Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Just Trying To Keep Up

In regard to my understanding of the world — what is going on and why — the best I can do is maintain a “working hypothesis.” The “what” is easier. The “why” to explain the “what” is more daunting because as new information emerges, I have to modify.
My biggest challenge is understanding developments in what we broadly call the Middle East. When I taught 20th century US History and current events, I’d start the school year with the essential question: “Why do radical Muslims want to kill us?” Teachers back then were required to formulate “essential questions,” then plan lessons around them. We were at war and some former students were fighting it. Others would be. I wanted them to know what they were fighting.
That involved lessons going back almost four millennia to Abraham’s time, then relating those lessons to current events. I had to teach about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. There was so much information to take in that, without some kind of mental framework within which to arrange that information, it wouldn’t stick. So, I drilled them on regional geography as today’s national borders are drawn. I wanted them to be able to call up a Middle East map in their mind’s eye and know where Iraq was, Iran was, Syria was, Israel was, and so on. As they absorbed both historical and current events, they could mentally pin each onto their mental maps in its appropriate place. Babylon was in today’s Iraq and Persia is today’s Iran, and so on. Borders between land and sea were static, but national borders changed constantly.
Religion is only one dynamic. In my early teaching years, most students came with a basic understanding of Christianity. At the end, only a minority did and I’d have to start from scratch. I’d compare and contrast beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, then historical conflicts between them going back to 600 AD with the establishment of Islam. I’d explain that radical Muslims take Muhammed’s writings literally, especially those in the Medina Koran, which advocated converting Jews, Christians, and others at the point of a sword. Muhammed’s earlier writings in what is often called the Mecca Koran offered a reasoned approach. When some call Islam a “religion of peace,” they’re referring to the Mecca Koran.
ISIS, al Qaida, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood follow teachings from the Medina Koran. Judging from his actions, so, also, did Muhammed himself. Radical Muslims today more closely follow what Muhammed actually did when he conquered the Arabian Peninsula and imposed Islam. It’s also what his followers did for the next thirteen centuries. Only after the last caliphate — the Ottoman Empire — was defeated in World War I did forced conversion end, and then only temporarily. What remained of the Empire became modern Turkey and nation-states created by the winners: France and Great Britain. Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk abolished the caliphate, separating church and state. Violent Islamic expansionism went into remission, one could say, from about 1920 to about the 1970s or so — a half century. Now ISIS calls itself the new caliphate — which carries the mantle of Islamic leadership — and Muslims from around the world are flocking to it.
Then there’s conflict between the two main branches of Islam: Sunni and Shia which have been fighting each other for centuries, not unlike the way Christian Catholics and Protestants in Europe did. Four out of five Muslims are Sunni while Islam edges Christianity as the world’s largest religion. Both sides support radical groups. Iran is the largest Shiite country with its Revolutionary Guard, its proxy armies Hezbollah and the Houthis, and sometimes Hamas. Sunni radicals include ISIS, al Qaida, Boko Haram, Al Shebaab, sometimes Hamas, and others.
Boko Haram

Then come the economics of the region — especially oil. Whatever was going on before oil was discovered in vast quantities, that all changed as petrodollars flooded the region and powered an Islamic resurgence.
Another dynamic is the reestablishment of Israel as a Jewish nation-state in 1948. It’s right in the middle of what had been almost exclusively the Muslim World for centuries. Many Muslims, Iran especially, pledge to wipe it off the map.
And there are ethnic conflicts within Islam. Sunni Kurds, for example, are a minority in the border areas of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey — all of which, along with Russia now, are fighting ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Kurds want to be a nation-state too, but none of the aforementioned countries will cede them their ancestral territory which overlaps all. The US is arming Kurds. Last week, President Trump put US Marines on the ground in Syria. US soldiers must now fight alongside all these groups — some of which are still fighting each other — against ISIS. What could possibly go wrong? Last week I also learned that erstwhile National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was being paid by Turkey while he advised President Trump.
Looks like I'll have to modify that hypothesis again pretty soon.


Brian said...

Interesting that you put up some archaic old Pope quote about Islam, but have no room for Pope Francis' comments.

Francis responded that the characterization of Islam as violent is untrue and that violence committed by extremist groups such as the Islamic State should not be attributed to the religion as a whole.

"If I speak of Islamic violence, I should speak of Catholic violence," the pope said.

"I believe that in pretty much every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists," he said, adding, "When fundamentalism comes to kill, it can kill with the language — the Apostle James says this, not me — and even with a knife, no?"

Francis went on to say that the real cause of terrorism lies in the idolatry of wealth: "Terrorism grows when there are no other options, and when the center of the global economy is the god of money and not the person."

Tom McLaughlin said...

You pick your pope and I'll pick mine. If you follow the link, you'll learn reaction in the Muslim world to Benedict's remarks which would give the lie to Francis' quote:

"[Benedict] prompted the near-predictable furor in the Muslim world. Religious and political authorities widely condemned the speech, with some calling for violence.

'The Pope and those who live under his cloak,' Al-Risala, a Palestinian newspaper, September 18, 2006.
In Britain, while leading a rally outside Westminster Cathedral, Anjem Choudary of Al-Ghurabaa called for the pope 'to be subject to capital punishment.'

In Iraq, the Mujahideen's Army threatened to 'smash the crosses in the house of the dog from Rome' and other groups made blood-curdling threats.

In Kuwait, an important website called for violent retribution against Catholics.

In Somalia, the religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin urged Muslims to 'hunt down' the pope and kill him 'on the spot.'

In India, a leading imam, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, called on Muslims to 'respond in a manner which forces the pope to apologise.'

A top Al-Qaeda figure announced that 'the infidelity and tyranny of the pope will only be stopped by a major attack.'"

As such, "The Religion of Peace" speaks.

Brian said...

Philip Jenkins, author of of two books dealing with this issue says "much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.

"When we turn to the Bible, we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide."

"utterly destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants"

As such, "The Religion of Peace" speaks.

It is true that we are seeing more religious violence from Muslims now because the Islamic world is far more religious than is the West. Still, Jenkins says , "The scriptures are still there, dormant, but not dead, and they can be resurrected at any time." Witness the white supremacists who cite the murderous Phineas when calling for racial purity, or an anti-abortion activist when shooting a doctor who performs abortions.

I find that you are often guilty of attacking one side of an issue without honestly examining the counter-point, going as far as hiding from such discussion. But, as the Pope says "If I speak of Islamic violence, I should speak of Catholic violence." This holds true for other issues as well, be they curbing free speech, politicians lies, etc, etc

Anonymous said...

Overall, an accurate portrayal of Islam, especially on the Meccan (peaceful) and Medinian (war mongering) history of Islam.

Two points:
1. Christianity is the world's largest religion with 2.2 billion followers to Islam's 1.6 billion.
2. There is no such thing as radical, militant, hijacked, fundamentalist or extremist Islam; it's just Islam. The "good" Muslims are those who follow Muhammed's perfect example and try to emulate his behavior. (Q: 68:4, 33:21).

To understand Islam is to understand Muhammed by reading the Sunna, i.e. his biography, the Sira, and his customs and traditions in the Hadith (The Qur'an is only 14% of Islamic doctrine; the Sunna is 86%). Also, a quick and useful comparison was made at the website, "The Religion of Peace", on Jesus vs. Muhammed (Christianity vs. Islam).

For Brian, above, Christianity had some violence, but it was descriptive of historical events. The 1400 years of jihad in the Qu'ran and Sunna are prescriptive for ALL times.

Lastly, Islam is a supremacist totalitarian political ideology cloaked as a religion.

Brian said...

People could play the "my religion is better than your religion" game, or "we are kinder and gentler than you", game forever. Perhaps we should just all recognize that ALL big, organized religions are responsible for a lot of violence. (Although Buddhists seem to have gotten this part down better than most.)

I'm not really buying the "Oh, that condoning of violence was just meant for the past" from christians. What, did God suddenly realize the errors of his way and turned over a new leaf? When did he say "Oops, forget that violent part", I changed my mind?

It seems so bizarre to me that people can't grasp the concept of being good for goodness sake, instead of being intimidated into it by the threats of a god.

Brian said...

Can anybody make the case that the world is a better place because of organized religion. All religious radical terrorism gone. Wars fought over religion gone. religious intolerance and hate crimes gone. Thousands and thousands of sexually abused children gone. And what would be the downside of no organized religion? Relief agencies could still exist. Community building groups and activities could still exist. So what is it that makes all the violence, attrocities and abuse worth it?

Stopp Planned Parenthood of Connecticut said...

Mike Flyn, that's a nice Irish name. Here's some Irish humor for ya now and brotherly love, two days before St. Paddy's day, . . . enjoy,

...which reminds me of the joke about, McAlister. One Saterday night, he ordered three pints at the pub. When the bartender asked him why he wanted three, McAlister explained: "I've got two brothers, one in America and one in Austrailia. Every Saturday night, we go to our respective pubs, order three pints and drink with each other. Right now, me brothers are sipping three pints too."
McAlister continued his tradition for several months. But one Saturday he ordered only two pints. "Sweet goodness," said the bartender, "did one of your brothers die?"
"The brothers are fine," said McAlister. "It's just that I've quit drinking."

Then there's the one about a German spy who was sent to Ireland during World War II.
The German was instructed to meet an Irish spy named Murphy and confirm Murphy's identity by saying, "The weather could change by Tuesday."
After he parachuted into Ireland, he set off for town. Along the way, he asked a farmer where he might find a man named Murphy.
"Well, sir, it depend's on which Murphy," said the farmer. "We have Murphy the doctor, Murphy the postal carrier, Murphy the stone mayson and Murphy the teacher. I too am a Murphy, Murphy the farmer."
The German got an idea. "The weather could change by Tuesday," he said.
"Aye,"said the farmer, "you'll be wanting Murphy the spy."

What about the time a policeman caught Seamus with a bucket of fish in a no-fishing-zone?
"You've got it wrong," Seamus said to the policeman.
"These are my pet fish. I bring them to the reservoir everyday for exorcise. After they swim for 10 minutes, they come back to the bucket and I take them home."
"Prove it said the cop."
Seamus dumped his fish into the reservoir and off they swam. An hour later, they still hadn't returned.
"Ha, you lying rogue, said the officer. "Where are your pet fish?"
"Fish?" said Seamus. "What fish?"

Which reminds me of the one about St. Patrick visiting an Irish pub. Donovan, McNally, and Finnegan saw St. Patrick enter the pub, and each one bought him a beer.
When St. Patrick shook Donovan's hand , Donovan said, "My arthritis! St. Patrick, your touch has cured it!"
St. Patrick shook McNally's hand, and McNally said, "My blind right eye! St. Patrick, you've cured it!
St. Patrick went to shake Finnigan's hand. Finnigan shouted, "Get away from me, I'm on disability!"

Ask God for the grace to profit from a better sense of humor everyday.

Brian said...

If god had anything to do with having a great sense of humor, then thank you god. I couldn't imagine having to live through these next few years without one! The great laughs are almost Chaplin-esque, or like the Marx Brothers. Good old time buffoonery and over-the-top antics!

Anonymous said...

"Behold, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed"

With the clown show we have going on in the White House, these words were never truer. We need to put an end to governing by gut reactions and shallowness, and go back to governing with wisdom.

A Liberal Coup Is In Progress said...

We'll have Neil Gorsuch soon. Thank God for that.

Anonymous said...

By the year 2070, our children and grandchildren will cope with the number one religion in the world and all its bells and whistles.

Wars and walls are inevitable.

Anonymous said...

From Bloomberg concerning Gorsuch:

A Mexican immigrant who twice entered the U.S. illegally has one man in particular to thank for being able to live and work in Oklahoma City with his family -- Judge Neil M. Gorsuch.

Gorsuch, the nominee President Donald Trump is betting on to be his Supreme Court tie-breaker, wrote a 2016 ruling permitting Hugo Rosario Gutierrez-Brizuela to stay in the U.S. and, his lawyer hopes, within a few years become a citizen.

“Without it we were done," said Timothy Cook, the attorney. Had the decision gone the other way, Gutierrez-Brizuela would have been promptly deported, he said.

As Trump vows to fight all the way to the nation’s top court to preserve his temporary ban on travel from six mostly Muslim nations and immigration agents turn to more aggressive tactics on city streets, Gorsuch’s conservative credentials have been hailed as likely to swing the divided court in the president’s favor.

But as lawmakers scrutinize Gorsuch’s decade-long tenure on a federal appeals court for clues about how he might rule on hot-button issues such as abortion and gun control, his record shows that on immigration rights, he can’t be easily categorized.

Moreover, some experts and academics say Gorsuch’s criticism of executive overreach in the Gutierrez-Brizuela case and others could lead him to reach decisions at odds with the Republican president’s policies. The judge’s thinking in those cases is likely to be a subject of intense interest in confirmation hearings set to begin Monday.

‘Last Laugh’

“There’s a little bit of me that’s hoping we’ll have the last laugh against Trump and the people who presented Gorsuch as though he’s in their pocket and going to rubber stamp the political and social agendas they want to promote,” said Laura Lichter, a Denver lawyer whose immigrant client won an appeal before Gorsuch in 2015. “I don’t see that.”

Anonymous said...

As a liberal... I find it very interesting that it is not Liberals on the forefront of opposing the ideologies of Islam.

Women's Rights: In American Liberalism, we focus say that it is absolutely egregious that the average American woman is paid 76 cents to a man's dollar. However, in many Islamic countries a woman's testimony in court is worth 50% of that to a man's.

Women are forced to dress with Hi-jabs or Burkas, as to not lead a man into temptation or else he may have unclean thoughts or worse. However, liberal feminists in America march in the street with the word "slut" painted on their naked bodies to prove the point that consent is only consent when a woman grants it, not by how she is dressed.

Women can be forced into arranged marriages, raped by their husband and have it completely be legal. Women in America get to choose their gender if it doesn't fit with their view on their own life.

Apostates: When I chose the leave the Catholic church, it was as simple as sleeping in on Sunday. When the typical citizen of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Somalia or Lebanon wants to leave the Islamic faith, they have to first migrate out of their country or risk being killed.

Honor Killing: Last year, over 1000 people (mostly women) were killed in Pakistan through honor killings. In one case, the 15 year old girl helped her friend elope with a non-muslim man. Both her family, and the family of the girl who eloped, tied her up in a car and burned her alive. It turns out that it was the girls own mother who had organized the killing.

ISIS and Al Qaeda are not the "fringe", they are only the folks who actively try to install a caliphate. Other Islamist or Conservative Muslims are who we cannot accept into our society until they leave behind their 13th century ideologies. As for the group of Moderate Muslims that do exist, and have denounced the teachings and practices or Sharia Law, we need to either accept them into our society, or help them reform their own. Christianity was able to at least come to a point where they stopped killing people in the name of God. Islam needs this same reform.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous above: Your broad sweeping generalization of the Islamic world contains too many inaccuracies to count. Clearly, you know very little about the subject. Furthermore, these countries have their own liberal activists. We support them, but change has to come from within. Your argument is specious and infantile.

Anonymous said...

Please let me know which points I made were wrong, instead of posting your own broad sweeping comment that there are just "too many". I would love to show you my sources.

Women: Don't take it from me, take it straight from the horses mouth. Please go out and listen to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This former Muslim woman is a great inspiration.

Apostates: Take it from this apostate talking about apostates. She is very blunt about it, "If you convert you die". Please read this article

Pakistan: You want the story? Here it is. "But when Rafique arrived, her mother and brother tied her to a bed, poured gasoline and set her on fire, police said.
Parveen then turned herself over to the authorities but expressed no sorrow for actions."

It appears I was wrong on a few of the facts as I was recalling them from memory. However, my point stays intact. If you want more stories about women being killed in honor killings, I have more.

The interesting thing, none of the perpetrators cited in any of these articles were members of any terrorist groups... they were just muslim citizens. Please go out and read about Sharia Law, and then also go read about how many citizens in these countries AGREE with sharia law. Look at these polls

Anonymous said...

Boundaries and boarders.
Over here, SOMEBODY pipes water right into the housing that SOMEBODY built!
But over HERE, SOMEBODY "found" that previously deemed useless oil, that SOMEBODY
has figured out hoe to extract, process, and transport.
But over HERE, SOMEBODY has "found" the rare earth metals needed for "smart" phones.
But over HERE, food, shelter, heat, transportation is "free".
But over HERE, SOMEBODY just scolds (or adores) lunatics, liars, killers and thieves, and kill folks who are inconvenient.
But over HERE, SOMEBODY raises the children, and identifies universal threats, "for our own safety!"
But over HERE, SOMEBODY provides infotainment for FREE!
Etc., etc, yada yada yada, ad nauseam.
Something the homeless, the rudderless, the vandals, the grifters, the rent-seekers, and simple contrarians ALL know...
"Just Keep Moving."
Personally, I've now chosen to band with the actual builders,and "Just Keep Hammerin' "
(Oh my! Mr. McLaughlin, THANK YOU for using a system that warns "HTML Tag not closed" (phew)

86^%*^^&*(46708%$09 said...

Boomerangs and bovines.
Over there, NOBODY licks Tang right off of SOMEBODY's torso!
But over HERE, NOBODY "buttered" that otherwise designated emergency taco, that NOBODY
has bothered to pick, prod, and poke.
But over THERE, NOBODY has "imagined" the opulent spiced spam needed for "clever" diets.
But over THERE, sand, salami and penguin parts is "free".
But over THERE, NOBODY just spanks (or drools) on clowns, mimes, cops and robbers, and massage folks who are unconscious.
But over THERE, NOBODY lifts their livestock, and recognize nonexistent threats, "for the public good!"
But over THERE, NOBODY juggles kittens for FREE!
Etc, etc, and so on, and on and on, and whatever.
Something the yuppies, the elitists, the insomniacs, the beauty seekers,the pop tart eaters ALL know...
Just keep yammering nonsense."
Personally, "I've now chosen to make merry with the pretend demolishers, and "Just keep Yammering'"
(Oh gosh o golly Mr. Tom, KUDOS for allowing me to write in italics! Phew!!!!)

Anonymous said...

People have been noticing that Trump and Nixon have some things in common. KNown and proven liars. Attacks on our free press. Failure to release taxes. And probably their terms ending in much the same way.

Anonymous said...

Just trying to keep up...
And it gets more challanging by the week!
ONE of the latest opinions on "Who's On First".