According to some reports, Obama said yesterday that Islam has “shaped the world for the better.” Did the “gift of the Arabs” to Iran make Iranian civilization better? Is it not truer to say that despite Islam, Iranian poets such as Sa’adi, Hafiz, Firdowsi, Omar Khayyam, managed to sing unislamically of wine and women? (And they sang of women not as loot, not as slaves, not as inferiors, but as objects of desire and affection in a way that non-Muslim man can understand.) Did they not manage to withstand the cultural and linguistic imperialism of the Arabs, of which Islam has been, is, and always will be a vehicle? Did Islam’s arrival in North Africa, and the disappearance of the rich Christian culture (remember both Augustine and Tertullian were from North Africa, and Monica, Augustine’s mother, was a Berber), “shape the world” of formerly Christian North Africa “for the better”? Did the artistic riches of Byzantium, of Constantinople (for a thousand years the most important city in Christendom), so many destroyed, others vandalized beyond recognition, when the Muslims took over, end up “for the better” when Islam conquered the Byzantine Greeks? Did the artistic achievements and inheritance, the artifacts and monuments, of Buddhism in Central Asia, did the stupas and the steles of Greco-Bactrian culture in what is now Afghanistan flourish, or disappear forever when Islam “changed for the better” this part of the world? Did the temple complexes of the Hindus, did the temples of the Jains, did the civilization of India, improve when Muslim conquerors came? Did India change “for the better” because of the arrival of Islam? When Muslims killed 60-70 million Hindus, and forced others to convert if they wished to avoid either immediate death, or the horrors of life as, at best, dhimmis under Muslim rule, was this a change “for the better”? Did the rich Hindu and Buddhist civilization of the East Indies — consider Borobudur, for example — replaced almost everywhere by Islam, and with the consequent esthetic and mental impoverishment that the narrow limiting of artistic expression, and the discouragement of free and skeptical inquiry, that are both such remarkably stable features of Islam, even though so contra naturam, did that Hindu and Buddhist civilization change, under Islam, “for the better”? Did Greece, did Bulgaria, did Serbia, did the rest of the Balkans, change for the better” when the Ottoman Turks arrived, leading some to convert out of a desire to protect themselves? What are Bosnian Muslims if not the descendants of Serbs who converted, just as Pakistanis and Indian Muslims are merely the descendants of Hindus who sought to escape the crushing conditions of life for non-Muslims during the centuries of Muslim rule, so much more aurangzeb than akbar? Was the child-snatching of the “devshirme” system, where Christian (and Jewish children) were taken to serve as Janissaries, a change “for the better”? Was the arrival of Islam in Syria-Lebanon for the pre-existing Christians — Maronites and others — a change “for the better”? Was the arrival of Islam in Black Africa, through the Arab slave traders who began their cruel work, seizing black African boys, castrating them on the spot, in the bush, and then bringing them by slave coffle and dhow to the slave markets of Islam, a change, for those black Africans, “for the better”? Islam legitimizes, for all time, in its immutable texts, the rightness, the justness, of slavery. Slavery was only abolished among Muslims by the fiat of outside European powers (as France in Morocco and Algeria, or by the Royal Navy suppressing the Arab slave trade with Africa in the late 19th century, with intermittent booster shots of naval power displayed through much of the early 20th century) or by international pressure from the West, as when Saudi Arabia, but only in 1962, formally abolished slavery — though of course it continues, informally, right through to today. Did Islam, which allows slavery, and has never experienced a Muslim Wilberforce, change things “for the better”? Did the arrival of Islam make artistic expression freer? Did the arrival of Islam anywhere make more likely the cultivation of free and skeptical inquiry? Did the arrival of Islam, and its view of men as “slaves of Allah” who must acquire the habit of mental submission, anywhere lead to a cultural flowering that was not present before, or that was not the product of Arabic-speaking Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, or those who were merely a generation away from being Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, and still raised up in, or greatly affected by, such a non-Muslim milieu? Tell us where, and tell us in detail, about how the arrival and steady spread of Islam, where it did spread, and was not opposed, made the world “a better place”? Tell us. We’re all ears.
Archive for April, 2009
Posted by paulipoldie on April 8, 2009
Posted by paulipoldie on April 7, 2009
In a recent Pajamas Media article, I discuss how political correctness and fear have led to the whitewashing of Islam in books used by American students. Hyperlinks can be found in the original:
In recent House hearings dedicated to examining Islamic extremism, I stressed that the fundamental stumbling block to effective policy-making is educational and epistemological. What people are taught about Islam needs a serious overhaul before we can expect to formulate strategies that make sense.Worth heeding is former top Pentagon official William Gawthrop’s 2006 lament that “the senior service colleges of the Department of Defense had not incorporated into their curriculum a systematic study of Muhammad as a military or political leader. As a consequence, we still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by Muhammad, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered.”
Three years later, the situation appears worse. After the War College published something of an apologia for the terrorist organization Hamas, defense analyst Mark Perry concluded, “It’s worse than you think. They have curtailed the curriculum so that their students are not exposed to radical Islam. Akin to denying students access to Marx during the Cold War.”
Why, at a time of war, are students at top U.S. military schools denied an objective treatment of Islam’s war doctrines? A report by the American Textbook Council sheds light by showing how these academic failures have much deeper roots.
After reviewing a number of popular textbooks used by American junior and senior high schools, the report found that, due to political correctness and/or fear of Muslim activists, “key subjects like jihad, Islamic law, [and] the status of women are whitewashed.” Regarding the strikes of 9/11, one textbook never mentions Islamic ideologies, referring to the 19 al-Qaeda hijackers as “teams of terrorists” — this despite the fact that al-Qaeda has repeatedly articulated its hostile worldview through an Islamist paradigm, with a stress on hating “infidels” and waging holy war (see The Al Qaeda Reader).
Speaking of jihad, one seventh-grade textbook explains, “Jihad represents the human struggle to overcome difficulties and do things that are pleasing to God. Muslims strive to respond positively to personal difficulties as well as worldly challenges. For instance, they might work to be better people, reform society, or correct injustice.” By not informing students that all these aspects mean something different for Muslims — killing an apostate is considered “correcting injustice” and spreading Islamic law is “reforming society” — the textbook misleads by projecting Western interpretations onto Islam.
Compare this textbook’s definition of jihad with that of an early (non-PC) edition of the venerable Encyclopaedia of Islam. Its opening sentence simply states, “The spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general. … Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam. … Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad [warfare to spread Islam] can be eliminated.” Muslim legal manuals written in Arabic are even more explicit.
The report finds other disturbing aspects regarding Islam’s whitewashing in textbooks: the well-documented Muslim military conquests demarcating most of what is now known as the “Islamic world” are glossed over or distorted; Islam ambiguously “spread” or was “brought.” Well-defined aspects of Islamic law — the subordinate status of women and non-Muslims, execution of the apostate and homosexual, and other issues that appear almost any given day in headlines — are either ignored or obfuscated. History is distorted to portray Muslims as tolerant and progressive, Christians as intolerant and backwards.
In my testimony to the House, I wrote: “It should be acknowledged that educational failures exacerbate epistemological ones, and vice versa, leading to a perpetual cycle where necessary knowledge is not merely ignored, but not even acknowledged as real in the first place. When American universities [or high schools] fail to teach Islamic doctrine and history accurately, a flawed epistemology permeates society at large. And since new students and new professors come from this already conditioned-towards-Islam society, not only do they not question the lack of accurate knowledge and education; they perpetuate it.”
This report demonstrates the validity of this vicious cycle. In fact, every last one of those flagrant textbook errors indoctrinating America’s youth is an indisputable “fact” for many of America’s Islam “experts,” particularly those advising the government. The effects are dramatic. For instance, far from objectively examining Islam, the government is now pushing to ban Arabic words connotative of Islamic ideology from formal analysis — such as “mujahid,” “umma,” “Sharia,” “caliphate” — asking personnel to rely primarily on generic terms, such as “terrorists.”
The greater irony is that not only do children’s textbooks in Muslim countries openly teach hatred and hostility for non-Muslims, or “infidels” — those same people fervently trying to whitewash Islam in the U.S.— but so do Muslim schools operating on American soil.
At any rate, from American junior high texts obfuscating the motivation of 9/11 to censored intelligence analysts who cannot prefix more meaningful adjectives to the word “terrorist,” until Islamic ideologies are addressed forthrightly, the U.S. — leadership and lay alike — will remain philosophically unprepared against the threat of radical Islam. Objective knowledge — properly taught and disseminated — is the first step to formulating any long-term strategy. When knowledge is unshackled from the bonds of political correctness and wishful thinking, strategies will naturally present themselves as common sense.
Bottom line: if children are sheltered from ugly truths today, how can they ever be expected to confront them as adults tomorrow?
Posted by paulipoldie on April 6, 2009
OUTRAGED MUSLIMS! OH MY!
We wake up this morning to see video on CNN showing rampaging Muslims around the world. In Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim … Muslim Mobs spreading mayhem. It seems that these mighty mad Muslims are rioting and firing their ever-present AK-47s into the air because of cartoons. Yup … this latest epidemic of Muslim outrage comes to us because some newspapers in Norway and Denmark published some cartoons depicting Mohammed. In fact … here is one of my favorites!
Admit it, this turban/bomb thing could be the next big fashion hit on the Muslim street!
Muslim outrage huh. OK … let’s do a little historical review. Just some lowlights:
- Muslims fly commercial airliners into buildings in New York City. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslim officials block the exit where school girls are trying to escape a burning building because their faces were exposed. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims cut off the heads of three teenaged girls on their way to school in Indonesia. A Christian school. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims murder teachers trying to teach Muslim children in Iraq. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims murder over 80 tourists with car bombs outside cafes and hotels in Egypt. No Muslim outrage.
- A Muslim attacks a missionary children’s school in India. Kills six. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims slaughter hundreds of children and teachers in Beslan, Russia. Muslims shoot children in the back. No Muslim outrage.
- Let’s go way back. Muslims kidnap and kill athletes at the Munich Summer Olympics. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims fire rocket-propelled grenades into schools full of children in Israel. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims murder more than 50 commuters in attacks on London subways and busses. Over 700 are injured. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims massacre dozens of innocents at a Passover Seder. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims murder innocent vacationers in Bali. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslim newspapers publish anti-Semitic cartoons. No Muslim outrage
- Muslims are involved, on one side or the other, in almost every one of the 125+ shooting wars around the world. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims beat the charred bodies of Western civilians with their shoes, then hang them from a bridge. No Muslim outrage.
- Newspapers in Denmark and Norway publish cartoons depicting Mohammed. Muslims are outraged.
Dead children. Dead tourists. Dead teachers. Dead doctors and nurses. Death, destruction and mayhem around the world at the hands of Muslims .. no Muslim outrage … but publish a cartoon depicting Mohammed with a bomb in his turban and all hell breaks loose.
Come on, is this really about cartoons? They’re rampaging and burning flags. They’re looking for Europeans to kidnap. They’re threatening innkeepers and generally raising holy Muslim hell not because of any outrage over a cartoon. They’re outraged because it is part of the Islamic jihadist culture to be outraged. You don’t really need a reason. You just need an excuse. Wandering around, destroying property, murdering children, firing guns into the air and feigning outrage over the slightest perceived insult is to a jihadist what tailgating is to a Steeler’s fan.
I know and understand that these bloodthirsty murderers do not represent the majority of the world’s Muslims. When, though, do they become outraged? When do they take to the streets to express their outrage at the radicals who are making their religion the object of worldwide hatred and ridicule? Islamic writer Salman Rushdie wrote of these silent Muslims in a New York Times article three years ago. “As their ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art and philosophical reflection is hijacked by paranoiacs, racists, liars, male supremacists, tyrants, fanatics and violence junkies, why are they not screaming?”
Indeed. Why not?