Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Standing Up ...

Salvete, qui legentes --

Another story from the front lines of the global war, the terrorists-against-everyone war.  It's a sad enough story (all the terrorism stories are sad, of course) but it's also very, very heartening!  I hope this tale of Kenyan heroism in the face of gun-crazy bullies is accurate, and - honest to God - I don't see why it should not be!  Here's the link:


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Some Movement (re prior blog entry, 'Stereotypes')

Salvete, qui legentes --

Just after I'd posted the blog entry 'Stereotypes' the other day, the news came out that the attack in San Bernardino was indeed politically and religiously motivated -- although strangely targeted.  It's apparently the same old Wahhabist anti-Western violence, this time on a more modest suburban scale.  (Guns furnished, gladly, by the membership of the NRA. That's another and potentially salutary group, apparently currently composed of nincompoops, that needs to wake up -- but that'll be a different story.) 

The news-worthier part of the story is this:  that American Muslims are raising money to give help the families of the victims of that attack.  Here's a link to the article: , and to the organization: .  The fund itself is called "Muslims United for San Bernardino"; they acknowledge that donations of money will not correct the evil done or ameliorate the suffering of the survivors, "but we do hope to lessen their burden in some way."  God knows, there will be funeral expenses and more such petty miseries.  But what is news-worthy is this:  American Muslims are human, and despite their particulars many of them have simple human sympathy for the victims and their devastated friends and families. 

“Since 9/11, we’ve felt we need to come out of our cocoons,” said Shaykh Mohammed Faqih of the Islamic Institute of Orange County [ ]. “We’re as American as anyone else … but if society is not feeling it, it means I’m not doing enough.”  Again, Sheik Faqih is of a younger and American-grown generation of Muslims, but by God! he's got the right attitude.  He is connected with a religious organization called the AlMaghrib Institute [ ]. 
Dr. Faisal Qazi, the Southern Californian neurosurgeon who initiated the fund for the families, has several interesting things to say.  "The American Muslim community has had extensive and intense conversations in the last decade about our role in society.  What you’re seeing is the coming of a new generation of American Muslims being emotionally and physically invested in whatever transpires in society.” 

Some Muslims do speak out against the violence, despite those voices sounding weak.  But they are there, nonetheless.  For example, see , a Canadian Muslim organization that speaks against it, albeit with a conservatively religious voice.  Across the pond in the UK, there is a yearly "UK Arbaeen Procession" which is a Muslim-organized multi-faith march for "unity and friendship between people of all ages and cultures" [ ]. 
Better still, to me, is , a group proud to be an American-Muslim organization "willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously."  They acknowledge that too many Muslim-American authority figures are not so willing and some are indeed sympathetic to terrorist aims.  This adds a note of realism to their stance, that they admit that people in Muslim-American communities have divergent opinions on the crisis.  "Free Muslims will challenge these beliefs and target the sympathetic support given to terrorists by Muslims", says their 'About Us' blurb on their website (above).  

All in all, this gives me hope.  American Muslims may finally be waking up, especially the younger of them.  Now, could some of these sympathetic organizations actually be concealing terrorist supporters?  Sure, it's possible.  But in what part of human history has there not been angry people?  The Republican Party is made of little else, it sometimes seems.  There have been more peaceful times, certainly.  But think about it:  the USA and her republic have survived the Depression, World War II's Nazi Bund, urban riots in the 60's, and (of course) the September 11 attack.  Even if -- okay, when -- there is more terrorist bloodshed here at home, still the republic, the American way of life, will survive.  It's too good to be thrown away.  And I think a lot of American Muslims would say the same.

Bene valete.

Monday, December 7, 2015

(When I was 58 ...)

[An old draft entry that I just checked for errors and then inadvertently published for the very first time.  58 would make this ca. 2013 or so.  So view it as something 'historical'.]

Salvete, qui legunt -

I am 58 years old at this point. Compared to many, I've never had a life - but that's to be judged from which point of view? My default (or automatic) point of view is that I've had a simply defective life; that others have had the laurels, the striving, the "bling" of it all. Why do I even reflect on that? I am not the others; I am not "normal". If I am polite, it comes of fear - the need to manage people to avoid negative face - blame, shame and anger. If I read, it is because I search for some Bling of Knowledge that will validate what I am and save me the expense of hardship and self-discipline. Or I read for pleasure, to escape work, work, work....

From a more reflective point of view, I've simply had MY life - personal, inconsiderable, and more or less unique.  In these later years, I'm still trying to come to terms with my own ignorance, and with my own tendency (seen above) to wallow in facile self-criticism. 


Friday, December 4, 2015


Salvete, qui legentes --

The stereotype of the Muslim Terrorist is omnipresent, and, of course, all the more so now after the November attacks in Paris. 

But I myself would like to know more about the people who de facto share the supposed traits of such a Terrorist and yet are NOT themselves supporters of terrorism.  This is because of my desire to answer a question: Why is there no appreciable voice coming out of the more-or-less Islamic world generally that repudiates or better yet denounces Muslim absolutism?  Are there people of a Mid-Eastern background, a Muslim background, an Arab background, and so on, who can or will solidly denounce Islamic Terror?  If there are, they appear to be invisible or at best, timid. 

I see multiple possible reasons for the silence.
(a)  News is made by violence and extremism, and not by being reasonable. Tales of terrorism and its horrors sell more commercial spots than reason or decency would. 
(b)  The voices might be there, but have simply been ignored by the media as not news-worthy! 
(c)  The voices might be there, but the speakers lacking mutual knowledge, organization or motivation by which to amplify their arguments.
(d)  People who are not maniacs are often absorbed by living their lives, rather than debating foreign policy or inviting trouble. 
(e)  Where poverty and testosterone are prevalent, they strongly inform popular opinion.  This leads to manias and brutally simplistic -- even "Final" -- solutions.  This "legitimizes" violence for a lot of people. 
(f)  In popular opinion in all cultures, blame is assigned first to foreigners (e.g., "Mexicans are thieves", etc.) or to fellow-citizens of an opposite political bent (e.g., "Liberals are traitors", etc.).  Detachment and reason are not to be expected in popular culture, and blame will automatically be assigned to "the usual suspects", "THOSE people".  Many people, in other words, don't know any better. 
(g)  In the modern cultural environment of the Middle East and quite probably in the world diaspora of Middle-Easterners, the anti-Western terrorists are often seen as heroes: to decry them would invite not only verbal retribution against the speaker but also physical assault and murder.  In a word, popular repression silences those who might speak up.
(h)  As in most cultures, "If you're not with us, then you're against us!" is very likely the political rule-of-thumb of many in Middle Eastern and Islamic communities.  This amplifies (e), (f) and (g) above; see also (i), following.
(i)  Any criticism of Arab or Muslim extremism will, following the fallacy in (h) above, be received popularly as support for Israel, and as disloyalty to the Palestinian cause.  This could be a problem not only of outward coercion, but of inward conscience as well. 
(j)  In Islamic culture generally, there has perhaps never been much of a dividing line between God, religion and the state.  As a basic and popular idea, then, law may mean religion more than society, and when push-comes-to-shove in debate, religion becomes (mentally, automatically) the constitutional foundation.  As a result, absolutism lies ever-ready in the mind, and God is already installed as the ultimate magistrate of things earthly.  This is a strait-jacket on the mind and not limited to Islamic culture, by any means.
(k)  Tit-for-tat:  It is believed that foreign soldiers and American drones are routinely killing the innocent along with the guilty all over the Middle East, and therefore that every massacre of Westerners (or even other Middle-Easterners) may be seen as justified on a kind of eye-for-an-eye basis. 

Given that some or all of this is accurate -- I do NOT know that it is, I hasten to say, but some of it seems most likely to an outsider like myself -- then it would be no wonder to me if Muslims tended to fall in line in silent support of terror, and to ignore their own consciences in favor of their over-zealous "heroes" out on the prowl, who have bagged yet more infidel victims. 

Vobis voluntatis bonae omnibus, bene valete.  To you of goodwill, all, be ye well.