Cue Radical Backlash to Religious-Themed Fiction in 5, 4, 3, 2…

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One:

Late Friday night, the north London home/office of Martin Rynja, publisher of the independent UK press Gibson Square, was firebombed in what is being treated as a terrorist attack, of which police had advance warning, which is how they were able to warn Rynja to leave the premises for his own safety, stake out the building, and arrest three men shortly after the house was bombed; the small fire it created was quickly put out. (A fourth arrest was made later in the day.) Gibson Square is the UK publisher of The Jewel of Medina, Sherry Jones's controversial novel about A'isha, one of the wives of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, which was dropped by Random House after Islamic studies professor Denise Spellberg warned the publisher the book would incite violence by Muslim extremists (after which she did everything she could to make sure those potential terrorists knew the book was coming).

Read the whole thing at GalleyCat, which has done a phenomenal job tracking the myriad trials and tribulations of historical pop lit. author Sherry Jones. Since losing her contract with Random House, Jones has pinned much of the blame for her book's ups and downs on Denise Spellberg, a professor at UT-Austin. In her efforts to dissuade anyone from publising Jewel, Spellberg has argued that it "use[s] sex and violence to attack the Prophet and his faith," and called it "soft core pornography." But Jones is either naive or scrambling to deflect attention by arguing that pejorative labels are the culprit here, or that all would be well if only radicals could read her book:

"The planting of that bomb is Martin Rynja's letterbox was not about my book," Jones said, noting that the novel was not yet available in Britain. "It's not about the content of my book. It's not about the ideas in my book. It must be about the rumors and innuendos….I feel that the people who resorted to violence are responsible," Jones emphasized. "But her use of the word 'pornography' has done nothing to help the situation."

Despite her incendiary criticisms, Spellberg is a periphery figure in this case. Neither she, nor any other prominent pro-Islam critic of The Jewel of Medina (or any similar media), is responsible (or ethically liable) for an act of terrorism simply for having predicted it. And as disheartening as it may be to hear a Western academic rationalize—or even defend—terrorism in response to art, especially when radical leaders are responding with an "I-told-you-so" smugness, we shouldn't be surprised. The reactions that followed the Jyllands-Posten cartoons established that violence, not intellectual outrage or artistic rebuttals, is the means with which extremists are most likely to react to objectionable representations of Mohammed. And we've known for a while, at least since 9/11, that it's only a matter of time before some finger-wagging academic announces that the only way to deal with said extremists is to appease them.

While Random House may have acted differently if Spellberg had supported the book's publication, it's unlikely that Islamic radicals would have looked the other way simply because an American female academic gave Jewel two historically-correct thumbs up. Not that Spellberg's retraction matters. The Telegraph reports that clerics in London predict more attacks:

But the radical cleric Anjem Choudhary, who lives in Ilford, east London, said he was "not surprised at all" by the attack and warned of possible further reprisals over the book

"It is clearly stipulated in Muslim law that any kind of attack on his honour carries the death penalty," he said.

"People should be aware of the consequences they might face when producing material like this. They should know the depth of feeling it might provoke."

I'm interested to see how England's moderate Muslims will react to this news, and whether or not this will spark a more comprehensive (and hopefully, intelligent) conversation about cultural assimilation in Western Europe. And while I'm still opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems about time to abandon the assertion that withdrawing American troops from the Middle East is a long-term solution to Islamic extremism.

Lastly, I bet someone at Random House breathed a great big sigh of relief after hearing this news. 

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  1. I have long been offended by the depiction of Zeus in the movie Clash of the Titans and have wanted to kill somone over it. That seems like a reasonable reaction.

  2. I’m interested to see how moderate Muslims will react to this news

    Presumably they will condemn it, certain folks will ignore it, continue to wonder why moderates don’t condemn it, and then when presented with evidence of the condemnation say “OK, but why don’t more of them condemn it?”

    I’m part Irish, and also a Catholic. Should someone from my family (we’re all in the US) have issued a statement every time the IRA set off a bomb? Was anybody saying “But where are all the moderate Irish Catholics?” If not, then why is it that Muslims in every part of the globe are expected to issue immediate press releases every time a Muslim anywhere sets off a bomb.

    I can just imagine the Friday sermon at a Malaysian mosque. “OK, everyone, it has come to my attention that some Pakistani immigrant in England (you know Pakistanis, those people who look different than us and talk funny) has set off a bomb. Although we have nothing to do with him, and we actually belong to a different school of Sunni Islam, I’m passing around a statement and I’d like everyone to please sign it. Otherwise, some Americans will have no choice but to assume that we’re part of that problem.”

  3. I didn’t like this line attack attack when Rudy Guiliani used it on Ron Paul in the debates, and I don’t like seeing it here.

    Understanding the consequences of actions is not the same thing as defending, justifying, or rationalizing them. Even when the consequences in question are religious nut jobs doing despicable things.

  4. To Thoreau: Post amended to read “England’s moderate Muslims,” because I do believe they have a responsibility, just as moderate Catholics have responsibilities in Ireland, and moderate [blanks] have a responsibility to condemn immediate members of their identity groups for distorting group teachings.

    To Joe: Spellberg not only predicted a backlash, but argued against the publication of the book because of the backlash. Forecasting consequences and arguing for adherence to sharia are two different things.

  5. The bombers are thuggish assholes. The cleric who responds with God/Allah/Yahweh/FSM told them to do it,

    “It is clearly stipulated in Muslim law that any kind of attack on his honour carries the death penalty,” he [Anjem Choudhary] said.

    bears some responsibility and arguably is criminally liable for exhorting violence against law abiding citizens.

    When a fundie minister says “God wants you to stone adulterers, and later an adulterer get’s stoned by his followers, is he criminally liable?

    Have fun with that.

  6. Mike Riggs,

    Ron Paul not only predicted the blowback, but argued against the Iraq War on the basis that it would cause blowback.

    “Forecasting consequences and arguing for a surrender to terrorism are two different things,” is what I’d write, if I were the sort of person who wrote such things.

  7. For the very reason that extremists have attacked the author this book must be published even harder.

  8. it seems about time to abandon the assertion that withdrawing American troops from the Middle East is a long-term solution to Islamic extremism.

    I say let’s try it and find out.

  9. Hooray for multiculturalism! Open the borders!

  10. When zealots attack a book, sales of that book usually increase.

  11. You know what, Rowling? Shut the fuck up.

  12. Who among the faithful believes that man’s law is superior to God’s law? Who among you wishes to renounce THE LORD? and spend eternity with the flames of hell tormenting their soul?

    Leviticus 20:10 clearly states

    And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

    THE LORD? has clearly spoken in the matter of how “Righteous and God Fearing Christians”? should “surely” respond to Sally Slut’s sins against him!

    I hope we all would agree that the above is frighfully ignorant evil speech. Is it criminal?

  13. Mr. Rushdie, just because Christian extremists of late have turned all whiny and ineffectual doesn’t mean you get to cry because you picked on a religion that has more stones.

    The brave and/or provocative don’t get to whine about how dangerous it is to put their heads in the lion;s mouth. It’s as noble as a grape the way some artists and authors challenge the prevailing religious orthodoxy around them, but they go in with their eyes wide open when they do.

  14. I thought things like this only happened in Wasilla Alaska.

  15. J sub D,

    I have to say “no”, it is not criminal. Either the Muslim sees through the imam’s bullshit, or he chooses to bomb and doesn’t grow up to have little Muslims of his own. Ditto Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc. ad fucking nauseaum.

    The imam or priest, just like any person who uses words to bend men’s minds, can chat someone’ ear off all day about how if they do or do not do some certain thing, the great high holy whatever will or will not give them some paltry reward in the afterlife. It is the *person’s* duty, and responsibility, to choose what actions to take after the suasion has occurred.

  16. Mike Riggs,

    You are opposed to both the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan? I fully understand and support the Iraq war opposition (I concur!), but Afghanistan? On what grounds? How would you, as President Riggs, have responded to the Taliban not turning over Osama? Asked harder?

  17. SO if the offer is money, it’s first degree murder, but if the offer is eternal salvation to somebody who believes it, it’s first amendment protected?

    Son, if you don’t kill your sister to protect the family’s honor, you are no longer a son of mine. You will lose your inheritance.

    Is that OK, too?

  18. “It is clearly stipulated in Muslim law that any kind of attack on his honour carries the death penalty,” he said.

    You know, if someone is so enamored of Muslim law, then he should go live someplace where it is the law of the land as well. Such places exist, and it’s not too hard to find them. The fact that he chooses not to live in such a place speaks volumes about his sincerity and the depth of his devotion.

  19. it seems about time to abandon the assertion that withdrawing American troops from the Middle East is a long-term solution to Islamic extremism.

    Christ, are you trying to impress Moynihan? What a stupid thing to say. Who has claimed that all Islamic extremism would end if the US withdrew from the Middle East? Who? What has been argued is that it would (a) greatly decrease and (b) largely redirect itself toward more local enemies. But yes, there would still be some Muslim assholes, just as there are Christian assholes, Jewish assholes, Hindu assholes, etc.

  20. I have to agree with J sub D on this one. Telling someone they will be rewarded for compliance, or punished for non compliance, with a crime should make it shared responsibility for the crime.

    Thoreau, the difference between Ron Paul and Spellberg is that Paul was talking about a war and Spellberg was talking about a book. This matters because the blowback of the war outweighed any benefit that it could have brought us. It was also blowback that would be caused by us violating the sovereign rights of another people, which makes it even worse. Exercising your own right to free speech in hopes to either change popular opinion or simply publish a work of art is an end unto itself. To say this should be done in spite of what may come from extremists serves a purpose.

    Blowback is a factor that must be considered on a case to case basis. It also has no bearing on the justifiability of the action which causes it. Noble actions may still arguably be done in spite of blowback, such as publishing the book. Ignoble ones, such as the Iraq war, which is a net negative to begin with, only gets worse by adding the blowback factor on top of everything. This is why Paul was right, and Spellberg was wrong.

  21. According to this article, Random House/Ballantine asked Spellberg to write a blurb for the book. Spellberg claims that she read the book and objected to it as historically inaccurate. Spellberg also says: “My fear was that the author would invoke my name or scholarly work as her explanation for the historical sources she claimed underpinned her novel. I wanted to protect my professional reputation – and my safety.”

    Of course, later in the interview, Spellberg objects to part of the novel showing Aisha wielding a sword and vowing jihad: “”At a time when many accept the stereotype that Muslims are violent because of their faith, the image of Aisha wielding a sword she never held in history would seem to promote that.”

    It would seem that Spellberg herself shares the “stereotype” of Muslim violence, since she claims she would fear for her safety if her name was linked with the book.

    At the same time, since Random House was actually seeking out Spellberg to *promote* the book, and given the tendency of companies to exaggerate support for their product, Spellberg was reasonable to desire to disassociate herself from the project, lest she be inaccurately linked to the book. Despite all her talk about stereotypes, she also had a reasonable fear of what Muslims might to do her if she was represented as endorsing the book.

  22. Radical Islam is the fruit of Satan’s ass. And belive me. I know.

  23. “Son, if you don’t kill your sister to protect the family’s honor, you are no longer a son of mine. You will lose your inheritance.”

    I’d pick my sister over money every time

  24. “The fact that he chooses not to live in such a place speaks volumes about his sincerity and the depth of his devotion.”

    Or his commitment to Islamic expansionism.

  25. Or his commitment to Islamic expansionism.

    I thought of that already. If he were truly committed he wouldn’t hide behind Western law and goad young men into doing his dirty work for him. Commitment means being willing to accept the consequences. Suicide bombers are committed; this schmuck just wants Western luxury (and freedom–for himself) while pretending to be a holy man.

    The real Muhammad would have his balls cut off for cowardice.

  26. “If he were truly committed he wouldn’t hide behind Western law and goad young men into doing his dirty work for him.”

    Not necessarily. Perhaps he’s read The Art of War.

  27. just to stoke the fires (so to speak), a copyright anarchist (which I am not) would say that the relationship between Random House and Ms Jones (and Mr Rynja and Ms Jones) is just a state created legal fiction anyway.

    Nobody can prevent Ms. Jones from disseminating her book; just scan it as a pdf and put in on a ‘free’ file server on the interwebs. What Ms. Jones (and Mr Rynja, and Mr. House) would like is to get *paid* for their book.

    Just throwing that out there.

  28. The difference between fundie Muslims and fundie Christians: Muslims assassinate and bomb, burn cars and riot. Christians picket. I know which group I would rather have mad at me…

  29. Brandybuck –

    except for the occasional abortion clinic bombing and shooting of abortion-providing doctors, sure

  30. “And while I’m still opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems about time to abandon the assertion that withdrawing American troops from the Middle East is a long-term solution to Islamic extremism”

    The problem of radical Muslim assimilation in Europe is a totally different beast than the anti-American sentiment among Muslims still in the Middle East that’s provoked by US intervention. This isn’t al-Qaeda targeting book publishers.

  31. The Telegraph reports that clerics in London predict more attacks:

    But the radical cleric Anjem Choudhary, who lives in Ilford, east London, said he was “not surprised at all” by the attack and warned of possible further reprisals over the book

    “It is clearly stipulated in Muslim law that any kind of attack on his honour carries the death penalty,” he said.

    “People should be aware of the consequences they might face when producing material like this. They should know the depth of feeling it might provoke.”

    Are they “predicting” or threatening?

  32. Chuck – “The real Muhammad would have his balls cut off for cowardice”

    The real Muhammad also lived a pretty long life by compromising and obfuscating his purposes and sending others to kill and be killed. Alphas must do the work of alphas. They direct betas and gammas for the lesser work.

    The Imam is the real enemy. The terrorist is just a tool.

  33. SO if the offer is money, it’s first degree murder, but if the offer is eternal salvation to somebody who believes it, it’s first amendment protected?

    You got it. You can suss out the manifold differences between the two, right?

  34. Thoreau – “I’m part Irish, and also a Catholic. Should someone from my family (we’re all in the US) have issued a statement every time the IRA set off a bomb? Was anybody saying “But where are all the moderate Irish Catholics?” If not, then why is it that Muslims in every part of the globe are expected to issue immediate press releases every time a Muslim anywhere sets off a bomb.”

    If Irish Catholics all carried around a book calling for the murder or forced conversion of Englishmen – then yes it would be appropriate to ask them to condemn the actions of the IRA. Just as virtually all Christian and Jewish religious leaders condemn it when a lunatic calls for enforcement of the Leviticus crap.

    Read the book. A significant segment of Islam is motivated to carry it out in the present day. Absent strong condemnation of the actions of that segment it’s only rational to assume that all carriers of the book are the mortal enemies of all who don’t carry it.

  35. Absent strong condemnation of the actions of that segment it’s only rational to assume that all carriers of the book are the mortal enemies of all who don’t carry it.

    Whiskey tango foxtrot. This logic is so tied up in ridiculous I’m having a really hard time untangling it.

    Beyond the fact that perhaps there are other things in play here.

    Are moderate Muslims afraid of speaking out because of possible reprisals from the more psychotic of their brethren? Perhaps.

    Has Islam been wrestling with accommodation of Western liberalism for far, far less time than Christianity and Judaism? You do the homework.

    By the way, Christians and Jews were no fucking boy scouts when they were in a similar developmental situation.

  36. The reality is, many “moderates” sympathize with the disgust of the extremists, which tempers their response. They may not agree with the violence, but to act as if many of them don’t feel the same sense of anger when something blasphemous occurs, is pretty much keeping your head planted firmly in the sand.

    When crazies are, in your opinion, hijacking your religion, then yes, you do have a responsibility as a devout follower to condemn those actions.

    Hell, if only to protect your faith’s public image. Comparing it to Christianity is a bad analogy because Christianity does not have the same cultural synthesis as Islam.

    The only way that you’re going to be able to to contend with the edicts of a violent cult, is to stand-up when they demand that you sit down.

    It’s always sickening to witness the number of people who are all too willing to remain seated. You know, just so things don’t get out of hand.

  37. I’m an Atheist, but can we stop with the bad analogies regarding Christian wackos who are almost always condemned and marginalized in the West for any violent action?

    Do any of you read about the M.E. at all? The comments presented here suggest that many of you don’t.

    These extreme components of Islam are very much a part of the political process throughout the M.E., and they hold much more sway in the region than any wacko Christian could ever hope to possess in the West. Hell, they even run most of the governments in the M.E.

    More importantly, they hold much more sway in Great Britian, than they do in America.

    So, it begs the question, what the hell are some of you smoking? I can only assume that some of you have Islamic relations that account for your clear bias, or you’re simply playing the part of the naive dove, in order to add to your social cache.

    Not everyone, and everything is of equal viciousness. It’s okay to condemn a large swathe of people for not taking action against something that they claim is not a proper representation of their mission.

    It’s called having conviction, and it usually sets apart societies that make progress, and the ones that don’t.

  38. By the way, Christians and Jews were no fucking boy scouts when they were in a similar developmental situation.

    While this is true, the train of thought irks me. You got to admit, it’s pretty condescending to say that a particular group gets a pass because they’re still on the cultural short bus.

    We’re three generations from what one could consider a ‘global culture’ and one generation from ‘the end of history’. There’s really no excuse for half retard, much less full retard.

  39. I can just imagine the Friday sermon at a Malaysian mosque. “OK, everyone, it has come to my attention that some Pakistani immigrant in England (you know Pakistanis, those people who look different than us and talk funny) has set off a bomb.

    Thoreau,

    double-edged sword. Western mainstream media see muslims as an exotic, foreign culture. As soon as a bomb goes off, many Muslim clerics feel the need to talk to the press. Many Western journalists can’t resist putting a microphone in their faces. As such, the whole thing becomes a feedback loop.

    Maybe if it didn’t get so much press in the first place…

    But then again, what’s a journalist supposed to do when a ‘community leader’ bangs his pots and pans about something?

    Oh yeah, ignore it.

    But then someone complains when the press ignores someone banging their pots and pans, it’s a conspiracy… or something.

    It will be ever thus.

    What we need is the mainstream media to do more reporting when a Christian group hijacks a plane or firebombs someone’s house when they release a book or movie critical of Jesus.

  40. Any chance of a sense of proportion to all this? The ‘terrorism,’ as far as anyone knows, amounted to some nutters who were arrested quite quickly and a petrol bomb thrown at a door. Serious enough as criminal activity goes, yes, but not exactly 9/11 or the Four Horses of the Apocalypse.

    http://archipelago-of-truth.blog.co.uk/2008/09/28/the-jewel-in-the-medina-4790554

  41. The people who bombed Martin Rynja’s home are dispicable.

  42. We are all British Publishers now……or something.

    Fuck the barbarians who think they have a right to murder someone because of the way that person exercised his or her freedom of speech or artistic freedom. And props to Scotland Yard on preventing the murder and arresting the (apparent) perpetrators.

    SO if the offer is money, it’s first degree murder, but if the offer is eternal salvation to somebody who believes it, it’s first amendment protected?

    As much as I loathe religious extremism, I have to say yes. The distinction is:

    If I say “I’ll give you $10,000 to murder ______”, I’m instructing you to commit that crime. I really exist, and in such a relation to you as to be able to induce you to do something I want (I’m paying you to do it). The same goes for a higher-ranking member of an organization ordering a lower ranking member to murder someone.

    If I say “There is an invisible Deity who will reward you for all eternity for murdering someone under the following circumstances…..”, I’m making a (preposterous) metaphysical claim about what some other entity will do. I’m not the originator of the instruction, nor am I passing along an instruction from a known-to-exist originator.

    Also the “arguments” for such metaphysical claims (certain passages of religious books) are already “out there” and known to the public. This is in contrast to, for example, a mafia middleman passing along a kill order from a boss to a hitman, where such conveyance is necessary for the hitman to have the information on which he acts in committing his crime.

    However, I do think that society should try to counter the types of indoctrinations that make such absurd claims convincing to people who would otherwise be psychologically normal. This would have to take the form of education and reasoned argument – especially directed at young people who are not yet indoctrinated into a narrow theological worldview.

    I’m not sure whether this should be done solely by public intellectuals, or whether the government has a role to play here. For example, I’ve heard some propose mandating that all children be taught about the history, beliefs, and practices of world religions. Also, the teaching of science could include details on how science has come to explain away past superstitions. With such information, people would have an easier time viewing their religious upbringings in their real context.

  43. I saw a flier in New York City announcing an October Parade. It’s organized by Muslims who oppose terrorism.

  44. Worth a read:
    A Muslim Journey – Ehsan Masood // http://tinyurl.com/4g78w6

    A little context on British Muslims.

  45. I’m part Irish, and also a Catholic. Should someone from my family (we’re all in the US) have issued a statement every time the IRA set off a bomb? Was anybody saying “But where are all the moderate Irish Catholics?” If not, then why is it that Muslims in every part of the globe are expected to issue immediate press releases every time a Muslim anywhere sets off a bomb.

    Thoreau,

    Riggs asked about English moderate Muslims condemning the attack. Expecting the local community to speak out against local violence is reasonable. If someone hangs a noose on a professor’s door knob, the rest of the professors speak out against it. If there’s a cross burning, the local clergy denounce it. I think it’s fair to expect local community leaders to reprobate a bombing.

  46. jtuf,

    That can’t be right. How can you hold the brown people oppressed by our white Joodayoh-Christian patriarchy to a different standard if you draw such compelling parallels?

  47. An artist puts himself on the line whenever he publishes a novel or composes an opera or paints a picture. Sometimes his work is met with utter indifference and sometimes it provokes a riot, or worse. To be an artist means having to accept both the rewards and the challenges and sometimes even the dangers of creating something that somebody, somewhere, may loathe. It goes with the territory. Perhaps Sherry Jones complains too much.

  48. lmdope, dude wake up. Seriously.

  49. lmdope, dude wake up. Seriously.

    greg f, do me a favor and go to sleep. You’re annoying when awake.

    While this is true, the train of thought irks me.

    I know, and it’s not central to my argument; I noted it as an aside. My main point is simply that sometimes it is not realistic to expect a group of people who are scared of their own extremists to pop the politically correct cherry for a whiny larger public by leading the denunciations of their own people. “Moderate” Christians and Jews *now* condemn their own extremists only because they are marginal and it is safe to do so. When they were not, such condemnations were rare and often met with violence by said extremists. It is this area in which the analogy is apt and direct.

    BG @ 4:55 am spelled out what I was too lazy to type, as to the difference between paying someone to kill someone and telling someone that the magical bearded cloud fairy thinks it might be neat if you killed someone.

    Hell, if only to protect your faith’s public image. Comparing it to Christianity is a bad analogy because Christianity does not have the same cultural synthesis as Islam.

    They once did, not even that long ago. And it wasn’t “brave moderate Christians” that turned the fucker around. It was corrosion of the political power of the church due to reassertion of local power combined with a resurgence of scientific enquiry.

  50. How long before British people start making false accusations of blasphemy against Mohamed just to get back at people they don’t like.

    “You know the guy on our street who’s always parking in front of my driveway? Heard he’s publishing a book that says Mohammed was gay.”

  51. Elemenope – “By the way, Christians and Jews were no fucking boy scouts when they were in a similar developmental situation.”

    Totally correct dude – and the innocent people around them at that time would have been totally correct to hold all of them responsible for the acts of those who used terrorism, torture and violence to make their belief system dominant at that time.

    And, as for fear of consequences. . . tough titty. If they lack the moral fiber to condemn the lunatics they don’t deserve a hearing or any credence to the “religion of peace” horseshit, especially since the book itself commends lying to infidels as a moral course.

    You could look that last up in the book by the way if you weren’t buried so deep in your own navel.

    Among all Muslims who remain silent about terrorism it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that there are two kinds. The kind who believe the time is ripe to subdue the infidels immediately, and the kind who believe that it’s best to appear moderate until they’re in a better tactical position.

    Check out the percentages of English Muslims who openly state that the time for cutting throats is now, and that’s in a context where they make up less than ten percent of the population.

  52. Making any sort of excuse for fucking Muslims is a fucking joke. They are, just like Christians, Jews, and every other religious retard, idiots who believe in voices in the sky (go Lemmy!). They fucking try–and succeed–at killing people over it. There is no excuse, there is no sympathy, there is no understanding of their motives. They are detestable fucking scumbag shitheads, full stop.

    They would, if they could, take away every liberty you hold dear, and would kill fags, and stone your girlfriend for walking around without her head covered. It’s primitive ape-man bullshit and should not be tolerated (I’m not speaking of laws, here, but civil society) as much as racists should not be tolerated.

    Getting all philosophical about it, and splitting hairs about how Christians were once bad too, is braindead stupidity. They are dangerous now.

  53. Getting all philosophical about it, and splitting hairs about how Christians were once bad too, is braindead stupidity. They are dangerous now.

    That Hitler dude had some good ideas, it’s just that they weren’t carried out in the right way.

    Are we perhaps the ones we’ve been waiting for? Let’s bash some heads and find out!

  54. Deep Thinker,
    Great sarcasm.

    So here’s a solution. Let’s slowly give in to increasing accomodation to violence, and instead blame the non-violent provocateurs like the novelist and publicher in this incident, while continuing to import more muslims into western countries, all the while denying the problem. Then, when the situation gets completely intolerable to a big enough segment of the population, let’s blame the result wholly on that segment and whoever rises to lead violent opposition to the increasingly obvious takeover.

    A christian clergyman who advocated real time private enforcement of Leviticus would be rightly shouted down and hounded for the rest of his life. A muslim clergyman who advocates or justifies private violence should suffer the same fate.

  55. @Swede: you asked what we could have done if the taliban did not turn over Osama?
    I would say: carrot and stick. Pay and arm their enemies, bomb their soldiers and leaders whenever possible (and with their high tech weapons, the US could pick them off at leisure), buy off any taliban who wavers. Blockade the place and keep up the pressure. MUCH cheaper than occupation, and I am willing to bet (why not?) that it would have delivered Osama in less than the 7 years it has taken for the occupation to NOT find him. Taking up (or ,more likely, claiming to take up) the challenge of “turning Afghanistan into a liberal democracy” was a bit too much. Its possible to turn most of Pakistan into a democracy. It may be possible one day to turn saudi arabia into a democracy, but it will be a cold day in hell before you see liberal democracy in Afghanistan. Afghanistan (or rather, its pashtun part) and Somalia are the most hardline of hardline misogynistic, patriarchal, fanatical AND freedom loving (in the sense of NOT wanting to be ruled by someone else) places on planet earth.
    By the way, I am not saying that if you are willing to commit about 200,000 troops and trillion dollars, you cannot have a functional pro-american state in Afghanistan. You CAN. But its not easy and its not clear why you would want to try if your aim was to arrest some terrorists and strike the fear of Bush into their supporters.

  56. There are children being killed in abortion clinics right now! Think of the lives that would be saved if someone burned a few of them down. Oh, and the doctors….

    ^That’s OK, right?

    I’m just throwing gasoline. Change the subject to what crooked cops, the jack boots, and anti-Bill of Rights politicians should have happen to them, and I’m as 1st amendment as any other apologist. It’s good to be selective like that.

  57. SO if the offer is money, it’s first degree murder, but if the offer is eternal salvation to somebody who believes it, it’s first amendment protected?

    You got it. You can suss out the manifold differences between the two, right?

    The similarities may be more relevant. They are both commonly believed fictions.

  58. Sully, I don’t know what your point is. Muslim immigration should stop, and comparing it to Christianity is a signal that the speaker is only out to disingeniously discredit current religions in order to replace it with something more compulsory that fits his perverted view of the universe. It’s been tried before.

    The publishers are covering their ass for good reason, and have only that to answer for. The authors should be distributing their works by every means known to man, including air-dropping them across Saudi Arabia.

    [ And to specifically rejoin “dangerous now”: Forget that the Crusades responded to massive Islamic expansion (you know, up into Spain); or anything else that allows Islam to discredit itself under any belief system (except for socialism — the Nazis knew that and reached out in a spirit of Jew-hating brotherhood). And just look at what actual Muslims do and say. ]

  59. Interesting to juxtapose this issue with the fact that some U.S. newspapers (Greensboro News & Record, Detroit News, a couple others) are refusing to include the DVD of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” as a newspaper insert.

    Another one is the Oregonian, which did actually run it. The publisher wrote:

    “I’ve always felt we have an obligation to keep our advertising columns as open as possible,” said Stickel, who viewed the DVD. “Our acceptance of anything — our acceptance or rejection — does not depend on whether or not we agree with the content. . . . There is a principle of freedom of speech involved here. I could find no reason to reject this.”

    This is highly creditable. But what did the state’s main left-wing blog write?

    “To his strong discredit, the O’s publisher Fred Stickel defended the DVD ad insert. … You can claim “free speech” all you want – but it’s true that the Oregonian makes decisions all the time about what sorts of advertising to accept. For example, you don’t run ads from the sex industry. You also don’t run ads that run afoul of housing and employment discrimination laws.”

    Well, just because the Oregonian makes the wrong decision on running those other ads, does not mean they should make the wrong decision here.

    If the Oregonian was published in Europe, it might face far worse consequences than a bunch of dirty hippies showing up outside the front door with handmade signs. I’m not a big fan of them, either, but it’s comparative enlightenment.

  60. Sully, you do not know of what you speak. The Quran contains no verses nearly as horrific as the book of Joshua which celebrates the murder, rape and plunder of a dozen villages.

    The Quran echoes the principle teaching of Jesus, the Golden Rule. This same teaching is found in the old Testament. Regardless, many Christians and Jews seem hell bent on re-enacting Joshua on the Palestinians.

    We, my friend are funding this “humiliation, domination, oppression and starvation of an entire people” to quote 3000 IDF soldiers. Our terrorist travel in billion dollar tanks, tractors and airplanes. Our terrorists steal oil, support tyrants and dictators.

    Our funding of tyranny justifies their fighting us, not according to the Quran but according to the Declaration of Independence, which states that it is the “duty” of anyone living under tyranny to fight those forces.

    Despite Bush’s calls for democracy, we support tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan. But hey, why keep Jesus’ council while you bloviate about Christian superiority. Remember the council to watch the beam in your own eye rather than focus on the splinter in your neighbor’s? What about Jesus’ council to love your enemy?

  61. The Quran echoes the principle teaching of Jesus, the Golden Rule.

    What about Jesus’ council to love your enemy?

    Yeah, what about it? I guess Arabian warlords are exempt.

  62. boy deep thinker that post really supports your moniker. Do you have anything other than cryptic quips? What you’ve written isn’t an argument or even an assertion.

    To what are Arabian warlords exempt? The Quran does say that if a foreigner invades your home, sews chaos, undermines order, kills innocents, talks of peace while fighting you then they have license to fight you. Until they ask for a truce, “then you have no cause to fight them” but if their calls for peace coupled with fighting you “may fight them as they fight you.” But they are prohibited from fighting those not fighting you, and the Quran says, that if you kill an innocent it as if you have killed all humanity.

    We attacked a dictatorship attacking the subjects of that dictator, which we helped install. Those under a dictatorship presumably have little or no control over their leadership, yet we attack the powerless subjects. Though when those living under a US supported dictatorship attack us, where we fund and supposedly control our gov’t we cry foul.

    Try thinking deeply about that, there is serious hypocrisy here. Also, it is not really fair to claim renegades are representative of the orthodox teachings of any faith. Again, Jesus is pretty clear about “blessed be the peacemakers” yet our Airforce seems to believe they are fighting a holy war.

    Your line of argument would say that the Airforce or the Crusades condemns Jesus and Christianity. Rather than saying there are some seriously disturbed people who’ve perverted their faith.

  63. “Hell, if only to protect your faith’s public image. Comparing it to Christianity is a bad analogy because Christianity does not have the same cultural synthesis as Islam.”

    What? Islam is less centrally controlled, ordered or whatever than are Judaism or Christianity. Furthermore, Islam is indeed more tolerant and inclusive than either Judaism or Christianity. The Quran states that Christians and Jews will be in heaven.

    The measure of salvation is based on who keeps the commandments of God. The Islamic understanding of this jives perfectly with the Golden Rule. Sorry to upset your apple cart of ignorance, but that’s the teaching.

    Islam was practiced for 800yrs in Spain. There Christians and Jews lived in tolerance and peace. Still today Jews and Christians live in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and throughout N. Africa.

    The US and Europe are no longer “Christian” countries but are secular. In fact most “Muslim” countries are equally secular. I have an Iraqi friend who served in Saddam’s army as a youth. During Ramadan the army would run the soldiers with the intention of forcing them to break their fast. They were trying to mock the Muslim faithful.

    The comments of most on here prove utter ignorance of Islam, Muslim countries and these societies. Where honor killings are practiced, the are practiced by Christians, Jews, and Hindus that live there. These practices are cultural, and happen despite specific prohibitions in the Quran.

  64. Regarding the Afghanistan war, taking out the Taliban was both justified and a good move strategically.

    The Taliban was never a legitimate government in any important sense. Not if we judge legitimacy by the way they obtained power in the first place and/or their human rights record.

    Getting Osama bin Laden was not the only goal in invading Afghanistan. There were also the goals of shutting down the terrorist training camps, making it impossible to re-establish them in Afghan territory, and killing/capturing as many other members of the terrorist network (this was not bin Laden’s one-man operation, you know).

    They have succeeded in meeting a lot of those goals, and hopefully they will shut down the Taliban resurgence in the near future. Though this will probably require an increase in the number of ground troops in that country, so it may have to wait until most coalition forces are out of Iraq

  65. that if you kill an innocent it as if you have killed all humanity.

    And that supports murdering one’s children in the name of their honor how?

  66. You know, if someone is so enamored of Muslim law, then he should go live someplace where it is the law of the land as well. Such places exist, and it’s not too hard to find them. The fact that he chooses not to live in such a place speaks volumes about his sincerity and the depth of his devotion.

    You’re wrong. He is very devout, that’s why he’s trying to install Islamic law where he lives.

    Furthermore, Islam is indeed more tolerant and inclusive than either Judaism or Christianity

    That must be why the Egyptians treat the Copts so well, why the Maronites are treated so well in Lebanon, and why Jews are well received throughout the Middle East.

  67. “The measure of salvation is based on who keeps the commandments of God. The Islamic understanding of this jives perfectly with the Golden Rule. Sorry to upset your apple cart of ignorance, but that’s the teaching.”

    First off, there is no such thing as an entirely peaceful Islamic religion, or an entirely violent Islamic religion. It’s a philosophy based on a loosely interpreted text that has undergone various interpretations throughout its history. This is evident by the number of different tribes that have sought to assert their own version of Islam.

    There isn’t a definitive understanding of the Quran, just like there isn’t a definitive understanding of the Bible, and its books. No one can claim absolute authority.

    One could read the Quran and come away being able to justify violence, and peace. They’re merely ideas that human beings put into action. When it comes to the Quran, the violent nature of Islam is just as easily justifiable as the peaceful version.

    Only the society surrounding those interpretations can place a meaningful restriction on how human beings act on those ideas, through laws, and other means of marginalizing acts of religious violence.

    The problem is, many of the moderates are still extreme by democratic/secular standards, which poses a huge problem when it comes to suppressing violence.

    You bring up Saddam’s regime, which is hardly an example of how most governments in the M.E. covet their religion, and the strict adherence that they profess to their version of its philosophy.

    Saddam, for the most part, was a secular despot, unique to the region, and he wasn’t even providing aid to Al Qaeda, or Bin Laden.

    Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, all have funneled aid to Al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia even tried to liberalize its country a bit more, and it was met with sweeping public condemnation.

    The Islamic world has an atrocious public image problem that they have allowed to cement under their nose, with no real effort to combat it.

    If it’s merely a problem of minor wacko religious militias that bring just as much, if not more suffering to their own people, as they do to their avowed enemies, then it would stand to reason that there would be a much greater effort to stamp them out.

    The idea that the “peaceful” Muslim world has no way of doing so, means that they have lost control of their religion to a different interpretation, or that they can’t be bothered with the cultural shift that might occur through combating it.

    They could have a million examples of God forsaking them, but it only takes one concession to convince them that he was watching over them all along.

    In other words, nothing will stop them from believing that what they are doing is meaningful, and just. They don’t play by the rules that most other people play by.

    Rules are only meaningful if there’s an agreement to adhere to them.

  68. There isn’t a definitive understanding of the Quran, just like there isn’t a definitive understanding of the Bible, and its books. No one can claim absolute authority.

    Every orthodox school of Islamic practice agrees that it is the duty of Muslims to conquer the world, and that the only proper place of the unbeliever is as a dhimmi, a slave, or a corpse. All of them teach that Islam is the true, primordial religion and Christianity & Judaism are corruptions of it. All of them teach that every person is born Muslim, that but for corruption every person would naturally be Muslim, and that new Believers “revert” to Islam. All of them teach Quranic literalism. Al-Azhar University’s manual of Sunni Islamic practice is the definitive book on the matter. “No definitive understanding” is just plain wrong.

  69. No, it’s not wrong because Islam not touted, and practiced to the same degree by everyone. This is perfectly evident by the way that many practice it in the U.S., and to other degrees across Europe.

    It doesn’t matter what a particularly authority says how a religion should be practiced. People will pick and choose what they feel comfortable with, and that will become the religion in their minds.

    If all Christians were to take the Bible literally, and practice it with the same amount of fervor, then many odious actions could be condoned because of it.

    And they have been.

  70. Wow, what a clusterfuck of editing on my part.

    My apologies.

  71. I agree with Mike. The book now has to be published, not only harder, but faster. As an author, I resent the current drive by agents, publishers, and editors for self-censorship. Free speech is not a problem.

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