Monday, July 19, 2004

Mail Bag

I get online intending to blog something, then go look for a bicycle helmet big enough to fit my enormous head. A size XL wasn't enough. But before I get to write the post that's in my mind, I make the mistake of answering e-mails, and by the time that's done there's little time to compose a post. Forget about the helmet. So, in the absence of a post, here's a letter:

> I want to
> focus on the topic of
> 9/11 motives and put the other points off to the
> side for now.

How convenient.

> The 9/11 motives
> is a topic I have been agonizing over for years, in
> fact the terrorists motives
> is a subject I have thought about for over a decade.

Good! It should be something everyone agonizes about and thinks about with all the intelligence he or she can muster. And then gets up and does something about it. I'm just sorry you can't see any further than the statements of the killers, who, by their very actions, prove themselves capable of any level of deceit for the sake of hurting what they hate.

> II can't make you see the facts, all I can do is
> present them to you and hope
> you will honestly consider them. I think it is
> disingenuous to insist that
> the motives were "arguments of convenience"
> The 9/11 crime had specific motives. The attack was
> in response to US
> policies of supporting Israel AND of supporting
> oppressive regimes in the Middle
> East. That is basically what it was about.

> Osama bin
> Laden also mentioned the
> sanctions against Iraq.

Which, by the way, now are ended. And the money is flowing into Iraq at a pace that ought to delight him, if he really cares about the Iraqi people. Most of them have clean water and real electrical service now for the first time in their lives. The Shi'ites of Iraq are free to practice their brand of Islam as they perhaps never have been. So is he happy? Is he pleased?

Hmmmm, doesn't seem that he is. Maybe that wasn't his real goal after all.

Oops, and I forgot, Wahhabis hate Shi'ites.

> Of course the troops in
> Saudi Arabia that outrages bin
> Laden is part of the US policy of propping up the
> Saudi Kingdom.

But the troops are gone now, as I said. Their feet no longer profane the holy soil. Is he happy? Is he pleased? Hmmmm, doesn't seem that he is.

> I hope you make a sincere effort to look at the
> motives. There are people
> that are trying to deceive you and perhaps that is
> why you are under the
> impression that you "have seen bin Laden and those
> like him change their causes, and
> their demands, so many times I realize it's all just
> smoke and mirrors." That
> simply is not true.

The people most certainly trying to deceive me are the Islamists. When they're caught, after some terrorist act, when they've got the attention of the world, thanks to some horrific deed they've committed, they bray about "avenging the injustices to Muslims worldwide."

But their literature and internal teachings talk about simply destroying the West, the sheer thrill of the religious duty of killing infidels, and the re-establishment of the caliphate.

What do they mean by "caliphate?" Sometimes they seem to mean "Islamist supremacy and total control in any lands where Muslims once ruled." But sometimes they make it explicit: the whole world belongs to Islam. It was Allah's intention that the whole world should live under Islam, by conversion if possible, by conquest if not. Have you ever read the Qur'an and the Hadiths? Do you really not believe this?

> You wrote, "Considering that "the lands of Islam" is
> defined by Islamists as
> any place where Muslims live".
> That simply is not true. As you asked at your
> newsroom, can you back that up?

Sigh. Evidently, you don't. You don't even have to delve into the body of written Sharia to find it.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the "peaceful" Islamic group that backed the girl who sued for the right to wear Islamic dress to school in England, gave Forum 18 News Service a list of their goals:

  • 1. Restore a worldwide Caliphate, uniting the world under Islamic rule;
  • 2. Ban all faiths apart from Islam,
    Judaism and Christianity (members of other religions are not listed as "People of the Book" in the Qur'an);
  • 3. Regulate all religious practice
    according to Sharia law;
  • 4. "Give all non-Muslim states a choice
    between either joining the Caliphate under Sharia law, or paying a tax to the Caliphate. Failure to pay the tax would be punished by military attack."

A Web site of the Islamic Affairs Department (IAD) of the Saudi embassy in Washington (since removed, after it began to get unwanted attention in the Western blogs), advertised this as well:

"The Muslims are Required to Raise the Banner of Jihad in Order to Make the Word of Allah Supreme in this World. ... The Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world, to remove all forms of injustice and oppression, and to defend the Muslims."

A London newspaper ran an extensive article a couple of years ago, in which the reporter spent time with a group of radical Muslim youths in Luton. They all had grown up in good middle-class families, and they all had technical training and decent jobs, until they left them to become radicals. In short, they were the model of the 9-11 hijackers.

The article didn't make judgements. The reporter simply opened up the microphone and let the men talk. The result was enlightening, among other things:

"I made a decision that I wanted to follow what Islam really said," Sayful begins, sitting on his sofa in his thowb (a traditional robe) and bare feet. "I went to listen to all the local imams, but I found their portrayal of Islam was too secularised. When I heard Sheikh Omar [the leader] of al-Muhajiroun speak, it was pure Islam, with no compromise. I found that appealing."

"At the same time," continues Sayful, "wars were happening in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan. People were being oppressed simply because they were Muslim. Although I had never experienced racism in the UK, it opened the eyes of a lot of Muslims, including mine."

[Note the absence of "Palestine" on that list. And the fact that the West, and especially America, were trying to HELP the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo, and were pressuring the Russians about their tactics in Chechnya. At the time, too, the U.S. had no real beef with the Taliban, which I think is shameful on our part, but Sayful doesn't seem to care. Note, too, the false, but typical, identification of "Islam" and "race."]

"But it was the events of 11 September that crystallised Sayful's worldview. "When I watched those planes go into the Twin Towers, I felt elated," he says. "That magnificent action split the world into two camps: you were either with Islam and al Qaeda, or with the enemy. I decided to quit my job and commit myself full-time to al-Muhajiroun."

Now he does not consider himself British. "I am a Muslim living in Britain, and I give my allegiance only to Allah."

According to Sayful, the aim of al-Muhajiroun ("the immigrants") is nothing less than Khilafah - "the worldwide domination of Islam". The way to achieve this, he says, is by Jihad, led by Bin Laden. "I support him 100 per cent."

Does that support extend to violent acts of terrorism in the UK? "Yes," he replies, unequivocally. "When a bomb attack happens here, I won't be against it, even if it kills my own children. Islam is clear: Muslims living in lands that are occupied have the right to attack their invaders."

> Where is the public
> debate about what 46% of
> the American people think we should do?

Isn't it up to the American people to have that debate, via their political process, if they care so much about it? People in the anti-war/anti-American camp (they are not the same, but they converge) talk and act as if the American people were schoolchildren who need to be lectured by their media and directed in the paths of truth by their leaders (the leaders you agree with, of course not those other ones). The nation is one big lecture hall, full of innocent, empty minds and Mr. Chomsky is about to step up to the podium and lead you all to enlightenment.

The political process, the media, too, are the property of the people, not in some Leninist sense, but actually. I wrote something about media responsibility recently, in handling photos of war dead, and someone responded, with, essentially, "You're wrong; the newspapers need to run more pictures of gore, to rub people's faces in the facts of the war they supported." This, of course, is the Michael Moore view, too. But it overlooks the fact that a hometown newspaper is not required reading in some college course. People have a choice; they can buy it, or they can leave it alone.

Go on and publish a newspaper that tells people everything you think they need to know but you think they don't want to know. See how long you last before you can't pay your truck drivers and your pressmen. Then ask them if they'll work for free, in exchange for knowing they're spreading the message that the terorists want us to get.

I swear, people on the left spent way too much time in college classrooms. They actually seem to like being lectured to, and expect everyone else to share the fetish. And the older ones spent too much time worshipping at the shrine of the old Soviet communist system, with its lifelong "education" in party doctrine.

> I think you shoudl be aware
> that neither Chomsky nor I
> are saying that there is a "conspiracy". What is
> happenieng is there is a
> general trend of presenting facts and not presenting
> facts.

In other words, the Chomskyite world view is built as a pyramid of certain facts, presented in a certain arrangement, with proper emphasis and ordering, that leads to a certain inevitable conclusion.

And the newspapers of America aren't building that structure. They're building another one. It's based on some combination and compromise between what the general type of person who runs a newsroom feels, and what the general type of person who reads a newspaper is willing to pay 50 cents a day to read.

That's a free-market information system. It's sloppy, imperfect, inexact, and sometimes it makes me boil with anger, but I can't think of any other one I'd want to live with, frankly. Nothing's repressed: there have been alternative and "underground" newspapers for as long as there have been newspapers. Don't like CNN? Get a dish and watch al-Jazeera all day. Don't want a dish? We have the Internet now. You can find any point of view there you want to find, and find it a hundred times over.

There are message boards and newsgroups and any blog worth its salt has a "comments" section. Repression of debate? There's more public debate going on in this country than there has been since the 1850s.

It may be that you don't like the fact that your side's view isn't gaining any traction with the majority. But that would be a different problem.

Personally, I think most Americans would be more than willing to talk about things like economic opportunities for Palestinians, once Palestinians talk more seriously about stopping their bus-bombing campaign. And I think most Americans are willing to help the Middle East achieve a decent standard of living, once most of the Middle East stops celebrating suicide attacks that kill Americans.

> You don't see that, in general, the media has not
> served the public good? you
> didn't notive that on 9/11 and the days after nearly
> the entire media refused
> to even speak of motive?

I saw the question "why do they hate us?" addressed continually, and I saw a great many references to Israel and the Palestinians.

> The author of the book
> "Bais" was pleased with how
> the media behaved on 9/11. (that proves my point I
> think)

How that can prove anything is beyond me.

> Ever notice when
> other crimes occur the media OFTEN refers to motive?
> "cops still looking for a
> motive", etc? Here is one recent example, look
> how the media is reporting
> the Kansas plant shootings:
> Sixth person dies after shooting at Kansas plant
> KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- A sixth person shot in a
> rampage at a meatpacking
> plant died Saturday, and investigators said they
> still have not determined the
> gunman's motive.

Yeah, and you know what the "motive" in such cases usually turns out to be? The killer is a racist, or a nut-job, or both.

"KANSAS CITY, KAN. -- Elijah Brown's co-workers always had a hard time making sense of him. He paced; he talked to himself; he got bothered over teasing that wouldn't faze other people.

... Police did not offer a motive for the 10-minute rampage Friday but said there appeared to be nothing random about the killings at the Kansas City, Kan., ConAgra Foods Inc. plant. They said he passed by some co-workers, telling them, "You haven't done anything to me, so you can go."

"This person acted with purpose; he knew exactly what he was doing," said Police Chief Ron Miller."

And I'll wager it's the same with mass-killers of any stripe, whether they mask their inhumanity with religion or politics or some mix of ther two. Of course, some religions, and some political views, really do encourage this sort of behavior. Maybe that's why it seems to come more often from certain places.

I'm curious: given your strong, stated views of American slavery, and the justness of resistance to it, what do you think about Islam being the only major religion that still sanctions slavery, and the only one that practices it on a large scale? What ought to be the role of the U.S. government with regard to the Darfur atrocities?