Friday, March 31, 2006
A few of you angry Americans, perhaps because you can find no other form of entertainment, have whipped yourselves (and are trying to whip others) into a frenzy of hatred for Islam. Recent events regarding Muslims have convinced you people beyond any reasonable doubt (or so you think) that every Muslim is violent, every Muslim hates America with a deathly passion, and that every Muslim wants to forcibly convert you and every other non-Muslim on the planet to their faith—either that or kill you as an infidel.
The two biggest stories in the news lately that seem to confirm your foaming revenge-mindedness are these:
(1) Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, an Iranian student attending the University of North Carolina, recently rented an SUV and used it to attempt to kill as many people as he could on campus. He claimed that the teachings of the Koran commanded him to do this. I agree that Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar is a lunatic bent on destroying as many infidels as possible, but to project this onto the rest of the populace of Iran, let alone the entire Islamic world, is an utter polemic disgrace. Most people in Iran, nearly all of whom are Muslim, dearly love the United States of America, seeing America as a beacon of hope, and wishing that the Bush Administration would do something about the cancer in their midst that calls itself a government. (By the way, I did a quick check on a major internet search engine with the words ‘SUV’, ‘Islam’, and ‘kill’ and found that exactly one person has ever tried to use an SUV to kill non-Muslims, and he wasn’t very successful.)
(2) Recently, upon the release of Christian Abdul Rahman from an Afghanistan prison, hundreds of Muslim clerics demonstrated against the action. Apparently the other 29 million Afghanis were on vacation when the protest took place, because otherwise I’m sure they would have been there, too. Because after all, a statistical sampling of several hundred angry clerics who chose to participate in the demographic study can predict with 100% confidence what every other person in Afghanistan believes…right?
There is no question that currently a higher percentage of Muslims are bigoted against other religions (than are other religions against them) and will do nearly anything to convert or destroy others. But far from all Muslims are so. And it wasn’t always this way: in the Dark Ages, when in Christian lands such things as inquisitions and burnings-at-the-stake were common, another civilization known as the Saracens, flourished. The Saracens were mostly Muslim, but they had no problem allowing Jews, Christians, and peoples of other faiths to live among them. How this all changed, I don’t pretend to know, but suffice it to say that at one point there was a much a higher percentage of Christians than Muslims who subscribed to the convert-or-be-destroyed philosophy. At any rate, at the current incendiary trend perpetrated by you people, there will likely soon be an equal number of Christian and Muslim bigots; and if it gets worse, there will likely be only a small number of either faction.
You people need to read some history. You also need to read some of the blogs that are coming out of Iraq, Iran, and to a lesser extent Afghanistan. For you people who claim that no one gives specifics as to how Islam really is a religion of peace--why do you people demand that Muslims have to be specific? Is it not specific enough when several Muslims state categorically that Mohammed did not intend for Muslims to be violent, wanton killers of infidels? I am supremely grateful that most people do not judge my Mormon faith based on the actions of the polygamist so-called ‘Fundamentalist Mormons’.
Furthermore, some arguments that you people make are so absurd that they can not possibly be dignified with being taken seriously. Apparently Bible bashing has become to you passé (you can get the Bible to mean anything you want it to) so now you people have graduated to Koran bashing, laughably believing that you know more of what the Koran teaches than people who have lived the Muslim religion all of their lives.
At perhaps several points in history, Neanderthal Christians believed that the only good Muslim was a dead Muslim. And it appears that there were a lot of people who thought this way. In a similar manner, Neanderthal Americans once preached (and a few still do) the same diatribes against Native Americans and Blacks. For now, history has seen the tables turn. Now there are more bigoted Muslims than Christians. But that does not in the least mean that all Muslims are bigots. I am afraid that if Christians believe that everything they see and hear in the news is both true and representative of what regularly happens in life, that eventually some may begin calling for pre-emptive nuclear strikes to eradicate ‘all Muslims before they get us.’ For someone who believes that all Muslims hate Americans and want to kill or convert them, this becomes the inescapable conclusion. It would be a travesty for Christian bigotry to be seen as the only means possible to combat Muslim bigotry.
Individuals are insecure about allowing others to practice different religions only when they are, for any number of reasons, insecure about the way they themselves practice their own religion. Confident members of any faith are pleased to allow others to worship how, where or what they may.
You people must learn to separate the perpetrators from the bystanders. The news gives everyone the impression that many more perpetrators exist than there really are, but this cannot possibly be true. If we really were to believe the news as it is reported, then we would have to conclude America were filled with nothing but thieves, murderers, wife beaters, and prostitutes (I almost added corrupt politicians, but…well…).
Nearly everyone in the Islamic world is at heart a good person either simply trying to get by, or in a few cases they have the wherewithal to improve their situation. That is the basis for all they worry about. The three things that most Muslims crave are (1) Liberty (2) free, burgeoning markets, and an open and honest dialog with the West. Do you think they hate America? Of course not—they dream of having everything that we have! They dream of being just like us!
If you polemic Americans have your way, Muslims will undoubtedly have a lot of reasons to hate us. Or…will there still be any Muslims around…if you really had your way? Hmmm? Tell the truth. To paraphrase a popular saying: You have met the enemy, and the real enemy is yourselves.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Richard Cohen expresses his surprise in the March 28th Washington Post that so few Muslims are speaking out against the treatment of Christian Afghani citizen Abdul Rahman. There are some Muslims speaking out, but it does not surprise me in the least that so few are--they don't dare to. And at this point I don't blame them.
Only 1% of Afghanistan is not Muslim. For centuries they have lived in fear of one dominating tribe or the other. Most recently the Northern Alliance (NA) swept through the country causing all kinds of havoc with those who didn't live according to their very narrow interpretation of Islam. Not long thereafter, the Taliban sent the NA packing and imposed a much more deadly form of terrorism on the Afghan people. It takes a lot of time for such an attitude to erase itself from a society dominated in such a way, not to mention how much longer it might take for someone in that society to feel comfortable that the evil taskmasters are really gone.
Iraq is 5% non-Muslim, and not many people are speaking out about the Abdul Rahman affair. Many of them, like the Afghanis, are so busy just trying to make sure they get by in life that they probably don't even know about the Rahman affair, much less have time to care about it. Even if they cared, would they want to draw attention to themselves in a Sunni-terrorist infested atmosphere? And currently, to make matters less comfortable, the vitriolic Muqtada al Sadr is trying to one-up the Sunni insurgency with his vehement brand of violence.
Yet some here in Iraq are speaking out. Sunni Muslims generally espouse a 'violence-is-okay' interpretation of the Quran, yet the 60% of the Iraqi population who are Shia' believe the diametric opposite when it comes to promulgating religion. That portion of the Iraqi Shia', such as Muqtada al Sadr, who are heavily influenced by Iran, are an aberration to Shia' Islam, which is most accurately represented by the Ayatollah Ali Hussaini Sistani. Sistani advocates non-violence as a solution to Iraq's problems, much as Muhammad felt that violence was not appropriate in the furtherance of Islam. An example of what Muhammad taught, according to an Iraqi, can be found by clicking here.
I have two very dear Iraqi friends that I have met since I came to Iraq. I have not spoken with them about the Abdul Rahman affair, but I have spoken with them in great detail about Christianity and learned much from them about Islam. I and my friends have a mutual love and respect for each other and our equally great religions. They are not offended by Christianity and agree that anyone is free to choose which religion they belong to. But I don't think they would dare express that view very loudly, out of fear of retribution from the vocal, violent minority.
To say that all Muslims hate and want to forcefully convert all others to their faith is pure polemic. It is untrue. Such demands are being perpetrated by a violent and vocal minority. Besides, we in America should be used to it. After all, how many blacks dare speak out when their children are accused of acting white when they try to do well in school? How many people dare say what they really think about public display of homosexuality and other perversions in the United States? How many people dare speak up while getting extorted by the likes of Jesse Jackson or the ACLU?
It's not hard to see how the silent Afghan and Iraqi majorities wouldn't speak out on an issue that for them could be a matter of life and death. After all, a majority of Americans fail to speak out under similar oppression in America, even though the stakes for us are much lower.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
The other day a guy by the name of Richard Belzer (he's like really, really famous I think) was on the Bill Maher show, and he went on a diatribe about how it was like a really, really, really big mistake for the United States to come to Iraq, that the war is going like really, really bad, and, to make matters worse, the average US Serviceman or woman is like a 19- or 20-year old kid who has like never been to college, is like dumb, is like in the military only because he can't get another job, and he like never reads a newspaper. And he makes the insinuation that he is in a better position than we--the US Servicepeople in Iraq--to make a judgement on how will the war here is going. I wish to refute Mister Blowenheart.
First of all, my wife does not think I am dumb. That makes me de facto an authority to judge the the dumbness level of my fellow service members, and...envelope please...the winner is....they are not dumb either.
Second of all, I doubt that Mister Blowenheart reads 20 newspapers a day. Oh, never mind. I forgot. He doesn't work, so maybe he does read 20 newspapers a day. I come close to that, because I have my web browser set up to pull RSS (Really Simple Syndication) News Feeds from Yahoo, BBC, Businessweek, EWeek, Ziff-Davis Net, Washington Times, Human Events, New York Times, Tech Republic, Deseret News, Foreign Policy Magazine, LDS.ORG, and KSL Television (That's pretty close to 20 isn't it?) I happen to be in a mission that allows me to read that many RSS feeds per day, but it wasn't always that way. Most service members here are way too busy to read that many newspapers--busy dodging roadside bombs, hunting snipers, building schools, handing out gifts, and getting to know and love most of the Iraqi people. But most do read the Stars and Stripes newspaper at least weekly, and have access to the internet where they can read all the neat stuff in the news that Mister Blowenheart and his fan club are saying about them.
Third and fourth of all, the average age of a service member here is 26--much older than in Vietnam. (But of course, to Mister Blowenheart and his rowdy friends, this is Vietnam II.) Over half of the people in my battalion have at least some post-secondary education under their belts.
Fifth of all, about half the service members currently serving here are from the Army Reserve or National Guard and have significant civilian work experience. It is even rather common that regular full-time service personnel have worked in the private sector and chose to delay their private dreams to serve their country. Mister Blowenheart's current career provides much less benefit to society than either a military service member or just about any other job in the private sector.
So, like, let's take a little poll here: like, who do you think is more qualified to determine how well the war in Iraq is going?
A) like, Mister Blowenheart, or
B) The service member whose average age is 26, who is likely to have been to college and held a civilian job, loves his/her country, and serves among the Iraqi people on a regular basis.
I'd like to hear your comments.
Katie Couric, a woman of indefatigable intelligence ☺, chastised President George W. Bush recently for just recently admitting that we would be in
Even if President Bush hadn’t announced his expectations for our stay here, any truly intelligent person would be able to intuit this. If one looks at history, it’s clear that transition to democracy is never easy. How long has it taken
How long did it take the European states, especially
Time aside, the implication behind Ms. Couric’s allegation is much more troubling. I can come to no other conclusion than that Ms. Couric and people like her are secretly hoping for American failure in
Liberals possess varying levels of disingenuity. But the most heinous form of disingenuousness is represented by those who say “I support the troops, but I do not support the war.” This is usually followed by something like “We need to bring the troops home because too many troops are dying.” The first statement is hogwash, and the second is hypocritical and bordering on treasonous.
I will tell you why there are still US troops dying here. Because of disingenuous Americans who lie about supporting the troops but not the war. Either you support the war, or you support the Iraqi insurgency. It doesn’t matter what you say; it matters what is.
Insurgencies or other terrorist groups have traditionally given way to united enemy fronts. Unfortunately for the American military in
Terrorists can read English. Terrorists can speak English. They read American newspapers. They watch American newscasts. And they know that some of the most outspoken (by no means a majority, however) of Americans want
It would be best if Ms. Couric and her ilk would find a way to set aside their prejudices and truly support all of us in the American military here in
Friday, March 24, 2006
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches that the family--not government, not a church body, nor anything else—is the fundamental unit of society. It is interesting to note how pervasive is the importance of family throughout the world. No pain is as exquisite the world over as the loss of a spouse, a child, or some other member of the immediate family. Serving in the
A friend of mine recently remarked how he had learned that he could trust all but “1 of every 1,000” American servicemen and women to keep their word. “With Iraqis, this number is probably 50%,” he mused sadly. The reason why this is, he said, is because Iraqi mothers and fathers do not teach their children what is right and what is wrong. He may have an overly optimistic estimation of American honesty, but his premise is correct. More Americans can be trusted to keep their word, because they have been taught by their parents the importance of honesty and integrity.
Why the disparity of honesty between the two countries? Is it because Christianity has better teachings than Islam? No. The teachings of Muhammad are in nearly every way as sublime as the teachings of Christ and the prophets. In my opinion, the blame for this disparity lies elsewhere.
The human soul yearns to breathe free. In the absence of liberty, a gloom pervades one’s subconscious telling him that he is not the master of his own fate. This gloom is often so repressed that the individual scarcely recognizes its existence, yet due to this gloom he is constantly prescribing limits to his own freedom, which limits he also seldom notices. This self-limitation is a defense mechanism against the Ministry of Repression (usually the national government), which essentially is that ‘I will limit myself in order to spare myself the ignominy of repression by the Ministry’.
Nearly always, the Ministry of Repression prescribes a new manner of belief. Most members in the repressed society go along with this prescription, because it makes their otherwise unbearable lives more comfortable. Whereas in a free society, there can never be a “law against a man’s belief”, because that will “bring men onto unequal grounds”, in a fear society, the Ministry of Repression maintains its power by prescribing a common belief. Because the Ministry promulgates social belief, the family feels endangered if it steps into this arena. Therefore, only the brave remind their children to be honest in an atmosphere of pervasive dishonesty.
One of the reasons I am glad that
And thus the disparity of honesty will vanish.
 The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Since my change of mission about 3 weeks ago, I’ve learned about 145 new Arabic words from my new Iraqi tutor (and he’s learned almost that many English words from me). One day I was trying to understand a word I had heard, which is takhaluf. My tutor said this is like muta’akhr, which means late. For example, he said ‘Erhabiin muta’akhr. Erhabiin takhaluf.’ The terrorists are late. It took a minute for me to understand why he would say they are late. And then it dawned on me—I said, “In English, maybe this is when we say they are ‘backward’.”
“Bekwerd?” he asked, perplexed.
“Yes, backward.” And then I pantomimed, by walking backwards.
His eyes lit up. “Yes! Yes!! This is a very good word, backward. This is exactly what the terrorists are!!” He pointed to his head, and said “Their minds are takhaluf.”
This time it was my turn to smile. We had made an impressive intellectual connection that had overcome linguistic obstructions.
There are many in
Like the dog in the manger, who does not intend to eat the hay but won’t let the cow eat either, the insurgent offers no constructive plan. Like the crab at the bottom of the pot that pulls back in the pot the crab that would escape, the insurgent seeks only to pull down and destroy.
Takhaluf is bad. Haquud is bad. But they will not prevail. Because haqiiq akwii min al takhalufiya wa haquudiya. (Truth is stronger than backwardness and meanness.)
Friday, March 10, 2006
Summary: Lebanese-American Wafa Sultan recently was interviewed on al Jazeera TV. Among other things she stated during the interview that 'No Jew has ever blown himself up in a German restaurant.' Why have there been no jewish suicide bombers? This blog post answers that question.
In the past several years, try as I might, I have never found a news headline that says something like "Jewish Suicide Bomber Kills 10". Why is that? It is because
- Judaism has no radical sects that believe in revenge killing
- If such a sect existed it would be excoriated by a multitude of Jews
Ms. Sultan discusses (while being branded a heretic by a man also on the program) the sacrifices the Jews made during the holocaust and how they have subsequently contributed to the betterment of mankind through science. Then she says, in essence 'No Jew has ever blown himself up in a German restaurant. No Jew has ever bombed a church. No Jew has ever protested by killing people.'
There are a lot of good Muslims. I have met some of them. But so few of them stand up and excoriate the radical Wahabi Muslims who try to usurp the Islamic faith through their wanton terroristic revenge. Maybe this is through fear, but it causes more and more people throughout the rest of the world to conclude that Islam must not, therefore, be a religion of peace.
I will be dramatically surprised if I ever hear of a Jewish suicide bomber. Sadly, I would at this point be equally surprised if I DON'T hear of an Islamic suicide bomber.
I hope that I never hear of another suicide bomber from any religion. That would be a first!
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Summary: Before being deployed to Iraq, I studied Islam, and determined that Islam and Mormonism have similiarities. After visiting in detail with Muslims, I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot more similarities than I first thought.
A couple of basic teachings of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are:
- The family is the fundamental unit of society
- All people, at some time following their death, are resurrected to live in Heaven (in God's presence if we have lived on earth according to His will)
Prior to my being deployed to Iraq, I knew that early leaders of my church had some very favorable things to say about Muhammad and Islam. My impending deployment, and desire to serve and relate to the Iraqi people, caused me to study more about Islam, and in this process, I found several similarities between the two religions. I list just a few below:
- Both Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden to partake of the forbidden fruit
- The concepts of charity, fasting, justice, and mercy exist in both religions
- Both teach that such men as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus were great prophets
From my study, I came to expect that I would meet many great people here, and that I could learn to love them equally as God's children.
Today, I had a very enlightening conversation with a new friend of mine, an Iraqi Shi'a (whose name I withhold for his protection). We talked about the family unit as well as what life is like after we die.
I explained to him that the body (jism) can be compared to a glove (chfaaf), and the spirit (ruh) can be compared to a hand (eid) that goes in the glove. After we die, the ruh is separated from the jism, much like the eid can be taken out of the chfaaf. The jism is then buried. Sometime later on, the ruh comes back and reunites with the jism and returns to live with Allah if we have been good. After my explanation of this concept, my friend said "Oh, yes, this is exactly what we believe."
So I then asked him what Islam teaches about families after they die, and he explained to me what my church teaches, to wit that families are the most important unit in God's eyes and if we live according to Allah's teachings, we can live together forever as families in Allah's presence.
Wow! The first time I met my new friend, I was prompted strongly to talk with him. This morning I was nearly awestruck when it began to make greater sense to me why my friend and I had become such good friends in such a short amount of time. We are motivated and taught, despite our different religions, by the same spirit, the spirit of God/Allah.
I will dearly miss my friend when I go home in 3 or 4 months, but I have hope that my family (a'ilati) and his family (a'ilatahu) might someday live together forever as families and friends (azdiqaa) in Allah's presence.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Summary: WMDs have been discovered in Iraq. But the media's and the Democrats' vested interest is to have you not believe this. Georges Sada, the 2nd highest ranking officer in Saddam Hussein's air force, explains what happened to most of them. In the absence of understanding that there were WMD's, we are constrained to talk about the wrong issues.
If you come to a fork in the road, neither of the alternatives are valid if previously you took a wrong fork in the road. I would personally be tempted to be frustrated about how much time I had wasted if such an event happened to me. But being frustrated only ensures that I will waste more time.
About 2 years ago I remember reading an article a friend had printed off FoxNews.com about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) having been spirited out of Iraq and hidden in Syria. This made perfect sense as to why nothing large was found in Iraq at the time, yet the US, British, French, German, Russian, Jordanian, and Egyptian intelligence services all agreed that Saddam had substantial WMDs.
But this story seems in retrospect to have been a blip on the radar, never to have given a second thought by any mover or shaker anywhere in the world.
Enter General George Sada, the second highest ranking officer in Saddam's air force, who has just written a new book: Saddam's Secrets: How an Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein. In the book, and in an interview with Larry Elder on WorldNetDaily which begins here (http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49068), General Sada explains where (that is: Syria
For nearly the entirety of America's presence in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom--for what reason I don't know--the dialectic has been based on the following 2 premises:
- Even if there weren't WMDs, Saddam was still an evil dictator who should be removed from office.
- Even if there weren't WMDs, it is still not appropriate to talk negatively about the US presence in Iraq, because this will endanger the lives of US troops.
I do not know who successfully altered and constrained the national conversation in this way, but since that milestone of intellectual prestidigitational legerdemain, the focus has been placed squarely and only on two premises that are clearly unclear, and therefore controversial and debatable, and the subsequent controversy has been used continuously by democrats, Hollywood, and the media to box President Bush about the proverbial ears for the better part of 3 years now.
But now, the dynamic is as it once was. There is a new premise in town, but he looks hauntingly familiar. The Bush administration said there were WMDs, Fox News said they were moved to Syria, and now General Sada explains how they got there.
It kind of makes the two premises, with which we've been blugeoned for the past two or three years, a bit moot, doesn't it? So the next time anyone asks you (1) whether Saddam was a brutal enough dictator to be removed from power, or (2) if American soldiers should continue to have a presence in Iraq, you may answer in good conscience, the following:
(1) Yes, because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which he moved to Syria
(2) Yes, because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which he moved to Syria.
Imagine what would happen--even now--to the insurgency if Harry Reid, Tom Brokaw, George Clooney, and all their self-righteous friends were to admit the truth about the WMDs and we could start over with a clean slate. We need to backtrack up the road a little bit and take the other fork.
If we overlook our potential frustration at having previously taken the wrong fork, we will be able to get back on track more quickly. Imagine the healing that can occur on both sides of the American debate if we will honestly and unashamedly admit and agree that our original justification of going up against Iraq was, is, and has always been valid.