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?
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