Archive for November, 2009

Veterans’ Day — Thoughts While Sitting on the Shoulders of Giants

November 18, 2009

“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”

Metalogicon, John of Salisbury, 1159

The shoulders of giants — Arlington National Cemetery — Wikipedia


Veterans Day had come and gone. I had been waiting about six hours to find out whether a relative of mine would be admitted to the VA hospital, or sent home. I was her ride, and feeling sorry for myself, like a hostage in the waiting room in government health care hell, moving from one row of vinyl-covered straight chairs to another, when not forking over dollars to the Starbucks kiosk or a vending machine for the caffeine that keeps me conscious.

I talked on my cell phone to my wife, for the umpteenth time, as she handled the unpleasant family situation we were immersed in to our necks.

A series of squeals came from down the long hallway, to my right, loud enough my wife could hear them over the phone.

The preponderant age in this VA hospital is probably in the 60s, so the voice of a child is not common. This was a toddler, running ahead of her slightly-embarrassed, twenty-something mother, who was trying to corral her without making more of a scene in the process.

I wondered what brought people from this young demographic to a VA hospital. Visiting the toddler’s granddad, or even great-grandfather? Then I saw the wheelchair.

Rolling along at a stately pace, about ten feet behind mother and child, in a humming electric wheelchair, was more likely the reason for the visit.

Dad — not the mother’s dad, but the toddler’s, I was sure — trailed this parade up the hall.

He was not more than twenty-five, although the scar tissue made a better estimate difficult. The stumps of his legs projected ahead of the chair, and were covered up to the cut cuffs of his sweat pants with scarring that looked like the remains of extremely severe burns.

He guided his chair with his right hand, or what remained of it, and his left arm hung as if it did not have enough strength to be of much use. His scalp was bare, except for the scarring, which seemed to have taken away his eyebrows and most of his left ear. I thought, “There’s what an IED survivor looks like.”

His eyes were clear, though, and his head upright. His face didn’t show any particular indication of the pain — physical and mental — that is probably with him every hour of his life.  In fact, when I saw that upright bearing, despite the wheelchair, I thought, “Marine.”

I am not a Marine; in fact, I have never been in any branch of the service. However, I have noticed a posture, a certain stance, a quiet dignity that seems to accompany most Marines, in or out of uniform; in or out of active service. I have no idea whether this young man was a Marine or not. Just a feeling. I don’t know that he was an IED survivor, but there are thousands, by now.

Members of the other branches of service can also be seen with this self-contained demeanor that bespeaks  greater age and experience than the calendar would — or should — allow. They also carry their scars, visible and otherwise.

This demeanor says, “I have seen the worst the world has to offer. You hold no fear for me.”

I had the impulse to speak to this wheelchair pilot, but he seemed to be intent on navigating along behind what I am sure was his family. I was unwilling to violate that silent dignity, any more than I would presume to carry on a conversation with a member of an honor guard carrying the flag at a funeral.

He rolled on by, and I told my wife I would explain later the childish noises she was hearing over my phone. This short, late, but momentous Veterans Day parade came to the end of the hallway on my left, and turned the corner.

The child’s excited speech, and the wheelchair’s electric whine faded away.

My memory of that moment will not.

Happy Veterans Day. Happy Marine Corps Birthday.

I remember that I sit on your shoulders. We all do.

I thank you, and I thank God for you. I wish you well, and I cannot forget what you have done for me.

The Fort Hood Killer — Another Misunderstander of Islam?

November 7, 2009

Before we contemplate the “misunderstanding” that allegedly drove allegedly Muslim Major Nidal Malik Hasam to — allegedly — kill or injure more than 40 people, let us contemplate the real misunderstanding, in the media and government. It must be misunderstanding that keeps these people from figuring out what any sane person can see plainly, with no help from “experts” and apologists.

Islam is not just a religion. It’s a political ideology, like Communism or Nazism, and like those ideologies, it has a blueprint for conquering the world. If Major Hasam, as widely reported by witnesses, shouted, “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is great!) as he fired at his fellow soldiers, he was only following the tenets of that ideology.

Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Atta, al Qaeda, Hamas, the PLO, Iran, Hizbullah, et cetera ad nauseum, are just following this blueprint, as well. To understand that the Major appears to have been following it does not require  religious prejudice or rabid xenophobia. All it takes is a look at the facts.

If you want a crash course in Islam, without the political correctness and multiculturalist smog that permeate the media and government propaganda, go to Robert Spencer’s site, Jihad Watch.

Get comfortable, and read the section under the “Islam 101” link.

If you’re not quite ready for this exercise, read on a bit, and head to Jihad Watch later.

The motivation of the alleged Fort Hood murderer can be found in the following words:

009.029
YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

What’s this? Some Christian hate speech, fabricated to sully the “Religion of Peace,” as Dubyah used to call Islam?

Nope. Sorry! It’s from the Koran, the central authoritative text of Islam, allegedly dictated to an Arab allegedly named Mohammed by the Archangel Gabriel.

Is this quoted from some corrupted, altered, evilly-manipulated Koran text found on some Islamophobic Website produced by the vast, Judeo-Christian Conspiracy? Sorry, again! I pasted this directly from the Web pages of the University of Southern California’s (named with apparently accidental irony) “Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement.”

Discerning critics may note that this verse, the 29th of the 9th Surah, is presented in English. Well, I don’t speak or read Arabic, but then, neither do most believers of Islam. Most Muslims live not on the Arabian Peninsula, but in the Asian Pacific, Africa, South Asia and elsewhere.

Wasn’t it thoughtful, then, of three Islamic scholars, Yusufali, Pickthal and Shakir, to produce what they considered to be authoritative translations of the Koran from millennium-old Arabic to relatively modern English?

There are minor differences in the exact words chosen by each to render classical Arabic to English, but one certainly notices the common thread (“fight”) among the versions of 9:29 above, doesn’t one? Are these three guys Islamophobes? Certainly not. They are accepted by Islamic scholars as authoritative. Who are we to doubt them?

Of course, we could debate the “real” meaning of the word, “fight,” which is consistent among the translations.

Is it used in the sense in which John McCain was asking conservatives to “fight” for him in his emasculated 2008 presidential campaign?

Is it used in the way cheerleaders shout, at sporting events: “Fight, team, fight!”?

Well, only if the cheerleaders want their team to kill the other team. I know there are people who take their sports seriously, but I doubt the prevalent desire in any cheer squad, even in Alabama college football, is to exhort their team to kill, as in violently end the lives of, the other team.

If we want to assume that Islam means what it says, and says what it means, we should see what it says a bit earlier in the 9th Surah, verse 5, as below:

009.005
YUSUFALI: But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
PICKTHAL: Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
SHAKIR: So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

“[F]ight…” “slay…” “beleaguer…” “lie in wait…” “ambush…” Does anybody out there think the Koran is telling Muslims to smack our unbelieving knuckles with a ruler? To take away our Internet privileges? When modern-day terrorists quote the Koran in support of their actions, are they showing us their lack of understanding of Islam? Are they “hijacking” the Religion of Peace”? If we can’t believe the stated motives of the people who want to kill us because we are not Muslims, what are we to believe?

Well, we are told by the multicultural elite that the Koran is much more complex than it appears to be, and that we infidels are not qualified to interpret “fight,” “slay,” or “ambush” to mean what they seem to mean: “fight,” “slay,” or “ambush.” The Koran is just a part of Islam’s operating system, and you have to take into account other authorities, or you are just another misunderstander of Islam — like the terrorists.

You also have to understand the “Sunnah,” the “way of the prophet.” The Sunnah is the collection of writings apart from the Koran that describe the way Mohammed lived his life. He is the model man, if you are a Muslim. If Mohammed did it, it’s OK. If Mohammed didn’t like it, it’s forbidden.

There is this bunch of writings, the Hadiths, that are alleged to be contemporary accounts of Mohammed’s behavior, and transcriptions of his words of wisdom, which tell us how Mohammed acted, and what he thought, said and believed. An authoritative collection of these charming anecdotes is Sahih al-Bukari. This collection, like the Koran, has been translated to English by Islamic scholars who are regarded as the experts on those translations.

So, let’s have an infidel-eyeball at a Hadith or two, for an idea of what sort of model man Mohammed was. If Major Hasan wanted to emulate the model man, how would he act? Look at the way Mohammed treated some enemies of his, who had converted to Islam but changed their minds:

Volume 8, Book 82, Number 796:

Narrated Anas:

A group of people from ‘Ukl (tribe) came to the Prophet and they were living with the people of As-Suffa, but they became ill as the climate of Medina did not suit them, so they said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Provide us with milk.” The Prophet said, I see no other way for you than to use the camels of Allah’s Apostle.” So they went and drank the milk and urine of the camels, (as medicine) and became healthy and fat. Then they killed the shepherd and took the camels away. When a help-seeker came to Allah’s Apostle, he sent some men in their pursuit, and they were captured and brought before mid day. The Prophet ordered for some iron pieces to be made red hot, and their eyes were branded with them and their hands and feet were cut off and were not cauterized. Then they were put at a place called Al-Harra, and when they asked for water to drink they were not given till they died. (Abu Qilaba said, “Those people committed theft and murder and fought against Allah and His Apostle.”)

Hmmm. Well, it does seem that there is some propensity for hostility — even to the extent of violence — in the model man toward those unpleasant, thieving infidels. (Also, parenthetically, there is the unorthodox use of camel urine as medicine, which may be a hint as to the way “public option” health care is headed.)

In any case, for Muslims, the behavior of the model man is right, trumping any other standard of morality. Period. Did Major Nidal Malik Hasam do no less than follow this example? He couldn’t command hordes of troops, but he could kill some infidels, so he allegedly did.

Okay, maybe this “hadith” is just an isolated citation, taken out of context, mistranslated, seized upon by Christian terrorists to smear Islam – and fatally misunderstood by Major Hasam. Surely, there are no other such events in the history of Islam. Oh, wait:

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 24:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a [sic] that, then they save their lives an[d – sic] property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.”

The model man seems a bit intolerant of infidels, if I’m not reading too much into this passage. And this applies not just to camel rustlers, but to all unbelievers in Islam.

Well, maybe this bit of “Islamic Manifest Destiny’ was intended by the model man to be limited to the ancient, Arab world, and not the world as we now know it. After the alleged prophet Muhammad died, Islam cut way back on its ambitions to rule the Earth, right?

Uh, no.

First the Arabs, and then the Turks, extended the grip of Islam by force and conquest, following the example of the model man. A series of “caliphs,” absolute rulers of the Muslim empire, extended the domination of the lands by Islam to the gates of Paris and Vienna, spilling untold oceans of blood, and destroying the treasures and cultures of the lands they conquered.

If Major Hasam did what he is said to have done, he was doing nothing but following in the millennium-old footsteps of the model man. Visit Robert Spencer’s site, Jihad Watch, daily, to read about the latest depredations of those who follow the model man.

If the media and government can’t get past their own blindness and stupidity to the truth about Islam, at least you can.