‘They Need to Be Liberated From Their God’

Some time back, the WSJ wrote a book review of Son of Hamas. The historical background on the individual’s biography is as follows:

Mosab Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founder and leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Throughout the last decade, from the second Intifada to the current stalemate, he worked alongside his father in the West Bank. During that time the younger Mr. Yousef also secretly embraced Christianity. And as he reveals in his book “Son of Hamas,” out this week, he became one of the top spies for Israel’s internal security arm, the Shin Bet.

The reviewer describes the book as follows:

The book, a Le Carre-sque thriller wrapped in a spiritual coming-of-age story, is an attempt to answer what he says “is impossible to imagine: “how I ended up working for my enemies who hurt me, who hurt my dad, who hurt my people.”

“There is a logical explanation,” he continues in fairly fluent English. “Simply my enemies of yesterday became my friends. And the friends of yesterday became really my enemies.”

Worth a read.

Mortal Canyons

The wind whipped down the side street, as it does so often this time of year in New York. Like some entrapped banshee, it screeched, wildly, tearing past the long sharpened shadows of the afternoon sun, then suddenly, more restrained, whistling softly like a frightened child in a graveyard.

It burst forth upon the broad avenue, now swirling in whorls of unseen turbulence, sweeping up gently with hidden hands the week-old newspaper, tossing it in graceful arcs and dives like some savage cat toying with its prey, ending its flight with bored indifference in a doorway swinging gently in the lingering eddies. Its newsprint preached in foreboding tones of warming planet and warring sects, of homeless and health care and dishonest pols. But the world thus depicted was now convulsively changed, new beyond recognition, dark beyond comprehension.

Down the grand avenue, the lucent cadence of stoplights kept their ordered rhythm, now green, green-red, now red again, an endless choreographed chronos now futile in purpose, whose lifeblood yet poured forth through subterranean copper veins from whirling turbines crafted to run unattended, for days.

The synchronized lines of green and red receded unbroken, their vortex co-mingling at the vanishing point of the now-empty boulevard. The once-vibrant canyon stood lifeless, the once-seething froth of trucks and horns, cabs and transport now a dry wash devoid of motion, the scattered gravel of abandoned cars marking its course like tombstones on a high mountain pass. In funereal silence, a man lay slumped near a steam vent, its wispy vapors rising like a fugacious ghost fleeing some ghastly tomb.
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Be Not Afraid

If you read nothing else today, or this week, or this month, you must set aside a few minutes to savor this essay by Michael Yon. His work in reporting from Iraq has been extraordinary, the likes of which we have seen from no other reporter there, and most certainly not from any major media organization.

This piece is his finest. Whether you support the effort in Iraq, or think it detestable and vile, or are in the vast masses of uneasy disenchantment and fearful frustration about this conflict, you owe it to yourself to read this. Finer writing, sharper analysis, and keener insight you will find nowhere else.

The Flying Imams

I know I’m late to this party–but only a bit later than Dean Barnett, so I don’t feel too badly. As many of you know, six Imams were removed from a US Airways flight out of Minneapolis just over a week ago, for behavior which nervous passengers found unsettling–such as loud public praying in the airport, angry talk about how evil the U.S. was and the injustices inflicted by us on Saddam and the Iraqis, and bizarre requests for seat belt extensions by those who obviously didn’t need them. After their removal from the flight, an investigation cleared them of any wrongdoing, and they later flew home (on another airline) uneventfully. Of course, the usual suspects (read: CAIR) chimed in to protest this obvious injustice, religious discrimination, and racial profiling. No doubt a host of lawsuits will be flying soon, darkening the sky like Qassam rockets during Ramadan.

We’re sorry–we really, really are. No American should be treated this way.

But in the interest of helping our bigoted, infidel, intolerant American minds, allow me to make a few suggestions to our Imam friends to help ensure your future enjoyment and freedom from hassle as you wing your way around our great nation, avoiding those nasty chaffed handcuff wrist marks and the oh-so-burley FBI agents who force you to bow your heads as you get into their patrol cars:
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Rewriting History


In a previous post, I discussed the nature of our current war against Islamic terror, and the importance of understanding the religious nature of this war. One of my commenters left a note expressing his dismay that I should have such a poor understanding of history, and asserted that Christianity and Islam were brothers, and had been so throughout their history. He subsequently left a link to a post expanding his thoughts on the matter at considerable length.

His comment and post provided an opportunity to address what I believe are common misconceptions about Islam, and which seem to have percolated through our culture. Whatever the source of my commenter’s opinions, he is far from alone in these conclusions–which have been widely promulgated in the cultural studies, media, and postmodern history so widespread in our higher education system.

The problem I have with such beliefs is not merely one of disagreement based on religious conviction or personal opinion–nor is my position motivated by some blind rage against the Islamic world. The problem is that such opinions rewrite history. In the years since September 11, I have made an effort to familiarize myself with the teachings of Islam, its history, and the historical events which have touched upon it, such as the Crusades. I make no claim to be an expert in such matters–but I have found a number of excellent sources which are both complementary and consistent, and which shatter quite effectively the illusions of Islam as a peaceful religion, happily coexisting for the most part with Christianity, with the exception of a few “excesses”–carried out equally by both sides, of course.
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Thoughts on the Long War

My recent post on the importance of clear-sighted understanding of Islam in the turbulence of our present world provided an opportunity to contemplate a number of issues regarding our current long war against those driven by this ideology. It is one thing to say that this is a war of ideas more than military might, or a war of absolutes; it is quite another to create clear understanding and strategy for fighting and winning such war. So I hope here–and perhaps in some subsequent posts–to provide a few thoughts about the current progress of our struggle and some ways which we as a culture must begin to address it.
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Warren Peace

coexist bumper sticker
David Warren, in my opinion, is one of the better writers and commentators on the web. His pieces are well-written, concise, and always thought-provoking. His latest piece, called Comparative Religion, nevertheless misses the mark, in my opinion.

The essay begins with an analogy of anger in the blind, using it as a metaphorical segue into a discussion of comparative religion, especially as it relates to Islam. He closes his essay with the following statement:

Today, a great deal of nonsense is spoken about Islam–as ever, especially by its apologists. There is a similar blindness towards a cultural tradition that includes much more than crazed jihadis. It is particularly the religious, the spiritual dimension of Islam that is incomprehensible, not only to observers who have not lived in Muslim lands, but to many “postmodern” Muslims themselves, who’ve become as blind to “Allah, the merciful, the compassionate,” as Western postmoderns have become to the Christian understanding of He who is Love.

I am not saying there aren’t many hard, violent passages in the Koran, and Hadiths; nor am I saying these are no better or worse than similar passages in the New Testament, or Dharmapada. For to say this is to ignore fact. But before we stare, at what may seem alien and frightening, and before we let anger make us blind, we must realize that the sincere Muslim, in his humility, is doing what we are, when we are seeking God. He is in prayer.

It seems to me that this, “we’re all praying to the same God” mentality–this brushing aside of those pesky jihadists, and searching instead for the deep, peaceful spirituality which is true Islam–is naive at best, and quite dangerous at worst. A scholarly dissection of the theology of Islam, Christianity, or any other major religion is not really the point here–although logic would dictate that the vastly disparate nature of the deity in each of these religions is fundamentally incompatible with any contention that same transcendent being is worshiped by all. One cannot doubt that the devotion of a sincere adherent of any major religion takes place in an environment of sincerity in seeking the God of their understanding. But much can be gleaned from the manifestations of religion in culture and history, and as such these fruits–the outworking of religious convictions in societies and cultures–may tell us far more than erudite discussions of theology and the relative teachings and merits of the sacred scriptures of each religion.
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The Face of Evil


9-11The face of evil: who can ever forget it?

Formed in an instant, frozen in time, captured unknowingly in a wire photograph — one of millions taken that day — it spoke of an evil so profound the mind could little grasp it. An evil which transformed the world, from a place of peace to a furnace of fury; from a crisp September day to hell on earth; from a life where all was right with the world to a cauldron of discord and hatred.

September 11, 2001: the razor’s edge. Dividing an illusory tranquility from the stark reality of wickedness empowered, we learned, were we teachable at all, that simple things we took for granted–box cutters and backpacks, cell phones and chemicals, airplanes and atoms–could kill us on a scale unimaginable. We were no longer safe; our prosperity gave us not a secure haven, but was rather a weapon to be used against us by primitive demons frozen in a seventh-century death-cult, in ways far too horrid to even imagine.

The world we constructed–the Babel we lifted to heaven, created with sweat and savvy, hard work and hardware–proved but a house of cards, and crumbled to dust just as surely and disastrously as did the towers that brilliant fall morning. We know now the face of evil: we see it in the rugged faces of desert Bedouins and the silk suits of cultured diplomats, in hooded beheaders and Hollywood elite. It is the face of the human heart, ripped open for inspection in all its ugliness and vile vanity, for all to see, if they will look.

And look we must, if we are ever to survive, or ever to triumph.

September 11th was an opportunity, a window which will close quickly, through which we may glimpse–horrid though we may find it–our very soul.

Let us not squander these moments. We may not have many more such opportunities.