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Posted: 3/12/2006 7:18:03 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 7:31:32 AM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Two paths

It's interesting to compare the path that CPT member Tom Fox chose with Wafa Sultan's. Wafa Sultan is an Arab-American who argued vociferously against Islamic clerics on Al Jazeera, creating an international stir. Accoding to the New York Times summary of events:


Three weeks ago, Dr. Wafa Sultan was a largely unknown Syrian-American psychiatrist living outside Los Angeles, nursing a deep anger and despair about her fellow Muslims.

Today, thanks to an unusually blunt and provocative interview on Al Jazeera television on Feb. 21, she is an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.

In the interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries.

She said the world's Muslims, whom she compares unfavorably with the Jews, have descended into a vortex of self-pity and violence.

Dr. Sultan said the world was not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism, a battle that the forces of violent, reactionary Islam are destined to lose.

In response, clerics throughout the Muslim world have condemned her, and her telephone answering machine has filled with dark threats. But Islamic reformers have praised her for saying out loud, in Arabic and on the most widely seen television network in the Arab world, what few Muslims dare to say even in private.



Both Fox and Sultan employed nonviolent methods to achieve their ends. Given the death threats leveled on Hirsi Ali, the Danish caricaturists of Mohammed, Salman Rusdie and others it is arguable that Dr. Sultan by her open opposition to Islamism is showing as much personal courage as anyone in the CPT. Since Dr. Sultan probably has relatives and friends in Syria or the Muslim community in America, she is likely in a more vulnerable situation than a Western Peace Activist who is only in the Middle East temporarily.

To Tom Fox's question "How do you stand firm against a car-bomber or a kidnapper?" -- a question to which he never provided an answer except to say it was not fighting -- Wafa Sultan's answer is that you start by denouncing it. You begin by intellectually opposing the ideology that drives it; that legitimizes it; that portrays it as attractive to children from their cradle. The CPT website, on the other hand, says that denunciation is part of the problem, because it dehumanizes the denounced; hides our Western guilt; and shows a lack of tolerance and respect for Islam. On the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy, the CPT says:


We, the members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, are disturbed by anti-Muslim cartoons from twelve different artists published in September by Denmark's daily paper the Jyllands-Posten. The publisher claims the freedom of speech to publish the cartoons, but we believe they are only spreading hate and bigotry. To those who believe and act as if terrorism is an essential part of the Islamic faith, we say No! Stop! We cannot stand by and remain silent when our gracious Muslim brothers and sisters are being defamed.



Which of these, the Arab woman or American man, do you think was a neighbor to those threatened by terrorism? Go and do likewise.


posted by fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/03/two-paths.html]wretchard at 1:41 PM | 54 comments

Link Posted: 3/12/2006 7:28:51 AM EDT
Friday, March 10, 2006
Crushed and broken on the virgin soul

The body of Christian Peacemaker Teams activist Tom Fox has been found in Iraq, according to the BBC.


The US State Department says an American who was among four peace activists kidnapped in Iraq last year has been killed. ... Fox, 54, had been working with Iraqi human rights organisations for the past two years. The four men were travelling with Canadian-based international peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams when they were seized by a group calling itself the Swords of Truth.


It is abundantly clear from the Christian Peacemaker Team website that they could hardly have done more to declare their sympathy for the Muslim world, the Palestinian cause or their distaste for America. A less haggard Tom Fox is shown holding up a sign protesting the construction of an Israeli barrier in "Palestine". There's a statement abhorring the publication of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, which says:


We, the members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, are disturbed by anti-Muslim cartoons from twelve different artists published in September by Denmark's daily paper the Jyllands-Posten. The publisher claims the freedom of speech to publish the cartoons, but we believe they are only spreading hate and bigotry. To those who believe and act as if terrorism is an essential part of the Islamic faith, we say No! Stop! We cannot stand by and remain silent when our gracious Muslim brothers and sisters are being defamed.


Tom Fox wrote a couple of articles setting out his goals. In Why we are here?, Fox said:


As I survey the landscape here in Iraq, dehumanization seems to be the operative means of relating to each other. U.S. forces in their quest to hunt down and kill "terrorists" are as a result of this dehumanizing word, not only killing "terrorist", but also killing innocent Iraqis: men, women and children in the various towns and villages.

It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death.

"Why are we here?" We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.



Fox was not oblivious to the fact that terrorists in Iraq killed innocent people too. Or that his life was in danger at terrorist hands. He could offer no definite answer to the question he himself posed: "How do you stand firm against a car-bomber or a kidnapper?" But he was sure of one thing: fighting was always the wrong answer.


Clearly the soldier disconnected from God needs to have me fight. Just as clearly the terrorist disconnected from God needs to have me flee. Both are willing to kill me using different means to achieve he same end--that end being to increase the parasitic power of Satan within God's good creation. It seems easier somehow to confront anger within my heart than it is to confront fear. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right then I am not to give in to either. I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the soldier. Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign saying "American for the Taking?" No to both counts. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life, and if I lose it to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan.


Comments
I knew a man once who rushed to church in tears of gratitude over the fact that he didn't have to kill someone. It was at the height of Ferdinand Marcos' power and his secret agents were taking a tremendous toll of the underground. Two men in this mans' cell had disappeared. The first had taken a Greyhound-type bus to the Cagayan Valley and had never gotten off. Another had gone by outrigger from Luzon to the island of Mindoro, where it was said, he had been killed on a beach upon landing by a .45 pressed to his nape as he walked unsuspectingly on the sand. The suspected betrayer was a small, bucktoothed man with almost childish enthusiasm for basketball, given to hysterical fits of laughter. But he was certainly the informer and had to die before he betrayed a third. As it happened, someone else killed the informer and man whose job it was to shoot him was everlastingly grateful that God had arranged for the cup to pass away. Someone else had done the deed and he could go from out the darkness of the Marcos dictatorship with only sweet memories upon his soul.

The question that always bothered me was whether that person -- or any man -- had any right to expect someone else to do the dirty job for him. Can we ever simultaneously acknowledge the necessity of a deed and the absolute immorality of doing it? That in a nutshell is the Problem of Evil: that evil exists and that by and by we will have to face it. The question Tom Fox should have posed is "how do you stand firm against a car-bomber headed straight for a schoolbus?" And if you say, "shoot to save the children" ask yourself if it ever justified to be glad that God had sent someone else to shoot the bomber and go hell in your stead. Tom Fox stood for his beliefs to the bitter end. And now the men who killed him are out there, waiting to kill again.


posted by wretchard at 9:35 PM | 197 comments

Link Posted: 3/12/2006 7:32:30 AM EDT
Islam isn't the only religion that has it's whacko members. Christianity has them too and the CPT is certainly, in my opinion, a group of whackos. The one big difference is that, for the most part, Christianity's whackos don't go around blowing people up and cutting off thier heads. In fact, they're more likely to get themselves killed than hurt anyone else. I know they honestly think they're trying to help, but the time for a group hug with Islam is over.

The "peace at any cost" crowd, whether they be religious based or not, are not only terribly misguided, but also dangerous both to themselves in the short run and civilized society in the long run if they ever manage to get their way on a grand scale.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 9:43:38 AM EDT
THE PRISONER ESCAPES

Dr. Wafa Sultan, who you can watch here if you have not already seen her interview from Al Jazeera; is writing a book- The Escaped Prisoner: When God Is a Monster. She was recently interviewed in the print media about her comments in the famous video, and has received --as you might imagine--numerous death threats from the usual medieval suspects for her courageous words about the backwardness of Islam. Here are some excerpts from the recent print interview:


"Knowledge has released me from this backward thinking. Somebody has to help free the Muslim people from these wrong beliefs."

Perhaps her most provocative words on Al Jazeera were those comparing how the Jews and Muslims have reacted to adversity. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, "The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling."

She went on, "We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people."

She concluded, "Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."
[...]
But, she said, her life changed in 1979 when she was a medical student at the University of Aleppo, in northern Syria. At that time, the radical Muslim Brotherhood was using terrorism to try to undermine the government of President Hafez al-Assad. Gunmen of the Muslim Brotherhood burst into a classroom at the university and killed her professor as she watched, she said.

"They shot hundreds of bullets into him, shouting, 'God is great!' " she said. "At that point, I lost my trust in their god and began to question all our teachings. It was the turning point of my life, and it has led me to this present point. I had to leave. I had to look for another god."

She and her husband, who now goes by the Americanized name of David, laid plans to leave for the United States. Their visas finally came in 1989, and the Sultans and their two children (they have since had a third) settled in with friends in Cerritos, Calif., a prosperous bedroom community on the edge of Los Angeles County.

Video: Dr. Wafa Sultan on Al Jazeera (memritv.org) After a succession of jobs and struggles with language, Dr. Sultan has completed her American medical licensing, with the exception of a hospital residency program, which she hopes to do within a year. David operates an automotive-smog-check station. They bought a home in the Los Angeles area and put their children through local public schools. All are now American citizens.Read the entire article.



Now, why aren't the medical residency directors in this country viciously competing to get this remarkable woman into their respective programs? Like the elite colleges did for a former Taliban official?

Somebody give Yale a call and see if they could make room in one of their medical residency programs to accept this incredible woman, particularly since they joyfully leapt at the chance to get Mr. Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi (see here and here for different perspectives on that).

Dr. Sultan escaped her confinement from within the prison of Islam. In completely unambiguous terms, she represents a voice of reason and moderation sorely needed in that backward culture.

Related post: Union with An Evil God

- Diagnosed by Dr. Sanity @ 9:01 AM Comments (7) | Trackback (0)
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 9:50:04 AM EDT
DEPRAVED THOUGHTS, SAVING SOULS, AND TERRORIST BEHAVIOR

Wretchard discusses the Problem of Evil in the context of Tom Fox's murder by terrorists:


The question that always bothered me was whether that person -- or any man -- had any right to expect someone else to do the dirty job for him. Can we ever simultaneously acknowledge the necessity of a deed and the absolute immorality of doing it? That in a nutshell is the Problem of Evil: that evil exists and that by and by we will have to face it. The question Tom Fox should have posed is "how do you stand firm against a car-bomber headed straight for a schoolbus?" And if you say, "shoot to save the children" ask yourself if it ever justified to be glad that God had sent someone else to shoot the bomber and go hell in your stead. Tom Fox stood for his beliefs to the bitter end. And now the men who killed him are out there, waiting to kill again.


This has always been the issue I have toward pacifism and pacifists. In an earlier post, I wrote:

I, too, feel a profound weariness at the rationalizations of Gandhi--and all others whose rigidity on this subject make them aid and abet tyranny and human misery. They think they hold to their principle of pacifism because they are compassionate and caring human beings. But the results of pacifism say something different.

Gandhi was a good man, but when it came to the holocaust, he proposed that nothing should have been done. If we had followed his lead, how many millions more people would have died? How many today would live under the boot of the Nazi philosophy?

War is a terrible choice. No reasonable person could believe that it is benign or intrinsically "good" to wage war. Yet, it is sometimes a choice that reasonable people need to make simply because there is evil in the world and it cannot go unchecked--not if you truly care about other human beings.

Pacifists cannot deal with this simple truth, or having accepted it, believe that the triumph of evil is unimportant compared to keeping faith with their own peculiar fantasy of the world.



The tragedy and irony of Mr. Fox's death at the hands of terrorists is, in my mind anyway, overridden by the tragic and misguided mentality that sees no moral difference between people who deliberately commit unspeakable evil and those whose role is to protect innocents from unspeakable evil.

Wretchard quotes Mr. Fox as saying about his reasons for going to Iraq:


We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.


Mr. Fox went to Iraq in order to stop people from having dehumanizing thoughts. His death would have more meaning if he and his organization were committed to stopping the dehumanizing behavior. Personally, I don't care much what other people think or believe. What matters to me is how they behave toward me and toward others. I allow them the freedom of their thoughts, no matter how depraved; but an important line is crossed when they act on those depraved thoughts and believe they have the right to harm or oppress others.

But then, I don't want to mess around that much with their thoughts (unless they ask me to help them; which would presume some insight on their part); nor do I want to save their souls particularly (I figure their immortal soul is their own business). I want to stop them from killing people.

Mr. Fox and his organization would perhaps like to control and/or change people's thoughts for really really good motives; and he apparently believed deeply that to do so would help to save their souls. It is truly ironic he did not seem to appreciate that his heartfelt desire was not too dissimilar--though perhaps more passive--to the desires and motivations of the people who murdered him.

It is that flaw in thinking that enabled Mr. Fox's death and underscores its fundamental meaninglessness. It is that flaw in thinking that will continue to enable the murderous fanatics who killed him; and which will lead to the deaths of many other souls.

Michelle Malkin has much more on the story.

UPDATE: In response to several annoyed people in emails who ask me what is wrong with wanting to change a person's thinking, my response is simple: nothing is wrong with it. But, their question sort of reminds me of the old joke: "How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one. But the lightbulb has to really want to change."

I would have to say that it seems to me that even before you work to change a person's mind, you must control their violent and malevolent behavior. If you cannot control it; then you must denounce it in the most unequivocal terms. If it is possible to reach them on an intellectual level -- then you denounce their underlying ideology and present your arguments as forcefully and logically as possible, as we recently observed this person doing.

Sometimes,this is all you can do.

What you should not do is to make excuses for evil. What you should not do is to compromise with it. What is completely outrageous and morally indefensible is this statement made by Fox's organization explaining his death at the hands of conscienceless, murderous thugs:


"We believe that the root cause of the abduction of our colleagues is the U.S.- and British-led invasion and occupation of Iraq."


In my professional opinion, the people who could write such a perverted statement desperately need to have their heads examined and obtain professional help. They themselves are the "root cause"--the enablers and apologists extraordinaire--who permit and encourage evil to flourish in today's world.

One person like Wafa Sultan does more to further the cause of peace, justice, and human dignity than do legions of these so-called "peace" activists.

- Diagnosed by Dr. Sanity @ 11:03 AM Comments (16) | Trackbacks (2)
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 7:22:50 PM EDT
Wafa Sultan: Someone You Should Know
by Joe Katzman on March 13, 2006 01:53 AM


Well, this ought to make a few of us reconsider our opinions of al-Jazeera. The NYT headline? "For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats."


"In the [al-Jazeera] interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries."


Actually her criticism is as an avowed secular humanist. But the smackdowns she delivers to the Islamist host Al-Khouli are utterly priceless, and should be required viewing for every invertebrate politician in the wake of the Cartoon Jihad. Especially the part after Al-Khouli called her a heretic. Eugene Volokh has a link to the video, with subtitles (it's in Arabic). iFilm has it too.

Meanwhile, MEMRI has an accompanying transcript with excerpts from the interview with Wafa Sultan that aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 21, 2006. It is followed by excerpts from a debate in which she participated, in a talk show that aired on Al-Jazeera TV on July 26, 2005.

Two curveballs...

One - check out this admiring review on DailyKos. Interesting. One more brick in the wall of post tipping-point politics?

Two, an excerpt or two from the video. The core:


"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings."


...and the curveball. Bet this next one hurt; doubly so because nmainlines right into a number of unspoken feelings in the Islamic world, but in a subversive way:


"The Jews have come from the tragedy [of the Holocaust], and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists.

Fifteen million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy.

Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."



"Ask not what humankind can do for your religion...." Hmm, nice ring to that. We certainly respect Wafa Sultan.


« ok, I'm done now

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Link Posted: 3/12/2006 7:29:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 7:33:55 PM EDT by nightstalker]

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
Now, why aren't the medical residency directors in this country viciously competing to get this remarkable woman into their respective programs? Like the elite colleges did for a former Taliban official?

Somebody give Yale a call and see if they could make room in one of their medical residency programs to accept this incredible woman, particularly since they joyfully leapt at the chance to get Mr. Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi (see here and here for different perspectives on that).

Dr. Sultan escaped her confinement from within the prison of Islam. In completely unambiguous terms, she represents a voice of reason and moderation sorely needed in that backward culture.

Related post: Union with An Evil God

- Diagnosed by Dr. Sanity @ 9:01 AM Comments (7) | Trackback (0)



Uh...I think she's a little TOO outspoken and mature for the likes of Harvard or Yale. The posers there don't like people with a mind of their own any more than the imans. www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=445228
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