Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tolerance For Intolerance Is Not a Virtue

A phobia is an irrational fear. When people use words such as “Islamaphobe” or “homophobe”, they are implying an irrational fear of Muslim or gay people. The “phobia” implication is misleading. If a person disagrees with policies (say gay marriage), that does not mean that the person fears gay people, yet he is likely to be hit with the “Homophobe” slander for that opinion.

Recently, with the Islamic “Cultural Center” being proposed near the World Trade Center, people have had to ask some poignant questions about why it shouldn’t be built. Is there an irrational fear of the Muslim religion and are people who want to prevent this Cultural Center/Mosque from being built truly “Islamaphobes”? Are they judging the Islamic religion in a different way than they would judge other religions and if so, is that justified?

Both George Bush and Barack Obama made the point that Islam is a religion of peace that has been co-opted and used by those who want to pervert the religion. But if the people who have co-opted the religion are the ones in charge of the religion, and if the people who have co-opted the religion are the ones who are making the rules, then the religion, itself, is not a religion of peace. If the people who practice the religion are afraid of those who have co-opted it, and have no power to change it, then why pretend that the religion is something that it clearly is not?

In a book titled “The Trouble With Islam”, the author Irshad Manji brings up a term that should be better known and understood, yet it is rarely mentioned. The term is “ijtihad”. According to Manji:
“Not jihad, but ijtihad…the Islamic tradition of independent reasoning…allowed every Muslim…to update his or her religious practice in light of contemporary circumstances.”
Unfortunately, the radical ayatollahs and imams have crushed the idea of ijtihad.

Every religion is filled with some contradiction and, to some extent, has to grapple with interpretations of religious texts as times change. People have always struggled trying to maintain their faith and meaning in a constantly changing world. For true believers of a religion, science and changing times don’t change the intent of religious texts. They can interpret their religion to the changing times while maintaining the faith, the meaning and the good of what the religion stands for.

Unfortunately when radical imams took control of Islam and took it upon themselves to determine the meaning of that faith, they created a religious dictatorship. In getting rid of “ijtihad” they put themselves in a position where they couldn’t be questioned or contradicted. In so doing they didn’t take the best of the Muslim religion, they took the worst of it and institutionalized it so that theirs was the only interpretation possible.

There are passages in the Koran and in the hadith that speak of Jews and Christians in praiseworthy ways as “People of the Book”. In other passages, Jews and Christians are described as inferior and sometimes, even subhuman. This is where a rational and sane interpretation would be needed but that is exactly what the people who are in control of the religion are NOT doing.

Even outright lying in negotiations and breaking signed treaties has been deemed acceptable if it furthers Muslim goals. This goes back to an interpretation of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya. This treaty was signed in 628 AD and declared a truce between the Meccan tribe of Quraish and the Muslim community in Medina. It was a 10 year treaty but was broken when Muhammad invaded Mecca and forced the people there to convert to Islam.

The imams who make the rules for Islam constantly refer to the Treaty of Hudaybiyya when they negotiate with those whom they consider to be their enemies such as Israel. How can any sane person or country negotiate with people who say right up front that they have the right to break a treaty any time it is convenient for them to do so? Their word is worth nothing and that is their official stated policy!

In every country where Islam has become part of official government policies, there is cruelty and intolerance, even in the so called moderate ones. Those who write books critical of Islam such as The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, get contracts put out on their lives. A simple cartoon critical of the religion causes riots and death threats. A film maker, Theo Van Gogh, who made a film that was critical of the way women are treated in Muslim countries, is murdered for daring to tell the truth. Van Gogh’s film was based on actual facts of the treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who writes in her book “Infidel” about how she was genitally mutilated and about how women are told to bear the treatment of being beaten by their husbands because that is what the religion demands of them.

The Muslim religion has become a cruel, cultish nightmare for those who are forced to live in countries where the religion works its way into government policies. Terrorism is just a natural byproduct of a religion where a few “privileged” people get to rationalize any behavior, no matter how cruel or immoral, if it is deemed to advance the cause if the Islamic religion.

Countries, in general, and the U.N., in particular seem very selective in how they condemn the actions of different nations. They rightly condemned South Africa for practicing apartheid but where is their condemnation to Muslim countries that routinely discriminate against non-Muslims? Non Muslims living in Muslim countries live in Dhimmi status which means they are officially second class citizens and have inferior rights to Muslims. Why won’t the U.N. condemn the concept of “Dhimmi” status as the discriminatory policy that it is?

The sad reality is that the U.N. and many nations are afraid of the Muslim religion. Perhaps, even though they may disagree with the cruel treatment of women and non-Muslims, they have a common enemy with them in their hatred of America, Israel and, in some cases, the west in general. It’s been said that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” so many excuse the behavior of crazy Jihadists in the name of some perceived greater good and end up rationalizing and excusing the behavior of these crazy imams and Ayatollahs.

They are doing no one a favor by turning a blind eye to this radicalism. The people who live under these religious dictatorships, those who want to raise a family and make a better life for themselves and their children, are not helped by this pandering to the crazy imams. The people of Iran tried their best to let the world know they wanted freedom but the world, to its everlasting shame, did nothing. By doing nothing they sided with the bad guys.

George Bush had it right and hopefully history will correct the record on his Presidency. Help the people who want freedom, give them reliable support and the Muslim religion can get rid of the crazy imams and ayatollahs that are making these people (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) live in misery. When the people of Iran saw what happened in Iraq they were inspired. They wanted their chance at freedom. Unfortunately, things have gone back in the other direction. The people in these Islamic dictatorships know that they can’t count on reliable help from the US and from the west, in general, and therefore are forced, out of fear, to submit to the crazy imams.

So now the crazy imams want to build a 13 story “cultural center” near the site of the World Trade Center. People who have tried to bury Jewish history by building mosques on top of Jewish shrines and temples, people who have taken over the city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and created an atmosphere where Christians are afraid to be in their holiest site, people who have destroyed ancient Buddhist statues and artifacts that could never be reproduced now have the unmitigated gall to talk about tolerance?

Muslims need to clean their own house before lecturing others on tolerance. It is not for the US to show that it is tolerant of the Muslim religion. The burden of proof is on the Muslim religion to show that it is tolerant of others. Perhaps one day when “ijtihad” returns and Muslims can be allowed to interpret their religion in a way that is not so cruel, then there can be a “cultural center” near the WTC. In the meantime, the one being proposed is nothing more than a tribute to the worst, not the best, of the Muslim faith. It is a tribute to the very imams that have taken this religion back to the seventh century and it should not even be considered to be built at the holy site of the WTC.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

President Obama’s Long Lost Ancestor From The 17th Century

There has been controversy surrounding the ancestry of Barack Obama. A top research team has looked into this matter and traced Obama’s family tree back to the 1600s, where Obama’s ancestor Barack Shakespeare Obama was a great leader and community organizer in Oxfordshire, England.

A parchment was discovered that documented a speech given by this ancestor of Obama’s. The parchment was in bad shape but was taken to parchment restoration experts where a process called infilling was used to fill in missing areas. The parchment was cleaned and tears were carefully mended using goldbeater’s skin, which is the outer membrane of a calf’s intestine. Even with the best efforts of top restoration experts, there are some parts of the speech that were unrecoverable. Nevertheless, with the best of intentions and with hopes that any missing sentences have been filled in true to the original intent of the document, here is the speech given by Barack Shakespeare Obama, probably at some point in the 1660s.

Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, friends, Romans and Countrymen, I come here today to praise our great nation. Almost two years ago, I took office amid religious wars such as that between the Catholics and the Huguenots, and that between the Muslims and the Hindus. There were wars breaking out all over the world. There was the Polish-Ottoman War, the Franco-Dutch War, Russo-Turkish Wars, and the Nine Years War in Ulster. The Spanish Armada was invading England. The English Armada was invading Spain. The Bubonic Plague had killed hundreds of thousands of people. Weapons of mass devastation such as high powered cannons and flintlock muskets became all too common and threatened the safety of law abiding citizens. We were in a period of unprecedented inflation as greedy speculators in London and Paris had drawn wealth away from the rest of the world, while devastating the environment in the New World by mining silver and gold.

In short, I inherited a mess. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a catastrophe. So we acted – immediately and aggressively. And two years later, the worst of the storm has passed. The storm is receding and the skies are brightening but problems remain. Many people are still out of work. Those who lost loved ones to the Bubonic plague, which my Health Department now refers to as the U1C1 Virus, can attest to the need for a national health insurance plan. Religious wars and wars of aggression are still raging all over the world.

O, a woman has lost consciousness! What dastardly deed is this? Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here for my smile was too much for this poor woman to bear!

At this point, Barack Shakespeare Obama, for some unexplained reason stopped his speech and turned to the side of the stage as if speaking to an invisible person, and said the following:

Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose to remake civilization.
I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself.
Perchance I should consider the desires of the people.
But that would be giving in to conscience.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all
If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly.
They don’t see my greatness or they fear it.
Be not afraid of my greatness!
Lord, what fools these mortals be.
O, what more favour can I do to thee,
To sunder his that was thine enemy?
Though we have seen better days,
It is not me who is to blame for the mess.
The way of mine enemies is wrong.
That way madness lies.
I will thrive for I am a wolf ready to strike though
He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf.
My strength is my words and while
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.

The people in the audience were confused by this sudden stream of consciousness but one person in the crowd was heard shouting:
One may smile, and smile, and be a villain!
Obama replied “That’s alright, that’s OK…”, as the person who shouted was removed by Knights and Centurions.

BS Obama then continued his speech:
I believe we have to talk to our enemies in order to understand them better. Strong leaders talk to their adversaries, and we will do so, no matter what anyone else says. For this reason, I have scheduled a series of meetings with Ivan the Terrible. Whatever differences exist between countries and religions, we can solve by talking. Therefore, myself, Ivan the Terrible and Napoleon will sit down for a summit where the finest ale and mutton will be served.

Now I want to take a moment if I may to give a shoutout to a great man in the crowd today. Copernicus, would you please stand and take a bow. Thank you. For those of you who may not know, Copernicus is the man who realized that it is the earth that revolves around the sun and not the sun that revolves around the earth. There are people who would like to go back to the days when it was thought that the sun revolved around the earth. My administration is not here to go backwards.

We will not be a bystander in the fight against climate change. We will lead the world in new green technology. There is scientific consensus that the conglomeration of people into large cities has created the need for too many horses. Matter that is expelled from the horse’s intestines has created a change in the earth’s atmosphere resulting in the heating of the earth. In addition, the constant burning of lamps for street lighting creates smoke which stays in the air and traps sunlight.

There is a liquid called oil that may be the salvation of all our environmental problems. With this ‘oil’ we will one day be able to have carriages without the pollution that horses create. We will also be able to create bright light without all the smoke. Until that day happens it is incumbent upon all of us to use our horses less. Those of you who insist on riding horses can eliminate tons of pollution by feeding your horses properly. By not over-feeding your horse, we can save thousands of pounds of horse waste. We should also get into the habit of using smaller horses. People who are in the habit of saying “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” should change their thinking and say instead; “Give me a waste efficient horse or I’m going to walk.”

This is the leadership that we are providing – an ale and mutton summit that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We are helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against the Bubonic Plague. Our strength lies in our diversity. Sweet are the uses of diversity. In addition, we are going to provide new green jobs which will help the economy and the environment.

Right here in Oxfordshire, we have opened up a new factory that will provide 75 new jobs. This factory will manufacture graphite pencils. Graphite pencils are the future and we must look forward. Why should we buy graphite pencils from China or any other place when we can produce them here at home? We have spent millions of pounds in order to create this new, clean graphite pencil industry and these new jobs are the fruit of our hard work.

So, despite plagues, economic catastrophes, wars, religious intolerance, and global warming, we are continuing to move forward with the change I promised. I didn’t say it would be easy as these are all the problems that I inherited from my predecessor. I still have confidence in the citizens of the country. You are all masters of your fates. And I will make sure that your fates turn out in a way deemed positive.