Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oh, man! A great writer in our midst!

His mom mentioned his blog. He's a former Sonlight student. I wish I could write like him. I think he'll be the next Dave Berry.

Check out Donny Baarns' blog.

A Moderate Muslim from Indonesia . . .

Suara Merdeka Cyber News printed a story about a supposed communist threat to Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The story was translated into English and reprinted in

In sum: Muntasir Hamid, the head of the Banda Aceh parliament, said that "communists, or communist tendencies, are about to enter Aceh, or are already in the process of doing so." Therefore,
clerics, village heads, important figures, and Islamic school teachers, would take an active role in heading off the danger and would keep a lookout for any signs of foreign influence, like communism. Aceh was increasingly a focus of world attention, he went on, and the readiness to deal with communism had to be increased.

Hamid hoped that sharia law would provide a solid foundation for the people’s lives and, for example, help them to overcome the communist tendency problem.
Several people commented on the story. One expressed the idea that both communism and democracy are "ideal" but either inapplicable or unworkable in the real world. Still, "There is nothing wrong with being idealistic, [is there]? . . . [And t]here is nothing wrong to try, [is there]?"

I was stunned by how someone who goes by the name Mohammed Khafi replies:
In principle Sharia is also good as a system of both Law and Government, but the implementation is so corrupted by ancient Arab traditions, and the lies and fabrications of Sunnah and Hadith that it is actually a mockery of Allah’s true spirit and principles in Al Quran.

An uncorrupted example of Sharia in application is the treaty signed between Prophet Mohammed and the Monks of St Catherines Monastery in Sinai, it reads:
This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them.
Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.
Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.
The Muslims are to fight for them.
If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).

This document still exists in the monastery to this day.

Another example is to the Najran code of Conduct which The Prophet issued to his followers.
In the year 10 A.H. (631 CE), Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) received a delegation of sixty Christians from Najran in Medinah. The territory of Najran was located south of Bani Khath’am near Yemen, about 450 miles south of Medinah. They were received in the Prophet’s mosque, and the Prophet allowed them to pray in the mosque, which they did facing East. This group of Christians followed Byzantine rite.

In spite of doctrinal disagreements, the Prophet concluded a treaty with the people of Najran. The Prophet dictated the terms of the treaty to Abdullah b. Abu Bakr, who served as one of his scribes, and it was witnessed by five companions whose names are: Abu Sufyan b. Harb, Ghilan b. Amr, Malik b. Auf, Aqra’ b. Habis, and Mughira b. Shu’ba. The treaty provided religious and administrative autonomy for non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic State. All sincere Muslim rulers have adhered to the founding principles of this treaty in managing the affairs of non-Muslim subjects throughout the centuries.

The text of the Code of Conduct:
To the Christians of Najran and its neighbouring territories, the security of God and the pledge of Mohammed the Prophet, the Messenger of God, are extended for their lives, their religion, their land, their property — to those thereof who are absent as well as to those who are present — to their caravans, their messengers and their images. The status quo shall be maintained: none of their rights [religious observances] and images shall be changed. No bishop shall be removed from his bishopric, nor a monk from his monastery, nor a sexton from his church … For what in this instrument is contained they have the security of God, and the pledge of Mohammed, the Prophet forever, until doomsday, so long as they give right counsel [to Moslems] and duly perform their obligations, provided they are not unjustly charged therewith.”
As can be seen even the Defenders of the Islamic Faith in Saudi Arabia do not appear to uphold the Spirit of these documents! What hope is there for their brainwashed followers to be able to do it?

As I continue my studies of Islam, honestly, these revelations don't shock me. They give me mild hope that a more "moderate" Islam can win over the more radical version. However, I also realize that, according to Robert Spencer (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad), the problem is not a lack of such references, but the fact that most Muslims believe the accomodationalist verses of the Qur'an and the peaceful activities of Muhammad all occurred early in his career. Later in his career he became far more militant and disinclined to brook any rivals of any sort.

Friday, June 22, 2007

How much do you make? On what do you spend it? And how can you afford so much?

An international joke by an Indonesian living in Belgium:
A friend of mine recently posted this witty dialogue between an Indonesian (I) and a European (E).
I: How much do you earn per month and what do you use it for?

E: My monthly salary is 3000 Euro. I spend 1000 Euro for my apartment, 1000 Euro for food, 500 Euro for entertainment.

I: And what about the remaining 500 Euro?

E: That's none of your business, mister. Don't ask me that. What about you?

I: My monthly salary is Rp 950 thousands. Every month I spend Rp 450 thousands for house rent, Rp 350 thousands for food, Rp 250 thousands for transport, Rp 200 thousands for schools, Rp 200 thousands to pay off my loan, Rp 100 thousands for ...

E: Hold it! You're aready spending more than Rp 950 thousands per month. Where does the rest come from???

I: That's none of your business, mister. Don't ask me that ...
OK, that was supposed to be a joke, perhaps implying that a lot of money for many Indonesians sitting in lucrative positions comes from "under the table." But I really just had a very similar conversation with a European friend a couple of weeks ago. Until today she still couldn't understand how my family manage because knowing my monthly income the spendings would not be possible on paper.

In this case, for my family, and I guess also for many other average Indonesian families living from paycheck to paycheck, the answer could be simply what they refer to as: "the Indonesian economic miracle."

Case closed.

Fred Thompson on the Council on American-Islamic Relations

Fred Thompson commented a couple of days ago on this supposedly peace-loving organization:

I've talked before about the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- most recently because it filed that lawsuit against Americans who reported suspicious behavior by Muslims on a U.S. Airways flight. Better known just as CAIR, the lobbying group has come under a lot of scrutiny lately for its connections to terror-supporting groups. This time, though, The Washington Times has uncovered some very good news about the group.

For years, CAIR has claimed to represent millions of American Muslims. In fact, they claim to represent more Muslims in America than ... there are in America. This has alarmed Americans in general as the group often seems to be more aligned with our enemies than us -- which isn't surprising as it spun off from a group funded by Hamas. As you know, Hamas has been waging a terrorist war against Israel and calls for its total destruction. It also promises to see America destroyed. Nowadays, Hamas is busy murdering its Palestinian political rivals.

Even with this history, and CAIR's conspicuous failure to condemn Hamas by name, it has been treated by our own government as if it represents Muslim Americans. The good news is that the financial support CAIR claims to have among American Muslims is a myth. We know this because The Washington Times got hold of the group's IRS tax records.

CAIR's dues-paying membership has shrunk 90 percent since 9/11 -- from 29,000 in 2000 to only 1,700 last year. CAIR's annual income from dues plunged from $733,000 to $59,000. Clearly, America's Muslims are not supporting this group -- and I'm happy to hear about it.

Of course, every silver lining seems to have a cloud; and this cloud is that CAIR's spending is running about $3 million a year. They’ve opened 25 new chapters in major cities across the country even as their dues shrank to a pittance. The question is, who’s funding CAIR?

CAIR's not saying. The New York Times earlier this year reported that the backing is from "wealthy Persian Gulf governments" including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Obviously, we have a bigger problem here than the one with CAIR.

Great Baseball Players . . . and Success in Life

I was perusing some old articles I've written and found this one, from about two years ago, about a book by a guy named Frank Bettger: How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling.

Bettger was an associate for several years of Dale Carnegie (of How to Win Friends and Influence People fame).

Bettger’s book was written in 1947, so it’s a bit dated in language. But its principles seem valid for today as well.

I thought Bettger’s next-to-last chapter had something very useful for just about any of us to consider as we think about our lives: what we’re doing, what we hope our kids will do, and how we may want to encourage them.

See what you think.

On pp. 179-184, Bettger recounts how he watched the great Babe Ruth at a game in 1927. He then draws a lesson from what he saw.

Thirty-five thousand wildly excited baseball fans . . . were giving Babe Ruth the "razzberry"--and good! Bob Grove, one of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all time, had just struck Babe Ruth out on three pitched balls for the second successive time. Two runners were on the bases.

As the great slugger returned to the bench amidst wild and abusive jeering, he looked up into the stands with an unruffled smile, just as he did the first time, gave his cap a polite little tip from his perspiring brow, stepped down into the dugout, and calmly took his drink of water.

In the eighth inning when he came up for his third turn at bat, the situation was critical. The Athletics were leading the Yankees [Ruth’s team], 3 to 1. The bases were full, and two were out. . . .

[The count went oh and two (no balls, two strikes) when] Babe took that magnificent swing, . . . missed, . . . staggered--and went down. He had literally swung himself off his feet. . . . Finally, regaining his feet, the Bambino brushed the dust off his trousers, dried his hands, and got set for the next pitch. Grove delivered the ball so fast, none of the fans saw it. Babe swung—but this time he connected! It was only a split second before everybody seemed to realize what had happened. That ball was never coming back again!

It disappeared over the scoreboard and cleared the houses across the street--one of the longest hits ever made in baseball.

As Babe Ruth trotted around the bases and across the plate behind the other runners--with what proved to be the winning run--he received a wild ovation from the crowd. . . .

Later in the season, . . . Grantland Rice interviewed Ruth. "Babe," he asked, "what do you do when you get in a batting slump?"

Babe replied: "I just keep goin' up there and keep swingin' at 'em. I know the old law of averages will hold good for me the same as it does for anybody else. . . . If I strike out two or three times in a game, or fail to get a hit for a week, why should I worry? Let the pitchers worry; they’re the guys who’re gonna suffer later on."

This unshakable faith in making the law of averages work for him enabled Babe Ruth to accept his bad breaks and failures with a smile. This simple philosophy had much to do with making him baseball’s greatest slugger. . . .

[W]e now read of the amazing record of the immortal Babe Ruth, with his unapproached total of 714 home runs;1 but another unapproached world’s record of his is carefully buried in the records, never to be mentioned--striking out more times than any other player in history. He failed 1,330 times!2 One thousand three hundred and thirty times he suffered the humiliation of walking back to the bench amidst jeers and ridicule. But he never allowed fear of failure to slow him down or weaken his effort. When he struck out he didn’t count that failure--that was effort! . . .

Study this average: In 1915, Ty Cobb set up the astonishing all-time [modern baseball] record of stealing 96 bases.3 In 1922, seven years later, Max Carey of the Pittsburgh Pirates set the second-best record, 51 stolen bases.4 Does this mean that Cobb was twice as good as Carey, his closest rival? I’ll let you decide.

Here are the facts:


We find that Carey’s average was much better than Cobb’s, but Cobb tried 81 more times than Carey. His 81 tries produced 44 more stolen bases. He risked failure 81 more times in one season than his closest rival. Cobb goes down in history as the greatest base-runner of all time. He is generally regarded as the greatest player of all time.5

Ty Cobb refused to fear failure. Did it pay him? . . .

Do you believe in yourself and the things you want to do? Are you prepared for many setbacks and failures? Whatever your calling may be, each error, each failure, is like a strike-out. Your greatest asset is the number of strike outs you have had since your last hit. The greater the number, the nearer you are to your next hit. . . .

When you try too hard and become overanxious, you look bad. You are bad. Yes, keep going, but don’t be afraid to lose today. Today is not going to make or break you. You can’t bat .300 every day. The crowd loves a good loser; everybody despises a quitter. . . .

Nobody will remember the times you struck out in the early innings if you hit a home run with the bases full in the ninth. . . .

It was Shakespeare who wrote: "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."
So why do I quote this section from Bettger’s book?

Besides providing a bit of entertainment, I think most of us could probably use a bit of encouragement to take risks, "go where [we have] never gone before."

Clearly, we should always seek to IMPROVE our averages if we can. BUT . . . I think we need to keep in mind that sometimes we need to take the risks, and lower our averages, so that we can achieve what we want. Carey isn’t remembered or applauded for his astonishingly high success RATE in stealing bases; Cobb is remembered for his astonishing PRODUCTION of stolen bases.

Ruth isn’t remembered for his relatively high strikeout percentage. He is remembered for his record-setting homerun production.

What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want your kids to be remembered for?

1 Of course, The Babe has been surpassed by one person, so far (Hank Aaron; 755 career home runs), and Barry Bonds--not yet retired--is very close behind (748 at this moment).

2 The Babe has also been surpassed by 70 other men since Bettger’s book was written! Indeed, according to an All-Star spreadsheet I consulted, Reggie Jackson holds the career strikeout record: 2,597--almost twice Babe Ruth’s and some 661 more than his next closest All-Star rival, Willie Stargell. Indeed, among the All-Stars, Bobby Bonds, Lou Brock, Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Rank Robinson, Willie Mays, Carl Yastrzemski, and Hank Aaron also have all produced more strikeouts than did Babe Ruth. But I don’t think many of us remember these men for their strikeouts. It was other aspects of their game--most of them, in fact, their remarkable hitting ability--for which we remember them. (See also for the "complete" Strikeout story.)

3 Cobb’s modern baseball record has since been surpassed nine times: by Maury Wills (104 bases in 1962), Lou Brock (118 bases in 1974), Ron LeFlore (97 in 1980), Rickey Henderson (100, 1980; 130, 1982 [current modern baseball record]; 108, 1983), and Vince Coleman (110, 1985; 107, 1986; 109, 1987).

4 I don’t know how or why Bettger makes this claim about Carey. There are many people who have stolen more than 51 bases in a season.

5 No question he was a great and exciting player. But there are others who would press him hard for the title. --Just one astonishing Cobb statistic, however: he stole home 54 times during his career! And he stole second base, third base, and home plate during the same inning four times during his career!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Trying to get a "balanced view" of Islam and Muslims . . .

Mark Steyn notes in America Alone that too few of us in the West are aware of the different sects of Islam--Wahhabi, Deobandi, Sunni, Shiite, Sufi. . . .

I confess to ignorance.

Steyn points out that Saudi Arabia, the great exporter of Islam worldwide at this point in history, exports Wahhabi Islam--the most "radical" and violent version.

So how does one gain a more balanced view? And how does one encourage the supposedly "moderate" Muslims (who, I am coming to believe, are really the equivalent of what we, in Christian circles, would tend to call "liberal" and/or non-observant or nominal Muslims: people who identify themselves culturally as Muslims, but have no strong religious practice) . . . --How does one encourage the "moderate" Muslims to spread their "moderation"?

Honestly, I'm not sure. But I bumped into the following websites and comments/commentary and have been caused to at least begin to meditate on their significance. . . .

First . . . there's a blog by an obviously non-violent Indonesian Muslim who is currently living in Belgium. You get an idea about his personality from his latest post titled "Adventures on the streets of Europe":
I almost got mugged (again) yesterday. I was walking down a quiet street alone when a man stopped me. He asked me to take a picture of him with his camera. I was suspicious, but anyhow I agreed just to get it over with. When I looked through the camera two guys came up from behind. One of them flashed a police ID badge and said he wanted to see my passport. Now that was like a deja vu because the same thing happenned to me already a few years back in another part of this city.

It's an old trick these thugs play on tourists. They expect you to be afraid of the police and they will run with your passport once you pull it out (they sell these passports for up to 500 euro in Amsterdam). Thankfully I managed to play it cool. I gave the man back his camera and walked away with that four letter word gesture. I was actually quite scared, but surprisingly those two fake polices look dumbfounded that I didn't seem to be scared. They actually then looked more like those guys in "dumb and dumber" rather than thugs. I think by the time they got their mind back I was already going over the street corner, then I started to walk fast, very fast.

This reminds me of another incident a couple of years ago under the streets of Paris. I was again walking alone through a quite part of Paris metro station when a guy stopped me. He started to kick around a football expecting me to play. At certain point I felt his hand was reaching down my back pocket, so by reflex I shoved him to the wall. I was surprised by my own move, but he seems to be more surprised. Perhaps he thought this Asian looking guy knows Kung Fu. So after a few seconds of silence looking at each other eyes, he ran away... and at the same time I also ran, to the opposite direction of course ... :P

Times like these, I am simply glad I had my running shoes on, and that I watched enough Hollywood movies So guys, if you can't avoid streets like these, and you can't kick like Jet Li or Jacky Chen, make sure you can imitate Chow Yun-Fat's coolness and have those great running shoes on!

More seriously (or, rather, more to the point of this post), however, he writes:

Many moslems, including me, feels that Islam is largely misunderstood in the West. The current dominant perception of Islam in the US and Europe has been shaped seemingly by a small minority of moslems, which have hijacked the global stage because they somehow shouted much louder. As a result, in many parts of the West today, Islam is almost identical to terror. To be fair, many moslems (again including me) have not done much of our homework to practice, let alone communicate, Islamic values in our daily life. We need to communicate our values to non-moslems, but communication of our values start at home. It starts with practicing in daliy life the values we belief in.

In response to a comment about his orignal post, he continues much the same theme:

God is everywhere, and He is speaking to us all the time, we only need to listen. Unfortunately many of us turned a deaf ear to Him most of the times. We get too busy listening to other voices instead, too easily satisfied with confining our relationship with Him to routine rituals or sometimes to almost nothing at all. Again this is mainly a reminder for myself ...


And then I saw this comment:

Did you know that experimentation comes from Muslim Science and differentiates it from Greek Science which was more based on Speculation? Learn about this and so much more from this fascinating site courtesy of the Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation (UK).

He provided a link to where I found an article titled "The Islamic Origins of Modern Science".

As I began to read, it struck me: the style, the substance, the manner of quoting the Qur'an: it all sounds a bit too familiar. It reminded me of how a lot of Christians use (or misuse) Scripture.

[T]he Qur'an called upon them to think, to investigate and to use their minds, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

In one of the first revealed verses of the Qur'an, God drew the attention of the Arabs to the camel, a part of their everyday lives:

Have they not looked at the camel-how it was created? And at the sky-how it was raised up? And at the mountains-how they were embedded? And at the earth-how it is spread out? So remind them! You are only a reminder. (Qur'an, 88: 17-21)

In many other verses of the Qur'an, people are instructed to examine nature and learn from it because people can know God only by examining His creations. Because of this, in one verse of the Qur'an Muslims are defined as people who think about the creation of the heavens and the earth:

Those who remember God, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth (saying): "Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Qur'an, 3: 191)

As a result of this, for a Muslim, taking an interest in science is a very important form of worship.

I am curious: Does any of this strike you in a similar manner? Or am I completely "messed" in my head? I try to follow the "logic" of (for example) just this section that I have quoted, and "it does not follow."

But/and then, I compare it to some of the arguments I see in Christian circles, especially between young- and old-earth creationists, and I sense a lot of our/their arguments appear just about as "logical." Are we (Christians and Muslims; Jews, too?)--we who seek to take our sacred Scriptures seriously--. . . Are we all subject to "taking Scripture out-of-context" and, potentially, at least, of seeking to make it say what we want to say, rather than what it says for itself?

In many verses of the Qur'an, God instructs Muslims to investigate the heavens, the earth, living things or their own existence and think about them. When we look at the verses, we find indications of all the main branches of science in the Qur'an. For example, in the Qur'an, God encourages the science of astronomy:

He who created the seven heavens in layers. You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look again-do you see any gaps? (Qur'an, 67: 3)

In another verse of the Qur'an, God encourages the investigation of astronomy and the composition of the earth that is the science of geology:

Do they not look at the sky above them? How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it? And the earth- We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and produced therein every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs)-To be observed and commemorated by every devotee turning (to God). (Qur'an, 50: 6-8)

In the Qur'an, God also encourages the study of botany:

It is He Who sends down water from the sky from which We bring forth growth of every kind, and from that We bring forth the green shoots and from them We bring forth close-packed seeds, and from the spathes of the date palm date clusters hanging down, and gardens of grapes and olives and pomegranates, both similar and dissimilar. Look at their fruits as they bear fruit and ripen. There are Signs in that for people who believe. (Qur'an, 6:99)

In another verse of the Qur'an, God draws attention to zoology:

You have a lesson in livestock... (Qur'an, 16:66)

Here is a Qur'anic verse about the sciences of archaeology and anthropology:

Have they not traveled in the earth and seen the final fate
of those before them? (Qur'an, 30: 9)

In another verse of the Qur'an, God draws attention to the proof of God in a person's own body and spirit:

There are certainly Signs in the earth for people with certainty; and in yourselves as well. Do you not then see? (Qur'an, 51: 20-21)

As we can see, God recommends all the sciences to Muslims in the Qur'an. Because of this the growth of Islam in history meant at the same time the growth of scientific knowledge.

Maybe I need to get into the "swing" of things and, as I suggested at the beginning of this post, seek to encourage "moderate" Muslims to spread their "moderation" . . . through the use of the Qur'an!

As some Christian ambassadors to Muslims in southeast Asia suggested to a conference of which I was a part a couple of years ago: maybe, "properly understood," in the same way that, as St. Paul said, the law was a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, so Muhammad truly can be God's prophet to lead Muslims to Christ. . . .

What allowed Muslims to create such an advanced scientific culture was derived from the faculties of the Islamic understanding. One of them was, as we have noted, the motive to learn about the universe and nature according to the Qur'anic principles. Another one was open-mindedness. Both the Qur'anic wisdom and the Prophetic teaching gave Muslims a global outlook to the world, overcoming all cultural barriers. In the Qur'an, God states:

Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other..." (Qur'an, 49:13)

This verse clearly encourages cultural relationships between different nations and communities. In another verse of the Qur'an is it stated that "Both East and West belong to Allah" (2:115), thus Muslims should see the world in a universalist and cosmopolitan vision.

The hadiths, or sayings, of the Prophet also encourage this vision. In a popular hadith, the Prophet tells Muslims that "wisdom is the lost property of the Muslims; he takes it from wherever he finds". This means that Muslims should be very pragmatic and broadminded in adapting and using the cultural and scientific achievements of non-Muslims; those non-Muslims are also creatures and servants of God, even they might not recognize so. The "People of The Book", i.e. Christians and Jews, are even much more compatible, since they believe in God and stick to moral code He revealed to man.

Some "wild" meditations this morning. . . .

[Oh. PS. I followed a further link or two to discover that the original source of the "The Islamic Origins of Modern Science" article . . . is an Answers in Genesis-style organization dedicated to Islamic creation-evangelism: Harun Yayhah: An Invitation to the Truth.]

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mark Steyn's America Alone, IV--Part Two (Chapters 4 through 6), Cont'd.

Steyn's book has really bothered me. Here's a sample of the things he's said that grabbed my attention:
Not long after September 11, I said, just as an aside, that these days whenever something goofy turns up on the news chances are it involves some fellow called Mohammed. It was a throwaway line, but if you want to compile chapter and verse, you can add to the list every week.

A plane flies into the World Trade Center? Mohammed Atta.

A sniper starts killing gas station customers around Washington, D.C.? John Allen Muhammed.

A guy fatally stabs a Dutch movie director? Mohammed Bouyeri.

A gunman shoots up the El Al counter at Los Angeles airport? Hesham Mohamed Hedayet.

A terrorist slaughters dozens in Bali? Noordin Mohamed.

A British subject self-detonates in a Tel Aviv bar? Asif Mohammed Hanif. . . .

A Canadian terror cell is arrested for plotting to bomb Ottawa and behead the prime minister? Mohammed Dirie, Amin Mohamed Durrani, and Yasim Abdi Mohamed.

These last three represent a "broad strata" of Canadian society, according to Mike McDonnell, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a man who must have aced Sensitivity Training class. To the casual observer, the broad strata would seem to be a very singular stratum: in their first appearance in court, all twelve men arrested in that Ontario plot requested the Koran.

--America Alone, 63-64

[I]n 2003, Abdurahman Alamoudi was jailed for attempting to launder money from a Libyan terror-front "charity" into Syria via London. Who's Abdurahman Alamoudi? He's the guy who until 1998 certified Muslim chaplains for the United States military, under the aegis of his Saudi-funded American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council. In 1993, at an American military base, at a ceremony to install the first imam in the nation's armed forces, it was Mr. Alamoudi who presented him with his new insignia of a silver crescent star.

He's also the fellow who helped devise the three-week Islamic awareness course in California public schools, in the course of which students adopt Muslim names, wear Islamic garb, give up candy and TV for Ramadan, memorize suras from the Koran, learn that "jihad" means "internal personal strongly," profess the Muslim faith, and react prayers that begin "in the name of Allah," etc. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals--the same court that ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because of the words "under God"--decided in this case that making seventh graders play Muslim for two weeks was perfectly fine, just an interesting exposure to a fascinating "culture" from which every pupil can benefit. Separate of church and state? That may be, but nobody said nuthin' about separate of mosque and state.

Oh, and, aside from his sterling efforts on behalf of multicultural education, Mr. Alamoudi was also an advisor on Islamic matters to Hillary Rodham Clinton.And it turns out he's a bagman for terrorists.

Infiltration-wise, I would say that's pretty good. The arthritic desk jockeys at the CIA insist, oh no, it would be impossible for them to get any of their boys inside al Qaeda. Can't be done. But the other said has no difficulty setting their caps up in the heart of the U.S. military, and the U.S. education system, and the U.S. political establishment, and the offices of U.S. senators and former First Ladies.

--America Alone, 65-66

It was as a result of these and other comments in Steyn that I wrote to Bob, my friend who brought us to Iraq. He had sent me a copy of an article by Edward Luttwak, "The Middle of Nowhere."

Luttwak writes,
The operational mistake that middle east experts keep making is the failure to recognise that backward societies must be left alone, as the French now wisely leave Corsica to its own devices, as the Italians quietly learned to do in Sicily, once they recognised that maxi-trials merely handed over control to a newer and smarter mafia of doctors and lawyers. With neither invasions nor friendly engagements, the peoples of the middle east should finally be allowed to have their own history—the one thing that middle east experts of all stripes seem determined to deny them.
Just "leave them alone" and everything will be all right?

I don't think so!

I wrote to Bob: "I believe Steyn makes a strong case for the idea that 'they' can't be ignored or left alone. 'They' are already 'here' in the West. And 'they' are fast becoming a majority in the West. Moreover, 'they' are uninterested in leaving us alone."
In 1974, the oil industry accounted for 91 percent of Saudi exports. In 2000, it accounted for 91.4 percent. Two trillion dollars [had] poured into the House of Saud's treasury, and what did they do with it? Diversify the economy? Launch new industries? Open up the tourism sector? Not a thing. The country remained the same desert, literally and psychologically, it was a quarter century earlier. So where did all that money go? From the seventies onward, Saudi Arabia used their yanqui dollars to export their faith even more widely than the oil. Instead of diversifying their industrial exports, they honed their ideological one, financing Islamic centers, mosques, and schools in Morocco, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Bosnia, Nigeria, Britain, and America.

--America Alone, 71-72

But what really bothers me is to realize how unaware I seem to be about the different types of Islam there are in the world. At this point in time, I'm not exactly sure how big a difference it would make, practically speaking, for me (or anyone else in the West) to know the differences. But for some reason, I sense it just might. And it might be good to know.

Steyn asks, "What gives the jihad its global reach?" He answers his question this way:
Wahhabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all nineteen of the September 11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden. The Saudis, whose state religion is Wahhabism, export their faith and affiliated local strains in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized. . . .

How could the federal government be so complacent as to subcontract the certification of chaplains in U.S. military bases to Wahhabist institutions?

Well, because they didn't notice it until it was too late. . . .

If your idea of globalization is a McDonald's in Belgrade or a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Lahore, who's running the imams in British and American jails doesn't seem terribly important. [But, as I noted above] . . . Oil isn't the principal Saudi export. Ideology is. Petroleum merely bankrolls it.

--America Alone, 68-69

What "burns me up" about reading this stuff in Steyn's book is the realization that I have been deeply involved in international Christian missions for 24 years. My wife is on the board of a leading mission to Muslims. And neither I nor she have any idea what Steyn is talking about. "Wahhabism"? . . . I think I may have heard the word once somewhere. But I had never been told I ought, actually to care what it means.

And there are other words, too, that Steyn discusses. Words that mean something. Apparently. Let's see. He speaks of Sufi Islam ("the Indian subcontinent's traditional moderate" form of Islam--p. 75) and Deobandi Islam ("essentially a local subsidiary of Wahhabism"--p. 76). I'd heard the word "Sufi" before (never undertook to understand what it actually means!). I'd never heard of Deobandi.

Steyn comments:
[C]ontemporary multiculturalism absolves one from knowing anything about other cultures as long as one feels warm and fluffy toward them. After all, if it's grossly judgmental to say one culture's better than another, why bother learning about the differences. "Celebrate diversity" with a uniformity of ignorance. . . .

In 2005, a twenty-three-year-old American citizen named Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was charged with plotting to assassinate the president. . . . [A]ccording to the Associated Press report in the New York Times, he "was born in Houston and moved to Falls Church, Va., where he was valedictorian of his high school class." . . .

Neither the Times nor the AP had space to mention that the . . . high school Mr. Abu Ali attended was the Islamic Saudi Academy, funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's on American soil but it describes itself as "subject to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" and its classes are based on "the curriculum, syllabus, and materials established by the Saudi Ministry of Education." So what does it teach? No room for American history, but that's not so unusual in Virginia high schools these days. Instead, the school concentrates on Wahhabi history and "Islamic values and the Arabic language and culture," plus "the superiority of jihad." By the eleventh grade, students are taught that on the Day of Judgment Muslims will fight and kill the Jews, who will find that the very trees they're hiding behind will betray them by saying, "Oh Muslim, oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him." Beats climate change and gay outreach, or whatever they do in the regular Falls Church high school.

Here is a standard Saudi Ministry of Education exercise, as taught in the first grade at that Virginia academy and at other Saudi-funded schools in the Western world:
Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words:
Every religion other than __________ is false.
Whoever dies outside of Islam enters _________.
Correct answers: Islam, hellfire.

And what do America's president and the secretary of state and the deputy secretary of this and the undersecretary of that say in return?
The Saudis are our ________.
. . . The Saudis are our friends. No matter how many of us they kill.

The Germans and Japanese had to make do with Lord Haw-Haw and Tokyo Rose. If only they could have had Third Reich Academies in every English city and Hirohito Highs from Alaska to Florida and St. Adolf's Parish Church in every medium-sized town around the world.

--America Alone, 72-73


It's the news reporters' complicity in hiding the realities that bugs me, here.

But then, catch these . . . what I would call "cultural outrages." And our soft-hearted (soft-minded? uninformed?) "multi-cultural" leaders are unable (unwilling?) to speak out about the imbalanced perspectives:
Had the verdict [of a famous 2004 UK court case won by an adolescent schoolgirl named Shabina Begum] not been overturned on appeal in 2006, all British schools would have had to permit students to wear the full "jilbab"--Muslim garb that covers the entire body except the eyes and hands. This triumph over the school dress code was achieved with the professional support of both Cherie Booth, the wife of Tony Blair, and of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group that advocates violence in support of a worldwide caliphate and which (according to the BBC) "urges Muslims to kill Jewish people." What does an "extremist" have to do to be too extreme for the wife of the British prime minister?

Ms. Booth hailed her initial court win as "a victory for all Muslims who wish to preserve their identity and values despite prejudice and bigotry." It seems almost too banal to observe that such an extreme preservation of young Shabina Begum's Muslim identity must perforce be at the expense of any British identity. Is it "bigoted" to argue that the jilbab is a barrier to acquiring the common culture necessary to any functioning society? It is "prejudiced" to suggest that in Britain a Muslim woman ought to reach the same sartorial compromise as, say, a [Western] female doctor in Bahrain?

[Oh. Incidentally, Miss Begum was not] "preserving" any identity: she's of Bangladeshi origin, and her belated adoption of the jilbab is a symbol of the Arabization of South Asian (and African and European and North American) Islam that's at the root of so many current problems. Even as an honored Arab tradition, it dates all the way back to the seventies. Not the 1070s or 1570s, but the 1970s.

There is no evidence that any Muslim woman anywhere ever wore the jilbab before the disco era, when it was taken up by the Muslim Brotherhood and others in the Arab world. It is no more ancient and traditional than platform shoes, bell bottoms, and cheesecloth shirts. It's no more part of Shabina Begum's inherited identity than my little boy dressing up in his head-to-toe Darth Vader costume. . . . It's not part of her Bangladeshi heritage, it's not part of British custom. It is equally alien in both the Indian subcontinent and the British Isles, and its appearance in both places is, in point of fact, political rather than spiritual: it's part of a movement explicitly hostile to what Tony blair calls "our way of life."

If it's too unreasonable to expect young Shabina Begum to choose a British identity, couldn't Mr. and Mrs. Blair at least encourage her to preserve her authentic Bangladeshi one?

--America Alone, 73

I have discussed pacifism with a number of devout Christians. They believe--I think, beyond all reason--that not just individuals, but governments, too, must forswear the use of violence.

Truly. I think such a position is crazy. But . . . ummm . . . it wouldn't take a lot of guns and violence to enforce a dress code!

So do Western courts have to undermine our [Western nations'] cultural identities?


Well. Then there is this observation:
During the cartoon jihad, . . . Kofi Annan [said], "The offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were first published in a European country which has recently acquired a significant Muslim population, and is not yet sure how to adjust to it." . . .

(B)ack when my Belgian grandparents emigrated to Canada, the idea was that the immigrants assimilated with the host country. As Kofi and co. see it, today the host country has to assimilate with the immigrants. But . . . the immigrant populations themselves are adjusting, developing an Islamic identity far more intense than anything practiced by their forbears.

Take Nada Farooq, a student at Meadowvale Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. In 2004 she started an Internet forum for Muslim teens in the area. One poster thought it would be fun if they had a thread explaining what made Canada unique, but Nada nixed that one in nothing flat: "Who cares? We hate Canada."

So what does grab her interest? Well, . . . she and her follow Meadowvale students were extremely partial to a very bloody video showing the beheading of an American hostage in Iraq.

Oh, well. Excitable teens often pass through a somewhat turbulent phase. But two years later Miss Farooq's husband and sixteen other men were arrested in a terrorist plot to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange, seize Parliament in Ottawa, and kidnap and behead the prime minister.

I'm often damned as a "self-loathing Canadian" because I'm opposed to socialized health care and government-funded multiculturalism and whatnot. But in the self-loathing stakes I've got nothing on Nada Farooq. "We hate Canada." Yet no one calls her a self-loathing Canadian. Perhaps that's because she's not a gal you'd want to tangle with. . . . Or perhaps it's because, at heart, no one expects her to feel "Canadian," whatever that means these days.

--America Alone, 74-75

I read this story and I start to get some beginning inklings that, perhaps, social policy ought to change in the West. Maybe there is some call for at least a minimal attention to be paid to immigrant populations and/or, more particularly, Muslim immigrant populations and their offspring when they are "here among us"?

Maybe I'm going overboard. "Thought police," and all, y'know.

--Where was I reading, just yesterday, about this very issue? In western jurisprudence you can't arrest someone until they have actually committed a crime. . . . Oh, yes! On Jihad Watch--a story about terror suspects, under British "control orders," who had run away.

Someone whose UserID is "Leave Iraq Now" commented:
These control orders are used in the UK against "potential" criminals. They (control orders) attempt to restrict and contain behavior (aka "restrict the liberty") of some very potentially dangerous people where the government lacks sufficient evidence to convict and imprison. There is nothing analogous in U.S law that I know. The threat we face is going to require dramatic change to our legal system. . . .

One hundred jihadists can assemble on a street corner in downtown USA every day with signs and bull horns chanting and raging against us--"Death to America"; "Death to the Great Satan"; "Allah is Great"; "Kill all the Jews"--and we cannot do anything about it. We may believe they are dangerous and will commit great acts of violence against innocents when and if the opportunity presents itself. But until they commit some act in furtherance of a crime, they get to wail and rant all they want.
We may have to add an amendment to the constitution if we are to survive. . . . We should not have to wait for an avowed jihadist to commit his/her first atrocity before taking action to defend ourselves. [However, c]ontrol orders would not survive constitutional challenges in the U.S.

We need a constitutional amendment that recognizes Islam is a dangerous threat to our freedom the same way communism threatened it during the cold war years.
I am all for it, but constitutional amendments require enormous public support (ratification by the states). Unfortunately, that public support would only probably come after some other great tragedy(ies) such as 9/11.

Or, no. Not "anyway."

I think this is a big issue.

There is so much discussion of rights--Constitutional rights. --Are these jihadists American citizens? If not, then what rights do American citizens under the U.S. Constitution--or Christians, under Scripture-- . . . What rights are we required to grant them?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I think I've had my head in the sand or something . . .

News about a transgendered United Methodist minister led me, eventually, to some articles about what is happening in the area of s*x ed in California . . . and to further disturbing realities concerning our country's public school programs.

For instance, check out the second clip on this page from the movie "It's Elementary": "Role-playing in the third grade."

How are third graders supposed to form any moral judgments on their own concerning the issues the teacher raises? How is anyone supposed to oppose the obvious direction that the teacher has sought to establish in his classroom? How would or could any conservatively inclined parent, who has sent his or her child into such a classroom, prepare that child to counter such "arguments" (or, rather, "presentations") on the part of the teacher?

Oh. And then I saw notices about what's going on in California with Senate Bill 777:
SB 777 requires textbooks, instructional materials, and school-sponsored activities to positively portray cross-dressing, sex-change operations, homosexual "marriages," and all aspects of homosexuality and bisexuality, including so-called "gay history."
The article continues: "Silence on these sexual lifestyles will not be allowed." --True?

Well. . . . Not formally. The pertinent portions of the law, apparently as it was passed (this is the most recent version I was able to find), actually read:
SEC. 29. Section 51500 of the Education Code is amended to read:
   51500. No teacher shall give instruction nor shall a school district sponsor any activity that reflects or promotes a discriminatory bias against any person because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.

SEC. 30. Section 51501 of the Education Code is amended to read:
   51501. No textbook or other instructional materials shall be adopted by the state board or by any governing board for use in the public schools that reflects or promotes a discriminatory bias against any person because of a characteristic listed in Section 220. . . .

SEC. 32. Section 60044 of the Education Code is amended to read:
   60044. No instructional materials shall be adopted by any governing board for use in the schools that, in its determination, contains:
(a) Any matter reflecting adversely upon persons because of a characteristic listed in Section 220. . . .
SB 777 proposes to modify Section 220 of the Education Code to include "sexual orientation" and "gender" among the "characteristics" on the basis of which "[n]o person shall be subjected to discrimination."

SB 777 also defines these "characteristics":
SEC. 4. Section 210.7 is added to the Education Code, to read:
   210.7. "Gender" means sex, and includes a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth.
SEC. 9. Section 212.6 is added to the Education Code, to read:
   212.6. "Sexual orientation" means heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.
Someone wrote: "No one is being forced to speak positively about these things."

And someone else replied:
If a history textbook contained only references to white people and never mentioned black people in history, that could "reflect a discriminatory bias against" black people. The threat here is of textbook publishers including references to the sexual orientation of individuals in order to avoid [being charged with] reflecting a discriminatory bias against homosexuals. The purpose of the law isn't to end discrimination in textbooks (how many public school textbooks even mention homosexuality, let alone openly criticize it?); it is to indoctrinate children that homosexuality is normal.
It would be worthwhile, I think, to discuss that word "normal." It is outside the scope of this post. (Among the issues someone should address: the distinctions in meaning between words like "normal," "normative," "existent/exists/occurs," "occasional/common/frequent/usual," "expected," "desirable," and so forth.)

Without touching that discussion, I would simply like to note that, due to its size, what California mandates and approves, becomes, de facto what textbook publishers publish for students in all states.

And are these subjects either appropriate or appropriate for mandate in, for example, early elementary school education?

My opinion: no.

Obviously, others--like the producers of the "It's Elementary" film--disagree.

Mark Steyn's America Alone, III--Part Two (Chapters 4 through 6)

By the time I got to America Alone Part Two (Chapters 4 through 6), I think I was becoming upset that I knew so little about Islam. As the weeks have progressed since I first started reading the book, I have become more and more upset. Not because of America Alone, but because of additional resources to which I was directed by a friend who knew I was reading the book. She directed me to The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer and the two blogs that Spencer oversees: Dhimmi Watch and Jihad Watch. Both of the blogs carefully document ongoing (daily) offenses against non-Muslims by the ummah (the Muslim community) on account of its commitment to Allah and his prophet, Muhammad.

On its Why Jihad Watch? page, Jihad Watch explains:
JIHAD IS A CENTRAL DUTY of every Muslim. Modern Muslim theologians have spoken of many things as jihads: the struggle within the soul, defending the faith from critics, supporting its growth and defense financially, even migrating to non-Muslim lands for the purpose of spreading Islam. But in Islamic history and doctrine violent jihad is founded on numerous verses of the Qur'an — most notably, one known in Islamic theology as the "Verse of the Sword": "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is forgiving, merciful" (Sura 9:5). Establishing "regular worship" and paying the "poor-due" (zakat) means essentially that they will become Muslim, as these are two of the central responsibilities of every Muslim.

Sahih Bukhari, which Muslims regard as the most trustworthy of all the many collections of traditions of Muhammad, records this statement of the Prophet: "Allah assigns for a person who participates in (holy battles) in Allah's Cause and nothing causes him to do so except belief in Allah and in His Messengers, that he will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the battle as a martyr)."
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that "in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force." In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with "power politics," because Islam is "under obligation to gain power over other nations."

Violent jihad is a constant of Islamic history. The passages quoted above and many others like them form a major element of the motivation of jihad warriors worldwide today. No major Muslim group has ever repudiated the doctrines of armed jihad. The theology of jihad, with all its assumptions about unbelievers‚ lack of human rights and dignity, is available today as a justification for anyone with the will and the means to bring it to life.

Jihad Watch is dedicated to bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology play in the modern world and to correcting popular misconceptions about the role of jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts. By shedding as much light as possible on these matters, we hope to alert people of good will to the true nature of the present global conflict.
And Dhimmi Watch, on its Why Dhimmi Watch? page, explains:
Dhimmitude is the status that Islamic law, the Sharia, mandates for non-Muslims, primarily Jews and Christians. Dhimmis, "protected people," are free to practice their religion in a Sharia regime, but are made subject to a number of humiliating regulations designed to enforce the Qur'an's command that they "feel themselves subdued" (Sura 9:29). This denial of equality of rights and dignity remains part of the Sharia, and, as such, [is] part of the legal superstructure that global jihadists are laboring to restore everywhere in the Islamic world, and wish ultimately to impose on the entire human race.

If dhimmis complained about their inferior status, institutionalized humiliation, or poverty, their masters voided their contract and regarded them as enemies of Islam, fair game as objects of violence. Consequently, dhimmis were generally cowed into silence and worse. It was almost unheard-of to find dhimmis speaking out against their oppressors; to do so would have been suicide. For centuries dhimmi communities in the Islamic world learned to live in peace with their Muslim overlords by acquiescing to their subservience. Some even actively identified with the dominant class, and became strenuous advocates for it.

Spearheaded by dhimmi academics and self-serving advocacy groups, that same attitude of chastened subservience has entered into Western academic study of Islam, and from there into journalism, school textbooks, and the popular discourse. One must not point out the depredations of jihad and dhimmitude; to do so would offend the multiculturalist ethos that prevails everywhere today. To do so would endanger chances for peace and rapprochement between civilizations all too ready to clash.

But in this era of global terrorism it must be said: this silence, this distortion, has become deadly. Before 9/11 it was easy [in the West!--JAH] to ignore and whitewash dhimmitude, but the atrocities changed the situation forever. In jihads throughout history, untold millions have died. Tens of millions have been uprooted from their homes. Tens of millions have been stripped of their cultural identity. To continue to gloss over the destruction wrought by jihad ideology and its attendant evil of dhimmitude is today to play into the hands of jihadists, who have repeatedly vowed to dhimmify the West and destroy any recalcitrant elements. While jihadist groups, even with their global diffusion, are not strong enough to realize this goal by themselves, they have a potent and destructive ally, a genuine fifth column, in the dhimmi academics and dhimmi journalists they have recruited in the West. They have succeeded in confusing millions in the West into mistaking honesty and truthfulness for bigotry, and self-defense for oppression.

Before it's too late for Western Europe and the United States, which gave birth to the traditions of freedom and equality of rights for all that shine today as lights in the entire world, this must be stopped. Therefore Dhimmi Watch seeks to bring public attention to:

The plight of the dhimmis, an immense but almost completely ignored ongoing scandal that continues in Muslim countries today;
  • The plight of women under Sharia provisions, similar to conditions imposed on dhimmis, in the denial of equal rights and dignity;
  • Slavery in Islamic lands, which continues today, justified by Sharia-'s dhimmi codes;
  • The integral role of jihad and dhimmitude ideology in global terrorism today;
  • The license that academic and journalistic whitewashes of dhimmitude gives to radical jihadist enemies of human rights for all.
Dhimmi Watch fights to ensure that deeds done in the darkness for so long will not continue to be done. The light of world attention is anathema to the proponents of jihad and dhimmitude: we have seen in recent years that women sentenced to stoning for adultery, often victims of rape unjustly accused thanks to Sharia laws disallowing rape victims' testimony, were freed following international outcry. Dhimmi Watch will seek to provoke similar, continuous and increasing outcry wherever and whenever the Sharia's institutionalized injustices threaten dhimmis and women.

May the truth prevail.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Mark Steyn's America Alone, II--Part One (Prologue to Chapter 3)

Steyn gave me a bunch of bracing things to think about. Among them:
  • September 11, 2001, was not "the day everything changed," but the day that revealed how much had already changed. --p. xv

    I don't know how many people use (or used) the phrase "the day everything changed," but it is my impression--especially after reading the rest of Steyn's book--that almost nothing has changed in the West. "We" have failed to wake up to the threat we face. Instead, we try to ignore it. Steyn doesn't quite use these terms, but I will, as a result of reading Steyn: Western society continues on its same somnambulant journey toward destruction, almost wholly unaware of the really large threats that face it.

  • The "Western" nations' fertility statistics:

    Greece . . . just below 1.3 births per couple. . . . And Greece's fertility is the healthiest in Mediterranean Europe: Italy has a fertility rate of 1.2, Spain, 1.1. --p. xvii

    For a stable population--i.e., no growth, no decline . . . --you need a total fertility rate of 2.1 live births per woman. That's what America has: 2.1, give or take. Canada has 1.48. . . . Europe as a whole has 1.38; Japan, 1.32; Russia, 1.14. These countries--or, more precisely, these people--are going out of business. --p. 2

    The UN's most recent population report has revised the global fertility rate down from 2.1--i.e., replacement rate--to 1.85--i.e., eventual population decline. World population will peak in about 2050 (I'd hazard earlier) and then fall. --p. 13

    I had no idea! I've never heard these things before. Or if I have, I have never thought about their implications.

    Steyn's following analogy, however, caught my attention (p. 2):

    Picture the difference between a small northern mill town where the mill's closed down and the young poeple have moved away and a growing community in the Sun Belt. Which has the bigger range of stores and restaurants, more work opportunities, better school choice? Which problem would you rather have--managing growth or managing decline?

    So what happens when the whole nation--and in Europe the entire continent--has a profile closer to the decrepit mill town than to the Sun Belt suburb?

  • The logic of the Islamic influx into Western society:

    1. The West has below replacement reproductive rates.
    2. The Western governments' social programs depend on--require--population growth. (pp. 2-3)
    3. THEREFORE the West imports the "excess" (young, restless, fertile) population from those parts of the world that have the greatest "excess" population--i.e. (based on fertility rates), the Islamic nations.

  • How thoroughly Islamicized (or "infiltrated") Western Europe has already become:

    What's the Muslim population of Rotterdam? Forty percent. What's the most popular baby boy's name in Belgium? Mohammed. In Amsterdam? Mohammed. In Malmö, Sweden? Mohammed. By 2005, it was the fifth most popular baby boy's name in the United Kingdom.

    --America Alone, p. 6

    [W]hen it comes to those living in France aged twenty and under, about 30 percent are said to be Muslim, and in the major urban centers, about 45 percent. If it came down to street-by-street fighting, as Michel Gurfinkiel, the editor of Valeurs Actuelles, points out, "the combatant ratio in any ethnic war may thus be one to one"--already, right now.

    --America Alone, p. 34

  • The social implications of Islamicization--not (as Western multiculturalists trumpet) a greater openness to and appreciation of "diversity" in society, but, instead, the subjugation of Western culture to Islamic culture in the West . . . at the behest of the Muslims. (Steyn presents shocking examples throughout the book, but in Part I, let me point you solely to pp. 38-39.)

  • The foolishness of so many political aspirations in the West over the past several decades.

    Today, in your typical election campaign, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much every party in the rest of the West are all but exclusively about . . . secondary impulses [rights and entitlements from cradle to grave]: government health care . . ., government day care . . . , government paternity leave. . . . We've elevated the secondary impulses over the primary ones: national defense, self-reliance, family, and, most basic of all, reproductive activity.

    --America Alone, p. 43

    Unfortunately, as recent European election results demonstrate, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: once a fellow-enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn't give a hot about the general societal interest; he's got his, and if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he's dead, it's fine by him. "Social democracy" is, as it turns out, explicitly anti-social. . . . And it leads, in Europe and elsewhere, to societal "indolence."

    --America Alone, p. 45

    Secondary-impulse states can be very agreeable--who wouldn't want to live in a world where the burning political priorities are government-subsidized day care, the celebration of one's sexual appetites, and whether mandatory paid vacation should be six or eight weeks? But they're agreeable only for the generation or two that they last. . . . Europes' belief that you can smooth off the rough edges of Anglo-American capitalism and still remain wealthy has trapped it in societal structures predicated on false arithmetic whose disastrous consequences can't be postponed much longer. Unchecked, government social programs are a security threat because they weaken the ultimate line of defense: the free-born citizen whose responsibilities are not subcontracted to the government.

    --America Alone, pp. 50-51

  • American cultural exceptionalism . . . as a good thing.

    Chapter Three, honestly, modified my view of the United States and made me want to stand up and cheer for the "good old" U.S. of A.

    Wanting, always, to view the United States honestly, forthrightly, etc., within the world's "community of nations," I have been, I'm afraid, a bit blind to some of the uniquely positive aspects of America's contributions, and very blind to the uniquely selfish, destructive, or just plain silly, aspects of too many of the United States' ostensible "allies" in the West.

    A citizen of an advanced democracy expects to be able to choose from dozens of breakfast cereals at the supermarket, hundreds of movies at the video store, and millions of p*rno sites on the Internet, but when it comes to life-or-death decisions about his own body, he's happy to have the choice taken out of his hands and given to the government.

    --America Alone, p. 45

    It's the case that in a general population some people will neglect their elderly parents and leave their children alone at home while they go off gallivanting. However, by making the government the guarantor of a comfortable old age and supervised day care, you don't end such fecklessness. Rather, by relieving the individual of the need to have "private virtues," you'll ensure that they wither away to the edges of society.

    --America Alone, p. 48

    What . . . would happen if America were to follow Mr. [Will] Hutton's advice and "join the world"? Well, those "40 million Americans without health insurance" would enjoy the benefit of a new government health care system and, like their 250 million neighbors, would discover the charms of the health care "waiting list"--the one year, two years, or more Britons and others wait in pain for even routine operations; the six, twelve, eighteen months Canadians wait for an MRI scan, there being more such scanners in the city of Philadelphia than in the entire Great White North.

    --America Alone, p. 51

    • Steyn's example of the woman who had to give birth to her twin sons in Edmonton, Alberta, because her local maternity ward in British Columbia--and, indeed, all the maternity wards everywhere in British Columbia--were full. --p. 51

    • The example of SARS. "When SARS leapt from China to infect Toronto's hospitals in 2003, the principal contribution of the WHO (Wold Health Organization) was to issue a travel advisory warning visitors to steer clear of Ontario, leaving it to the [United States'] CDC [Centers for Disease Control] to provide advanced and practical analysis of the problem. . . . (I)f an infection shows up in an Atlanta hospital, no American doctor looks for guidance from a Canadian government agency. But if it shows up in a Toronto hospital, the Ontario health system takes it for granted that the best minds of the CDC in Atlanta will be staying late at the office trying to work out what's going on." --pp. 52-53

    • "When something goes awry, in a Sri Lankan beach resort or a Toronto hospital, it's the hyperpower who shows up. America doesn't need to 'join the world': it already provides a lot of the world's infrastructure." -p. 53

Kind of a wake-up call for me!