Thursday, August 31, 2006
Maine Lobster is Endangered
I am on vaction until Sept. 12!!!! My family is headed to Maine, where so much lobster will be consumed that it will be placed on the Endangered Speices List. While I am gone, please enjoy these links to some of my favorite spots on the vast Internet:
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Embrace Athena and Ares
I love ancient Egypt and its myths, customs and history. I also appreciate the ancient Greeks and Romans. This is one of the reasons that my husband and I went on an Aegean cruise for our honeymoon in 1999, so that I could immerse myself in the lands of the Iliad and the Odyssey.
I recall my tour of one of the most revered of ancient sites, the Parthenon of the Acropolis in Athens. The name Parthenon refers to the worship of Athena Parthenos, the 'Virgin Athena' who issued fully grown from the head of her father Zeus. Although she was widely known in one of her roles as war goddess, it was in her roles of mediator and battle planner that she excelled. She always worked to prevent war, but once war had been joined the goddess Athena, fought valiantly for her side.
Our tour guide made it a point of pride to note that the ancient Greeks venerated Athena, whose focus was on tactics and the intelligence aspects of warfare. In his view, this made the goddess superior to Ares, the god of warlike frenzy and bloodshed. The Greeks had such disdain for Ares that he was deemed a coward and when a Greek hero wounded him during the Trojan War, Ares received scant sympathy from his father Zeus.
Interesting as this was, I think that the Greeks made a critical mistake. To effectively engage the enemy, one has to be willing to tap into their inner Ares. Being able to talk and negotiate is fine, but there must be a time a people are willing to battle for their society and way of life and to do so smartly. Therefore, both Areas and Athena should be given their due.
The Greek world eventually was dominated by the Roman Empire. I feel this is because the Greeks became too enchanted with peace, prosperity and negotiations. Rome, on the other hand, was devoted to its war god, Mars. Mars was the legendary father of its founder, Romulus, and it was believed that all Romans were descended of Mars. Mars, unlike neglected and abused Greek version, was more widely worshipped than any of the other Roman gods. Because they promoted a distinctly martial attitude, Rome was able to conquer the Mediterranean basin (including my beloved Egypt), much of Europe, and a good portion of Asia Minor.
The ability to combine fearlessness, stength and other aspects of the "masculine" with more "femnine" qualities such as intuition, circumspection, and willingness of negotiate and comprise is vital to being successful. This is true both on an individual level and on a societal scale. And never forget that Rome, too, eventually fell to tribes that were able to tap into their warrior nature. Rome became a victim of prolonged peace, prosperity, and dealing with neighbors who were willing to treat with them. They could not contend with The Scourge of God…hideous barbarians who ate raw meat and did everything on horseback, even sleep.
I think it is good to reflect on both Ares and Athena now. The time we live in seem turbulent. Though I was not around in the 1930s, I sense that the pace and nature of significant news events would have been similar. And in his article today, The West Invites Attack, David Warren writes:
We have a problem in us, not in them. It is the recovery of our own sense of what we are, what we believe, and what we are about, that would defeat Afghan cave-dwellers and shrieking ayatollahs fairly quickly.
The West has an enemy in Islamic extremists, who desire nothing more than our complete and total destruction. Yet, one of the grand actions that France takes as part of Athena-based negotiating tactics is to send 49 engineers to enforce the UN-sponsored cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel. Yes, and I am sure a set of Roman aqueduct workers would have astounded the Huns, too! [In the interest of complete disclosure, France has vowed to send a total of 2000 troops for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). How many will actually arrive is anyones guess].
That being noted, it is also critical to balance power with wisdom. One of the key components in effective battle tactics is identifying allies. It is good to recall not all Muslims love death as much as Maulana Inyadullah of al-Qaeda (The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death.). In some of the more extreme anti-Muslim sites, there are calls to Nuke Mecca!!!!. This is not a sound approach either, as analyzed by Robert Spencer in his FrontPage Magazine article, Nuke Mecca? Nope.
Others have argued, however, that the deterrent value of destroying Islamic holy sites would lie not in giving jihad terrorists pause, but in showing Islam itself to be false and thus removing the primary motivation of today's jihad terrorists. If Allah is all-powerful and rewards those who believe in him while hating and punishing the disbelievers (the vilest of creatures, according to Quran 98:6), wouldn't he protect his holy sites from these disbelievers?
However, Muslims have weathered such shocks to their system in the past. In 1924, the secular government of Turkey abolished the caliphate; the caliph was considered the successor of the Prophet Muhammad as the religious and political leader of the Islamic community. By abolishing the office, Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk hoped to strike at the heart of political Islam and create a context in which Islam could develop something akin to the Western idea of the separation of religion and state. Instead, his act provided the impetus for the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood, the first modern Islamic terrorist organization, in Egypt in 1928.
Muslims were involved in busting the recent trans-Atlantic terror plot (which impact my impending trip to Maine, as I can't take my 4-year-old son's boxes of Parmalait vanilla milk).
And as President Bush pointed out:
Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. After the attacks in London on July the 7th, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, "Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person."
Despite my affinity for the Great Mother Goddess of ancient Egypt, I lack answers on how to best address the nature of our terror-loving enemies. But I do appreciate the importance of balancing Athena with Ares.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Romanian Connection to Islamic Terror
I am a scholar of ancient Egypt and the Levant. I am also an American of Romanian heritage. The other portion is mostly Scottish. As a fan of classic Star Trek (yes, I am dating myself horribly), I always likened the combination to being part Klingon/part Vulcan.
But I digress (yet again). While it is rare I see news stories combining Romania with Middle Eastern issues, there seems to a spate of material recently. Needless to say, I find such information fascinating and want to share it with others, playing my role as citizen journalist.
In a National Review Online article (Russian Footprints - What does Moscow have to do with the recent war in Lebanon? By Ion Mihai Pacepa) there is interesting information from General Pacepa, who was a Romanian Intelligence Officer assisting the Soviets to spread anti-Jewish/Israel sentiment through the Middle East during the 1970s.
Some extracts that are insightful:
"General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who created Communist Romania's intelligence structure and then rose to head up all of Soviet Russia's foreign intelligence, often lectured me: In today's world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon.
In 1972, the Kremlin decided to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the U.S. As KGB chairman Yury Andropov told me, a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. No one within the American/Zionist sphere of influence should any longer feel safe
.......... The codename of this operation was SIG (Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, or Zionist Governments), and was within my Romanian service's sphere of influence, for it embraced Libya, Lebanon, and Syria. SIG was a large party/state operation. We created joint ventures to build hospitals, houses, and roads in these countries, and there we sent thousands of doctors, engineers, technicians, professors, and even dance instructors. All had the task of portraying the United States as an arrogant and haughty Jewish fiefdom financed by Jewish money and run by Jewish politicians, whose aim was to subordinate the entire Islamic world.
The remaining article is extremely worthwhile for all who wish to understand the potential origins of Islamic terror, and the impact of Cold War tactics still being felt today.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Romania VS Iran: Place your bets here.
I guess the new Mahdi must retain a grudge against one of the most infamous Muslim killers known to history: Vlad Tepes, Count Dracula. Recall that August 22, 2006 held promise of a significant event of great importance to the self-heralded new prophet of Islam, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Apparently that event was attacking Romanians
From World News Story comes information related to Iranian troops seizing a Romanian oil rig. http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3773813a12,00.html
Romanian oil firm Grup Servicii Petroliere has said one of its offshore rigs in the Gulf, involved in a legal dispute, had reported coming under fire from an Iranian navy ship and being boarded by troops.
An Iranian oil official denied the reports, saying military force was not used against the Orizont platform, which had been chartered by United Arab Emirates-based Oriental Oil Company. GSP spokesman Radu Petrescu said: "We were called by one of our employees at 9.15am (0615 GMT – 1815 NZT), who told us a military ship opened fire against the Orizont rig, and by 9.45am Iranian troops got on board."
"By 4pm the troops left the rig and judicial officers came on board. In between, we had no contact with the crew."
The 13,000-tonne Orizont rig has 26 people on board and has been in Iranian waters since October last year.
Perhaps Ahmadinejad had a great-great grandfather who got on the wrong side of Vlad's impaling tool.
By 1462, when he was deposed, he had killed between 40,000 and 100,000 people, possibly more. He always thought up some excuse for these executions. He killed merchants who cheated their customers. He killed women who had affairs. Supposedly he had one woman impaled because her husband's shirt was too short. He didn't mind impaling children, either. Afterwards he would display the corpses in public so everyone would learn a lesson. It's said that there were over 20,000 bodies hanging outside his capital city. Of course, the stories about Dracula's cruelty might have been exaggerated by his enemies. Despite all this, Dracula's subjects respected him for fighting the Turks and being a strong ruler. He's remembered today as a patriotic hero who stood up to Turkey and Hungary. He was the last Walachian prince to remain independent from the Ottoman Empire. He was so scornful of other nations that when two foreign ambassadors refused to doff their hats to him, he had the hats nailed to their heads. He was opposed to the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches because he thought foreigners, operating through the churches, had too much power in Walachia. He tried to prevent foreign merchants from taking business away from his citizens. If merchants disobeyed his trade laws, they were, of course, impaled.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am an American of Romanian heritage. I await with interest on how the Romanians will respond. I hope they offer more military response than the French offered as part of their portion of the recent UN cease fire deal in Lebanon. I hope Romanians still have a bit of Vlad's DNA in their genetics. I know I still do.
So, in the interest of inspiring discussion, I am taking bets as to the victor in the Romania vs Iran match-up. Looking at the available data, I am placing my money on Romania.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
SHAME, AND ETERNAL SHAME, NOTHING BUT SHAME!
I have spent several years on a chat site, Ann Coulter Official Chat. I appreciate Ann’s satirical style, and I discounted entirely what the Achoress said about her ability to inspire extremists. However, I always check into the Anchoress (right after I looked at Drudge), because when I found myself disagreeing with Ann Coulter on a subject, I discovered that the Anchoress and I tended to be more in agreement. Furthermore, I am too much of a scientist and analytical thinker to be a good satirist – and the Anchoress' weighty, well-considered writing style was more akin to my own. Also, as that blog states, good people can disagree on a subject and still be good people.
With that in mind, in recent months, I began reviewing the discourse that was occurring on our own Chat Room, Ann Coulter Official Chat. I began to realize that some members (but not all, mind) were creating an atmosphere in which it was OK to hate one group of people – Muslims. One would routinely refer to them as muslimes, and another as ragheads. Another expressed great pride in her giving a purdah-clad woman in a mall the "evil eye", assuming this visitor to our shores as an obvious terrorist. There were chronic instances of the latest outrage committed by Muslims in third-world countries being used to condemn all Muslims. Routine calls for genocide of men, women and children who follow Islam were made, as well as suggestions for carpet bombing Mecca and Medina.
Initially, I thought the focus of these awful remarks was centered on Islamic extremists. I despise terrorists who target innocent civilians, as do most rational people. I hold them in the deepest contempt, and no words are nasty enough for these evil men. However, I know many fine Americans who happen to be Muslims. They despise Islamic extremists as much as I – if not more, because tolerant Muslims are often a target of hatred by these extremists.
During the discourse on ACOC, the members who disagreed with my opinion would often cite Coulter’s famous ….”convert them to Christianity” statement in her post 9/11 column, “This is War”. However, I felt they were taken out of context. The more full quote is as follows:
We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.
Therefore, the above statement could not possibly apply to my Egyptian friend, who called be in deepest grief and anguish after 9/11, condemning the “insane idiots” who plowed the jets into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. This statement could not apply to the 4000 American soldiers who are also Muslim, acting to defend our constitutional freedoms (including some who have died in service to our country). This statement could not apply to the Muslim in my brother’s unit in Fallujah, who tackled my brother down when an IED went off, saving my brother’s life.
I was called a Muslim apologist. I was deemed a terror-supporter. I was classified as “deluded” for having Muslims as friends. In fact, as I looked around and considered posts, I was astonished that the voices of many reasonable posters had been silenced on this subject because of the screed of anti-Muslim posters.
I attempted to reason with some of the ACOC members who expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, to no avail. However, many members also became more thoughtful of how they discussed Americans who were Muslim – in the true spirit of out First Amendment rights to worship as we please and the constitutional protections we enjoy of innocent until proven guilty.
Several ACOC members, myself included, tired of chat room threads in which the more violent passages of the Koran were extracted to demonstrate that all Muslims wanted to kill Christians and Jews. No one on that Forum was qualified to discuss the Koran in any fair manner, as none of us were true scholars of Islam. Several of us were also very angered at an internet message gleefully posted on the board:
Can a good Muslim be a good American?
Theologically - no. Because his allegiance is toAllah, the moon god of Arabia.
Religiously - no. Because no other religion isaccepted by his Allah except Islam (Koran, 2:256)
Scripturally - no. Because his allegiance is to thefive pillars of Islam and the Quran (Koran)…
etc. etc. etc..
Once it was OK to attack fellow Americans for their religion, I went on a quest to find someone to humanize the face of Islam, discuss the Koran with full understanding, and provide an alternative, and necessary, viewpoint to our discussions involving Islam. Subsequently, I enlisted the help of the Achoress to locate such a man. My hopes were met admirably in Ali Eteraz (http://eteraz.wordpress.com/).
Ali is one of the most articulate, educated people that it has been my privilege to meet, albeit electronically. After telling him about the corrosion of the discourse pertaining to Americans that are Muslim, he agreed to join our group and address questions and concerns expressed by Forum members. He had everything that ACOC could have desired in a learned, respectful participant:
Ali clearly despises terrorism:
For the first time in my life I feel truly American. Vestiges of rebellious third world sentimentality are not erased but they have become much more rational. I feel an unbridgeable distance from those militants across the globe that I felt some sort of pity for. Once I thought even though their methods were disreputable they were simply misguided people trying to rectify the injustices of the world. No more. Now, having seen their vision of justice, I am appalled that I ever felt some sort of emotional, sentimental connection with them. So what if it was pity and not alliance? So what? It was connection, and I rue that. If I hate them now then I must hate the part of me that did not hate them before. I don’t understand. Do the quintessentially juridical expositions of our sacred (as is life) Shariah not leave a mark in their heart? Does not the generous and manganimous character of our Prophet not ring in these people’s minds? They have lashed out like Nietzsche’s master moralists, but I see no nobility in their actions; no honor in their enunciation. I don’t know who did it; but I know. (http://eteraz.wordpress.com/page/3/)
Ali wants no part of enforcing sharia law:
Politically I believe in democracy, separation of church and state and freedom of expression and association. It is OK for bigots, racists, and fundamentalists to get elected in any and every democracy as long as they do not limit the freedoms of others. The limitation of freedom is unacceptable. Of course, the best thing would be if they ceased being bigots, racists and fundos
Ali also read Coulter’s recent book, “Godless”!!! And I would imagine the writings of Coulter aren’t normally on the nightstand of an Islamic extremist.
Therefore, I extended the invitation for Ali to join us on the chat room, while being quite honest about how uncivil and irrational the discussions related to Muslims, as a whole group, had become. However, I had hoped Ali could provide new links and information to Muslim groups who promoted peace, tolerance and democracy. I hoped, too, that inviting a real human on the board would force members to reassess their dialogs. It is easy to be hateful in anonymity. It is harder to spew bigotry in a real person’s face, even in an electronic venue.
Though we had several technical difficulties getting started, Ali and I prevailed. Prior to his arrival, I also entreated members recall the ACOC official guidelines on civility and prohibitions against racism. After all, there is no rule in the ACOC guidelines that a Muslim can’t join our group. And, one points of pride heralded by ACOC is that we accept all applicants, as long as they meet some technical, internet requirements and are willing to engage in civil dialog. In fact, we note that several of our members are liberals (from whom I have, myself, learned new perspectives)
In some ways, Ali worked out better that I imagined. ACOC was shown that clearly, not all Muslims wanted to kill us and our family. We were treated to texts that no other ACOC members could have posted, ever. For example, the following writings that promote equality of the sexes, denounce anti-Semitism, and call for a secular approach to government (Muslim ideas never before seen in the Forum before):
Here is a Manifesto by a French secular Muslim organization: Institute Manifeste Des Libertes The Manifesto
"We are women and men of Muslim culture. Some of us are believers, others are agnostics or atheists. We all condemn firmly the declarations and acts of misogyny, homophobia, and Antisemitism that we have heard and witnessed for a while now here in France and that are carried out in the name of Islam. These three characteristics typify the political Islamism that has been forceful for so long in several of our countries of origin. We fought against them there, and we are committed to fighting against them again - here. "Gender Equality: A Prerequisite for Democracy. We are firmly committed to equal rights for both sexes. We fight the oppression of women who are subjected to Personal Status Laws, like those in Algeria (recent progress in Morocco highlights how far Algeria lags behind), and sometimes even in France via bilateral agreements. [see document footnote] We believe that democracy cannot exist without these equal rights. Accordingly, we unambiguously offer our support for the '20 ans, barakat!' (20 years is enough!) campaign of the Algerian women's associations, demanding the definitive abolition of the two-decades-old family code. "It is also for this reason that we oppose wearing the Islamic head scarf, even if among us there are differing opinions about the law banning it from schools in France. In various countries, we have seen violence or even death inflicted on female friends or family members because they refused to wear the scarf. Even if the current enthusiasm for the head scarf [among some Muslims] in France was stimulated by discrimination suffered by immigrant children, this cannot be considered the real cause of the desire to wear it; nor can memories of a North African lifestyle explain it. Behind this so-called 'choice' demanded by a certain number of girls is the promotion of a political Islamic society based on a militant ideology which aims to promote actively values to which we do not subscribe. "Stopping Homophobia: For Islamic fundamentalists (as for all machos and fundamentalists), 'being a man' means having power over women, including sexual power. In their eyes, any man who favors equality of the sexes is potentially subhuman, or 'queer.' This way of thinking has proliferated since the rise of political Islamism. Its ferocity is equaled only by its hypocrisy. One of the organizers of the demonstration on Saturday, January 17, 2004, in favor of the head scarf declared that 'it is scandalous that those who claim to be shocked by the head scarf are not shocked by homosexuality.' Undoubtedly he thinks that a virtuous society hides women behind head scarves or puts homosexuals behind bars, something we have already seen happen in Egypt. We shudder at what the triumph of these attitudes implies for 'shameless' persons in society-like women who fail to wear the head scarf or homosexuals or non-believers. "In contrast, we believe that recognition of the existence of homosexuality, and the freedom for homosexuals to live their own lives as they wish, represent undeniable progress. As long as an individual-heterosexual or homosexual-does not break the laws protecting minors, each person's sexual choices are his or her own business and do not concern the state in any way. "Fighting Antisemitism: Finally, we condemn firmly the Antisemitic statements made recently in speeches in the name of Islam. Just like 'shameless' women and homosexuals, Jews have become the target: 'They have everything and we have nothing,' was something that we heard in the demonstration on January 17. We see the use of the Israel-Palestine conflict by fundamentalist movements as a means of promoting the most disturbing forms of Antisemitism. Despite our opposition to the current policies of the Israeli government, we refuse to feed primitive images of the 'Jew.' A real, historical conflict between two peoples should not be exploited. We recognize Israel's right to exist, a right recognized by the PLO congress in Algiers in 1988 and the Arab League summit meeting in Beirut in 2002. At the same time, we are committed to the Palestinian people and in support of their right to found a state and to be liberated from occupation. "Living Secularism: Islam has not received sufficient recognition in France. There is a lack of places to pray. There are not enough chaplaincies or enough cemeteries. We are aware that young French people, the sons and daughters of Muslim immigrants, are still held back socially and suffer discrimination. All monitoring bodies recognize this. Consequently, 'French-style' secularism has lost a great deal of value in the eyes of these young people. Two possibilities lie before them. They can rediscover the strength of a real, living secularism; that is, political action on behalf of their rights and to demand the social gains fought for by their fathers and mothers-who belonged to social classes, cultures, peoples, and nations before they belonged to Islam. Or they can see themselves in an imaginary, virtual 'umma' [Islamic community - Eds.] that no longer corresponds to reality, and then masquerade in republican or 'tiers-mondistes' (third-worldist) rags. This only ends up securing unequal, repressive, and intolerant societies. This latter path cannot be ours.
Ali also provided some insights as to why the view of “moderate” Muslims (or, as I prefer to them, “Humanist Muslims”, may seem silent:
Please don't get me started. I think everyone on the liberal side, Huffington on up, has had NO interest in hearing anti-terror Islam speak. I have sent her numerous emails =) I'm not sure whether this is because much of the MSM wants nothing more than a Muslim it can 'plug' into the 'conflict' it seeks to portray.
Interestingly, it was Fox News which was the only one to give a run to a series of anti-terror Muslims after 9/11. The Editor in Chief of Muslim WakeUp! showed up a few times on Fox.
And Ali was able to provide links to alternative sites, such as Muslim webpages specifically denouncing violence:
To be fair to the membership of ACOC, many members had thoughtful comments and questions, such as follows:
Imaginethat: I look forward to your responses to the questions presented. I admire your willingness to enter "hostile" territory, basically unarmed. You will find many, many thoughtful, intelligent and warm people here. You also may bring light to certain dark corners, inshallah. Blessings to you and to this endeavor.
However, despite please for civility, some posters opted to be outright rude and hostile:
AvgDude: ALI ETERAZ = EAT IZRAEL
Catellus22: Evil makes muslims tick.
Ali even tried to be humorous and informative when a member called Fritz accused Muslims of nothing more than “sadomasochistic mayhem”. Ali responded, thusly:
I think the 14 centuries of sadomasochistic mayhem part is where you're wrong. I encourage you to look at some islamic art and architecture http://www.uga.edu/islam/IslArt.html also consider the poetry of hafiz: http://www.poetseers.org/the_poetseers/hafiz/gift or even today's 'islamic' pop music (which even as it is hated by the radicals is loved by the muslim on the street) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouCDB99h780
One Muslim-hating poster simply placed pictures of the WTC at 9/11 – as if Ali were Osama Bin Laden himself. And two members were so extreme in their unwillingness to acknowledge a friendly Muslim voice, who despises terror and embraces American freedoms as much as they do, they quite the site outright.
Though the Moderators of the Forum endeavored to keep the dialog civil, seeing long-time posters on this board behave so irrationally and discreditably was disturbing. The head Moderator moved the thread to a Forum that is rarely viewed and locked for further comment. This Moderator, much to his credit, told several members that they need to “grow up”. Ali closed his account with us.
I now am struggling with a decision. I admire many posters on ACOC, and resent to bullying tactics used to silence members who to not go along with the “Evil makes muslims tick” sentiment. However, I dislike toxicity and being around members that celebrated Ali’s departure. Part of me wishes to leave. Ann’s words have been used out of context to embrace hate, just like the Koran has been abused. I want no part of promoting prejudice.
I am torn. And sad. And shamed. As expressed by a French nobleman in, Henry V, "Shame, and eternal shame, nothing but shame!"