Wednesday, March 28, 2012

cultural jihad!

White lies     Each semester I remind my students about the imortance of reading and taking notes on their text, Light One Candle. The majority, without much coaxing, complete that assignment. Always, there is a segment who think they can get away with faking it. For them, that may seem to work until their final.

For that exam, on a separate sheet of paper, is a question about honesty. I ask, “Who taught you about the importance of telling the truth? Is that important to you? Will you teach the same lesson to your children?”

I encourage them to give me details, to make their answers clear. And they do. Instead of sentences, they write paragraphs. When finished, I take those pages, then hand them the next. It reads, “Did you read your text, Light One Candle? If not, please explain why you didn’t.”

For those who claim to be truth lovers yet didn’t read Light One Candle, they come face to face with their own integrity---or lack of it. Most come clean, admit that they haven’t done their work, knowing, as I’ve carefully explained all semester, that their final grade would suffer. Indeed, as they’d been told from the onset of the semester, they will have graded themselves.

What they’ve learned, I hope, is that deception doesn’t pay. Good grades depend, instead, on honest hard work.

Chances are that they’ll recall terms I used when discussing Islamic imperialism, taqiyyah and kitman. Both are useful tools in the promotion of the ultimate goal of jihad, the conversion of the world of the infidel, the dhimmi or kaffir who live in Dar el harb, to that of the faithful, Muslims, who live in Dar el Islam. Because it is comprised of all who are non-believers (most especially, people of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians), Dar el Harb is the world of war.

Ultimately, jihad is carried out to perfect the world by transforming all of Dar el Harb into Dar el Islam. Whatever must be said or done to make that happen, because it is for the good of spreading Islam, is acceptable and justifiable. Indeed, using deception is but one way to make the world completely Islamic, a world ruled by shari’a in which no laws contradict the Koran.

To that end, what’s done in the name of Islam for the sake of Allah is entirely acceptable because deception was practiced by Mohammad, the perfect role model for all Muslims. If he practiced dissimulation against non-believers, that meant that non-believers got what they deserved, lies (taqiyyah) and kitman (half truths). Shamelessly done, such practices were believed to be legitimate, not requiring apology when exposed simply because their perfect role model’s example was being followed. And besides, what was being done was being done to lesser beings, non-believers, second class people who, the reasoning goes, would eventually benefit by being shone the light of Islamic belief.

Hence, the likes of Edward Said, famous for denouncing colonialists (and their authors) as Orientalists who had trampled on the cultural sensitivities of the (Islamic) countries they colonized, never admitted his cultural jihad. Still touted by the academic left as a ranking literary critic of Orientalism (his definition is below), Said deftly criticizes the “West” for its bias
“... despite or beyond any corrsespondence, or lack thereof, with a ‘real’ Orient.”

Sparking disdain for western literary arrogance, Said’s criticism puts westerners on the defensive. However, what he’s done is to redirect our attention from a much more insidious cultural attack by Islam on any of the countries it has invaded. Even at Emory University (please see: Orientalism - Emory University---English Department "Where ... Edward Said's evaluation and critique of the set of beliefs known as Orientalism forms an important background for postcolonial studies., there’s little mention of such things as the reason for such a short list of women authors in Islamic countries.

Nor is there mention of such works as Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books or its author Azar Nafisi; it doesn’t fit the curriculum.

Related, in that it’s a similar slight, are historical texts that condemn American slavery, that fail to mention Muslim slavers who operated 1000 years before America and one hundred years after emancipation. Please reference this from von Bismarck:
Reichstagsakten 1888/89, 7. Lp., Vol. 121, Attachment 41: Collection of Documents pertaining the Uprising in East Africa, No. 28: Directive to the Imperial ambassador in London
Friedrichsruh, October 28th 1888
It is to be desired that our agreement with England on fighting the slave trade and the import of weapons to East Africa will have the shape of an international agreement. Such a document would establish limits for the expansion of the continued expansion of the Muslim and slave trading movement, by the moral impression by the accord of the two European powers so far engaged there, and also, more propably, will lead to the cooperation of the other European states engaged. I propose the exchange of notifications between us and Britain, in which we take upon ourselves the obligation, under the condition (p.412) on an equal participation of Britain for the same purpose, to fight the anti-Christian and anti-civilizatoric movement which has emerged over the last years on the African continent, and to recognize the prohibition of the export of slaves and the import of arms and ammunition as the most effective means, as it is only the possession of superior arms and ammunitions which enables the Arab and Muslim minority to undertake slave hunts and wars necessary to obtain slaves, and to keep up the superiority of their race in Africa's interior. [my emphasis]

White lies that comprise taqiyyah compound themselves into a thick cosmetic that blends to normal the real visage of cultural jihad.

            B.Koplen  3/28/12

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[From Orientalism, New York: Vintage, 1979.]
Unlike the Americans, the French and British--less so the Germans, Russians, Spanish, Portugese, Italians, and Swiss--have had a long tradition of what I shall be calling Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient's special place in European Western Experience. The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe's greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other. In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience. Yet none of this Orient is merely imaginative. The Orient is an integral part of European material civilization and culture. Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles. . . .
It will be clear to the reader...that by Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, in my opinion, interdependent. The most readily accepted designation for Orientalism is an academic one, and indeed the label still serves in a number of academic institutions. Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient--and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist--either in its specific or its general aspects, is an Orientalist, and what he or she says or does is Orientalism. . . .
Related to this academic tradition, whose fortunes, transmigrations, specializations, and transmissions are in part the subject of this study, is a more general meaning for Orientalism. Orientalism is a style of thought based upon ontological and epistemological distinction made between "the Orient" and (most of the time) "the Occident." Thus a very large mass of writers, among who are poet, novelists, philosophers, political theorists, economists, and imperial administrators, have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, "mind," destiny, and so on. . . . the phenomenon of Orientalism as I study it here deals principally, not with a correspondence between Orientalism and Orient, but with the internal consistency of Orientalism and its ideas about the Orient . . despite or beyond any corrsespondence, or lack thereof, with a "real" Orient. (1-3,5)   (Edward Said's Orientalism: a Brief Definition

and this, regarding taqiyya and kitman:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

further proof...

Three teachers      “How many of you had no answer?”

Most of my students raised their hands. I had asked them to write anything they knew about Toulouse, France.

Most were shocked as I told them about the Muslim murderer, the Jewish children and adults in toulouse whose lives he had ended while shouting “Allahu akhbar!” What I didn’t know then was that the killer had videotaped himself shooting eight year old Myriam Monsenego, and had uploaded the video.

It’s hard to say that I would have been more incensed had I known. While telling them, I was both livid and full of grief due to yet another Islamic atrocity.

Although a few students wanted to know why there was such hatred for Jews among very strict (radical?) Muslims, I wanted to answer them with a list of Koranic suras and verses that encouraged hatred and animosity. But not a list I had prepared.

What I found was one published by Dr. Sami Alrabaa, a former Muslim and sociology professor who has taught at Kuwait University, King Saud University, and Michigan State University. From his aricle in The New Media Journal, Islam is a “Tolerant” Religion: Kill the Infidels,  ( The New Media Journal | Islam is a “Tolerant” Religion - Cached), I copied the suras he mentioned:

Literally, the Koran says the following about the Jews, Christians, and other "unbelievers:”

"O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” (Sura 5, verse 51).

"And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!” (Sura 9, verse 30).

"And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah's guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper.” (Sura 2, verse 120).

"And kill them (the unbelievers) wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.” (Sura 2, verse 191).

"Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.” (Sura 3, verse 28).

"And guard yourselves against the fire which has been prepared for the unbelievers.” (Sura 3, verse 131)

"And when you journey in the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten the prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve will cause you distress, surely the unbelievers are your open enemy.” (Sura 4, verse 101).

"O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).” (Sura 9, verse 123).

"Surely We have prepared for the unbelievers chains and shackles and a burning fire.” (Sura 76, verse 4).

"O you who believe! if you obey a party from among those who have been given the Book (The Jews and Christians), they will turn you back as unbelievers after you have believed.” (Sura 3, verse 100).

"And their taking usury (interests on money) though indeed they were forbidden it and their devouring the property of people falsely, and We have prepared for the unbelievers from among them a painful chastisement.” (Sura 4. verse 161).

"Surely Allah has cursed the unbelievers (Jews, Christians and followers of other faiths) and has prepared for them a burning fire.” (Sura 33, verse 64).

"And whoever does not believe in Allah and His Apostle, then surely We have prepared burning fire for the unbelievers.” (Sura 48, verse 13).

A wrenching verification of this list came from despiccable (to me) source. As reported about a French intelligence officer in The Times of India article,  Facing flak, France says gunman a lone wolf with no Qaida links:

...The head of France's DCRI domestic intelligence agency, Bernard Squarcini, said, "As per statements Merah made during the siege, he self-radicalized in prison, on his own, reading the Quran," he said. "He said, everything is in the Quran. So, he was not a member of a network."

If not a “network,” perhaps a loose confederacy. One of its members might have been the teacher featured in a Jerusalem Post ( article, 'French teacher asked minute's silence for Merah', 03/23/2012. The article begins, “French education minister calls for English teacher's suspension after she called Toulouse killer a ‘victim’."

Upon hearing that most students walked out the 56 year old teacher’s class. A few remained to learn more about what he was saying.

Now that they know about Toulouse, I’m sure that my students, had they been in that class, would have jeered.

    B. Koplen      3/24/12
about yet another teacher who needs to be watched:

Islam on Campus: University of California
by Sami Alrabaa June 16, 2009 at 5:30 am

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

A most remarkable reunion...

Family, found!   Last night, I made a toast to cousins, lost and found. Unoriginal as that may sound, those words touched almost all of the twenty of us at our very long table. What was clear to us was that we were thankful for all who were there, yet saddened by the many who weren’t. In other words, it was a reunion typical to Jews who could trace their lineage to eastern Europe prior to World Wars One and Two.

Many came with pictures, faded photos that were taken in the old country. That side of our family lived in a county in what was known as Slovakia, that part of the Austria-Hungary empire that bordered Poland. Jews comprised more than 25% of the population there; they lived in mostly peasant communities known as shtetls, much like the one seen in Fiddler On The Roof. Simple people, most were harmless.

A few who understood the danger of pogroms against Jews and who were uncertain about their future under communism, left or were sent to America. Many hoped to bring others with them once they established themselves there. They were young and hopeful and fearless.

“My grandfather Morris was one of thirteen children,” Steve began. “Including him, only four of them, teenagers, sailed on steamers to America.”

We listened intently as Steve spoke of his family and its ties to ours. Until a few weeks ago, many of us didn’t realize there was a missing branch of us, a close side of the family none of us had ever met. Steve, an attorney who, at about seventy, will soon retire from his Philadelphia firm, introduced Harold to us, his bald and jovial brother.

“I have five children,” he began. We listened as he described the members of his family; some of them, to our surprise, live only a few hours from Danville.

Earlier, I had spoken to Steve and ‘Hal’ about our shared relatives. Our great-grandmothers were sisters. “I knew only about two,” I told them, “Lena and Pauline.” At my store, I showed them a picture of Pauline, a woman whose image they embraced for the first time.

“Here’s a picture of our great-grandmother, with our great-grandfather. We know his name, but not hers!” said Steve.

That astounded me. Not only had our family suddenly ‘grown’ by a third, but this mystery had a similarly long history too. “My Aunt Mildred probably knows your great-grandmother’s name,” I suggested.

Both Steve and Hal seemed delighted and surprised. At dinner that night, my father’s sister, my Aunt Mildred, did indeed reveal Steve and Hal’s great-grandmother’s name, Rohlya, and her place of birth. There were many other brothers and sisters listed on the genealogical sheet Aunt Mildred had brought. “Don’t you have one of these?” she asked me.

I wanted to say that someone may have given me a copy years ago, but it may not have mattered as much then as it did after meeting Steve and Hal. Suddenly I wanted to read everything on the pages my Aunt had brought. I wanted to extend the joy I was feeling to my children and, ultimately, to theirs.

And I wanted to grieve and memorialize, finally, those who had perished in the Holocaust. For so many years, I had wondered, had hoped that all of our family had escaped.

Hal had remarked, “We have so much to be thankful for. None of us would be here were it not for those brave teenagers who left everything and everyone they knew to come here.” Indeed, the ones who stayed behind were probably exterminated.

Despite that daunting thought, I did not weep last night. By my side was my younger daughter, Mary Brett, buoyant proof that our family, like Steve’s and Hal’s and my cousins’, Ronnie, Linda, Keith, and Paul’s, would continue.

Still, I now felt I had reason to go and explore that region my great-grandmother once called home. Probably, I will try to find a piece of soil she may have walked on. Chances are that I will clutch handfuls of the ground they have become a part of, will touch them and their histories with my tears.

My guess is that Steve and Hal may want to do the same.

                                                   B. Koplen 3/15/12

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Women I am honored to know...

Unsung Heroines      Examples of courageous deeds reflect humanity at its best. Too often such incidents are unseen or untold, thus unshared. What follows are stories about three brave women whose actions deserve notice, although they, the heroines, will remain unidentified. Forgive me for that, for not making them known for the stars I see them as being.

Mrs. A. has a way of mixing discipline and love that has caused me to marvel at her children and grandchildren. Quiet and humble, she would never stand out in a crowd, would never want to. Still, I sense there is a glow that surrounds her; her embrace is like a shield against all that may be harmful.

Recently, she related one of her most difficult decisions. Although she had recounted the experience in writing, I imagined the lines in her face, the expression in her eyes as I read her message. “Even my husband accuses me...” she states.

Her crime? Responding to a niece’s call for help when the niece’s father sexually molested her. That father, if he deserves that important title, is now in prison, in large part due to Mrs. A. She writes that despite feeling emotionally scarred by the incident, “I still think I did the right thing. And I’d do it again.”

Mrs. B. had her two little children with her on a beach, one of many times she had done that. But this time she noticed something that startled her, something she, as a caring parent, couldn’t watch without responding. She noticed another woman with two young children (she guessed their ages were two and five) on a beach blanket about twenty feet from hers.

The younger child, a little girl, had been so fussy that the woman spanked her. Mrs. B described it this way: “She started yanking the young girl, twisting her wrist, pulling her helpless body along the blanket, as the child cried in pain. I was shocked.” Watching this, Mrs. B. reported, the five year old boy seemed to become “quiet and numb” as if he’d suffered similar treatment.

Mrs. B. responded. “I was furious. I couldn’t sit still any longer. I ran to their blanket and told that mother that she should not yank her child that way, that if she was stressed, she needed to find a better way to deal with her daughter’s fussiness.”

Hearing that, the five year old declared, "That's not my mother, that's my babysitter!"  Mrs. B. wrote, “I was heartbroken. “

She asked the woman for her name. In an accented voice, the caretaker told Mrs. B. to “mind her own business” because “she did not hurt the girl, did nothing wrong.” That didn’t sit well with Mrs. B. She asked the five year old for the name of his parents.

 He told her despite the sitter’s instruction that he keep quiet. Then the sitter took them away. Mrs. B. followed, copied the license of the car, then went to the police. After two days, Mrs.B. found that the police had been able to contact the parents because the mother of the children called Mrs. B.

“She was unbelievably grateful on the phone, thanking me over and over for making the effort to do more than just watch.  She told me when she heard what I had told the police, she cried. She had sensed something was awry.  She also said she felt guilty and angry that [due to working full time] she couldn’t always be there to protect her children...”

According to Mrs. B., the appreciative mother immediately fired the nanny.

Ms. C. seems a natural leader, even tempered, yet possessed of an emotional clarity that empowers those who seek her help.

One such person admitted being a cutter, a condition Ms. C., guided only by a desire to help, knew little about. The following article from Psychology Today exlains the cutting disorder:

A Cry for Help
Incidents of self-harm continue to grow among young women. Though not necessarily a prelude to suicide, it is indicative of depression or anxiety.
By Hara Estroff Marano, published on March 01, 2004 - last reviewed on February 16, 2011

Sudden epidemic or gradual increase over the years? Either way, self-mutilation is a huge and growing problem that "has now reached critical mass and grabs our attention," says Russ Federman, Ph.D., director of counseling and psychological services at the University of Virginia.

Nearly 70 percent of counseling center directors report increases in cases of self-injury such as deliberate cutting or cigarette burning of body tissue. "It's now on all our radar screens," Federman notes. "It gets talked about with deans."

Self-harm is not a diagnostic category, so its exact incidence is unknown. But women are twice as likely to do it as men. And it typically accompanies a range of conditions—borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, anxiety and depression. It most commonly occurs, however, in antisocial personality disorder, accounting for a high rate of self-harm in prisons.
It's highly disturbing for a student to walk into her dorm and find her roommate cutting her thighs or arms with shards of glass. Further, self-injury always mobilizes a crisis response; suicidal intent must be ruled out.

Self-harm is a serious symptom, says Federman. "But it isn't about taking one's life. It freaks others out. But rarely does cutting constitute imminent danger to the self. There's not usually suicidal ideation."
Self-mutilation is "the opposite of suicide," insists Armando Favazza, M.D., professor and vice chairman of psychiatry at the University of Missouri, author of Bodies Under Siege: Self-Mutilation in Psychiatry and Culture and a leading authority on the subject. "Those who do it want to live. They do it to feel better. It's an impulsive act done to regulate mood."

It is an extremely effective treatment for anxiety, he points out. People who do it report it's "like popping a balloon." There's an immediate release of tension.

It serves "an important defense—distraction," adds Federman. "In the midst of emotional turmoil, physical pain helps people disconnect from intense emotional turmoil." But the effect lasts only hours.

Further, "it is the only action that can effectively stop dissociative episodes," says Favazza. "That makes it especially common among girls who were sexually abused."

Too, self-mutilation has to do with self-punishment. Not to be overlooked is the sense of power it confers. "It allows students to take control of painful processes they feel are out of control, especially chaotic relationships," says Federman.

Sometimes it's a cry for help. Cutting is usually a private process and the scars are hidden. But some people will cut an arm and don a short-sleeve shirt.

Although most cutting is a private act, Favazza reports that he knows of cutting parties—groups of girls who get together to cut in each other's presence. And some students like to hang out with the cutters. That has given rise to "pseudo-cutters," those who cut not to gain release but to belong to a social group.

It's imperative to stop self-mutilation as soon as it's discovered, as cutting can take on a life of its own with addiction-like qualities. Treatment usually involves psychotherapy plus SSRI antidepressants, which decrease the impulsivity behind most acts of self-harm.

After befriending the cutter for more than a year, Ms. C. confided that she, Ms. C., had learned a great deal, that she had helped that person reclaim their life. Indeed, the cutter no longer did that.

It is no surprise that no one knows about this, only Ms. C. and the person she helped. Although I agree that it must be that way, I think it is important to know that such good work goes on in very quiet ways and in ways that are seldom noticed by anyone other than those involved.

Nonetheless, just knowing that such unsung heroes exist allows all of us to know that their examples are good ones for the rest of us to emulate. I send my heartfelt thanks and admiration to them all.

         B.Koplen  3/16/12

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