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Post Sweden's Self-Inflicted Nightmare
Created by John Eipper on 11/15/15 11:56 AM

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Sweden's Self-Inflicted Nightmare (Paul Levine, Denmark, 11/15/15 11:56 am)

This op-ed article appeared in the NY Times at the same time as the terrible news from Paris.

As Hollande speaks of "a state of war," we face the prospect of spiraling violence in Europe and the Middle East. Meanwhile EU's grand professions of unity unravel like the Emperor's New Clothes as the Schengen agreement implodes.

With the burgeoning refugee crisis and growing nationalist sentiment, Europe now faces a new critical situation well beyond the Euro crisis. Even Merkel is touched.  Now Sweden has realized its "open door" policy is foolish. It sounds like a case of hubris; the (unearned) national superiority complex trumpeted by its political elites
has caught up with the Swedes. This sounds about right.

Self-imposed PC censorship which prevented a national debate has forced a self-inflicted wound.

Not a pretty sight.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/14/opinion/swedens-self-inflicted-nightmare.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

JE comments:  By closing its doors to the unlimited influx of refugees, Sweden is suffering an identity crisis:  it cannot place controls on immigration without appearing to yield to its ultra-right, nativist elements.

I hope Paul Levine will follow up with a snapshot of the current immigration debate in Denmark.


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  • Refugee Crisis and Europe's Liberal Elite (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 11/16/15 4:21 AM)
    I totally agree with Paul Levine regarding the PC congenital stupidity of the ruling European liberal elite. The one person to watch now is Angel Merkel (who remains in denial and risks a German civil war). Across the Atlantic, Americans continue to be subjected to the narcissistic and pathological distortions of their executive leader.

    How much longer can we tolerate the transformation of a free into a Big Lie society?


    JE comments: A German civil war strikes me as an exaggeration, but Ms Merkel may be in danger of serious backlash.  The xenophobic, ultra-right Pegida is not taken seriously by most Germans, but what about her own party?  Who can walk us through the current political situation in Germany?


    What exactly does Francisco Wong-Díaz mean by the "Big Lie" society?


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    • Germany in Wake of Paris Massacre (Patrick Mears, -Germany 11/16/15 12:56 PM)
      With the Flüchtlingskrise in flux from day to day here in Germany, what I write below will no doubt be outdated in the next few hours, if it isn't already. The Paris massacre seems to have turned Germany upside down, or at least sideways, for now. For example:

      1. Horst Seehofer, the Chair of the CSU, and Markus Söder, the CSU finance minister for the Federal State of Bavaria, were in the news today reiterating their opposition to Merkel's policies, although Seehofer seemed to distance himself from Söder's remarks somewhat. In an interview in the newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, Söder said that "Paris changes everything" and that, if Germany can't secure its own borders by initiating more checks on its borders, then Bavaria "can take on this task." Seehofer, reacting to the news that one of the attackers had apparently reached France by first crossing into Greece as a Flüchtling and perhaps holding a faked passport, said that Germany needs to know who is arriving, who is passing through the country and who is remaining.


      2. CDU government ministers, e.g., Ursula von der Leyen (Defense Minister) and Thomas de Mayiére (Interior Minister), were quoted today as cautioning Germans not to equate all Flüchtlinge with ISIS terrorists because of the Paris massacre. They also stressed the need for continued vigilance at Germany's borders. Politicians in the SPD and the Green parties were quoted also today as supporting this tack also, as was the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.


      3. Pegida is not a mass movement in Germany and seems primarily confined to Saxony and a few other pockets in Germany. But the attendance at its marches and rallies have certainly increased within the last few months, and the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland political party has, according to polls, almost doubled its support throughout the country during the Flüchtlingskrise. This increase in political support puts pressure on the CDU to respond to their expressed concerns, especially in light of the upcoming regional elections in some German states this coming Spring.


      4. In today's online German news reports, there are a few articles on the possible consequences of the Paris massacre on the perception and treatment of Muslims in German society. Some experts were quoted as raising these concerns, notwithstanding recent, increased attempts at inter-faith understanding and cooperation in the country.


      5. Political leaders in Poland and Slovakia were quoted today as stressing the "safety risks" associated with the current migration stream on the Balkan Route.


      6. The situation here has become very volatile and an ISIS attack in Germany would make this situation more critical than it already is.


      JE comments:  Many thanks to Pat Mears for this update from Germany.  As Paul Levine pointed out, the first victim of the Friday the 13th massacre may be the Schengen agreement.  Will Europe's open borders become a thing of the past?

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    • Paris Massacre, Refugee Crisis, and Europe's Liberal Elite (Nigel Jones, -UK 11/17/15 4:54 AM)
      I would like to endorse what Francisco Wong-Díaz and Paul Levine have said regarding the Paris massacre and the blindness of Europe's left-liberal elite--that is to say almost all its current ruling class.

      Whenever there is another mass slaughter of innocents by Islamist savages (an increasingly frequent occurrence), as night follows day, we hear bleats about not tarring all Muslims with the terrorist brush, bleats about the danger of a (non-existent) backlash against Muslim "communities" and calls for the "moderate" Muslim majority to condemn the outrages committed by their co-religionists. (Strangely, the latter never happens: I do wonder why.)


      Most predictable of all is the bleat by leading politicians that the outrages "have nothing to do with Islam," when the most purblind can see that it has everything to do with it.


      I am always reminded of Herr Biedermann, the protagonist in the 1953 play The Fire-Raisers by the Swiss dramatist Max Frisch. In the play, Biedermann reads about a spate of arson attacks in his town. He then takes in two lodgers who fill his attic room with cans of petrol; and he even helps them measure the fuses for their fire bombs. The play is an allegory about indifference/cowardice in the face of Nazism, but in today's context it applies to the coming war between Islamism and the rest. Our elite cannot win the war against Islam because they are afraid to name the enemy.


      Our cowardly elite and their collaborators in the mass media refuse to see what is in front of our eyes: the invasion of Europe by millions of Muslims has ushered in a Trojan Horse bent on the destruction of our culture and civilisation ( or what is left of it).  Only the much-derided "far-right" parties such as France's Front National, the Geert Wilders party in the Netherlands and Sweden's Democrats are pledged to resist the invasion and restore Europe's borders. I predict a massive increase in support for these parties--starting with the FN sweeping all before it in French regional elections in a fortnight.


      Personally, I favour internment and/ or deporation without trial of all known Islamists. Europe is in the front line of World War III--nothing less, and deny it though our elite may try to do will not alter that reality. It's us or them.


      JE comments:  Nigel Jones has not posted in a few months, and here he comes out with guns blazing.  "Us or them"--what does that mean?  Given that terrorists prefer to keep a low profile until they strike, the "them" would most likely be proxies who fit the "profile" and practice Islam.


      I do agree with Nigel that France's FN is poised to do extremely well in the December regional elections.


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      • Paris Massacre, Refugee Crisis, and Europe's Liberal Elite; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 11/17/15 5:59 PM)

        Gary Moore writes:


        Nigel Jones's frankness on November 17, re the Paris attack aftermath, gives a much-needed chance to wade into the otherwise unwade-able. I like his term "bleat,"
        but even my own visceral response has to allow that in fact, contrary to what it
        has seemed to Nigel's understandable view, there has been an outpouring of
        condemnation of the Paris attacks from some Muslims, maybe many Muslims,
        and some influential ones.


        The problem is a little harder than that, for also real is the silence and lack of
        condemnation that Nigel hears. How to distinguish the sleeping time bombs
        from the many stable families who a) don't deserve persecution, and b) might
        be pushed into the other camp? (Witch hunters have ready answers.)


        Also real is this problem of Islam--and not just Islamism--as a violent religion, a thornier problem than demagogues on either side might pause to parse.
        The West has articulated a tolerance ethic that sidesteps the imponderables,
        to wit: Muhammad was not saying turn the other cheek, but kill the apostates.
        The Suras don't say, Let him who is without sin cast the first stone; they're
        out there throwing the rocks.


        The Western solution is to tolerate people liking whatever cherished lore
        gives them a rosy glow, no matter how cruel the plot line--since who's to
        choose what's just a tale and what's the martyred truth? But we're not
        supposed to live out the rock-throwing. There's the old dilemma warmed over
        from Cold War days: How to save democracy from those who say they want
        to save "real" democracy by destroying it, while using democracy's openness
        as a shield.  (There seems to be amnesia on how similar the 1970s Red Army
        terrorists were to what's happening now--except in Patrick Mears's useful
        WAIS reminder recently.).


        The war-that-is-no-war (and God save us from the Pope's panic-stricken
        alarmism about the "Third World War," as if the Cold War never existed), needs
        to be articulated sharply as simply one more front in the great battle between
        intolerance and tolerance (as the best-imperfect-solution). And yet tolerance
        doesn't come with a sword (well, Jesus did say he came with one, a bit more
        figuratively than Muhammad). There are closer parallels in Christianity to
        the pop-eyed, ferociously self-destructive intolerance in Islam, but they occur
        most flagrantly in medieval Christianity, before a sea of blood in the Reformation,
        plus the scientific and industrial revolutions, forced I'm-Okay-You're-Okay
        (the massacre of Jerusalem was by the Crusaders, not Saladin).


        People use their
        religion for all sorts of uplifting aims, no matter what their Good Book might say
        about killing caravans--or razing Jericho and Ai. Maybe five hundred years from
        now some top imam will be calling his Vatican II and smiling beneficently at the
        hippies, after an Islamic Reformation. But we don't live then; we face the policy
        choices now.


        JE comments:  Gary Moore phrases the dilemma elegantly:  "How do you save democracy from those who say they want
        to save 'real' democracy by destroying it, while using democracy's openness
        as a shield"?  Or a corollary:  Should the tolerant be tolerant of intolerance?

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      • Is the West "at War" with Islam? (Sasha Pack, USA 11/18/15 3:23 AM)
        If the West were indeed at war with Islam (see Nigel Jones, 17 November), it surely would be war in a limited, eighteenth-century sense, waged to achieve limited, precisely defined gains, without questioning the legitimacy of Islam as the main religion of the peoples of the Islamic arc.

        Once, say, the radicals stop randomly attacking soft targets in the name of the Caliphate and everybody just accepts Israel once and for all, the West would be satisfied, right? Unfortunately, I'm not sure if this fits today's popular understanding of war, except maybe for M. Hollande's. From the American perspective, the ebb and flow of limited air strikes on some inscrutable constellation of targets is the normal state of affairs and hardly seems to merit the "w" word anymore. The phrase "war with Islam" is more likely to conjure something more apocalyptic, either Baroque holy war or twentieth-century annihilation. This might explain why members of the alleged international PC cabal prefer to avoid it.


        On a related note, here are two photos I took at a vigil for Paris at Lafayette Square in Buffalo last Sunday. A vaguely neo-fascist rogue "infidel" (see t-shirt) stood guard as a hundred petty-bourgeois Francophiles muddled their way through the Marseillaise under the direction of the local honorary consul.


        JE comments: Photos below.  Sasha Pack is correct that the present situation of air strikes against "the usual suspects" no longer seems like war to most Westerners.


        It would be instructive to climb into the head of the lone "infidel," to understand what his motivation was.


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      • Is the West Serious about Defeating IS/Daesh? (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 11/18/15 4:08 AM)
        I want to follow up Nigel Jones's posting with the article below which clarifies the inanities of current leaders. Stupidity plus lack of courage and true convictions is a common trait among them. Meanwhile, while the idiots blabber, the innocent and powerless continue to suffer and bear the burden of shedding blood.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12000928/The-worlds-determination-to-defeat-Isil-is-a-myth.html


        JE comments: Author Richard Spencer runs down the list of the nations fighting against IS/Daesh, and identifies their different motivations:  the US has no stomach for war beyond air strikes; Russia cares only about keeping Assad in power.  Turkey's main concern is Kurdish separatism, and Iran wants to maintain a Sunni "bogeyman" to justify its actions.  


        Will France land troops in Syria?  If so, when was the last time it undertook an invasion on its own?  I'm going to say Mexico in 1862. 


        Hollande and Putin have called for a Grand Coalition to defeat Daesh once and for all.  Putin is no doubt enjoying the fact that after the Paris attacks, he is seen more as a statesman than a rogue strongman.


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        • Putin and Assad (John Heelan, -UK 11/18/15 4:20 PM)
          JE commented in response to Francisco Wong-Díaz (18 November) that "Russia cares only about keeping Assad in power."

          Maybe not? I suspect that Putin cares only about having access to a warm-water port for strategic reasons, and does not care who would provide it. Thus Assad is a useful tool at the moment and could easily be discarded if somebody else agreed to provide the facility.


          Surely the current crop of global "states(people)" could get together to arrange something in the joint interest of defeating the ISIL menace?


          JE comments: Yes, and in the days ahead, we'll be hearing more talk of Grand Coalition.  That it should happen, everyone agrees.  What exactly it should do:  therein lies the rub.

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          • Putin, Assad, and National Interest (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 11/19/15 6:55 AM)
            In response to John Heelan (18 November), there is need to complicate things with psycho-social babble. It is simple enough according to traditional political science international power theories: nations will pursue their national interest by engaging in collective security activities.

            Right now the status quo international system's collective interest is to move to eliminate Daesh, a revolutionary non-state actor presenting a collective threat.


            JE comments: Nations have no permanent friends, only permanent interests (Lord Palmerston... I'd add that interests change, too.) The problem with the Grand Coalition is that beyond the immediacy of confronting Daesh, Russia, Turkey, Iran, France, and the US have different interests. I don't see this as psycho-babble.

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          • What Does Assad Want? (Timothy Brown, USA 11/20/15 4:44 AM)
            I agree with John Heelan (18 November) on the Russians wanting to protect their base in Syria. But, assuming he's willing to enter into negotiations at all, Assad will also want a few things: A safe haven (non-extraditable) for himself and his family, protection for the minority from which he comes, and immunity for his military and police.

            I have been involved in somewhat similar negotiated settlements of conflicts, and these are likely to be the biggest sticking points, since other parties to the negotiations will resist. Quite possibly what would emerge would be a tit-for-tat compromise.


            JE comments:  One hopes that the negotiations will be with Syria's inscrutable "moderate opposition."  As Graeme Wood taught us back in March, IS/Daesh doesn't do compromise.


            What nation would take Assad?  Russia is the obvious choice, but Assad isn't going anywhere at present.


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            • Assad and IS/Daesh (Nigel Jones, -UK 11/20/15 12:25 PM)
              Tim Brown and John Eipper (20 November) are fighting the day before yesterday's battles over Syria, as indeed is Obama and the rest of the West. Assad is no longer the problem; ISIS is.

              Assad may well be--indeed is--a monstrous tyrant in the good old mold of his dear departed dad and many another Arab ruler. But under his regime, as most old Middle Eastern hands will tell you, Syria, though repressive to those who openly opposed the regime, was civilised, secular, peaceful and offered a safe haven to many non Sunni Muslim minorities: including Christians, Druze, and Assad's own Alawite sect.


              Now the so-called "moderate" opposition, and their dreadful ISIS successors, have turned the country into a war-torn hellhole and Assad represents the only hope for a half decent future--that is why he is backed by the minorities I referred to as well as by many non-fanatic Sunnis.


              Of course Russia is supporting Assad for its own interests: so should we.


              Behind ISIS, of course, lies our real enemy in the Middle East: the poisonous cesspit of intolerance and extremism that is Saudi Arabia. Until that fetid swamp is drained, violent Jihadism will continue around the world.


              JE comments: I would never say it as forcefully as Nigel, but Saudi Arabia together with Pakistan are the West's greatest "frenemies." But "drain the swamp"? Imagine the horrors if the West intervened in the heart of Islam. Then you'd have to face more than 31,000 ISIS fighters; you'd have 1.5 billion mortal enemies.

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              • Revisiting Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" (John Heelan, -UK 11/21/15 5:56 AM)
                I partially agree with Nigel Jones's comment of 20 November, but it is in danger of slipping into the old debate of whether the putative security of a dictatorship is better than a democracy. Perhaps it is also worthwhile reminding ourselves about what Prof. Sam Huntington wrote 20 years ago in his "Clash of Civilizations" article in the Atlantic, as it seems pertinent to today's world.

                WHY CIVILIZATIONS WILL CLASH


                "Civilization identity will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measure by the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization. The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another.


                "Why will this be the case?


                "First, differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic. Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion. The people of different civilizations have different views on the relations between God and man, the individual and the group, the citizen and the state, parents and children, husband and wife, as well as differing views of the relative importance of rights and responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality and hierarchy. These differences are the product of centuries. They will not soon disappear. They are far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes. Differences do not necessarily mean conflict, and conflict does not necessarily mean violence. Over the centuries, however, differences among civilizations have generated the most prolonged and the most violent conflicts."


                To me, the pertinent sentences are: "Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion," and "These differences are the product of centuries. They will not soon disappear. They are far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes."


                JE comments: When the "long view" of world history is written in a century or two, the era of political/ideological conflict, confined to the period 1917-1989/'91, will be seen as a mere blip on the radar screen of human conflict. Only the youngest among us did not come of age during those seven decades, so our perspective is naturally going to be distorted.

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                • Security of Dictatorship (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/21/15 11:58 AM)
                  I detect a subtle but important problem with John Heelan's post of 21 November. He brought up the "danger of slipping into the old debate of whether the putative security of a dictatorship is better than a democracy." This is not a danger; it is an important debate for the American people, because for the last several decades our disastrous foreign policy has indulged in playing favorites with dictators. Our governments have installed and armed many nasty dictators all over the world to do our bidding, oppress their own restless people, start wars with our enemies, etc. Also in many cases, dictators have managed to take power on their own, and some strongmen have even been democratically elected.

                  In many cases, years later when these artificially created situations turn for the worse, we replace our dictators with someone else in the name of democracy, freedom, government building, etc. For example, a nasty dictator like Saddam Hussein was absolutely horrible and needed to be replaced by a democratic government. The first US invasion of Iraq was much better justified, because the moron Saddam invaded Kuwait and provided a perfect excuse. The second invasion was under false pretenses and even against the American people's interests. But, since we were supposedly doing the Iraqi people a favor, we should ask the right question from the Iraqis: are you better off today than under the nasty dictator? The Sunnis working for ISIS might respond yes. Perhaps the Shia working for Iran might also say yes. However, what do you think the answer to this question would be if we could ask the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis who have been killed, maimed, and/or displaced into miserable refugee camps because of the war we have started?


                  JE comments:  I wonder, with the current IS/Daesh horrors, if Iraq's Shiites still consider themselves better off?


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      • Thoughts on Muslim Integration into the West (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/23/15 3:40 AM)
        I would like to make some comments on Nigel Jones's 17 November post about the Paris massacre and Muslim immigrants and the refugee crisis.

        I almost agree with Nigel about the "blindness of Europe's left-liberal elite... or the current ruling class." They are greatly responsible for the long-lasting tolerance policies with Muslim immigrants and refugees, their incapability of recognizing the potential social and security problems, their incompetence and failure to integrate them into western European cultures, and their irresolute decisions on how to deal with the situation.


        I agree--maybe for different reasons--with Nigel when he said: "Most predictable of all is the bleat by leading politicians that the outrages 'have nothing to do with Islam,' when the most purblind can see that it has everything to do with it."


        The real ones to blame are not even the often xenophobic manifestations and attitudes of some Western radical sectors, but the immigrants and refugees themselves and the non-secular Arab countries that still seem to support terrorism. Surely the Western powers have mistakenly tried to impose strange and unknown democracy concepts on societies still not prepared to adopt them, and for that mistake a Pandora's box was opened, but I believe an important cause of the problem is, for many Muslims, the lack of will or incapacity to adapt--and evolve--into Western values and culture.


        Why do I think so? The following considerations could be perceived as too obvious or simplistic by WAIS religious experts, but I will take the risk.


        I understand that Islam is not only a "religious system"--regarding spiritual beliefs and religious practices--but it also pretends to be a strict, rigorous and somewhat intolerant ethical, moral and social system; Sharia law deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social behavior. Nevertheless, I believe, it is based on out-of-date principles, valid mostly to older social systems or current theocratic Arab states, in contradiction in many ways with modern Western cultures, democracy, liberal ideas, customs and habits of life.


        It might be said that many monotheist religions in the past, and even some in present times, pretend and aspire to inspire the same Sharia-type behavior. Recall the historical roles and past power influence and intrusions of the Catholic Church in state secular matters. It is also true that in the Old Testament--the Bible if you like, as Massoud Malek has pointed out--there are a lot of violent references for punishments and repression, but we must recall these texts were written probably more than 3 or 4 thousand years ago and have been reinterpreted to the point where they have no practical impact on modern contexts.


        Religions and institutional churches have somehow evolved, but it might be the case that many Islamists are in a regression state in this sense. One of the great steps in modern civilization has been to separate church and state, the religious and the secular, spiritual matters from practical everyday life, intolerance from the acceptance of diversity, in order to make possible a peaceful coexistence among people of different religious or political beliefs.


        I am sure that a vast majority of Muslims in Europe are trying hard to accept this concept and to integrate, but the progress is slow. In this process many of them, the most misfit or radical perhaps, even of the second-born generation, are confused and lost in contradictions. They tend to lose their identity. They feel marginalized and eventually became fanatic sociopaths.


        Despite the previous considerations, I do not believe it is time now to become radical and paranoid with European Muslims, in the sense Nigel Jones said when he recommended "internment and/ or deportation without trial of all known Islamists," or "It's us or them." Even if it is fairly possible to mark the objective differences among Muslims and Islamists, there is a great risk--I am afraid--of being extremely xenophobic and falling into the practices of "State Terrorism"--indiscriminate persecutions, pogroms and eventually extreme genocides of a pure Nazi style.


        I nevertheless agree that something has to be done. The potential "enemy" is inside Europe, more dangerous than ISIS in Syria or Iraq. As for short-term measures, proposals exist such as stricter controls on immigration, more intelligence and surveillance on potential terrorists, confirmed deportation measures, and identifying and closing Mosques where terrorism is promoted. More important in the long term, they should more efficiently try to integrate them. It is too late now to engage in the "witch hunting" of Muslims.


        On the other hand, European Muslims, immigrants and refugees, have to step forward in many ways. In the short term they should clearly and publicly declare themselves against Jihad, and they should actively contribute in practical ways to combating terrorism. In the long term they should reflect deeply on, and solve, the contradictory issues of integration through a modern interpretation of the Koran. These issues include the drastic belief in the only-one-true-god concept, prescribed violence against infidel enemies, jihad, Sharia, discrimination of genders, the concepts of democracy instead of theocracies, etc. They must realize we are in the 21st century, not the Middle Ages, and they should reinterpret and divulge the Koran not literally but according to modern times.


        JE comments: Very thoughtful recommendations from José Ignacio Soler.  I would venture that most Muslims in the West (and even many in the "East") have reconciled Islam to secular modernity.  That's certainly the case with the sizable Muslim population of Southeast Michigan.  The rub is that these are not the folks who make trouble.

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        • Thoughts on Muslim Integration into the West (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/24/15 7:34 AM)
          I found José Ignacio Soler's post of 23 November to be biased in his analysis. On one hand José Ignacio stated: "Islam is not only a 'religious system' ... but it also pretends to be a strict, rigorous and somewhat intolerant ethical, moral and social system; Sharia law deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social behavior. ... it is based on out-of-date principles, valid mostly to older social systems or current theocratic Arab states, in contradiction in many ways with modern Western cultures, democracy, liberal ideas, customs and habits of life."

          This is true, but other religions also are increasingly breaching the Church/State separation.


          Then, he also wrote: "the Old Testament ... [has many] violent references for punishments and repression, but we must recall these texts were written probably more than 3 or 4 thousand years ago and have been interpreted to the point where they have no practical impact on modern contexts... One of the great steps in modern civilization has been to separate church and state, the religious and the secular, spiritual matters from practical everyday life, intolerance from the acceptance of diversity, in order to make possible a peaceful coexistence among people of different religious or political beliefs."


          José Ignacio must not have read about the destruction Western nations have inflicted on foreign countries in the last decades for the sake of our main de facto religions: profit and power. True, we did not carry a Christian flag, put we are supposed to be Christians and one cannot wear that on and off. But also don't forget the dominance of the Likud Party in Israel, or Christian Fundamentalism taking over state governments and strong influence in the US House of Representatives.


          I see a very different picture, where no religion can claim any superiority over another, because they are all the same in behavior. Talk is cheap. While only the Bible's Old Testament seems to condone genocide by default, they all have sacred books followed to extremes by at least a significant segment of their respective followers, who also tend to break the Church and State legal separation barrier. The less extremist members of all religions are the only ones trying to co-exist, and they are not doing a very good job.


          The big problem is members of all organized religions often break the Golden Rule: don't do to others what you don't want done to you. The only difference is the excuses they use, ranging from blatantly crazy to well-disguised BS. Quite often the more sophisticated Western nations produce horrific results for innocent foreign people by using excuses like "they killed one of our innocent civilians, so now we are going to bulldoze the entire neighborhood, take their land and water, supplemented by a heavy artillery barrage;" or "we were trying to help them establish democracy, so we had to invade their country, but then they attacked our wonderful troops so we had to turn their whole nation into ruins through air attacks on demand."


          The less powerful nations tend to use cheaper tools like suicide bombers for destroying the enemy or innocent civilians.


          Therefore, any holier-than-thou notions regarding organized religions are totally unfounded in reality. I am sure all sides believe they are right and the other side is the bad guy, so we will just go 'round and 'round until we behave according to the Golden Rule, regardless of holy scriptures.


          PS: I heard some Muslins, shortly after the Paris massacre, were demonstrating in public with signs saying "We are not all terrorists; we want a hug." Amazingly, they were getting hugs from strangers. Can anyone confirm or deny this? If true, it is another photon of hope for mankind.


          JE comments: Hug it out?  Works for me.  One problem is according to my understanding of Sharia law, man-woman touching is not permitted, unless you're related.


          Tor Guimaraes argues that the West's "extremism" of greed and pseudo-democracy is no less murderous than suicide bombs.  Many in the world probably agree with him.  Ergo, we have an intractable problem.


          Once again:  Hugs for Peace?


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          • Terrorism and Religion (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/28/15 4:22 PM)
            In response to my post on Muslim integration, Tor Guimaraes (24 November) commented: "I found José Ignacio Soler's post of 23 November to be biased in his analysis." Tor might be right, but what personal judgment, opinion, or critical statement about anything is not biased by lack of complete information, prejudice, or emotional attitude towards the subject?

            However, in this case, maybe TG´s criticism is somehow out of proportion. My "analysis" was not intended to be judgmental; neither did it pretend to establish which religion is better or worse. I am not a religious practitioner, nor I do not feel any religious preferences. I certainly do not believe that one religion "can claim any superiority over another."


            Tor mentioned: "other religions also are increasingly breaching the Church/State separation." I suppose that is the case, as I said in my post: "It might be said that many monotheist religions...pretend and aspire to inspire the same Sharia-type behavior." I am aware of the strong influence of many religions, particularly Catholicism, Protestantism or fundamental Judaism, on secular matters, and the past terror and wars inflicted upon societies on behalf of a Christian God.


            Nevertheless, my arguments were intended to rationalize and specifically to understand why today´s terrorism comes from Islam and its fundamental interpretations, beliefs, inner contradictions and conflicts with Western culture.


            If Tor considers "profit and power de facto religions," then, by his definition, any philosophical or ideological political theory--socialism, fascism, capitalism, anarchism, communism, etc.--subjected to radical fanatical interpretation must be also be considered "religions," capable of inflicting terror and wars any time. This is a fact, but to discuss this issue in the current context is now out of the question.


            I might be wrong, but Tor's criticisms do not seem to contradict my conclusions, and they are perhaps addressed to expand the discussion contents to much more extended topics.


            JE comments:  To my mind, José Ignacio Soler's salient question had to do with why Muslim societies are increasingly incapable of nurturing the church/state separation.  I hope we can discuss this topic further.


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            • Terrorism and Religion (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/30/15 1:04 PM)
              Jose Ignacio Soler (JIS) wrote on 28 November: "Tor Guimaraes's criticisms do not seem to contradict my conclusions, and they are perhaps addressed to expand the discussion contents to much more extended topics." I thank Jose Ignacio for his constructive reply to my last post.

              JIS also commented the following: "My arguments were intended to rationalize and specifically to understand why today´s terrorism comes from Islam and its fundamental interpretations, beliefs, inner contradictions and conflicts with Western culture."


              Perhaps the answer to that question to a large extent comes from the fact that Islamic terrorism started in the Middle East, where there are many Muslims, and is an area full of oil which is strategically very important to nations who consume most of it, and thus have kept a strong military presence there. It might also have some to with the fact that Western nations in general (and ours in particular) have been extremely supportive of Israel, which has been successful in its struggle with the Arab countries and running over downtrodden Palestinians.


              John Eipper commented: "To my mind, José Ignacio Soler's salient question had to do with why Muslim societies are increasingly incapable of nurturing the church/state separation." That is true, but other religions are also increasingly breaching the barrier of Church and State. JIS himself acknowledged "the strong influence of many religions, particularly Catholicism, Protestantism or fundamental Judaism, on secular matters, and the past terror and wars inflicted upon societies on behalf of a Christian God."


              Perhaps Islamic followers increasingly have become more disappointed and frustrated with the secularism promoted by the Western nations and are returning to their Sharia roots. That is why as we are forced to defend ourselves from terrorist attacks. The worst thing we can do would be to mistreat or alienate innocent Muslims because we fear the terrorists. It would just push larger numbers to become more radical. Even the young George Bush knew that.


              JE comments: Some questions remain unanswered.  How exactly does one get "frustrated" by secularism?  And even more to the point, why from the perspective of many Muslims is secularism seen as belonging to the Judeo-Christian worldview?


              And is Sharia part of Islam's "roots"?  Or rather, is it a modern reconstruction of some idealized religious past?


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              • "Frustrated by Secularism" (Tor Guimaraes, USA 12/03/15 4:30 PM)
                John Eipper asked me on 30 November: "How exactly does one [in the Middle East] get 'frustrated' by secularism? And even more to the point, why from the perspective of many Muslims is secularism seen as belonging to the Judeo-Christian worldview?"

                The second question first. According to the Secular Society, "Secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law." This definition clearly shows why. The American Constitution explicitly prescribes secularism. Most Islamic countries do not do that.


                "How exactly does one get frustrated by secularism?" If I were a Muslim, I would be very frustrated if some foreign people came to my country, supported my corrupt government, and prescribed to me the separation of Church and State when I believe in Sharia law. Now if this foreign country were known for its friendship, generosity, and humanitarian behavior all over the world, I would be much more accepting of its attempts to influence my way of life. Further, if this country were characterized by a wealthy and happy society with little drugs and violence, and a growing standard of living and jobs for most of its people, then I would definitely listen to any advice they give me very closely.


                JE comments: Most (certainly not all) Americans think they are a friendly, generous, and humanitarian people.  I make this observation in earnest.


                My question went deeper than whether or not a constitution prescribes secularism.  I wondered why secularism is on the wane in the Middle East, with the possible (ironic?) exception of Iran.  And why do so many people "believe" in Sharia law, when this was not the case a generation ago?


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                • What is the Attraction of Sharia Law? From Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 12/04/15 4:56 AM)

                  Gary Moore writes:



                  Re: John Eipper's question (3 December) on why people in Muslim countries
                  seem to be increasingly attracted to Sharia law, as opposed to
                  a generation ago:


                  I don't know those countries well enough to
                  to offer even a (probably misguided) guess, but already on the
                  record is a basis for hypotheses. The years suggest that Eric Fromm
                  was as much an inspired poet as a classifier of real phenomena,
                  but poets can speak deep truth. Poetically, Fromm rhymed his
                  own name even in his book title, which title still frames one way
                  to look at these things: "Escape From Freedom."


                  JE comments:  "Submission," the literal translation of the word Islam, is the voluntary giving up of one's freedom.  Etymology does not answer our question, though:  what exactly is the appeal of Sharia today?  Is it some sort of atavistic reaction to the West's greed and crass secularism?

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