably have no ice at all. No, he’ll never admit his speculation was extraordinarily wide of the mark, any more than he will ever mention how volunteers from the news media used the Freedom of Information Act to validate the fact that he lost the popular vote to Bush in Florida.
The LA Times reports on the doings of Obama and Holder, who will be surprised by the critical tone. It’s probably just the paper’s attempt to regain some credibility — or is that guess too cynical of this newsletter?
If you have followed recent comments published here that touch on the economy, finance and the role of government, you are ready to move on to the next level.
Did you blame the G. W. Bush administration for the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib? Do you blame the Obama administration for Marines peeing on Taliban corpses? Be consistent…!
“To pretend that the Palestinians think what Americans think they ought to think is foolish.” Oh, my, yes, and the consequences of foolishness when dealing with “Palestinians” are horrid. Read exactly why.
What costs seven billion dollars a year and “…simply does not work”? Head Start, the government’s attempt to get children ready for Kindergarten. Don’t believe it? Inform yourself.
It’s said to be “…a significant setback for the exercise of free speech in Germany…”, and that means it is very probably in line with the “Istanbul Process” noted in the last issue of this newsletter. This is terrible news.
Related: how is the economic recovery doing? Lousy. So…what’s hindering improvement? Over to you, voters!
Why so surprised to learn that beer has health benefits? Of course it does; as everyone knows, Guinness is good for you!
Whether this unique video is what it appears to be is the question. It’s an interview of a critic of uncivil language who used uncivil language to describe her political opponents, and now excuses her libelous remarks as perfectly acceptable. It’s about hypocrisy, in other words, and you might find it stunningly revealing — or fake. View it and decide, but do note that if the female’s contentions were correct, then there would be literally nothing one could say about the Tea Party that would be beyond the pale. That would make the Tea Partiers lawbreakers who should be arrested and tried, wouldn’t it?
US technology versus Taliban ambushers: the new weapon is interesting, but not solidly convincing.
From late 2010 comes a video of an Austrian parliamentarian giving the Turkish ambassador a well-deserved dressing down. Some folks accuse this Austrian of being a Jew-hater, so don’t make a hero of him until more is obvious. Still, the video is fun, and it serves as an example of plain speaking and honest indignation that are rare in the remarks of US legislators. (Love the Austrian accent!)
What a pity that the principles and strategies embraced by this man are routinely avoided around the world. Watch the video.
The masthead includes a quote from the works of Karl Popper.
The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Arch Linux, Emacs, and Firefox.