Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Hillary’s Uphill Fight Against Sexual Violence

22.08.2009 (11:11 am) – Filed under: Africa,Islam,Justice ::

image Hillary Clinton has arguably done more to combat sexual violence in Africa in her short time as Secretary of State than the entire U.N. has in the last decade.  Mrs. Clinton had this to say about visiting the Congo and witnessing the aftermath of the brutality of life there:

While I was in the DRC, I had very frank discussions about sexual violence with President Kabila. I stressed that the perpetrators of these crimes, no matter who they are, must be prosecuted and punished. This is particularly important when they are in positions of authority, including members of the Congolese military, who have been allowed to commit these crimes with impunity.

There are lessons that people in the U.S. and the rest of the civilized world can learn simply from reading this single paragraph.  We do not have to visit Africa and see the mauled and maimed women first-hand to realize that, whatever our differences politically, we really have a minimal number of problems to deal with in our lives and that it is our general adherence to the rule of law, with all of its compulsions and flaws, that creates the sense – and more than that, the reality – of security most westerners enjoy day in and day out.  Yet even here freedom and safety is not universal.  I’ll discuss below the latest court case regarding the practice of Islamic honor killings.

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Abdul-Latif Moussa, Gaza’s David Koresh?

14.08.2009 (5:47 pm) – Filed under: Islam,Middle East,Terrorism ::

image Abdul-Latif Moussa leads an Islamic terrorist group called Jund Ansar Allah that as of now is literally fighting for its survival in the Gaza Strip.  But their opponent isn’t the Israeli Defense Forces as one might expect; rather, Moussa’s group is holed up in a mosque surrounded by hundreds of armed members of Hamas.  At least 10 members of the group, whose unlikely name means Army of the Helpers of God, have been killed already with dozens more still inside. 

Details are sketchy.  However, Moussa’s group is antagonistic toward Hamas because they feel that the latter are not radical enough in their opposition to Israel and the west.  That’s saying something, obviously.

Moussa may have brought the attack on his people by declaring Gaza an “Islamic emirate” and denying Hamas’ leadership of the region.  In doing so he has put his own people’s lives in harms way and risks going out in flames, the Gaza Strip’s very own David Koresh, he of Texas’ Branch Davidian infamy.

In typical terrorist leader fashion, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya resisted any stray impulses he might have had along the lines of taking the high road by blaming the radical Muslim group’s actions on Israel, saying:

“These declarations [of an Islamic emirate] are aimed towards incitement against the Gaza Strip and an attempt at recruiting an international alliance against the Gaza Strip.

“And we warn those who are behind these Israeli Zionist declarations: the Gaza Strip only contains its people.”

Incredible.  Hamas has virtually no credibility on the international stage as it is and for good reason.  As Haniya’s refusal to acknowledge reality and call out Moussa for what he is demonstrates, Hamas has no intention of dealing honestly and above boards with the civilized world.

Christians Murdered in Pakistan Over Koran Rumor (Updated Again)

03.08.2009 (7:26 pm) – Filed under: Islam,Terrorism ::

image At least 6 Christians – all but one women and children – have been killed in Gojra, Pakistan by a rampaging mob of Muslims. The reason? It was rumored that a Koran was damaged in a Christian wedding held in the town.

Not surprisingly, officials said the rumors which led to the murders and torching of homes were false.

I say not surprisingly because – and this may come across as overly blunt, for which I apologize – I don’t think that many Christians would bother vandalizing a Koran. I say this not because they respect the book or because they are afraid of the all-too-typical, too-violent Muslim reaction, but because they simply don’t consider it worth the effort. I could be wrong, of course, but that’s certainly how virtually all American Christians see the matter. I’m always suspicious of these so-called desecrations for that reason.

However, that’s not where I want to go with this article. The real issues are the reactionary, mindless, hateful violence that always seems to follow rumors about damage done to this Koran or the other and the seeming inability of young male Muslims to restrain themselves from participating in such pogroms of death.

(I know I’ve been over this before. Skip to the next article if you’ve been through it with me before, because evidently I must say it again.)

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Obama Addresses the Muslim World

06.06.2009 (10:36 pm) – Filed under: Islam,Middle East,Politics ::

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Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world was one worth making.  He made some important points and made them more firmly than I had hoped he would.  True, the president could have done more to clarify our country’s intention to hold to its own values, regardless of public opinion among foreign Muslims, but then he would have been George W. Bush, wouldn’t he?

The only true false note in the speech was, as Peter Daou noted, was Mr. Obama’s malignant little ode to the hijab, a symbol – perhaps the symbol – of male Muslims’ repression of women. 

I’ve often written here about honor killings of Muslim women who dared reach inside themselves and find the temerity to try to live as they pleased, only to be beaten, strangled, raped, stabbed, and burned at the hands of the very men who should have protected them and instead allowed a slavish, legalistic observance of Islam to direct them to grotesque forms of violence against their loved ones.  That the President of the United States would say, in front of the entire world – with a straight face, mind – that the hijab is a woman’s to wear or not is, frankly, a betrayal of the truth.  The right is theirs, certainly, but it is a right yet to be realized, even in the United States where it should be guaranteed without question and all people who come here, Muslim men included, need to acknowledge that’s how we do things here.

Otherwise the speech was on one hand an expression of a pragmatic president who recognizes that the world is far from an ideal place and that it’s necessary to deal with – or at least pretend to deal with – people who have no business ruling nations or controlling weapons of mass destruction.  On the other, Mr. Obama was woefully short of details and overlooked the fact that his most interesting ideas for moving the American-Muslim relationship forward will be rejected out of hand by people like Hamas, al Qaeda, and Mahmud Ahmadinejad, puppet master of the Iranian Ayatollahs.

“Progress must be shared,” Obama said.  But sharing requires a willing recipient, among other things.  Americans are more than willing to share everything we have with the world; however, the Muslim world is defined by its rejection of much of what we have to offer.

Thankfully, one thing it will not be easy for Muslims to reject is Mr. Obama’s blunt acknowledgment of the horrors of the German Holocaust against the Jewish people.  Deniers abound in Islamic countries but Obama shone a light on the dark lies such people spread and for that, if little else, Israel should be grateful.

It is inevitable that Israel cede territory to create a Palestinian state.  Like the abortion issue in America, it is simply a matter of time before a compromise is reached.  Could be years or decades, but it will happen.  Why delay? was Mr. Obama’s question, one for which the only answer is a lack of willingness to put aside past grievances – not a reason at all.

Similarly, there is no reason for America not to meet with Iran to discuss world (and nuclear) affairs.  Some believe that doing so would be a loss of face and a show of weakness.  The reality is otherwise.  Meeting is not the same as appeasing.  Indeed, such talks could be an opportunity to deliver a message.

It is true that people long for a voice in the governing of their own affairs.  On the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, nothing could be more obvious or more fundamental.  Even in Iran that longing runs strong, though the sort of government Iranians might elect if given free and fair elections instead of the sham they indulge in now might not be to the liking of the west.  All people deserve a government of their own choosing.  If they choose oppression, so be it.

To my ears Mr. Obama’s remedies for a stultified culture were rushed and insufficiently thought out.  High-minded talk of religious freedom means little to a Christian bound and gagged in a Turkish bookstore, just as money dedicated to the education of young Muslim girls will yield few tangible results so long as they fear for their lives and faces should they attend school.  Similarly, the notion that the Internet will bring information and intellectual freedom to countries like Iran is naive as long as firewalls and censors with guns line the borders of Muslim countries.

This isn’t to say that Mr. Obama didn’t present good ideas.  He did.  Unfortunately, few if any of them will be realized during his time in office, even if he wins a second term, as seems likely.  That’s true regardless of how many compromises we’re willing to make and how much money we’re willing to spend, because there are too many Ahmadinejads who just aren’t buying what Obama is selling.  Hopefully he recognizes that unfortunate fact.

Obama on America, Islam, and Progress

03.06.2009 (6:04 am) – Filed under: Education,Islam,Politics ::

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In Cairo, Barack Obama said something that’s both singularly offensive and utterly fallacious when he stated that “one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” 

Taking the inaccuracy first, estimates vary but there are believed to be 7-8 million Muslim Americans, placing the U.S. in around 30th position worldwide – hardly among the leaders.

Moreover, Obama’s statement is also a slap in the face to American Christians, coming as it does from the leader of a political party whose platform is hostile to the religious beliefs of the vast majority of citizens.  Where was this Crusade-worthy rhetoric during the campaign?  Carefully hidden away, obviously, though perhaps it burned on the lips of the now-invisible Joe Biden on occasion. 

But let’s not make too much of this; it’s obvious that Mr. Obama was merely trying to ingratiate himself to the Muslim audience as he makes the rounds in the Middle East.  Moreover, the U.S. does, as mentioned, have a somewhat sizable Muslim population, albeit one without significant political power at the moment.

More important is what Obama, in language perhaps too subtle to be heard by Islamic terrorists in the region, had to say later:

“I think the most important thing I want to tell young people is that, regardless of your faith, those who build as opposed to those who destroy I think leave a lasting legacy, not only for themselves but also for their nations,” Mr. Obama said. “And the impulse towards destruction as opposed to how can we study science and mathematics and restore the incredible scientific and knowledge — the output that came about during centuries of Islamic culture.”

I want to make two points about this statement that I think are significant. 

First, it is certainly true that, at times, great progress was made in the Islamic world.  Unfortunately that progress effectively ceased centuries ago.  Too many Muslims are trapped in countries and cultures that deliberately restrict their access to education, information, and freedom of choice.  And too many of its young people are channeled into a bloody, ill-advised, low-level war against western culture. 

It’s exactly this terrorism that Obama refers to as an impulse toward destruction, although I would argue that young terrorists are guided toward their murderous acts rather than acting on impulse.

What Obama is trying to communicate is that in order for Islam to be a stable and legitimate contributor to world culture its new generation has to accept that the current leaders’ violent tactics and repressive legalism has to be eliminated.  While it’s a long shot taken early in an ongoing process, it is perhaps worth allowing the president a few meaningless rhetorical deviations from our national reality in his attempt to better a troubled region of the world.

Second, it’s interesting to note that the the left’s own intellectual tactics are not unlike those practices by Islamic leaders in their efforts to quell education and freedom of thought and speech.

It is increasingly important for those who care to get ahead, particularly in the realms of politics, public service, and higher education, to adhere to a standard of political correctness that at times requires a denial of the truth and always requires the repression of certain inconvenient facts.

These demands for compliance in thought and deed are typically enforced with so-called “soft consequences” such as denial of opportunity, censure, termination of employment, and others rather than the imprisonment, torture, and execution of social and political dissidents in other parts of the world, notably in many Islamic countries. 

Nevertheless, the hypocrisy of the American left is undoubtedly not lost on Muslim leaders, some of whom correctly think that the U.S. can be brow-beaten into further compromise with Islam by a combination of continued terrorism around the world and the demands our system of politically correctness, demands that deny us the ability to reject ill-advised and anti-American ideas.

Third, the American education system should never, repeat never, be held up as a model for any nation or culture to aim for as its pinnacle of achievement.  Our system is flawed in so many fundamental ways that it is virtually unfixable given the pervasive changes that are needed to bring it to a par with the rest of the western world and the implacable hatred political stakeholders have for the needed improvements.

That’s why McKinsey & Company said, in its report “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools”:

“Several other facts paint a worrisome picture. First, the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers.”

Walter Williams:

In 2006, U.S. students ranked 25th of 30 advanced nations in math and 24th in science.

The longer kids are in school and the more money we spend on them, the further behind they get.

That’s the end result of a broken system, one whose faults can largely be traced back to a finite set of leftist principles that have infested our nations schools and created an environment in which real learning is essentially impossible for most students.

While our system of education is undoubtedly better than what’s in place in Egypt and many other Muslim nations, there are many others that such countries would be better off modeling any future reforms after.

In sum, an average American education would be a wonderful boon to most children in Cairo.  Unfortunately, the message of enlightenment that Barack Obama hopes to convey to Muslims in the Middle East is diminished by our imperfect adherence to the principles of freedom of speech and individual rights that the U.S. pioneered.  In addition, our failure to implement pragmatic public policy that achieves the desired results in education and other areas makes Obama’s message about scientific and cultural progress less than convincing.

Perhaps this would be an opportune moment to consider the plank in our own eye in addition to others’.

Aunt Murders Toddler; Islam Insulted by Booking Photo

11.04.2009 (11:49 am) – Filed under: Crime,Islam,Political Correctness ::

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In Chicago, Nour Hadid was arrested for beating her 2-year-old niece to death over a period of 4 days using “a wooden spoon, a stick and shoes” in retaliation after her husband accused Nour of stealing from him. 

Hadid has confessed to the crime but the little girl’s death doesn’t seem to be what’s important to her husband, Alaeddin Hadid:

Alaeddin Hadid – who insists his wife is innocent – said Orland Park police are “really going to be in big trouble” for releasing the woman’s booking photo to the news media after she was charged with first-degree murder.

The Hadids are Muslims and Nour “never leaves the home without covering up,” said Alaeddin, who’s vowed to sue.

By custom, some practicing Muslim women wear the hijab, or headscarf, and cover their arms and legs when in public.

In the mug shot, a bare-headed and obviously emotional Nour appears to be protecting her modesty with her hands.

“It is against our religion; we do not do this in our culture,” Alaeddin said.

Sue, by all means.  With a little luck the Hadids will run into a jury with the courage to remind him that that he’s not living in his culture any longer and murderers are in fact booked and photographed according to standard police procedures in this country – regardless of where the killer hailed from.

If the photo is an “insult against our religion” as Hadid claims then he would do well to remember that some insults are deserved, never more so than in the case of a cold-blooded child killer.

As this case comes on the heels of Washoe County School District settling $400K on a Muslim student as a result of an alleged bullying incident involving her religion, it is an ideal opportunity for Chicago law enforcement officials to stick to standard operating procedure and demonstrate that the law and its consequences apply equally to every person in the land, regardless of class, creed, or religion.

To be fair, it would have been ideal for police to have given Mrs. Nour a t-shirt or whatnot for the photo.  Then again, it would have been better still for the woman not to have beaten a defenseless child to death.

Denmark’s ex-Leader to Kowtow to Islamofacists

05.04.2009 (8:29 pm) – Filed under: Free Speech,Islam,World ::

Michael van der Gailen reports that Denmark’s just-resigned Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen will publicly apologize to the Islamic world because Danish newspapers printed what have become known as the infamous Mohammed cartoons.

If true, the reports are the latest in a long string of unfortunate moral failures on the part of European leaders in dealing with the rising tide of Islamic radicalism. 

Rasmussen has heretofore refused to cave in to pressure from Muslim fundamentalists and was widely celebrated as a hero by those to whom the right of free speech is important.  This set him apart among European leaders as the one man able and willing to refuse to appease militant Muslims at every turn.

No longer, it seems.  The reason?  Rasmussen’s personal ambition.  van der Galien reports that the former prime minister resigned his national position to accept the post of NATO Secretary-General and had to submit to Turkey’s demands for an apology before his appointment could be cleared:

If true, it’s a major blow to the freedom of speech the prime minister said he held so dear. Rasmussen should have stuck to his guns and defended Western principles. This is not about whether one agrees with him on every single subject, nor about whether or not one is a fan of his (country’s) policy towards Turkey. It’s about the freedom of newspapers to publish whatever cartoon they want, no matter how controversial they may be in some quarters.

Before today Rasmussen’s taking the S-G job at NATO could have been viewed as a positive step.  Now his entire legacy as a defender of western democratic principles is in doubt. 

What price ambition, Mr. Prime Minister?  No mere job is worth the compromise Rasmussen seems poised to make with his enemies.

What It Takes to Fight Terrorism

14.03.2009 (7:21 am) – Filed under: England,Islam,Terrorism ::

At the Telegraph, Con Coughlin lays out what’s wrong with Britain’s effort to fight Islamic terrorism to-date, saying:

No one can claim that we in Britain don’t understand the nature of the threat we face. In recent months, there has been a succession of reports highlighting the increasingly pernicious influence British Islamists are having on the Nato-led campaign to bring stability to Afghanistan.

After senior officers confirmed last year that British Muslims were fighting with the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, it was revealed that RAF Nimrod surveillance planes monitoring Taliban radio stations were surprised to hear insurgents speaking in strong Yorkshire or Midlands accents.

Surprised is probably the wrong word to use in that sentence given the murderous 7/7 bombing British Muslims carried out in London nearly 4 years ago.  Dismayed might be closer, for it reveals the true nature of Britain’s – and all of Europe’s – Muslim problem: It is at once internal and foreign.

Britain, Coughlin goes on to say, has been soft on Islamic extremists in a vain attempt to smooth the ruffled feathers of Muslims at home, some of whom have provided materials used in roadside bombs in Afghanistan, harassed British soldiers returning from the war theater, and rioted in the streets of London, among other misdeeds.  The government’s response has been weak at best, as demonstrated in the case of Binyam Mohamed, about which Coughlin wrote:

When the former Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed claimed that British intelligence officials were complicit in his torture, the main focus of the controversy was the alleged collusion of ministers, rather than precisely what Mr Mohamed was doing in Afghanistan.

Indeed, that is the pertinent question, yet it did not seem to get asked, possibly for fear of offending Muslim activists in Britain itself.  There are two legitimate reasons for westerners to be in Afghanistan at this moment: military and journalism.  Mohamed was and is neither.  So why was he there?  Three guesses and we don’t need the last two, do we?

Ultimately, these fears must be overcome and faced if the country is to carry on as Great Britain.  The only other available option leads inevitably toward what Melanie Philips might call the Londinistanization of the country that was the leading force in western civilization.

Coughlin:

The worldwide campaign against Islamist-inspired militancy is highly complex. But if the West to wants to prevent further terror attacks, we must first distinguish between those who are on our side, and those who are not.

As uncomfortable as it makes some of us, the fact is that there are sides to be chosen and judgments to be made.  It’s imperative that this fundamental fact be acknowledged at all levels of all nations, not specifically as a call to war but rather as the overt realization that this is the way things are.

A Sade Looke Upone Mightye Englande’s Falle

18.02.2009 (11:23 am) – Filed under: England,Humor,Islam ::

Iowawawk’s Chaucer-esque recounting of Great Britain’s fatal affair with accommodation and appeasement is, sadly, both hilarious and true.  It starts a bit slow, but give it a chance!

Quotes To Remember

17.02.2009 (4:32 pm) – Filed under: Islam,Liberalism ::

Mark Tapson:

As for Islamophobia, an “irrational fear of Islam” does not even exist; it is a trumped-up charge designed to bully us into silence and deflect criticism from the Islamists as they go about plotting terrorism and trying to shoehorn sharia law into our culture.  A perfectly rational concern about the demonstrable threat of Islamic extremism does exist, however; that’s what Geert Wilders’ film expresses, and that’s what the Western media must be willing to throw a spotlight on.

Rod Dreher:

We can’t have it all. If, for example, courts constitutionalized same-sex marriage, as gay activists seek, that would have a ground-shaking effect on religious liberty, public schooling and other aspects of American life. Without question, it would intensify the culture war, as partisans of the left and right fight for what each considers a sacred principle.

What irritates conservatives is the liberals’ groundless conceit that they fight from a values-neutral position, while the right seeks to impose its norms on others. Nonsense. Marriage was a settled issue until liberals began using courts to impose their moral vision on (so far) an unwilling majority. Who fired the first shot there?