Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scrutinizing Islam is taboo for intellectuals

And it's sheer bigotry: To feed their hatred of their own society, "They reflexively regard those from the Third World as virtuous and those from the West as steeped in blame, shame and guilt"

Cliff May

The controversy over plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan has taken an odd twist. On one side are those making arguments in opposition to the project, along with those who merely have questions they would like answered so they can decide for themselves whether this project will honor the victims of 9/11 – or mock them. On the other side are those who support the project wholeheartedly and who respond to both arguments and questions by saying: Shut up.

Most prominent among the second group is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It would be one thing if Hizzoner were saying: “I hear your concerns and I have questions, too, but municipal laws and the First Amendment permit this project to go forward.” But he is not saying that. He is saying instead that those with misgivings about the 13-story Islamic center that is to rise near where the Twin Towers collapsed “ought to be ashamed of themselves. … It is a shame that we even have to talk about this."

Last week on CNN, I debated the issue with Peter Beinart, former editor of The New Republic. As soon as we were off the air he called me – at a high decibel level -- a “bigot.” I suggested it might be more persuasive were he to frame an argument for me to consider. Echoing Bloomberg, he replied that I should be “ashamed of myself.”

To Peter’s credit, he later apologized for “losing his cool.” But when I sent him some thoughts on the controversy by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer, he emailed back that I should “please stop” because he was “appalled.”

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol describes such responses as stemming from the “self-deluding pieties and self-destructive dogmas that are held onto, at once smugly and desperately, by today’s liberal elites.” Ironically, it is a liberal intellectual historian, Paul Berman, who has thought hardest about this phenomenon. In his latest book, “The Flight of the Intellectuals,” he ponders why so many academics and journalists refuse to grapple seriously or honestly with Islam and Islamism.

By the way: Moderate Muslim intellectuals have not put their critical faculties on hold. I asked Akbar Ahmed, a professor at American University and the author, most recently, of "Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam,” his perspective on the controversy. “Muslim leaders need to understand,” he said, “that 9/11 remains an open wound for Americans. And it is wrong to rub salt into an open wound.”

Both by disposition and training, journalists and intellectuals are supposed to be inquisitive. Yet Beinart -- who continues to write for prestige publications – and Bloomberg -- whose name adorns a great journalistic institution -- have made it clear that they do not want to know whether the $100 million needed for the “Muslim facility” (that’s the term that Oz Sultan, a consultant to the project, used when describing it to me) will come from individuals who also support terrorism and the ideologies that drive terrorism.

This week, Newsweek editor and CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria returned an award given to him five years ago by the Anti-Defamation League in protest of the ADL’s opposition to the project. Zakaria called the ADL’s decision “bizarre” and a form of “bigotry.” I’ll wager that Zarkaria has spent not one hour investigating those behind this project, their finances and their motives. I know: It’s so retro of me to expect elite reporters to report.

Or even to read much. It’s hardly a secret that some mosques in America, Europe and the Middle East are centers of extremism. As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has chronicled, the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center and mosque in Falls Church, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., has provided a pulpit for several radical imams, including Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda terrorist now hiding out in Yemen. Among those Awlaki is said to have inspired: Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas, Fort Hood massacre suspect Nidal Hassan and at least two of the 9/11 hijackers.

Terrorists who would go on to take part in the 9/11 attacks also made their base at the King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles. As Nina Shea noted, “the mosque’s imam, Fahad al Thumairy, a former Saudi diplomat, was finally expelled by the U.S. in 2003 for suspected terror connections.”

The Al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn is where Omar Abdel Rahman, the Blind Sheik, delivered sermons. Andy McCarthy eventually sent him to prison in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

And just this week, as my colleague Ben Weinthal reported, German authorities banned the Masjid Taiba mosque of Hamburg. It had been a launching pad for the 9/11 terror attacks and “had long served as a hotbed for training jihadists and stoking anti-Western ideology.”

Why wouldn’t Zakaria – before slapping the ADL in the face – at least invite the key organizers of the Ground Zero project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, on his TV show and ask them about all this? Why it is that hardly anyone in the mainstream media has yet to ask them any uncomfortable questions?

In his Newsweek column, Zakaria asserts that Rauf “is a moderate Muslim clergyman. He has said one or two things about American foreign policy that strike me as overly critical — but it’s stuff you could read on The Huffington Post any day.”

Among Rauf’s Huffingtonian statements: that American policy was “an accessory to the crime” of 9/11 and that Osama bin Laden was “made in America.”

Rauf will not say whether he views Hamas – which intentionally slaughters civilians, has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, and advocates the extermination of both Israelis and Jews – as a terrorist organization.

He explains his reticence by saying that “the issue of terrorism is a very complex question.” No, actually, it’s quite simple: Whatever your grievances, you do not express them by murdering other people’s children. Not accepting that proposition does not make you a terrorist. But it disqualifies you as an anti-terrorist and identifies you as an anti-anti-terrorist.

A thought experiment: I am grieved by Saudi policies, for example Saudi religious discrimination, oppression of women and persecution of homosexuals. If I were to express these grievances by blowing up a Saudi kindergarten, do you think Imam Feisal would say (1) the Saudi Royal family must share responsibility for the carnage, and (2) whether or not I had committed an act of terrorism is a “very complex question”?

Rauf also has ties to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), organizations created by the Muslim Brotherhood and named by the U.S. Justice Department as unindicted co-conspirators in a terrorism-financing case.

A note on the Muslim Brotherhood: It is not a college fraternity. Its founder, Hasan al-Banna, famously said: "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet." In 1991, the Muslim Brotherhood’s American leadership prepared an internal memorandum describing its mission as a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.

For Zakaria, Beinart, Bloomberg and so many other members of the intellectual elite, it’s as though such information were either too trivial to bother with, or so personal that no gentleman would mention it in polite company.

Of course, that can’t be the real explanation. So what is? Paul Berman concludes that multiculturalism and moral relativism, doctrines devoutly embraced by the intellectual classes, render “everything the equal of everything else.” As a consequence, some very smart people have “lost the ability to make the most elementary distinctions.” Except one: They reflexively regard those from the Third World as virtuous and those from the West as steeped in blame, shame and guilt.

So if Imam Feisal says he’s a moderate, he must be a moderate. Why read his books or inquire into what he preaches in his mosque or with whom he associates on his frequent trips to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and other exotic locales? Would we ask such questions of a Baptist minister building a church near Ground Zero?

That the terrorists responsible for the atrocities of 9/11 – and more than 1,500 other acts of terrorism since – proudly proclaim that they act in the name of Islam is irrelevant! Anyone who says that Rauf’s project is “confrontational” or “in bad taste” or disrespectful of non-Muslims – to borrow a few descriptions from Raheel Raza, board member of the Muslim Canadian Congress – is intolerant and a bigot and an Islamophobe! Shame on her! She is appalling! End of discussion.


Study links religion with happy marriage

Says black couples more likely to pray together in home

African-American couples are more likely than members of other groups to share core religious beliefs and pray together in the home — factors that have been linked to greater happiness in marriages and relationships, according to a study released Tuesday.

In what was described as the first major look at relationship quality and religion across racial and ethnic lines, researchers reported a significant link overall between relationship satisfaction and religious factors for whites, Hispanics, and African-Americans.

The study appears in the August issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

True to the old aphorism, couples that pray together stay together, said study coauthor W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, based at University of Virginia, and “African-American couples are more likely to have a shared spiritual identity as a couple.’’

The study found that 40 percent of blacks in marriages and live-in relationships attended religious services regularly and had a partner who did the same, compared with 29 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 29 percent of Hispanics.

White couples, in general, reported greater relationship satisfaction than other groups, presumably because of income and education differences, the study said. But the racial gap lessens when religious similarities come into the mix.

“What this study suggests is that religion is one of the key factors narrowing the racial divide in relationship quality in the United States,’’ Wilcox said.

The strongest difference-maker for couples was spiritual activities such as praying or reading the Bible. “Praying together as a couple is something that is very intimate for people who are religious,’’ Wilcox said. “It adds another level of closeness to a relationship.’’

The findings bear out what the Rev. James Terrell, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Northwest Washington, D.C., has observed among his parishioners. “People seem to do better when they think there is a spiritual aspect to their marriage,’’ Terrell said. That includes services and praying, but also “seeking the Lord in terms of resolving problems and differences,’’ he said. “Without a doubt, it helps to keep a marriage together.’’

Still, the study showed religion did not have positive effects for all. When one partner attends services regularly and the other one does not, relationship satisfaction is lower. Two nonreligious partners are more content, the study found.

“When couples do things together — whether it’s bird-watching, playing tennis, or attending church — they tend to do better,’’ Wilcox said. “When they don’t share these activities — particularly when they are important — couples are more likely to suffer.’’

The results are based on a new analysis of a 2006 nationwide survey of 1,387 adults aged 18 to 59. Nearly 90 percent were married, and the remainder were cohabiting.


Convicts as a Protected Class?

Federal Agency Thinks Background Checks Can Discriminate Against Blacks, Hispanics

Attorneys at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission believe new technology that makes it easier for employers to check the criminal and credit histories of applicants is also makes it harder for blacks and Hispanics to find jobs. Members of the Project 21 black leadership network fault this position, noting that it unjustly interferes with the ability of employers to build a trusted and coherent workforce.

"Background and credit checks are legitimate hiring and recruitment tools," said Project 21 member Horace Cooper, a former visiting assistant professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law. "There is no federal law making a refusal to hire convicted felons a crime, and felon status is not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Especially in the midst of a recession, suits like these -- which charge racial discrimination -- falsely serve to only make hiring decisions unnecessarily harder and lessen the impact of real allegations of racism."

Adrienne Hudson filed a lawsuit against First Transit after she was fired from a bus driver position with the company. She alleges her firing was due to her prior conviction for welfare fraud, and that First Transit discriminates against blacks and Hispanics when it does background checks because these minority groups have higher rates of arrest and convictions than whites. First Transit representatives would not comment.

The AP reports the EEOC believes background checks can have a disparate impact on blacks and Hispanics, and quotes EEOC assistant legal counsel Carol Miaskoff saying "the problem is snowballing because of the technology" that is making it easier to do such checks.

Last fall, the EEOC filed a class-action lawsuit against the Freeman Companies event-planning company that claimed the company's background checks discriminated against blacks, Hispanics and men.

"Once again, the liberal legal theory of 'disparate impact' is trotted out. This time, it is by the bean-counters at EEOC. They are now arguing that if an employer conducts background checks on employees they are, in effect, discriminating against black and Latino applicants. But shouldn't employers have the right to set standards for those they seek to employ and reject those who have criminal records?" said Project 21 member Joe Hicks, host of "The Hicks File" at

"Americans strongly believe in the concept of redemption, but there must be consequences for illegal behavior. To claim otherwise suggests that employers should ignore employment standards and simply hire people based on some ideological concept of 'social justice.'

The notion that criminal background checks disadvantage blacks and Latinos is based in the reality that blacks are 38 percent of the prison population but only 12 percent of the general population. This shouldn't be used as an argument for eliminating employment standards, but a reason to understand and combat the dysfunction and violent criminality that's an all-too-real part of poor black urban life."


Bean-Counters and Baloney

Thomas Sowell

The bean-counters have struck again-- this time in the sports pages. Two New York Times sport writers have discovered that baseball coaches from minority groups are found more often coaching at first base than at third base. Moreover, third-base coaches become managers more often than first-base coaches.

This may seem to be just another passing piece of silliness. But it is part of a more general bean-counting mentality that turns statistical differences into grievances. The time is long overdue to throw this race card out of the deck and start seeing it for the gross fallacy that it is.

At the heart of such statistics is the implicit assumption that different races, sexes and other subdivisions of the human species would be proportionately represented in institutions, occupations and income brackets if there was not something strange or sinister going on.

Although this notion has been repeated by all sorts of people, from local loudmouths on the street to the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States, there is not one speck of evidence behind it and a mountain of evidence against it.

Ask the bean-counters where in this wide world have different groups been proportionally represented. They can't tell you. In other words, something that nobody can demonstrate is taken as a norm, and any deviation from that norm is somebody's fault!

Anyone who has watched football over the years has probably seen at least a hundred black players score touchdowns-- and not one black player kick the extra point. Is this because of some twisted racist who doesn't mind black players scoring touchdowns but hates to see them kicking the extra points?

At our leading engineering schools-- M.I.T., CalTech, etc.-- whites are under-represented and Asians over-represented. Is this anti-white racism or pro-Asian racism? Or are different groups just different?

As for baseball, I have long noticed that there are more blacks playing centerfield than third-base. Since the same people hire centerfielders and third-basemen, it is hard to argue that racism explains the difference.

No one says it is racism that explains why blacks are over-represented and whites under-represented in basketball. Bean-counters only make a fuss when there is a disparity that fits their vision or their agenda.

Years ago, a study was made of the ethnic make-up of military forces in countries around the world. Nowhere was the ethnic make-up of the military the same as the ethnic make-up of the population, or even close to the same.

Nearly half the pilots in the Malaysia's air force were from the Chinese minority, rather than the Malay majority. In Nigeria, most of the officers were from the southern tribes and most of the enlisted men were from the northern tribes. Similar disparities have been common among various groups in many places.

In countries around the world, all sorts of groups differ from each other in all sorts of ways, from rates of alcoholism to infant mortality, education and virtually everything that can be measured, as well as in some things that cannot be quantified. If black and white Americans were the same, they would be the only two groups on this planet who are the same.

One of the things that got us started on heavy-handed government regulation of the housing market were statistics showing that blacks were turned down for mortgage loans more often than whites. The bean-counters in the media went ballistic. It had to be racism, to hear them tell it.

What they didn't tell you was that whites were turned down more often than Asians. What they also didn't tell you was that black-owned banks also turned down blacks more often than whites. Nor did they tell you that credit scores differed from group to group. Instead, the media, the politicians and the regulators grabbed some statistics and ran with them.

The bean-counters are everywhere, pushing the idea that differences show injustices committed by society. As long as we keep buying it, they will keep selling it-- and the polarization they create will sell this country down the river.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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