Thursday, June 27, 2002

I'd Like to Take Back what I said Earlier

About "Islam" being an evil religion. It's not. Certainly many strains of Islam are. What I would like to do is not backpedal much, I would just like to replace "Islam" with "Koran." Because the current version of the Koran is a bloodthirsty, ultraviolent, intolerant document.

Because despite the Koran's claims to being the perfect copy of the original, there is some doubt about this. There used to be much more internal doubt about the perfection of Islam and the Hadiths in Islam—and during that time, Islam was much more peaceful. When the Koran is kept at arm's length, Islam can be a fine religion. When I said Sufism adds "fluff," that was a derisive term, and it was incorrect to say it moved further away from "Islam," because nobody has a monopoly on what "Islam" means. But Sufism does place less priority on the literal interpretation of the Koran than Wahabbism, I doubt anyone would disagree with me on this.

This distinction is a real and important one: if Islam itself was evil, there would be no hope for the billion Muslims worldwide short of Coulter's invade-kill-convert. But that's not the case. There are peaceful strains of Islam, and they're no less "Islamic" than Wahhabism. If anyone has a monopoly on "Islam," it certainly isn't bin Laden. And if we play our cards carefully, we can influence Islam bring more modern influences to it. Islam could certainly benefit from an injection of skepticism, tolerance, pacifism, liberalism, and individualism. It's the reformists who will have to do it, though, we can only give them the push they need.

At the heart of this matter is the question of whether the Koran is truly infallible, or whether it was altered at one point in history (most likely when several different versions of the Koran which were floating around were merged to create one authoritative version). If the Koran today is believed to be imperfect, and if the Hadiths are believed to be incorrect about many things, the more violent teachings in them could be disregarded. For instance, there is a debate within Islam whether the Hadiths were correct when they said Mohammed took a nine-year-old Aisha to be his wife (I forget where I saw this, it may have been Instapundit, but I can't find it on his blog).

Eric Raymond also has some things to say
about Islam. He notes especially that we are being lied to by Muslim apologists when they claim most Muslims are of the peaceful variety. That's another thing Islam could use an injection of: appreciation for the objective truth.

In short, "Islam" is too broad to demonize, but the current version of the Koran is a very specific target, and it's easy to call it "evil."

[update (6/27 11:04pm): upon further reflection, the Torah (Old Testament) contains some vile things as well, which don't damn it to being "evil." The idea of annihilating the Amalekites was certainly something accepted in its time, but not today. The key is that Jews don't accept the Amalekite solution to their problems, and haven't in the modern world, even before Naziism was born. If the atrocities in the Koran (such as the murder of a famous poet, and then a woman songstress) are rejected by Muslims, then I can't say the Koran is evil.

I think the real problem is the lack of individualism within Islam, especially within the peaceful strains. Islam places a very high value on submission (in fact, that's what the word "Islam" means in Arabic). The radicals are organized, and the moderates are not. The dearth of moderate voices isn't proof most Muslims are really on the side of the radicals. Asking for moderate Muslims to get angry, and take back their faith is asking for something that's not only difficult, but revolutionary. It would change their culture a large amount for moderate Muslims to strike back at the fundamentalists. And that's a good thing.]

Civility and Stuff

Ann Salisbury has linked to my blog (because I linked to her, this could be the start of a vicious cycle). She, uh, probably disagrees with me on most things. I originally linked to her site when I found it through Welch's warblog, I was intrigued by the importance she placed on civility, which I too felt was underrated.

Then I got into an argument with Demosthenes. Civility went out the window, I felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall. Summary:
He said it was impossible for Arafat to stop cell-based terror, so he shouldn't even be expected to try. But cell-based terror did stop, for several years, when the "peace" process was moving at its slowest, under Netanyahu, even though it's impossible to stop. All Netanyahu had to do was threaten to dismantle the PA if the terror continued, by threatening Arafat, he got what he wanted.

Demo said Arafat would never destroy Rachel's Tomb. Well, his forces allowed Joseph's Tomb to be destroyed, if he had ordered them to save it, they would have. So even though Arafat would never destroy a Jewish holy site, he already has.

Then he tried to claim I'm just not nuanced enough, I was lumping Arafat's terrorists in with the religious ones. Arafat, you see, doesn't really want Israel destroyed, he actually wants a state, according to Demo. Which is why he rejected Oslo and Taba. Which is why he created a whole new terror organization, the Al-Aksa Martyr Brigades, which is basically indistinguishable from HAMAS in its actions.

And he claimed I was lumping together the Palestinian civilians along with the terrorists into one big collective. When two thirds of Palestinian civilians support suicide bombings, I can't consider them passive victims of this entire conflict.)
I went off on a bit of a rant there, but back to the main point. I left the Two Tears in a Bucket link up, because I do like to read intelligent liberal opinions. I especially like civility when I'm reading something I disagree with, nothing puts me off faster than Atrios' alleged parody of right-wing web sites. Does he really have to lower his site to the level of Democratic Underground just to make a point about civility? I doubt it, I think he just likes being so rude.

I will try to be civil in the future, because I know it's right...

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

MEMRI is Good

And so is WorldNetDaily.

Bad News

GeekPress points out a Village Voice article about small arms attacks on Americans.

I pointed out how bad this would be a month ago:

Broohaha is right, Al Qaida won't send conventional suicide bombers against us, they're much too flashy for that. Al Qaida and the PFLP are "warriors" whereas HAMAS and the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades are "soldiers" (see this post by Denbeste)

But he's also wrong. There are other groups in the US, and they could easily carry out suicide bombings. It's even been tried before. It's wrong to blow off Rummy's warning.

Suicide bombs (or suicide gunmen) are the perfect warrior for small groups, or for individuals inspired by terrorist leaders. If one Muslim carries out a shooting or bomb attack, expect copycats to start happening, pronto. This is a situation that will snowball if it ever starts.

It's also pretty much unavoidable, it's going to happen at some point.
The copycat attacks wouldn't even require advance planning, they would be carried out by American Muslims inspired by what the terrorists were able to do with simple small arms. It would be like the school shooting spree, where copycat attacks were fueled by the media attention given to regular attacks.

Despite what I've said about Islam, I'm not insinuating all, most, or even many American Muslims would follow Al Qaida and carry out rifle attacks on public places. It would only be a small number. But only a small number of terrorists are needed to carry out an attack, and sow fear. Only a tiny fraction of American high school students shot up their schools and murdered their classmates.

I'm pessimistic about this, but I agree with Paul Hsieh: legal concealed weapons should play an important role in defending against these attacks. This is just another reason to be thankful for a Republican presidency: Gore would use these hypothetical attacks to increase gun controls, and would use it as a political club to beat Republicans with.

[I spelled Den Beste's name wrong, it should not be "Denbeste"]

Star Wars Parody
Watto: "Oh, Anny, I recognize that punim, it is you. You always were a mensch, Anny, but is that a lightsaber? A jedi knight! What a job for a nice Tatooine boy. Hey! Have I got the deal for you! How about--"

Annakin: "Shut up, you greasy-bearded hook-nosed black-hat-wearing slave-trader, and tell me where I can find my mother"

Watto: "I'm afraid she's the schlmazel and I'm the schlemiel. I've forgotten completely where I sent her..."
Is there anyone out there who's going to claim Watto isn't an incredibly racist stereotype of a Jew, complete with hook nose, flies, a greasy beard, and a black hat? But maybe it really was a subconscious accident on Lucas's part. After all, Watto didn't have pellas.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Another Good Reason for Regime Change

Aside from preventing a horrendous nuclear conflict, a regime change in Iraq would also stop this sort of thing from happening.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Hot Damn!

This is great news! (via Tim Blair)

Put that up against this (via Joe Katzman), and it looks like Bush is willing to fight the destroy-Israel mentality in Palestine, because he sees how destabilizing it is to the whole region. If the Palestinians are allowed to continue their war against Israel, it will lead to nuclear war. Whether they are stopped by being deported or by actually committing to a real peace process makes no real difference. Either way, their war has to end.

If enough political leaders put enough pressure on the Palestinians, and bring about reforms, peace is possible. This move by Bush is very encouraging. I don't like the "deport them all" solution, I just see it as being the most likely to succeed. But if Bush can bring about peace (and let's be honest, Bush is basically the only world leader doing anything to promote peace there, the rest are just engaging in the political equivalent of masturbation), deportations (and the large number of civilian deaths which would inevitably accompany such a plan) won't be necessary.

This has certainly brightened my outlook on the world. As has this:

Introducing the Best Tank in the World

In a few hours, the best main battle tank in the world will be revealed. The Merkava Mk-IV will replace the Merkava Mk-III as the holder of that title. No other country's MBT even comes close.

Lots of Good Stuff

Over at USS Clueless today, relating to my debate with Demosthenes and Israel in general.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

The Most Important Issue You've been Ignoring

Den Beste brings up the important but little discussed issue of damage to Israel's economy. As I noted last month, the Arabs are keenly aware of this.

While the military action is expensive, the real blow to Israel's economy comes from the lack of tourists. Pacifying the territories through reoccupation would allow them to return safely.

Reoccupation would also give Israel complete access to any resources in the territories, including cheap Palestinian labor. Israel could cut off foreign aid to the Palestinians, forcing them to work. Or, better yet, it could seize control of that foreign aid (it would still have to go to Palestinians, but Israel could direct it). With the combination of no food aid and all travel cut off for villages that sponsor terrorists, they would be brought to their knees extremely quickly. Add to that the bulldozing of their orchards and cutting off electricity, and the Palestinians would have quite literally nothing. They could be brought under Israel's heel with devastating speed, allowing her economy to return to normal within weeks. Unfortunately, this would jeapordize trade with Europe, which could really hurt Israel, so it might not be possible.

Israel would have to figure out some way to get the Europeans to not cut off trade. Sharon's plan might be the best way around this. Instead of seizing all of the territory at once, creating an international outrage, Sharon will do it piece by piece. The Europeans won't be able to get so angry. I trust Sharon to do the right thing for Israel.

I'll say again I don't hate the Palestinians. I just gave up caring about them. If they want to wage an all-out terror war, they can have one. It's their choice, they can live with the consequences. All Israel is asking them to do is stop killing Israelis. When If they can manage that, they can have a demilitarized but otherwise fully independent state. This is not like asking Hungarian freedom fighters to lay down their arms and surrender to the Soviets. Israel has a long track record of wanting peaceful coexistence. Occupation is not the end goal, only a phase for as long as the Palestinians make it necessary.

I called Rabin a traitor for Oslo, and I should not have. Despite the huge number of Israelis who died because of his actions, the way Oslo failed proves the Israelis are willing to make peace and the Palestinians are not. The Oslo Accords are no longer followed by either side, but they are still very relevant. Now Oslo is an Arab-killing license. Israel can kill as many as she wants to get security, because she's proven she isn't the impediment to peace.

Was Wright Right?

Kausfiles quotes Robert Wright's prediction:
... we shouldn't be beguiled by short-run success. If terrorist bombings indeed abate after the current incursion, prepare yourself for the inevitable Charles Krauthammer column touting the success of Sharon's iron-fist policy.
I would still stand by what Krauthammer wrote. This is the end of his column:
Palestinians will now have to recalibrate their thinking about Israeli will, rethink the impunity they imagined the "international community" would provide them, recalculate the efficacy of terror. Looking at the ruin -- moral and material -- that terror has brought them, some Palestinians might begin thinking that the road to Palestine lies through an option they rejected at Camp David 22 months ago: peace.
It's true Krauthammer overestimated the success of Operation Defensive Shield. But it was successful, just to a lesser degree. This means a military response to terror is a viable solution, it just needs to be a bigger military response. If Operation Defensive Shield could have created a week or two of calm, Operation Reinstate the Occupation Permanently would provide protection from terror indefinitely. Some small attacks would break through. There would be bombings. But not so many as there are now. The terrorists would be on the run, permanently.

The value of reinstating the occupation is that it would be a much larger version of Operation Defensive Shield, permanently. Yes, the Palestinians would be miserable. But that's the point. Surely there were enough good times under Oslo that they would want to go back. Surely they would prefer freedom to terror. And if not, if they refuse to end the terror, then they can live under occupation forever. The Palestinians' destiny is in their own hands, what more could they ask for?

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