Sunday, 30 September 2007
A Musical Interlude: Special Request

"....A propos of nothing, apart from the fact that it's also in French, here is a link to Francoise Hardy, to whom I listened a lot when I was in France this summer, showing my age.

       -- from a reader 

The ether was filled not with the song I expected, but with "la maison où j'ai grandi."

Yes, it takes me back, back to endless tabloid  headlines about Johnny and Sylvie (, and endless solemn discussions in Le Monde about l'enlèvement de Ben Barka, and an amazing, ultra-modern, glassy and glossy new place called Le Drugstore.   You still needed to ask for a jeton au zinc; many  bathrooms in cafes and bars were still determinedly à la turque. An occasional vespasienne could still stink to high heaven. American girls still spent Junior Years Abroad at Reid Hall on the rue de Chevreuse, one street over from the studio of Ossip Zadkine. You could buy an original print by Sonia Delaunay or Zao Wou-ki for next to nothing. When it came to English first editions, the bouquinistes had no idea what they had was worth. You could - and I did -- still send a girl a petit bleu, which whooshed in those underground pipes from one side of Paris to another in nothing flat. Raymond Aron, Jacques Ellul, and Vladimir Jankélévitch were all still alive, still helping people make sense of things. America had not yet entered Vietnam in a big way, and there was no need, as yet, to pretend to be a Canadian. Not everything, but a lot, was more or less right with the world.

The song I  assumed  -- wrongly -- you would be posting is one that I will now  put up as a Musical Interlude, so you can listen here to Hardy, and others can hear the favorite song of a sixteen-year-old jeune fille, the kind who has been bien rangée from her earliest cartable-and-cahier period, right up to the period of  melancholy adolescent longing for something, to which Françoise Hardy's songs appeared to give expression. Those years closed with a bang, when all bourgeois hell broke loose, or at least many thought it did. Nothing good came of 1968, and the years following. Standards went down. Schools worsened. The wrong authorities were being questioned. But mostly what happened was that one set of articles of faith were replaced by another. As a result of those new articles of faith, many French now find themselves mentally unprepared, and thus practically unable, to defend themselves and their state and the artifacts of Chamfort's "perfected civilisation" from its greatest threat since the Nazis goosestepped, eyes right,  under the Arc de Triomphe. And much that makes France France, including the dictée and Delacroix and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, is  and will remain under permanent siege. 

No more dilations and divagations. Returning to our lambs, but certainly not for any conceivable Eid al-Fitr, here's that song, with the sound of its time, the mid-1960s, in France:
Posted on 09/30/2007 6:11 PM by Hugh Fitzerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
What James V. Schall Might Have Said

James V. Schall, S. J., on the faculty at Georgetown, lends that school as much luster as the school's connection with Esposito's "Center For Muslim-Christian Understanding" takes away.

Here is one of his essays:

On the Term "Islamo-Fascism" | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | August 15, 2006

The one part of his otherwise excellent essay that gives pause is this:

"A somewhat bewildered American President and British Prime Minister have understood, whereas many politicians have not, that there is a real war and a real enemy. They have been prudent in their use of language, catering to differing usages both in western democracies and in the Muslim world. Their general approach has been to seek to isolate the "terrorists" from the rest of the Muslim world. This world itself has been caught up for centuries in a stagnant and almost totally controlled system usually under the power of a military that has served to sit on top of those religious radicals who would tear up the world. What the President thus has sought to do is finally to allow and encourage what he considers to be the great majority of Muslim citizens to be able to participate in a culture that is not dominated by such motives that burst forth frequently from within Islam to employ terror."

Where he describes Blair and Bush as having been "prudent" in their use of language, I suggest that they have been "confused" and "unhelpful" in their use of language, to be explained by invoking those Three Horsemen of the Esdrujula (Timidity, Stupidity, Rigidity). Furthermore, the "[Muslim] world" that "itself has been caught up for centuries in a stagnant and almost totally controlled system usually under the power of a military" is not an accurate description. What James V. Schall describes as stagnation is, rather, the stasis that Islam encourages, for all of truth was revealed in the Qur'an, uncreated and immutable, and glossed by the Sunnah (recorded mainly in the Hadith, which have been studied, and assigned to different classes of presumed authenticity, by muhaddithin more than a millennium ago, and those rankings are not to be questions), and both the habit of mental submission, and the fear of the new ("bida"), and the fixed belief that all truth has been revealed and there is nothing further ye need know on earth, explains that "stagnant" aspect of Muslim societies.

And James V. Schall, in describing what Bush is trying to do in Iraq, appears partly to endorse that venture, and leaves out the stinging criticism he might, fourteen months later, have made of this hopelessly naive effort to transplant "freedom" and "democracy" in the Western sense can possibly make sense, or be achieved, or if achieved would somehow dampen the ardor to fulfill the duty of Jihad.

Posted on 09/30/2007 5:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
A Musical Interlude: Aupr?s de ma Blonde
Posted on 09/30/2007 4:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Aid and Comfort

The Hamas-Fatah power struggle has descended into the gutter over the past few days, with both parties trading allegations about the involvement of their members in homosexual relations and adultery.  --from this news article

Arafat famously had a taste for young blondes, but the young blondes in question were young blond German boys (at work was that well-known phenomenon, the sexual attraction offered by The Other, observable as well in the behavior of Frenchmen, such as Gide, who found favored catamites among Moroccans, and then elsewhere in the Maghreb). It is annoying to think that the P.A., and the P.L.O., and for that matter every other "Palestinian" group and leader, carries on -- in every sense -- because funds have been furnished by long-suffering Western taxpayers. So it was your tax money and mine that bankrolled the services rendered to Arafat by those blond German boytoys, and a great many others (see Orianna Fallaci for more on Arafat's personal behavior and brutta figura). Looking today at the "Palestinians," with their Lesser Jihad still unrecognized for what it is by those busily preparing for that absurd, dangerous, and utterly wrongheaded "Two-State-Solution" Conference to be held in Annapolis in November, and realizing just some of the ways that your tax-dollars have been put to work (that apartment Suha Arafat has on the Avenue Foch, or thereabouts, that modish haute couteur picked up after viewing those defiles on the Avenue Montaigne, that billion she made off with, and of course the sums those blond German boys, and many others, also must have made off with), do you think you've been getting your money's worth? Are you pleased with the decision of the American government, or of those governments in Western Europe, to keep shelling out hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars so that those petty lords of "Palestinian" misrule can continue to buy those apartments in Paris and Cannes, and send their children to school (it's all paid for, completely, by you the Western taxpayers), and to buy those season tickets to brothels, with girls or, as the case may be, boys? Happy to have kept Arafat auprès de ses blond(e)s, où il fait bon fait bon fait bon?

When does foreign aid become aid and comfort for the enemy? When the aid comes from Infidels, and is given to Muslims. Always such aid is taken without gratitude by the recipient, while the Infidel donor becomes more and more convinced that the aid must continue to be given, lest the Muslim recipient become angry, and turn on the donor.

That's when.

Posted on 09/30/2007 4:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Strike it lucky

Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco, apparently. The Spectator's Mary Killen - not to be confused with me, although you never see her and me, or Dot Wordsworth and me, together - has some advice for those male readers who are not so lucky:

Q. I have a dear friend, a dear bumbling fool of the old school who occasionally is driven to use the services of a prostitute. In the past he has always found them by looking out for immodestly dressed women who are standing in the street smoking with one foot against a wall. Now that so many of these women are, in fact, lawyers who are just having a smoking break outside their office, I am concerned that he might get into serious trouble. How should I advise him?
P.R., London SW3

A. Your friend should carry his own packet of cigarettes and approach the smoker he fancies to ask only for a light. If she is a prostitute, she will immediately extinguish her half-smoked fag and proposition him. If not, en route to his goal, he can still enjoy the camaraderie of chatting among the temporary communities of smokers which have sprung up all over the streets.

Alternatively he could bum a fag off her. American readers - honi soit qui mal y pense.

Posted on 09/30/2007 2:39 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 30 September 2007
How I Learned The Word "Xenoglossophobia"

I'm waving a white flag, I surrender. I did find a word for my problem toward Latin - Xenoglossophobia. -- from the same reader

No need to "surrender." If you would just decide to welcome, make that leap, rather than to feel annoyance at, the occasional use, by me, of an occasional phrase that is not in English but in Latin or French, but is used so commonly by English writers in time and space, that one has a right to think it not unreasonable to use it, you would be happier, I would be happier, all God's chillun would be happier.

And all you would have to do should such a phrase, or even an unusual word in English, swim into your now-handsomely-unbegrudging ken, is not to drive all the way to some distant library, but merely to click to find the meaning on the Internet.

Oh, I know what you're going to say at this point. You're going to say: "But how does Hugh know I have a computer? How does he know, even if I have a computer, that I would be able to use it with such ease?"

To which I reply: Don't try to fool me. I wasn't born yesterday, you know.

Let's be on the same side. It's so much easier that way.

Posted on 09/30/2007 1:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
McCain's Discomfort

GOP presidential candidate John McCain says America is better off with a Christian President and he doesn't want a Muslim in the Oval Office.

"I admire the Islam. There's a lot of good principles in it," he said. "But I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith."
--from this news article

McCain is an innocent. Physically tough, able to withstand years of imprisonment, refusing to collaborate in any way with his North Vietnamese captors, he apparently is not tough enough to sit down and read, and begin to think clearly, about the tenets and attitudes and atmospherics of Islam, which can only begin to be understood after one has thoroughly familiarized oneself with the Qur'an (read with an understanding of naskh, and with the ability to discern that even such seemingly innocent phrases as "fi sabil Allah" -- "in the path of Allah" --- are only superficially similar to such Christian phrases as "walk in the way of the Lord" because the "way of Allah" is quite different). If McCain were to spend just a few weekends reading "The Dhimmi" and "Islam and Dhimmitude" and "Onward Muslim Soldiers" and "The Truth About Muhammad" and "Why I Am Not a Muslim" and "The Legacy of Jihad" and "Infidel" and Ibn Warraq's essay comparing "Islam and Fascism," if he were to permit himself what may seem to some to be a luxury but is in fact a necessity -- the time to study Islam, and not through the medium of the small army of apologists, both Muslim and non-Muslim (and here the dozens of Western scholars of Islam, their texts preserved and reprinted, will stand him in good stead, so that he need not repair to, need not rely on, need not trust, the eager to please, smiling, outwardly plausible, members of MESA Nostra, beginning with the espositos and the ernsts, and ending with the dabashis and the safis and the massads and tutti quanti).

If he had done it, if he had performed this task, he would never have been such an enthusiast for the continued squandering of men, money, and matériel in Tarbaby Iraq. He would have understood that the only outcome worth having, from the American point of view, is one that weakens the Camp of Islam, in and out of Iraq. And the way to weaken the Camp of Islam is to exploit -- not in this case by doing something, but by ceasing to do something, by ceasing to try to make Iraq into something it never was and never will be -- the pre-existing fissures, sectarian and ethnic, that Iraq offers on a platter. The Sunnis will never acquiesce in the new political (and therefore economic) order in Iraq. The Shi'a will never yield their new power, having suffered from Sunni discrimination, persecution, and mass murder over the entire history of modern Iraq, and, within Islam, over a much longer period, going back to the days of Ali and Hussain.

McCain, who has some of the right instincts, and senses that something is not quite right with Islam, has expressed himself foolishly. He should never have said, even if it is true, and even if we all know what he meant by this, that "this is a Christian nation" - unless he was immediately prepared to explain exactly what he meant by this (and it was neither offensive nor historically inaccurate, but only inoffensive if properly explained). Now he has opened himself up to CAIR's attack, and he will backtrack apologetically, and in so doing, say things that are not true, and are harmful.

What he should and could have said is that those who accept the principles of this country, its legal and political institutions, and are not intent on changing them, can potentially serve as president. He could then have added "I'm concerned that the contents of the Qur'an and Hadith suggest that Muslims have a duty to spread Islam until it dominates, that part of that duty includes the spread of the Holy Law of Islam, that Islam is a collectivist faith that does not recognize the spiritual autonomy of the individual, so that there is no right to apostasy, that the Qur'an contains many passages that are disturbing and that need to be examined further and their exact meaning -- the meaning given to them by Believers -- be clarified for our sake, for the sake of non-Muslims who know, up to this point, so very little. And I include myself, and the other members of Congress, and of the Executive. We have simply assumed, as has President Bush, that all religions are more or less the same. And that assumption may not withstand close examination of the evidence, textual and historical, of the doctrines, and the practice, of Islam.

Posted on 09/30/2007 1:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Demanding or Undemanding? Aye, There's The Rub, Or, Voil? Le Hic.

"I certainly would not put Q = U x A x (Ti-To) in an essay written for broad consumption and then criticize someone for not looking it up themselves. Q=UxAxdeltaT is just as obscure to a non-engineer as some Latin phrases are to me."
-- from the same reader

No. And I wouldn't either. Nor would I use just any Latin phrase that came to mind. "Eheu fugaces Postume, Postume" can appear in "Speak, Memory" but might be out of place in an Op/Ed article. But the phrase "fortiter in re, suaviter in modo" has been in common English usage for centuries.

Some knowledge of mathematical formulae can be assumed, while much cannot. A lot depends on the size, and level, of the intended audience, and even where that audience may be. An Italian journalist can put all kinds of Latin into his Italian, and cheerfully assume he will be understood. A Russian journalist can put all kinds of scientific formulas into his articles for the popular press, and ditto.

In this case I thought, and think still, "fortiter in re, suaviter in modo" was perfectly appropriate, and it did not make unusual demands on readers. You disagree. Therein lies the quarrel.

Posted on 09/30/2007 12:58 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco

-- from a reader

Now a reader above has used a term with which I was unfamiliar. Did I get mad? Did I pick up my Elgin marbles and go home? Did I insist that he not use such a term?

No. I googled to find out what it meant. And now. having employed my celebrated computer skills, I know exactly what it means.

"ROFLMAO" stands for "Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco."

Posted on 09/30/2007 12:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
A Little Latin in Manhattan

A reader comments on my use of a well-known Latin tag thus:

"fortiter in re, suaviter in modo

Hugh, I know that you are a very bright individual, an intellectual teaching people like me who learned thermodynamics instead of philosophy. You do not have to prove to me how smart you are by putting crap like "fortiter in re, suaviter in modo" in your essays. I'm certain that you could be able to find the proper English."

Now let's see. What would be the proper English for "fortiter in re, suaviter in modo"? The 42nd Reserve Squadron of the Royal Air Force may help us, for it takes as its motto the first part of the phrase -- "fortiter in re” – while the rest is left off because the methods of the Royal Air Force's 42nd Squadron could hardly be described as "suaviter in modo.”

At the 42nd Squadron’s website we find:

“The Squadron motto "Fortiter In Re" comes from the old Latin tag: "Fortiter in Re, suaviter in modo" (Sometimes quotes the other way round) which means forcibly (Or resolutely) in deed, gentle in manner.

The motto – that is the “fortiter in re” part -- is translated by Brewer as follows:
’Firmness in doing what is to be done; an unflinching resolution to persevere to the end.’”

Even though the Latin tag is one of those most commonly used in English (every schoolboy would once have known it – and if you disbelieve, look at the reprinted McGuffey’s Readers, or the literature and grammar books most commonly-used in nineteenth-century American schoolrooms) he thinks the Latin phrase should not be used. Why? Because he doesn’t know it, and what’s more, he doesn’t want to look in a book, or even to click once to find out what the phrase means. Why not? Why be so lazy, so incurious?

Why should the language constrict, why should we give up the use of phrases that have been in constant use in English prose, since English prose began? Yes, I know that our leading newspapers dumb down the prose of their contributors (as all those who have ever submitted an Op/Ed know), and that their ideal level of English is that which the average thirteen or fourteen-year-old can understand, and radio and television are worse But why should we participate in this? Why should I, or you, or anyone, become collaborators in this deliberate shrinking of the lexicon, or the limits put on allusions so that language becomes as bland as possible, and where nothing at all can be assumed on the part of the audience. Shouldn’t it go the other way? Shouldn’t we deliberately attempt to widen the vocabulary of readers, to make them look things up by alluding to this or that bit of history, just as one uses such words as “jizyah” and “dhimmi” in order to force people to find out what those terms mean?

Both the active and passive vocabularies of Americans have been shrinking, steadily, decade by decade, from 1900 to 2000. It’s worrisome. A vast dumbing-down is the result of newspapers, radio, and television, all together having decided that their only responsibility is to enlarge the size of their audience for the purposes of attracting advertisers and being able to charge those advertisers large sums, and anything that might be a strain on some readers or listeners or viewers, will be regarded with alarm and antipathy.

I would never change my phrasing in order to appeal to, or satisfy, the laziest common denominator. The poster’s sentence “You do not have to prove to me how smart you are by putting crap like "fortiter in re, suaviter in modo" in your essays” is crude. And to describe as “crap” a Latin phrase that has been in continuous use, by English writers, over at least the past six centuries, and then to be almost prideful of one's not knowing, but dismissing nonetheless, what is one of the best-known Latin tags, is strange.

And the attribution of a motive to me for using such a phrase (“you do not have to prove to me now smart you are…”) is absurd.

It is hard to believe that you think I, or anyone, should obey not the dictates of our own linguistic instincts and conscience, but instead should gauge or weigh or estimate the effect on some posited "average reader" of this or that word or phrase, in English or Latin or some other tongue (but not borrowed yesterday, rather domesticated a long time ago). so that no onerous mental demands are made on that reader. “Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo” makes no such onerous demands. Should you decide to look up the phrase "fortiter in re, suaviter in modo" (it will take about ten seconds) and find out what it means, you may start to use it yourself. You may come to agree that it expresses in lapidary fashion something that cannot be expressed so well, in such brief compass, in any other way. You may even come to take pleasure in using it, rather than being offended when others use it.

A little Latin, even or perhaps especially in Manhattan, can go a long way.

Posted on 09/30/2007 11:10 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
The Islamist Head Fake

Investor's Business Daily: Homeland Security: When dealing with Muslim leaders, Washington should borrow a page from Ronald Reagan's Soviet playbook: Trust, but verify. Many aim to deceive us, court evidence shows.

It's now believed that several leaders of the Muslim establishment in America last decade conspired to infiltrate the U.S. political system, change Middle East policy and gradually Islamize America. At the same time, they hatched a plot to fund overseas terrorists.

Of course, they couldn't do this out in the open. So they set up benign-sounding nonprofits and charities to "camouflage" their traitorous activities, say U.S. prosecutors who cite wiretap transcripts and other documents uncovered in a criminal probe of the Holy Land Foundation, the largest Muslim charity in America.

During a secret meeting at a Philadelphia hotel, the charity's president and other prominent Muslim leaders were recorded allegedly plotting ways to disguise payments to Hamas terrorists as charity.

"I swear by Allah that war is deception," said Shukri Abu-Baker, now on trial in the federal terror-funding case. "We are fighting our enemy with a kind heart. . . . Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you're leaving while you're walking that way. Deceive your enemy."

Another participant at the Hamas summit was the founder of the Council on American Islamic-Relations, or CAIR, the largest Muslim civil-rights group in the country and an unindicted co-conspirator in the terror-funding case.

Adding to Abu-Baker's point, Omar Ahmad compared the deception needed to fool the infidels with the head fake in basketball. "He makes a player believe that he is doing this while he does something else," Ahmad said. "I agree with you. . . . Politics is a completion of war."

The Islamist head fake has worked all too well over the past decade. Blind acceptance and validation of Muslim leaders with questionable loyalties hardly missed a beat in Washington even after 9/11.

Many were invited to the White House and Congress. The head of the FBI spoke at their conferences, calling them "mainstream" and "moderate." Many naive officials still confer legitimacy on them.

But what Muslim leaders tell us and what they tell Muslim audiences are often two entirely different things. The deception is astonishing. They've really played us for suckers.

Here are just a few examples:

Sami Al-Arian: The popular and respected Muslim activist was a White House guest of both presidents Clinton and Bush. He assured his hosts he was both peace-loving and patriotic. "I am a very moderate Muslim person," he said. "I also condemn violence in all its forms."

All the while, Al-Arian was secretly running a U.S. beachhead for Palestinian terrorists. In a speech at a Cleveland mosque, he once thundered: "Let's damn America, let's damn Israel, let's damn their allies until death."

He's now a convicted terrorist.

Abdurahman Alamoudi: This pillar of the Muslim community also went from the White House to the Big House. But not before developing the Pentagon's Muslim chaplain corps, and acting as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department.

He, too, strongly denounced terror. "We are against all forms of terrorism," he claimed. "Our religion is against terrorism."

Privately, however, he raised major funds for al-Qaida and was caught on tape grumbling that Osama bin Laden hadn't killed enough Americans in the U.S. embassy bombings.

Also, at a Muslim conference, he was recorded saying the following:

"Muslims sooner or later will be the moral leadership of America. It depends on me and you. Either we do it now or we do it after a hundred years, but this country will become a Muslim country. And I think if we are outside this country, we can say, 'Oh, Allah, destroy America.' But once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it."

Ali Al-Timimi: A noted imam and native Washingtonian, he also put on a moderate face in public while secretly plotting against us. The internationally known Muslim scholar had government clearance — even worked with a former White House chief of staff — and was invited to speak on Islam to the U.S. military.

Publicly, the imam denounced Islamic violence. "My position against terrorism and Muslim-inspired violence against innocent people is well known by Muslims," he said.

But privately, a darker picture emerged. Five days after the 9/11 attacks, he called them "legitimate" and rallied young Muslim men at his mosque to carry out more "holy war" and "violent jihad."

Al-Timimi even cheered the Columbia space shuttle disaster, calling it a "good omen" for Muslims because it was a blow to their "greatest enemy." He also said the U.S. "should be destroyed."

This high-profile moderate is also now behind bars, for soliciting terror and treason.

What other Muslim leaders are betraying our trust? Who else is "camouflaging" their radical beliefs and agenda with smiles and soft rhetoric?

To reach out to the Muslim community, we must deal with its leaders. But based on their proven track record of dissembling, we can no longer go on blindly trusting them.

Posted on 09/30/2007 11:03 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Interview With Dr. Dalrymple

Robert Stacy McCain interviews Theodore Dalrymple in the Washington Times:

Ideas have consequences, Richard Weaver observed, and the banishment of the idea of prejudice has had profound consequences for Western culture, Theodore Dalrymple explains in his new book, "In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas."

"Today, the word prejudice has come to seem synonymous with bigotry; therefore the only way a person can establish freedom from bigotry is by claiming to have wiped his mind free from prejudice," Mr. Dalrymple writes, explaining that concept of "prejudice" (meaning "preconceived judgment or opinion") has suffered from its association with racial discrimination...

Q: You write about "the intellectual heartlands of the world, where we all happen to live." Was your book written with a specific audience of intellectuals in mind?

A: My book was written for that elusive person, the general reader. I tend to assume that the general reader is interested in the same things as I. So far, sales have always proved me wrong.

Q: You accuse 19th-century philosopher John Stuart Mill of "a prejudice against prejudice." What do you mean by that?

A: By prejudice against prejudice, I mean the supposition that the inherited wisdom of mankind is wrong or mistaken. Actually, Mill was more subtle than that — he acknowledged that much of what passes as traditional wisdom may actually be wise — but the overall effect of his rhetoric has been quite the opposite.

Let me say that I admire Mill as a person very greatly.

Q: What are the practical consequences of the unprejudiced approach to life?

A: The attempt to live as if one were unprejudiced is dangerous. It leads one to disregard the most obvious considerations about people, for example that their manner and appearance is aggressive. In my work I was often consulted by people who failed to take notice of the signs that a person gave because to do so would be to 'stereotype' him, and they suffered the consequences.

Q: Many of the anecdotes you use are drawn from your experience as a physician treating British prison inmates. How did that experience affect your perspective?

A: My experiences as a doctor in a slum and in a prison made me averse to the frivolous attitudinizing of middle class intellectuals.

Q: You quote Dr. Ronald Ross, a Nobel Prize-winning physician, describing India as home of "an ancient outworn race," and then observe that this apparent expression of prejudice "was not incompatible with benevolence and humanity." Why do so many people now believe that prejudice and benevolence are mutually exclusive?

A: I think that there has been a semantic shift such that the word prejudice conjures up images of the Ku Klux Klan or perhaps the Spanish Inquisition. For Adam Smith, say, all men had a predisposition to sympathy for his fellow beings. This aspect of prejudice is now entirely forgotten.

Q: You make reference to a number of philosophers [Rene] Descartes, [David] Hume, [Jean-Jacques] Rousseau, and Karl Popper among others. Does our "prejudice against prejudice" suggest a decline of the philosophical worldview?

A: In a sense there has been an increase in the "philosophical worldview," in so far as everyone is now expected, and expects, to be his own moral philosopher, so that even the most trivial of customs is examined from the point of view of first principles. One of the points of my book is that, if you insist upon examining questions such as whether people should put their feet up on the train seats in front of them from first principles, civilized conduct soon declines, because it is impossible to find definitive and indubitable reasons why people should not put their feet up on train seats in front of them. One does not learn good conduct by reflecting on first principles — which is not, of course, to say that good conduct is without any reason whatsoever.

Q: "In Praise of Prejudice" is written in what some readers might consider an old-fashioned style reminiscent of such 18th-century writers as Edward Gibbon, Edmund Burke and Adam Smith. Is there a reason for this?

A: If it is in that style, it is because it comes naturally to me and suits my subject. It is not deliberate imitation: but I can't help finding the comparison extremely flattering.

Q: What, if anything, can be done to rehabilitate the notion of what Burke called "sound prejudice"?

A: This is a very difficult question. Obviously, it can't be done by governmental fiat or legislation, because an enforced doctrine of healthy prejudice would be as bad as what it replaces. I think the only solution is to work to change the philosophical atmosphere of society, to try patiently to undermine what [Michael] Oakeshott called rationalism in politics. Success is not guaranteed, indeed seems somewhat unlikely. Be that as it may, that is what I have been attempting all these years.

Posted on 09/30/2007 10:49 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 30 September 2007
As luck would have it

Sam Leith in The Spectator:

There’s a wonderful story in this book, told by the biologist Lewis Wolpert, about a vistor to the office of the physicist Niels Bohr. The visitor, a fellow scientist, was astonished to see a horseshoe nailed above the Nobel laureate’s desk. ‘Surely you don’t believe that horseshoe will bring you luck?’ he said. ‘I believe no such thing, my good friend,’ replied Bohr. ‘Not at all. I am scarcely likely to believe in such foolish nonsense. However, I am told that a horseshoe will bring you good luck whether you believe in it or not.’

Posted on 09/30/2007 10:32 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 30 September 2007
A Test For The Media

"Sterling Heights police Detective Sgt. Paul Jesperson said three separate complaints were filed by residents Tuesday who found the fliers on their windshields.

He said the flier said: 'Kill Jews and Christians if they don't believe in Allah and Mohammad."

It further advises people to 'Fight those who do not believe.'

'I really don't know what it means other than suggesting violence to Jews and Christians,' Jesperson said. 'We certainly have no intentions of stifling someone's religious beliefs but it is most certainly a violation of the law if you're condoning violence with this hate literature.' --from this news article

This "hate literature" comes right out of the Qur'an. Will any radio talk show host in and around Detroit, will the main Detroit newspapers, dare to point out where such a phrase as "Fight those who do not believe" comes from, and just to be clear, give the entire passage, and indeed, passages around it, so as to avoid the accusation that they have "taken things out of context"? Will they do anything to explain where these phrases and mental set come from, or will they do everything they can not to do so, which has been the clear intent so far?

When will journalists begin to fulfill their responsibilities not merely to report, but to explain, to make sense of what they report? If they say nothing, this "hate literature" will be understood as containing phrases that only a crank could have composed. But no one made those phrases up, and what they mean, up. So where did they come from? What were the sources? See if you can find out.

Or merely ask Robert Spencer. Or Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Or Wafa Sultan. Or Ali Sina. Or Ibn Warraq. Or anyone who, through no fault of his own, was born into Islam, and raised up within it, and then managed to leave it, and knows exactly where those phrases -- and the attitudes those phrases, or phrases very much like them, engender -- came from.

Posted on 09/30/2007 7:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
A 'Christian believer' As Described In Qur'an (3:113)

The award inscription read: "Islamic Society of North America presents Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, a fellow activist for peace, justice and reconciliation, a 'Christian believer' as described in Qur'an (3:113) in recognition of his tireless contribution to advancing inter-religious dialogue and partnership, with our prayers for a continued demonstration of energy, understanding and commitment."
--from this article 

Here is Qur'an 3:113: "Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration."

The Signs of Allah. That's ayat in Arabic. It refers to the verses -- ayat -- of the Qur'an. Ibn Kathir says in explaining this verse that "there are believers and also criminals among the People of the Book," and that the believers among them "implement the Book of Allah, adhere to His Law and follow His Prophet Muhammad." In other words, they become Muslims. The Rev. Dr. Premawardhana must be so proud. -- Robert Spencer

Oh, he's doing even more than "rehearsing [reading over and over] the ayat" and "prostrating himself in adoration." He's keenly interested in preventing Infidels in this country from reading anything, finding out anything, that might conceivably open their eyes to the texts and tenets of Islam. Why, he has even been warning publicly against people reading a book, written by the University of London professor, and well-known historian of the Middle East, Ephraim Karsh, about "Islamic Imperialism."

Here is a news item about the censorious, and censor-loving, outwardly all sweet-reason and interfaith piety, inwardly a menace to free thought and free speech and people learning about, and then coming to their senses about, Islam, NCC Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations Shanta Premawardhana. For he knows. And presumably those who back him know. Islam is good, fundamentally good. Those who, such as Wafa Sultan, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or Ibn Warraq, who were born into Islam but do not agree, have written terrible things, according to Shanta Premawardhana, and of course those terrible things must be suppressed, must not be read, for if read they might lead to certain thoughts, and further investigation, and a further "misunderstanding" of Islam which, god knows, is becoming far too "misunderstood" what with the bombs and attacks and manifestos everywhere, what with the revelations at the Holy Land Foundation trial, what with "The Dhimmi" and "Islam and Dhimmitude" and "The Truth About Muhammad" and "The Legacy of Jihad" and Antoine Fattal and Joseph Schacht and C. Snouck Hurgronje and Henri Lammens and K. S. Lal and W. H. S. Gairdner, and St. Clair Tisdall and Samuel Zwemer. And would the last three, all Christian clergymen, be admitted into today's WCC? Would their books be allowed to be published if Shanta Premawardhana, and all the little shanta premawardhans, had their sweetly sinister, terminally naive, or worse, way?

Come to think of it, has Shanta Premawardhana read any of the works of the great Western scholars (or Hindu ones, for that matter) of Islam? He hasn't? Has he read, has he allowed himself to read, and to ponder, Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "Infidel" or Ibn Warraq's "Why I Am Not a Muslim" or Anwar Shaikh's "Islam the Arab National Religion" or Ali Dashti's "Twenty-Three Years"? Has he permitted himself the mental freedom to read Wafa Sultan's articles, and will he read her forthcoming book, or will he move heaven and earth, in the World Council of Churches (where there is a lot less heaven, and a lot more earth), to make sure that his charges, spiritual and temporal, those whom he would wish to guide, never read, never hear about, those and many other books, for fear that they, like the book by Ephraim Karsh he warns darkly against, might learn something about Islam that they would not un-learn, and that worries him?

Why has Shanta Premawardhana become such a Defender of the Faith -- that faith being Islam? Does he have a vested mental interest in believing that All Religions Want the Same Thing and There Can Be No Exceptions To This Rule, lest his little mental and emotional apple-cart be overturned? And we couldn't have that. That would never do.

Posted on 09/30/2007 7:10 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Musical interlude

Ulysses, Schmulysses.  Enough wandering already. Stay at home:

Dioclesian: Act V - Masque - A Fawn, Chorus: Let monarchs fight Listen

Does Purcell rhyme with gazelle or does it sound like the washing powder?



Posted on 09/30/2007 7:21 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Imam killed in Russia after speaking out against Islamic militants
MAKHACHKALA, Russia - Gunmen killed a Russian imam on his way to morning prayers in a restive southern region Saturday, a day after he spoke out against Islamic extremists, police said.
Nurmagomed Gadzhimagomedov was shot by attackers in a car while walking from his home to his mosque in the Dagestani settlement of Gudben, they said.
Dagestan, a mostly Muslim region east of Chechnya that is home to many ethnic groups, has been plagued by shootings, bombings and other violence, including regular attacks on top officials and police. Some of the violence has been linked to Islamic extremists and some was rooted in disputes between local criminal clans.
Gadzhimagomedov was a vocal critic of Islamic extremism who had spoken out against militants during a service at the mosque Friday, police said. They said the killing was "clearly a revenge attack" by Islamic militants.
Posted on 09/30/2007 5:09 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 30 September 2007
BEATING the Taliban
This is a Sunday Mirror exclusive about a little known aspect of today’s Afghanistan, the growing popularity of women’s football.
At the same stadium where young girls were executed for wearing a little make-up & high heels, Afghanistan's first women's football team is at last able to play the beautiful game.
Covered from head-to-toe in a burqa, Zarmena was ordered to kneel down on the penalty spot of Kabul Olympic Football Stadium.
The mother-of-five was then shot dead by a soldier - one of hundreds of women executed or brutally beaten by the Taliban as a barbaric form of pre-match entertainment for "crimes" such as wearing high heels or makeup in public.
Now the only girls' cries that echo round the infamous stadium are from members of the country's first national women's football team shouting for the ball.
It is a move no Afghan woman thought she would live to see. Until the fall of the Taliban women were not allowed to hold down a job or even go to school - let alone play sport.
Just showing their face in public would result in a savage beating from Taliban religious police.
Shamila (pic:getty)Captain and centre-forward Shamila Kohestani recalls how she was beaten by soldiers for stepping outside her home without a full burqa - a sheet covering her entire body with just a thin gauze panel over her eyes to see through. She was just 12 years old.
Shamila, now 19, says: "One day I went out to the shops with my mother. She was wearing a burqa but I was just in a headscarf.  As we walked out of our home, two Taliban soldiers grabbed me and started hitting me with sticks. They beat me and beat me until I managed to get free and run home. After that, I said I was never going out again and I prayed and prayed the Taliban would leave. Two months later they were driven out of Kabul and my mother said, 'God heard your prayer'."
Despite their attitude to sport - innocent children's games like kite-flying were also illegal because they were seen as a distraction from prayer - the Taliban made an exception when it came to men's football.
The games held at the Olympic Stadium drew crowds of up to 30,000.
Women's coach Abdulsaboor Walizada, a former player with the national men's side, recalls how the executions took place as he and his team-mates warmed up before matches. He says: "The day they carried out most executions was on a Friday as that is a day off in Afghanistan. Men and women would be led out to the penalty spot and shot just before the game began. I frequently saw executions and I'm sad to say it became a way of life at the stadium.
Bouncing a ball near the penalty spot, defender Yasamin Rasoul, 17, says: "We're changing what the stadium was made for and we're seeing more and more women's teams starting up. I want to encourage more girls to play to give us a right to play in the same way the men have a right to play. We hope to be in the World Cup next time round."
On the pitch, the girls wear jogging bottoms and long-sleeved shirts. Some wear Islamic headscarves or a cap but most leave it off.  Shamila says ". . . now I often play football without even a headscarf. I wear it sometimes and it gets in my way so I always end up throwing it off. This is the freedom we have craved for so long. I want to be a football coach some day".
Squad member Roia Noorahmat, 15, says: "Playing football or going to school or listening to pop music was something we never dreamed we could do during the Taliban. My mother still wears a burqa but she doesn't tell me to. She wants me to be a champion footballer and although my father doesn't like it, he has never said I must stop."
While they enjoy a certain amount of freedom, the women's team still has to fight for time on the pitch and is forced to practise in the hottest part of the day so the men can play at dusk.
Looking down from the stands as the men play, Shamila says: "We've fought hard for the right to play football. We're not going to give up just because some men don't think we should be doing it. When we play, we're not just trying to defeat the other team, we play for the women like Zarmena who were killed here and because we want to beat all those old ideas that women are worthless." 
If the Taliban come to power again, under their recently announced constitution this will end.
Posted on 09/30/2007 4:39 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Panorama on BBC1, 8.30pm tomorrow.
The Sunday Telegraph on the subject of Hizb ut Tahrir and Panorama.
An extremist Islamist group, which remains legal despite Government promises to ban it, has urged Muslim students at British universities to fight Allied troops in Iraq.
Hizb ut Tahrir, which wants to overthrow democracy and establish a worldwide Islamic theocracy, distributed leaflets to young Muslims inciting them to resist the occupation of Islamic lands, according to a TV documentary by a former group member.
One leaflet read: "Your forefathers destroyed the first crusader campaigns. Should you not proceed like them and destroy the new crusaders? Let the armies move to help the Muslims in Iraq, for they seek your help." Another leaflet, handed out last August, pours scorn on the UN and tells followers to embark on a Jihad, or "holy war".
Former Hizb ut Tahrir member Shiraz Maher presents his account of the group's activities in an edition of Panorama on BBC1 tomorrow night. The Panorama documentary contains the first testimony indicating it has advocated the use of force. The group has been accused of fuelling terrorism in the past, but has always denied involvement in any form of violent activity.
Omar Shariff, the first UK suicide bomber, who blew himself up in a Tel Aviv bar in 2003, is alleged to have been radicalised by Hizb ut Tahrir.
The organisation denies this and says no relationship has ever been established by the police or the security services.
David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: "Hizb ut Tahrir is part of a global organisation whose affiliates, members and supporters are anti-semitic, anti-democracy and support violence.   Due to its clear links to terrorism, the Government pledg-ed to ban it two years ago but has failed to take action."
Panorama has also uncovered a speech made in August last year by Ata Abu-Rishta, the global leader of Hizb ut Tahrir, when he called for the "destruction" of Hindus living in Kashmir, Russians in Chechnya and Jews in Israel.
"The Caliphate (global Islamic government) will liberate the countries and the people from the influence of the Kafer (non-believer) and its allies and the tyranny of its men and followers," he said.
A spokesman for Hizb ut Tahrir said the programme was "based on no more than hearsay and innuendo" and said it was not anti-semitic. He said: "Hizb ut Tahrir remains firmly committed in undertaking its political struggle against the tyrants of the Muslim world in order to establish the Caliphate in the Muslim world and end the brutal era of colonialism."
Panorama is on BBC1 tomorrow at 8.30. When it finishes turn immediately to BBC2 for the documentary “Inside a Sharia Court”. I think certain elements inside the BBC have realised 2 things, first that they ought to be on the winning side in this struggle and Islam will not ultimately win.  Second, that Channel 4 is outstripping them and that is not to be countenanced.
Whether these BBC employees will be able to turn round the anti-Israel feeling that permeates all news reporting, and the general moral turpitude of so much TV output (BBC Radio is thankfully of a higher quality) remains to be seen.
Posted on 09/30/2007 4:19 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 29 September 2007
A Literary Interlude: Tennyson


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,-- cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

      -- "Ulysses," 1842

Posted on 09/29/2007 5:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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