Thursday, September 28, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I have come to a realization that the world is inherently imperfect and flawed, and the best heroes are still ultimately HUMAN. The religious desire to canonize anyone, and to make humans into saints is hence very counterproductive. I think that my grandmother's friend, who saved 1200 Jews in the Holocaust, is a true hero - someone who unfortunately has not been lionized by the history books as he should have been, but a true hero nonetheless. His name (was, he died a decade ago) Zus Bielski, and he will forever live in the history books as a great man. (and I met him!) And yet he killed whole families of Polish Nazi collaborators, as a punishment for their having caused Jewish death. They wanted to make a statement that Jewish blood does not come cheap. The Allied troops also were not wholly innocent flowers, having carpet bombed Dresden, and of course used the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But ultimately, there is no real morality in war. We do what we can to survive. When monsters attack us, if we choose to live, we have to make choices: WHAT are we willing to do in order to live? What steps are we willing to take for our survival? And we have to inherently commit atrocities to stop atrocities. Stealing bread in order to live may seem rather justified to you and I, however, it still is violating someone's property right...
In the spectrum of good and evil, there are extremes on both sides, but ultimately, is anyone really truly good or truly evil?
The Polish government evidently does not think so. They are conducting an investigation into the Bielski Brothers, into their actions against Polish peasants. I think the evidence is in and the Bielski Brothers (who are all dead, save for Aron Bell, the youngest brother, who was 11 years old when this all happened), simply did what they had to do to survive and protect the hundreds of Jews they saved.
But, I ask you dear readers...how far should one go to save another's life? And are the truly great men the ones who can overcome their internal dissension, and do what is necessary to accomplish great things?
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Read the whole thing!
For a variety of reasons, allowing 15,000 young (mostly male?) Saudi students into the United States is a bad idea — and these reasons have nothing to do with the hysterical and irrational fear present in the reaction to the Dubai port deal, when an internationalized company from a much more open society sought to oversee American ship facilities.
First, the verdict is out on whether experience with, and even long residence in, the United States (or for that matter, in Europe either) mitigates or enhances Islamic extremism. Considering the profile of the 9/11 hijackers and the Hamas suicide bombers, the number of Iranian mullahs and Hezbollah who have family members in the United States, and the recent public demonstrations in Michigan on behalf of Hezbollah, it is by no means clear that resentment is not the more common reaction for those who are relatively educated, not poor, and have some exposure to America.
That is, for many traditional Muslims, the openness, candor, and occasional randiness of American society create conflicting passions. Hand-in-glove with a visitor’s curiosity and desire to dress, talk, and read freely seems to arise a commensurate disdain for what is often termed “Western decadence.”
And even more disturbing, such conflicting passions of desire and shame at that desire, when coupled with an apologetic academic culture — steeped in multiculturalism and ready to offer America’s foreign critics ample ammunition for their displeasure — often result in a strange sort of irrational anger.
For some 20 years I taught a number of foreign students from the Middle East in the United States, and sometimes noticed a disturbing tendency. Over their four- or five-year tenure, many exhibited a predictable evolution in their thoughts about their newfound freedoms — especially as the time for graduation and for reckoning with a return home approached.
Initial exuberance at America’s openness often was followed with deep uncertainty whether our rejection of traditional repression was healthy — especially in the permissive campus landscape of risqué female fashion, open homosexuality, easy mixing of the races and religions, atheism, sexual promiscuity, and drug use.
We are not usually talking about the transition from a cosmopolitan Beirut to a somewhat comparable Salt Lake City, but from the most repressive conditions in the Arab world to the most liberal in the West — from the eighth-century code of behavior of Saudi Arabia to the 22nd or 23rd century postmodern world at a Berkeley or a Madison.
Often coupled with such abhorrence at our license is awe at America’s wealth and technology. From that volatile mixture a predictable confusion often emerges: Why is America so much richer and stronger than the Arab world, when it is clearly more decadent and godless?
This questioning is often answered by a variety of conspiratorial exegeses, laced with pop history and mythology that are the products of the media, mosques, and madrassas back home. Surely colonialism, or Israel, or the CIA, or American-backed dictators, or secret agreements, or oil companies best explain the current mess in Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, or Amman, those cities that were once the proud towers of the ancient caliphate.
But there is also a second reason to be concerned about these incoming students, one that likewise involves innate human nature, and especially the American sense of self. During the Cold War, we were not at war with the people of Eastern Europe, but we still did not readily admit into the United States very many students from Albania, Bulgaria, or Poland. It wasn’t just that we worried whether some were informants or worse, but also that, in such an ideological struggle, it was important to remind the masses in those countries of the wages of their repressive governments.
In the current war, such thinking would translate into something like the following: The popularity of bin Laden in the Arab Street, the continual hatred expressed for America and Jews in the state-controlled Middle East media, and the constant bombings and killings of Westerners by Muslims that are as often rationalized as condemned by Arab voices — all this surely must have consequences, if only to show that Americans sometimes are as unpredictably emotional as we are usually coldly rational.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
"It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims... We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder civilians, explode buses; we cannot accept them as related to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds. These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image. We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women."Powerful stuff. I fear for his life, for having published it. Go read the rest! Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan. I am hust hoping this is the start of something big. Muslims owe it to themselves and the future of the world to TAKE BACK their religion.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
A porn star dancing in a private club that won't charge soldiers to get in is far from an "entertaining the troops" scenario... this is simply a bad PR story meant to exploit headlines to get some attention. that said, I would gladly go entertain Hezbollah bears... one at a time, or sometimes, two or even three...My response was this:
qarab: Even as a joke, that was disgusting, and implies you support Hizballah. But whatever! I agree that certainly the war in Lebanon had nothing to do with gay rights in Lebanon, but I see no reason why it's wrong to highlight the extreme intolerance of Hizballah towards gay people. (in contradistinction towards Israel's policies)This resulted in the following exchange, and brought Peter to write on this board where his 'thoughtful commentary' is right here. The exchange: a frustrated queer arab said... Regardless of Hizbullah's stance on gays, why bring up gay rights at all when it clearly has nothing to do with anything? There is a very clear point being made, one that is not innocent, is loaded with ideology, and that Israel uses consistently. Unfortunately, human rights and democracy have become vaccuous tools in the hands of the powerful. Israel, which sells itself as a haven of tolerance amidst a sea of backwardness, uses its more enlightened treatment of (Israeli) gays as proof that it is more civilized than the Arabs and hence more deserving of international support. In effect, what it is doing is it is claiming that some rights are more important than others (they want points for being gay friendly, but that comes at the expense of their brutal oppression of the Palestinians, which to them is unimportant. That same strategy is being used by saying Hizbullah's war is against Israeli gays). The increasingly superficial and silly and self-absorbed gay citizenry of the world that can't see beyond its own gayness is unfortunately but unsurprisingly falling for it hook, line and sinker. With an attention span of about 5 seconds for anything non-gay related, these strategies of deflection from the real issues work like a charm. September 09, 2006 3:50 PM Red Tulips said... Puh-lease. "Oppressed" Palestinians my tuchus. I have very little sympathy for a people who claim to be "oppressed" and yet brutally oppress minorities within their own community, while the world community is silent. I am sick to death of these double standards. And let's not even mention the fact that the Israelis are restrained as all hell in their treatment of the Palestinians, and no other country in the world is held to the standards of the Israelis. The Palestinians get tons of sympathy for an illegitimate cause. On the other hand, the plight of gay Muslims is a very real and substantial cause that does need to get the attention it deserves. September 11, 2006 8:26 PM Peter said... I'm amused to see that Red Tulips relies on the anti-Palestinian (and anti-gay) WorldNetDaily as a reliable authority. Never mind that that Christian Palestinians have repeatedly debunked the claim of persecution. September 11, 2006 11:01 PM Peter said... I should add that I also find it incredibly cynical for Red Tulips to use Israel's record on LGBT issues to justify Israel's denial of basic human and political rights to Palestinians. As if civil rights for lgbt people in one place excuses oppression and war crimes in another place. Palestinians gays and lesbians not only suffer from the Israeli occupation just like all other Palestinians,they also suffer from Israel's blackmailing of gay Palestinians into becoming colloborators. And there is no doubt that the intolerable conditions Palestinians live under have strengthened reactionary groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. September 11, 2006 11:29 PM Red Tulips said... Peter: You are funny when you speak of how "oppressed" the Palestinians are. Please. Don't make me laugh. The leader of the 'Palestinians' (most of whom really are not even natives, but in fact recently moved to Israel at the same time the Jews moved to Israel) brought upon the 'degradation' of the Palestinians themselves. Look at the $3 billion that Arafat (himself a native of Egypt) left his French wifey, Suha. This was money meant for the Palestinian people. Look at how his uncle, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, led the slaughter of tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. The Palestinians never had to pay for their part in the Holocaust, not really. Their media perpetuates a genocidal death cult, and the Palestinians treat their women and gays rather poorly. (to put it mildly) Hamas, in its charter, quotes from the Protocols of Zion (a document upon which Mein Kampf was based), and is dedicated to Israel's destruction. This is the government that leads the Palestinians. Are some Palestinians decent? Sure. I feel some sympathy for them. But as a whole, the Palestinians are false victims. They destablized Lebanon and Jordan, and have been kicked out of most nations in the world, because no one wants them for two reasons: a) they are destabilizers of governments; b) it's better to use the Palestinian issue as a "wedge issue." I am sick of it. The Palestinian cause is a phony cause and a false effort to be concerned about. On the other hand, gay rights in general, and specifically for Muslims, is a very real issue that deserves attention. People like Al-Fil are to be treasured and praised for bringing attention to issues that otherwise would be ignored. I will have sympathy for the Palestinian people when they earn my sympathy. They have yet to do so. Meanwhile, there is a genocide in Darfur and no one gives even half a crap. Why? It's black people killing black people. If this involved Americans or Israelis, and a mere .5% of those who died in Darfur were killed, the world would be singing a different tune. I am sick of this hypocrisy. Far from deserving attention, the Palestinian 'cause' deflects attention from far more pressing matters. September 12, 2006 12:58 AM Anonymous said... I hope you choke on Andrew Sullivan's dick, you lying right-wing Zionist fuckface. September 13, 2006 2:30 AM ------------------- WOW! I feel so enlightened now! That anonymous guy, he really got me! That's it, now I am changing my tune! I am a Jihadist now! You know, the powers of his reasoning are just too strong for me! I give up! I concede! Sorry, bloggers, but I have Patty Hearsted myself! Anon's powers of persuasion were just too strong for my weak intellect. (I am a woman, after all) He's a man and hence too smart for me. Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! //Riiiiiiiiight...
September 12, 2006 -- WELL, here it is, five years late, but here just the same: an apology from an Arab-American for 9/11. No, I didn't help organize the killers or contribute in any way to their terrible cause. However, I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing. The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it. Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large. Yes, our extremists and our culture. Every single 9/11 hijacker was Arab and a Muslim. The apologists (including President Bush) tried to reassure us that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam, but was a twisting of a great and noble religion. With all due respect, read the Koran, Mr. President. There's enough there for someone of extreme tendencies to find their way to a global jihad. There's also enough there for someone of a different mindset to find a path to enlightenment and peace. Still, Rushdie had it right back in 2001: This does have to do with Islam. A Christian who bombs an abortion clinic in the name of God is still a Christian, at least in his interpretation, and saying otherwise doesn't negate the fact that he has spent a goodly amount of time figuring out his version of the one true and right thing to do. The men who killed 3,000 of our citizens on 9/11 in all likelihood died saying prayers to Allah, and that by itself is one of the most horrific things to me about that day.(Non) existent god bless this man. He said what needed to be said. THIS is a true "moderate Muslim." I hope he and his family remains safe! EDIT: I want to also give love to other Muslims who have expressed unequivocal contempt for jihadists and their ilk. Let me give a shout out to Sandmonkey, Big Pharoah, Zeyad, Charles Malik, Leilouta, Vox, Iraq the Model, Mechanical Crowds, Ammar, and others. You are small in number at the moment, but I am hoping for a brighter tomorrow.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Hi Red Tulips, This is Manuel Chea. Funny how I find your blog and comments on the panel discussion that I was part of. You mentioned that my morality tale on Jews not helping as bordering anti-semite. Yet you failed to mention that I only paraphrased the well known parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus on that tale (and he was teaching a Jewish crowd) did say that a Priest and a teacher of the law did not stop and help a man who was robbed and left for dead. Subsequently a Samaritan did come and help and save the man's life. The point of that tale was that someone of a different ethnic and religious tradition displayed what Jesus was teaching about "loving your neighbor as yourself" and wasn't a criticism of Jews. What he was teaching here was that we must consider the concept of "neighbor" that our neighbhors are not only people of our own ethnicity, or our own faiths, or nationalities. The concept of "neighbor" as Jesus taught meant that we must love people of all kinds of ethnicities, faiths, nationalities, gender, etc. If my paraphrasing of the parable gave you the impression of "borderline anti-semitism" then I must apologize. Don't forget that I tried to extrapolate the concept to the present time by pointing out in general that I heard of cases of individual Israelis helping an injured Palestinian and vice-versa. That is as I explained were real life examples of loving your neighbor as yourself. As for my comments about Muslims Americans, I did not say I felt sorry for them but that I felt sorry for any backlash against them as a result of 9/11. I have no qualms with you saying that they should also speak out against extremism and hatred. Yes they should. Your question was a very good one and I'm not going to top Fred Margulies's answer which was superb. But I will say that to me tolerance does not extend to those who commit acts of hate and so Mr. Margulies is correct in saying that he does not tolerate intolerance. We cannot change them and I agree with Mr. Margulies in saying that we should work to stop the spread of hatred. I talked about forgiveness but that also is in the context of letting go of my own sense of anger, bitterness, and desire for retribution. Unfortunately, the time given to the panel to speak was short and so I wasn't able to elaborate further. I did also say that forgiveness of someone like Bin Laden does not mean that I do not seek justice. Forgiving Bin Laden does not mean that I absolve him for what he's done. He must answer for his crimes and suffer the consequences. I would certainly agree with you that "those bastards must be brought to justice." Once again, the time alloted just wasn't enough for all of us to elaborate and I have to pick and choose what to focus on. So I chose to focus on loving and accepting one another regardless of our differences, and to spread this concept one person and one heart at a time. As a Christian, certainly I used Jesus to highlight this concept and nothing more. Thanks for your comments in this blog. For me it is feedback and I do wish we talked afterwards. I think you would have realized that our views are really not as dissimilar as you might think.Thank you, Mr. Chea. I appreciate beyond words your post, and I am honored you stopped by. Regards, Red Tulips