Friday, February 10, 2006

The young and the old

There's a really remarkable interview with Lebanese writer Pierre Akel (hat tip: Dean's World) that opens a window on the present intellectual conflicts within the Arab and Islamic world. Akel's website, Middle East Transparent gets 50-60K hits per day --  comparable to the largest blogs in the world. It's largely a forum for what may be termed "liberals", a term which has a vastly different meaning from similar words in the West. Here are excerpts from the interview.

Akel: We get our articles by email from practically every Arab country. ... You can find liberals in unexpected places. Ahmad bin Baz, the son of the late mufti of Saudi Arabia, is certainly a liberal. He wrote stunning articles in Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, but then was shelved. ...In the Arab world, much more than in the West, we can genuinely talk of a blog revolution. Arab culture has been decimated during the last 50 years. Arab newspapers are mainly under Saudi control. The book market is practically dead. Some of the best authors pay to have their books published in the order of 3,000 copies for a market of 150 million. This is ridiculous. Even when people write, they face censorship at every level—other than their own conscious or unconscious censorship. Meanwhile, professional journalism is rare.

The liberals are frozen out of the Islamic intellectual mainstream. In its place is the propaganda of dictatorship and terrorism. Akel describes something of how that propaganda apparatus works..

Akel: When it comes to satellite television in the region, Al-Jazeera is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, while many of the rest are under Saudi control. Al-Arabiya, for example, is owned by the Al-Ibrahim, the brothers-in-law of the late King Fahd. Even the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation cannot cross certain Saudi red lines. Yes, you can hear a liberal point of view here and there. But, to take one example, both Abdul Halim Khaddam, the former Syrian vice president who turned against the regime of President Bashar Assad, and Riad Turk, the Syrian dissident, have been under a Saudi ban from Al-Arabiya for the last month, because the Saudi leadership does not now want to annoy the Assad regime. For once, Al-Jazeera has also banned them, but for Qatari political reasons. Qatar is lobbying on behalf of the Syrian regime in Europe.

But if the liberals are opposed to the dictatorships within the Arab world, their world view is not entirely the same as those of American conservatives. It would be surprising if it were.

Akel: To understand Arab liberalism, one has to understand not only what it now represents but where it emerged from: In Syria, it mostly comes from the remnants of the communist or Marxist left—just like the Eastern European dissidents of 30 years ago. In Saudi Arabia, it comes from the very heart of Islamic fundamentalist culture, but also from the orthodox Sunnis originating in the Hijaz, where the cities of Jeddah, Medina and Mecca are located. Hussein Shobokshi is a good example. It also comes from the Shiite minority in the oil producing Eastern Province. In Tunisia, it comes from the reformed Islamic university Al-Zaitouna. In Egypt, liberals are inspired by the great liberal tradition that was crushed by the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser. ...

Managing relations with the Islamists. They are the liberals' adversaries but also, in certain cases, their necessary partners. To take an example from a completely different context: In the 1980s, French President François Mitterrand co-opted the French Communist Party and accelerated its implosion. Saad Eddine Ibrahim in Egypt and Riad Turk in Syria are wagering on a similar development in the Middle East. You bring Islamists into the open, encourage them to take part in the political life of a country, and they are bound to disintegrate into their various component elements. For example, the leader of the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Sadruddin al-Bayanouni, recently opted for peaceful negotiations with Israel and even for a possible recognition of Israel. This would not go down well with other Syrian Islamists. Dissension shall occur over issues like this one and others. It is either this or the Assad and Mubarak regimes will last for a long time. The same applies tto Hamas. Co-opting Islamists is a risky proposal, of course. Where liberals should never make concessions is where Islamists tend to be harshest: the status of women. In that domain no concessions must be made.

Commentary

T. E. Lawrence's third chapter of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom summarizes his judgment of the Arab mind:

This people was black and white, not only in vision, but by inmost furnishing: black and white not merely in clarity, but in apposition. Their thoughts were at ease only in extremes. They inhabited superlatives by choice. Sometimes inconsistents seemed to possess them at once in joint sway; but they never compromised: they pursued the logic of several incompatible opinions to absurd ends, without perceiving the incongruity. ... The least morbid of peoples, they had accepted the gift of Me unquestioningly, as axiomatic. To them it was a thing inevitable, entailed on man ... Suicide was a thing impossible, and death no grief. ... Their convictions were by instinct, their activities intuitional. Their largest manufacture was of creeds: almost they were monopolists of revealed religions.

The Middle East remains immensely ideological, a place where the age of faith still lives. Daniel Byman's Deadly Connections: States that Sponsor Terrorism, concludes that Middle Eastern governments employ terrorism to attain ideological ends. For many states he says, the spread of their belief system is the most important goal of all.

It is the West that has banished the Dream from its arsenal of weapons. Theordore Darymple writing in Cato Unbound describes the sour Western public's obsession with quiet at any cost.

And always keep a-hold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

The dependent population does not like the state and its agents, indeed they hate them, but they soon come to fear the elimination of their good offices even more. They are like drug addicts who know that the drug that they take is not good for them, and hate the drug dealer from whom they obtain their drug, but cannot face the supposed pains of withdrawal.

It is almost a pensioner's mindset. What a change from a 150 years ago, when Tennyson could write with about a West yearning for the future:

Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range.
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.

Thro’ the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day:
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.

34 Comments:

Blogger Das said...

Yes Wretchard something has been cut out of the heart of Europe - and America as well - look at the ban on cartoon images that our press overlords imposed just this past week. And now Orwell (from The Prevention of Literature):

"the journalist is unfree, and is conscious of unfreedom when he is forced to write lies or supress what seems to him important news...Even a single taboo can have an all-round crippling effect upon the mind, because there is always the danger that any thought which is freely followed up may lead to the forbidden thought."

2/10/2006 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Adolph H. Mohammed said...

(Letter from my cave in Hell)

Heil Islam !

Liebe Muslim Friends,

I am sitting here with my friend Herr Professor Doktor Ayatollah Khomeini. Der Teufel Devil is taking a break from chewing on Herr Khomeini's kneecaps, so we have time to whisper a conversation.

Herr Doktor Ayatollah and myself have decided to have another WANNSEE Konferenz. (Look up WANNSEE on wikipedia). We shall call it DER TEUFEL MECCA KONFERENZ. But it shall take place in Tehran, actually.

There we shall decide what to do when islam finishes the subjugation of Europa. We have agreed on a slogan for all of you: ARBEIT MACHT FREI.

Aus Wiedersehen

Heil Islam ! Sieg Heil !

At this meeting,

2/10/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Looking at the ghastly societies around the world, it emphasises to me that the West, bad as it is, is still the best place to be.

I'm not sure that I agree with Dalrymple, that the West is like a drug addict who "cannot face the supposed pains of withdrawal".

And from the last post regarding the migration to the coast of "The Father, Son, and Holy Gohst", I'm not sure that that explains the West's malaise either.

I think that the West has become God (Greek, if it makes it easier for you), but will not accept its responsibilities.

ADE

2/10/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

das,

Orwell described the "doubleplusungood" thought, as I think it was termed in Newspeak, which is the exact equivalent of the Politically Incorrect thought. Now if a politician utters a doubleplusungood thought when the mike is accidentally left on, at best he will condemned to spend the next few months in sackcloth and ashes. But more probably he will spend the rest of his days marked with a Scarlet Letter. There goes the Racist, the Bigot or more generically, the Nazi.

One of the more unremarked properties of the 1984 world was its institutionalized stagnation. The Party was only invincible within the context of its hermetic system. If a society came to challenge it from another planet it would be scattered in an instant. The empire of political correctness requires for its stability the absence of external competitors. That's why the Islamic challenge has proved so catastrophic to liberal orthodoxy. What works against the Boy Scouts may prove of limited value against the fundamentalist imams.

2/10/2006 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

" ... the best authors pay to have their books published in the order of 3,000 copies for a market of 150 million. ... "

That is why there will be no Islamic Reformation.
The Mohammedan Fascists have no need for Book Burnings, there are no Books to Burn.
Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" would not be understood in Arabia, there are no books.

Maybe schools could be the answer but, there are no books.

So sad for them, there are no books

2/10/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

The empire of political correctness requires for its stability the absence of external competitors. That's why the Islamic challenge has proved so catastrophic to liberal orthodoxy.

Wretchard, Aristides made a comment in a previous thread something to the effect that our current struggle is having a defining effect on our culture. I think that's right. For better or worse, the demise of the liberal orthodoxy will make room for something else. We still have a choice: we can fill the void or let someone--or something--else do it for us.

2/10/2006 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Das said...

Wretchard wrote: "What works against the Boy Scouts may prove of limited value against the fundamentalist imams."

And our daring liberal comedians, poets, writers, thinkers, commentators, artists seem to be in total retreat from the imams. Can it be that only one single artist in America - Kurt Geissel - has attempted any kind of protest art in the face of jihad terror? This is unbelieveable. Especially since the oh-so dim jihadis are practically handing the liberal arts/media crowd the perfect rimshot (good for any mixed-media sendup):

"hey guy, don't call me violent or I'll kill ya!" Ka-boom! ("and take my wife while yer at it!")

To treat that as something sacred, something worthy of respect (nod to NPR and CNN) - give me a break.

2/10/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

I think perhaps that we are seeing the effects of the conquering of Western Society not by either an invader or a philosophy but by bureaucracy.

In a typical bureaucracy, Forms 601B are due to be turned in, in triplicate, not later than 0900 each Monday morning, and all sections have to be filled out - even if irrelevant - and all entries must be properly centered in the blanks and not touching any of the lines separating the blocks. A GS-5 is assigned the task in each organization of collecting the forms. And quite soon you have a huge organization run by the GS-5’s, who sometimes are quite nice people but not only are incapable of doing much of anything else, and also have a vested interest in making sure that the Forms 601B’s are always filled out.

Today on an Air Force Base I happened to read a letter saying that fuel had to be saved due to Hurricane Katrina’s impact on supplies and costs. Okay – but it specified a monthly report from each organization and which required that special justification be made if the fuel consumption had not been reduced by 10%. This, in an organization that had no aircraft and only used cars for driving around the base. And believe me, putting less fuel in space booster is a very bad idea.

Such bureaucrats can strip an organization of almost everything useful, most especially the spirit of its people. When the bureacracies expand to meet the needs of those demanding more from the government the whole society is affected.

2/10/2006 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

desert rat,

Roger Simon quotes an Asia Times pundit called Spengler who notes that there's an inverse correlation with between religious fundamentalism and literacy.

"Once the literacy rate reaches 90%, the percentage of non-religious jumps into two digits. That is as true for Muslim countries as well as for non-Muslim countries. Because the Muslim literacy rate is so far below the average, though, few Muslim countries have a high proportion of non-religious people."


That speaks almost directly to the Pierre Akel post.

2/10/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"Pssst... listen, we can't guarantee your safety... Muslims MIGHT get upset and ... well, you know..."

So what? No one lives forever, and it is FAR BETTER to me and to the world I leave behind, to take a stand FOR TRUTH and COURAGE, HERE and NOW!

I publish the cartoons, and pictures of 'Abdu-l Baha!

2/10/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Sonspot said...

If some artist today were to make a "statement" about modern Islam and Jihad and they were murdered for thier stand, what do you think the left's approach to this would be?

I say that person would be talked about in calm, emotionless tones, the way people talk of someone who is taken by an agressive unforgiving cancer.

"poor bastard, he was asking for it, I told him to lay off the Marlboro reds..."

2/10/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

I see this, NOW, as a Day of Judgement in truth. What we say publicly IS recorded, as never before.

What we say is publicized, broadcast as never before. 7,000 years of deniable 'lukewarm' is OVER!

Either we all take a stand, publicly, FOR decency, responsibility, rationality and freedom of thought (at least), EVEN and ESPECIALLY in the face of violent physical threats, OR 'we shall assuredly all hang separately!'

God has always been our ultimate Judge, but now that the Lord of Hosts has initiated THIS Day, we are experiencing a Day of Judgement, as each comment, each utterance is weighed and weighable against a Standard made public between May 23, 1844 and May 23, 2001.

2/10/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Coyle said...

Source,'ARAB HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2003'
"The number of translated books from 175 per year
during 1970-1975 to 330, the number of books
translated in the Arab world is one fifth of the
number translated in Greece. The aggregate
total of translated books from the Al-
Ma’moon era to the present day amounts to
10,000 books - equivalent to what Spain translates
in a single year (Shawki Galal, in Arabic,
1999, 87)3.
This disparity was revealed in the first half
of the 1980s when the average number of
books translated per 1 million people in the
Arab world during the 5-year period was 4.4
(less than one book for every million Arabs),
while in Hungary it was 519, and in Spain 920.
(Figure 2.9.)
There are no accurate statistical data regarding
the academic level of these translations.
But a marked shortage of translations of
basic books on philosophy, literature, sociology
and the natural sciences is quite evident."

www.miftah.org/Doc/Reports/Englishcomplete2003.pdf

2/10/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger rasqual said...

"What works against the Boy Scouts may prove of limited value against the fundamentalist imams."

Good grief. It's always been evident that some Politically Correct are bullies in the name of Brave Principle -- but I've never heard their rank cowardice so well and so succinctly summarized.

2/10/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger sonia said...

The Arab World will be free. It is now where Europe was in the 14th century, during the Black Death, with the Bizantine Empire crumbling, religious fantatics roaming the countryside, the Hundred Years War, etc.

But just around the corner was the Renaissance, the Reformation, the discovery of America, and the printing press.

The night is always the darknest just before dawn...

2/10/2006 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Some of us view the gaping hole down at the south end of Manhattan as an unforgettably traumatic wound. The lack of the WTC is the main thing we see as we drive up to the City on I-95, or as we take the train in. That skyline is going to be eternally missing two glorious, innocent buildings.

And the memory of innocent Americans just showing up for work at 8:30am and jumping to their deaths from the 90th floor at 10:30am is NEVER GOING TO GO AWAY.

Bad news for our enemies, they struck the WTC and the Pentagon, where they hurt some of the best people we have, and they inspired ALL of their families and friends to a passionate defense of America that hasn't existed since Nagasaki.

Such are the varying impressions which a battle makes upon various men. It is no romance, but a grim reality of life and death. Far into the night we lie awake and ask ourselves, what is the meaning of it all?

Americans are anti-war, it's bad for business.

2/10/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Free Speech Being Abandoned Worldwide
Michelle Malkin catalogs the timidity of politicians and journalists worldwide, who are surrendering freedom of speech and press to the Islamic mob.

2/10/2006 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

From the Paupa New Guinnea
The E-National

Near death experiences

A near-death experience (NDE) is the perception reported by a person who nearly died or who was clinically dead and revived. They are somewhat common, especially since the development of cardiac resuscitation techniques, and are reported in approximately one-fifth of persons who revive from clinical death. The experience often includes an out-of-body experience. Some people refer to this phenomenon as an ‘After Death Experience’.
The phenomenology of an NDE usually includes physiological, psychological and transcendental factors (Parnia, Waller, Yeates & Fenwick, 2001) such as subjective impressions of being outside the physical body (an out-of-body experience), visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, transcendence of ego and spatiotemporal boundaries and other transcendental experiences.
Typically the experience follows a distinct progression, starting with the sensation of floating above one’s body and seeing the surrounding area, followed by the sensation of passing through a tunnel, meeting deceased relatives, and concluding with encountering a being of light (Morse, Conner & Tyler, 1985).

For the rest of the article go here.

2/10/2006 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Moby Dick Chapter 28
Herman Melville

It does seem to me, that herein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter's, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.


//////////////
Consider the context of this admonition.

2/10/2006 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

rwe 6:55 PM
Dept of Homeland Security
Brownie would know.

2/10/2006 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

"Once the literacy rate reaches 90%, the percentage of non-religious jumps into two digits.

Two things:

1. Gaddis (who's become quite useful) argues that the worldwide erosion of authority that began in the sixties was directly correlated to the sharp increase in higher education attendance.

2. Francis Bacon writes, "A little bit of philosophy bends a mind to atheism. A lot of philosophy turns a mind back to religion."

2/10/2006 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Adolph H. Mohammed said...

(Letter from das FuhrerBunker in Hell)

GEHEIM - SECRET

Heil Mohammed ! Heil Islam !

Liebe Islamic Nazi Volk,

My Dear Sweet Muslim Fascist Grandchildren, I only have a moment to speak because the Devil will be back and he will stick a hot poker in places you don't want to know.

I am here mit Obergruppenfuhrer Amin Al-Husayni ( أمين الحسيني) but he can't speak because the fire-ants are eating out his eyes.

Here is mein Political Philosophy in all its splendor:

Volume 1) Mein Kampf - This is my pride and joy, a gift to the World. In it I advocate many things that I tried to do. Some I succeeded with, and some I did not. The center of this philosophy was spelled out simply as

"Die Juden sind unser ungluck"

But those stupid gangster Amerikaner came and screwed up my plan when I was only half-way done. What a stupid country of gangsters that only cares about commercialism und the stupid dollar !!!!

Volume 2) Das Koran - This is the joy of my soul in this scheiss-hole that I am now in. My spirit is with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren now.

Heil Obergruppenfuhrer Osama Bin Laden !

Heil Obergruppenfuhrer Ahmedinejab !

Heil Islam !

(uh-oh, the Devil is coming back ...)

Your Adolph

GEHEIMSTAATSPOLIZEI - GEHEIM - SECRET

2/11/2006 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

aristides

Gaddis is right, in his terms.

What he never envisaged was that 'higher education' could be so watered down as to include Media Studies. Until you're 35.

That gives you erosion of authority without the need to have a replacement that has any basis in reality.

As for Bacon, whom I like; a little bit of scientific testing will sort out which reality is right.

Time for my 1% theory: in any human endeavour, only 1% of the population matters. Most people in 'higher education' are wasting their time, and my money.

Sadly, I'm in the 99% for all human endeavours.

ADE

2/11/2006 01:22:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Sharon is in pretty critical condition and maybe dying. If he does then he goes to his fathers. The problems are now ours.

2/11/2006 02:28:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Perhaps he'll

"...have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings

There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow

And evening full of linnet's wings."

The Lake Isle of Innisfree W B Yeats

ADE

2/11/2006 03:18:00 AM  
Blogger Tul Urte said...

Reading about birthrates and maintaining growth (wandering your links), I saw the statement that Europe needs, or will need, 'hot-bodies' to stay afloat in the future.
Every time I hear this I get a feeling that some assumption is being glossed over; ¿is it that people just have to keep breeding exponentially?
If the decline in birthrate reflects that women (and men) are choosing to breed less (w.r.t. previous generations etc, such choice being restricted), then that is a choice to be respected, that is what they want.
I know issues arise where there are different birthrates for different populations, for example Northern Ireland and Israel, but I'm not convinced that these guys should be making love instead of war.

2/11/2006 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger Rune said...

"So sad for them, there are no books"

But there are blogs. I think I read Iran has the highest number of blogs for any nation. Books is just one medium, and in some ways blogs are much better than books, when it comes to introducing new ideas.

Islam in general and the Arab world in particular are at a fault line between traditionalism and modernism. So that produces unrest and violence. There's always violence when there's change. I believe that the reason there's so much violence in Islam these days, is because it is the most under pressure to change. People, the most, have always be suspicious of new things and loathe to change - that's nothing particular for Islam or Arabs. And those benefitting from the way they are, in this case Mullahs, dictators and men in general, will fight any change that threaten their perks. That's why we have Islamic terrorists calling down curses on the West - they're scared shitless, and with good reason. Their whole religion, culture and way of life is under immense pressure. By western culture, by modernism, by enlightenment, by the outside world, etc. But they'll lose in the end. Actually they pretty much already have lost. Caught between a rock and a hard place. The only way they could win was by isolating themselves from outside influence, like the Taliban or North Korea - but that is also the road to poverty, impotence and weakness. And when it comes down to it, then Muhammed and Fatima just as much as Mark and Debbie wants to have fun, they want to wear sexy jeans that show their g-string and drink too many Barcadis Saturday night and have one nights stands they regret the day after, they want to listen to Britney Spears and watch sitcoms. And they will.

I have in my times worked with and known quite a few Iranians - the picture I get out of Iran is that it is even more decadent than the west, with parties, drinking, drugs and sex. Fundamentalist Islam is not a Evolutionary Stable Strategy, an ESS is a strategy that cannot be improved by any change. Fundamentalist Islam is a sham, it is its own ruin and the ruin of the rest of Islam if given free reins. Europe is not doomed and the West is not weak - actually the west has never been stronger than today. Western thoughts and ideas fill the whole world. From the smallest town in Pakistan to the largest in China. Western ideas have taken root. Islam, on the other, will reform itself or it is lost. If Islam is to have a future, it is people like Dutch Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Canadian Irshad Manji that will have to form it. But it is entirely possible there might be a future without Islam. However there'll not be a future without Milton and Shakespere, Mozart and Beethoven - and Britney Spears.

2/11/2006 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Rune said...

Force creates opposition. And supposedly the Islamic bullying in Europe will put a bit more spine into Europe eventually. Though I have to say. It's nowhere certain that western ideals will be primarily fought for by ethnic Europeans - or Americans. In Denmark I've often witnessed that those most courageously standing up for freedom, democracy and western ideas, are immigrants from the Middle East; in particular Iranians. But also like as I said, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, in Holland. (Indeed often enough, Danish liberals try to backstab them) The most threatned person in Denmark right now, is not the authors of the Muhammed cartoons, but a Palestinian politician who has started a group called "Moderate Muslims". The lying Imam, Abu Laban and the rest of the Imam Traveling Circus hates him with a passion and dedicate whole sermons to vilify him. Perhaps the greatest defenders of Europe in the future will be Middle Eastern immigrants. And for freedom, democracy and western thoughts in general, Chinese and Indians - and Philippines.

2/11/2006 04:59:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Good comments, Rune.

2/11/2006 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Excepting that rune places the Iranians in the Arab pot, where they do not belong.
Iranians being of a different ethnic and intellectual background and they read and speak an entirely different language.
Persians are not Arabs, nor are the two ethnicities interchangeable.

The only tie that binds the two, Mohammed, is not even worshipped in the same way in each Region.

There is all that Sunni / Shia schisim stuff in that regard.

2/11/2006 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger Das said...

Yes rune, good post.

2/11/2006 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger snowonpine said...

Wretchard points to what may be the decisive factor in the West's clash with Islam--the lack of courage/adventurousness/spirit that infects the West generally. In America we have so much in materialistic terms, gained by living generations with little struggle compared to the struggles of our ancestors; we are living off the capital they created by enormous sacrifice in settling and taming the American wilderness and in generation-by-generation building the tremendous physical, economic and scientific infrastructure that supports us today. But, somehow the fierce spirit and independence that animated them has been lost, pared away, bit by bit, by a myriad of forces. When last what was then called Christendom was challenged by Islam, Islamic fundamentalism and will were matched by the equally ardent fundamentalism and will of Medieval Christendom and Christendom won. Can anyone honestly claim that the West has anything remotely like the will or the animating religious fervor that we had then? The West and America seem to be long on doubts and hesitations and real short on the kind of conviction that wins long tough wars. In a visit to the UK just two weeks before the subway bombings I was saddened to see all the empty churches. Ironically, we were told that some were now being used as cultural centers for Muslim immigrants. According to official statistics, in WWII the U.S. suffered 291,557 battle deaths, 113,842 other deaths due to disease and accident and our troops sustained 671,846 wounds that were not mortal. Sixty years later, our soldiers suffer two thousand plus deaths in conflict with Islamic Fundamentalists and many in America want to throw in the towel. Islamic mobs riot because of "offensive" Danish cartoons and our State Department commends U.S. newspapers that censor themselves and don't reprint the cartoons. Straws in the wind and it ain't blowing in a favorable direction.

2/11/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Interesting post.

Akel describes something of how that propaganda apparatus works...

Akel: "When it comes to satellite television in the region, Al-Jazeera is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, while many of the rest are under Saudi control. Al-Arabiya, for example, is owned by the Al-Ibrahim, the brothers-in-law of the late King Fahd. Even the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation cannot cross certain Saudi red lines..."


It looks like the ME is in the grip of Fascism with a large dose of Brainwashing.

I would guess this grip would extend to the ME's media (and possibly to Western media outlets who depend on ME located "stringers").

On top of that, it looks like certain players have used this grip in a clever ruse to muddy the picture and hide atomic weapons manufacturing.

As for the so called crowds of inflamed Arabs most of the pictures look staged or cropped. They give the appearance of mega-sized crowds. It's an old trick.

But, from Mr. Akels post we get a better picture of the actual propaganda apparatus. To render this propaganda apparatus harmless we should alter or remove the key parts (according Akel's post and others):

Assad

Ahmadinejad

Al-Jazeera's top shills

Al-Arabiya's top shills

Al-Ibrahim

Imam Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban (who passed around the 3 "photos")

Qatar's top people who are supporting Al-Jazeera and pushing this "cartoon" ruse.

Saudi Arabia top people who are supporting Al-Arabiya and pushing this "cartoon" ruse.

Further, I would suggest supporting those who oppose the above (again according Akel's post and others):

Syrian VP, Abdul Halim Khaddam

Riad Turk, the Syrian dissident

Hussein Shobokshi

Islamic university Al-Zaitouna

And, other ME "liberals" who are trying to break free of this horrible grip.

2/11/2006 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Mearcstapa said...

Tennyson wrote those words when the West didn't have to apologize for its success. When we were the most kick-ass civilization that ever walked the face of the planet.

Where has our Will gone? It is only our own Will that is holding us back. NOTHING else.

2/12/2006 01:35:00 AM  

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