Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who will Clean the Toilets under Islam?

Mutee: We should implement Islam in our country [Pakistan] and lives and everything thing will be fine we don't need anyone except we should just seek guidance from islam.

Solomon2: Who will clean the toilets under Islam?

Mutee: u can if u want

Solomon2: And if I don't, what then?

Mutee: Every one with a good civic sense and everyone who feels he has an obligation towards the society not by just cleaning toilets but doing everything that's needed to be done

Solomon2: Yet that would mean that the civic-minded who clean toilets are serving those not-so-civic-minded who use their time as they wish. Is that not injustice?

Mutee: When u implement a system everyone becomes a part of that system if that system is not flawed and it's NOT so everyone will come onboard and ur assuming that the only doing an odd job will be servicing the one not doing an odd job everyone will do his|her duty that shall be assigned to them by the society don't make it about one thing in particular

Solomon2: How is this different from the totalitarianism of Communism?

Mutee: Communism is a godless society and your services are rendered forcefully in this case it's different because you voluntarily offer your self to the community I am talking about something totally different

Solomon2: Yet you've pointed out that if I don't volunteer to clean the toilet I'll be assigned to do so, doubtless by someone who doesn't have to clean toilets at all. And if I don't like it, well, how do I know that both of us are serving G-d? It would appear to me that one of us isn't.

Mutee: Islam asks us to follow the leader an ameer prince of believers so as long as he delegates authority a Muslim living under his rule shudnt have a problem with that and if the ameer is not righteous and orders one to do something which is not allowed in Islam the responsibility is his on the day of judgment...I hope I have satisfied your Mind now tc brother

Solomon2: What you are saying is that I am supposed to accept serving a man, not G-d, and any injustice I may suffer at his hands will be remedied on the Day of Judgment? If that is that case, then how can implementing Islam in Pakistan possibly make "lives and everything thing fine" if the only remedy can be sought in the next world, not this one?

Mutee: well there CAN be a council of elders to watch over the ameer but it's the responsibility of pplmtonchose righteous one among them Pakistan will have to start from scratch if they want to do something like that it's about changing the mindset of ppl and pakistanis I see are very indifferent they don't care simply put and if you are suffering in this world there is no gurantee in anyother system that your sufferings will be over but in this system you have a chance that god fearing man will speak. Out on your behalf if you are treated badly

Solomon2: Under the influence of those who want to Islamicize Pakistan men and women cannot speak freely without fear of imprisonment or assassination. So why shouldn't Pakistanis choose a tried-and-tested constitutional form of government like America's rather than a religious dictatorship or the current smear-of-democracy-over-military-rule?

Mutee: Because those ppl have misrepresented Islam they are NOT the soldiers of Islam as they claim they are just thugs and criminals fighting to impose there own agenda all they do is kill in name if Islam they are a stigma to us and as far as your opinion is concerned if u say American democracy has worked well for everyone then ur simply wrong it worked but now it's failing I never visited USA but I have seen Europe I shudnt compare the two but I believe things in USA are going downhill but you guys don't see or feel the effects because systems are still well placed here in Pakistan there us no system just lot of corruption in the name if democracy and military rule

Solomon2: People have claimed America is going downhill for two hundred years. I figure that as long as we have some voices like that America will be O.K. Can you tell us why American-type democracy wouldn't work for Pakistan? At the very least you wouldn't need the totalitarianism that seems to be part of any scheme of Islamicization.

Mutee: I do admit that whatever Muslims has done so far will actually make someone very worried if someone talks about Islamic law but you have to distinguish between propaganda and facts no we don't want to rule the world we just want peace in our lives and this system cannot deliver

Solomon2: Constitutional democracy with the rule of law and minority rights will give you the opportunity to develop your ideas further with a proven system of justice and without fear of molestation. American democracy is far from perfect. We've spent over two hundred years perfecting the American Experiment. But it shows the best promise for the best government the world has ever seen. I, for one, would like to see more contributions Muslims could make towards perfection.

Muhammad-Bin-Qasim: 30 million unemployed is hardly what I would call a flourishing society... Thats the reality of America today... and they have run out of digits to count their debt...America is not a model for us... sorry Solomon 2... You have 2 try again... Do pardon the pun

Solomon2: We've experienced high unemployment and debt before and gotten out of such holes.

We'll be out of the debt situation eventually. Most people who, faced with the choice of taking on debt now to buy a house or car or waiting a few years to save the money, will choose debt and to pay off the loan through earnings. More debts will be paid off as the economy bounces back and earnings recover.

As for unemployment: some people consider Saudi Arabia as the closest entity on Earth to the ideal Islamic state. Yet its nationals - not "citizens" because I don't think of anybody as a citizen who can't pay taxes in their country of residence - also experience double-digit employment: an astounding 39 percent of Saudis aged 20-24 are without work. link

The Saudi King Abdullah, returning home to the adulation of his people from successful medical treatment in the U.S., has announced his cure to the problem, suddenly his primary concern in the wake of the 2011 Arab Revolutions: hire everybody! Even if they have nothing to do! Yes indeed, the oil-bloated Sauds, in possession of wealth far beyond the dreams of Croesus, have no need to tax their subjects or employ slaves as did their ancestors. All they require is a docile populace.

Yet isn't underemployment even worse in some ways than unemployment? Think of the waste of productivity, unused potential, lack of sense of accomplishment, and low level of joy, stuck in a dead job with little to point to as achievement, yet without being free to seek improvement elsewhere?

Well, in the West we also have a class of inhabitants who pay no taxes, who are expected to contribute little if anything to productivity, and who exist primarily to cheer and slobber when their master comes home.

They are called pets.

Mutee: well simply because most laws that still work here were established by the British which served their own intrest very well but unfortunately we never tried to amend those law we simply gave those law a makeover and implemented them again and accountability is not here because of these laws now since we have been living under the sane conditions for so long we have become immuned to any type for morals that's the mindset of our nation as a whole so I say other sstems can't work here we have to go back to our roots and starry reperaing from there instead if experimenting example for British laws I mentioned above Pakistan motor insurance law 1937 still applicable so an exotic car is not insured against terrorist activity u have to pay extra to put a special claw that protects against it

Solomon2: American ways are not the ways of British colonialism. Just look at our Declaration of Independence: most of it is devoted to Americans justifying breaking their oaths of loyalty to King and Crown due. The key issue is abuse of authority. Some of the complaints may even be familiar to Pakistanis: link Had Pakistan taken this route, rather than throwing off the British yoke while leaving its corrupting colonial system of governance intact, I doubt Pakistani would be as misgoverned as it is in today.

Flying Pig Day

As Nick Cohen at the Guardian finally voices the truth - his access to the Middle East safe now that democratizing revolutions are under way:
Far from being a cause of the revolution, antagonism to Israel everywhere served the interests of oppressors. Europeans have no right to be surprised. Of all people, we ought to know from our experience of Nazism that antisemitism is a conspiracy theory about power, rather than a standard racist hatred of poor immigrants. Fascistic regimes reached for it when they sought to deny their own people liberty. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the forgery the far-right wing of the decaying tsarist regime issued in 1903 to convince Russians they should continue to obey the tsar's every command, denounces human rights and democracy as facades behind which the secret Jewish rulers of the world manipulated gullible gentiles.

Absent armed conflict or the influence of tyranny, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism will continue to slowly decline and Israel gain acceptance. The U.S. is just a bystander in the great events in the Arab World today - which maybe is exactly how it should be.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The REAL Problem the West has with Revolutionary Egypt

Israeli officials, who have long viewed Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Suleiman as stabilizing influences in a dangerous region, have made clear to the administration that they support evolution rather than revolution in Egypt.”

I’m a Zionist and I’ve cheered for this revolution for years. Hate-monger Mubarak has had too many chances. The M-B are not a concern while they are being swamped by the mass of democracy-seekers on the streets. link

So what is the problem? I believe that the professional analysts, heads-of-state, New York Times journalists, etc, all have a common affliction: they are all successful people at or near the top of their food chain. Such folk feel that any change in the current status quo threatens their own position.

My favorite movie illustrating this disease is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The Klingons face a shock and dissident elements of both Federation and Empire undermine their own leaders to try to maintain their conflict rather than accept the “undiscovered country”, peace.

[Originally posted at Crossroads Arabia]

The Financial Times has a view penned by Ayaan Hirsi Ali that better conforms to the fears and desires of the elites - but one that offers greater opportunities for the Mubarak gang to hoodwink the Egyptian people: [h/t Elder of Zion]

Innumerable commentators have drawn analogies with the revolutions that swept eastern Europe in 1989.

This is to miss the profound difference between the western and the Muslim crowd. The people taking to the streets in north Africa and the Middle East have many motivations. But nothing unifies them more than the mass prayer of their religion – particularly the Friday prayer. It is the mosque as much as the street that is key to understanding this uprising.


Those who look forward to a 1989-style outcome – a peaceful transition to a secular, multi-party democracy – should remember how little experience the proponents of secular democracy have. The Muslim Brotherhood has been around since 1928, and draws on a 1,400-year-old tradition of submission....

The Mubaraks and Gaddafis of the Middle East are not an anomaly; they are the product of structural lack of freedom inherent in the crowd culture of the Islamic world. In this culture submission is instilled early on. If you are not allowed to talk back to your father, or teacher, or clergyman, submission to state tyranny becomes almost second nature. In such a setting, the methods to empower oneself – indeed to survive – are conspiracy, manipulation, intrigue and bribery. Those aspiring to positions of power fear that sharing it will weaken them and lead to humiliation. So once a position is achieved it is made permanent, from the lowliest bureaucrat to the president.

A culture that elevates individual submission oscillates between periods of apathy and occasional bouts of revolt. Arab leaders either rule for life, grooming their sons for succession, or end up having to flee.

So what can today’s Muslim crowds do to avoid the fate of all those mice who thought they glimpsed freedom but were in fact mere playthings of the cat?

The protesters must begin by acknowledging the factors that create an environment where tyrants thrive. For too long, outside forces have been the scapegoats of the Arab street. It is easy to blame the Zionists and America. It is harder to admit one’s own shortcomings.

But today’s crowds also need to articulate what they want. A participant in Egypt’s mass protests was asked on the BBC to comment on the leaderless quality of the demonstrations (February 4). His answer – “We don’t need a leader” – baffled the interviewer and no doubt most western viewers.

His aversion to leadership is understandable in the light of past Arab regime changes. Here, men who arrive as liberators have a way of morphing into dictators until the time when another man mobilises the masses to liberate the nation from their ex-liberator. The new man then rebuilds the old infrastructure of spies and torture chambers.

But is it realistic to have a leaderless revolution? In my view it is not. In the absence of leadership – which means not just one man but a legitimate command structure, as well as some kind of explicit manifesto – these protests will never achieve the truly revolutionary changes we saw in Europe in 1989.

Instead we shall see chaos and instability followed by a new era of authoritarianism; a brief democracy followed by a coup or a sharia government led by the Brotherhood.

So the crowd must become a real movement. They have to build civil institutions. They must hurry and compose a list of demands before they are dispersed. It is not enough just to ask for the despot to go. There need to be amendments to existing constitutions or new ones need to be written. And here America and Europe can offer help.

But when it comes to changing the culture of submission no one can help the Arabs but themselves. It is not their inexorable fate to be ruled either by dictators or by religious fanatics. They will achieve true freedom, however, only when they emancipate themselves from the peculiar power structure imposed on the Muslim crowd – by itself.

It's true, nobody in the West or Israel wants Islamic radicals to come to power. But these protesters aren't seeking to explode America, nor march across the Sinai to kill Jews. They want freedom to determine their own fate, not to serve the glory-seeking of masters. They are, indeed, the "huddled masses yearning to be free." Their leaders - even if they don't recognize themselves as such - are somewhat cognizant of the failed revolutions of the past hundred years (Russia, Iran, Lebanon) and will seek to avoid the same fate. Let us wish them luck and give them our moral and intellectual support during their historic struggle.

Update, 2/11/11 1:50pm: A few additional thoughts, now that Mubarak is gone. It seems I am one of the few Zionists who wholeheartedly supported the Egyptian Revolution. The Israelis worry that Mubarak's departure could mean Egypt will choose to go to war with the Jewish State. However, I think Israel is pretty far from Egyptians minds right now. Though it is understandable why Israelis are wary of the change. Mubarak crafted the image of building a volcano of Jew-hatred suppressed only by the fact that he sat on top of it. If not the West, then at least the Egyptians realized that their true priority was to get rid of tyranny, not Israel.

Now we will see how far the veracity of the theses Sharansky espoused in The Case for Democracy extend. Part of it has already been verified: applying democratic power, the Egyptians have rid themselves of Mubarak without embracing what twenty days ago seemed the only alternate, a terror-supporting regime. Perhaps the hatred inspired by a century of authoritarian dictators and mullahs will also start to dissipate. (Using terror to drive Jewish settlers out of Palestine was first proposed by the Mufti of Jerusalem in 1898.)

Update, 2/11/11, 3:50pm: Sparky Said: The dictators have been USING Israel as public enemy # 1 as part of their number one keys in their propaganda kit to keep them in power. This cattle prod has been an effective tool against its own citizens as a form of diversion against the real issues they face mainly economic ones. Of course this fire is fueled secretly and behind the scenes. Israel has been an effective a tool that they have used with Western governments and Israel alike in keeping them phobiasized that they have control over the Israel button. There is no Israel button!


The Brotherhood must be very worried. Although I don’t know their power in the smaller cities, they don’t show themselves much in Cairo and perceive they are a minority in Alexandria. They must realize that if they misbehave all it would take would be for rumor to spread and a fingernail of Tahrir Square – say, two thousand people out of two million – would peel off to deal with them.

It’s when the crowd gets tired and leaves the Square that I worry about. Then the machinations and organization of the M-B may come into play. But Arabs, Osama Bin Laden told us, are usually keen to bet on the “strong horse” – and today, that is democracy, not the Brotherhood.

I wonder what Zawahiri thinks now that Mubarak is gone? Surely he fantasizes returning to Egypt, but as a terrorist or as a democrat?

[Originally posted at Crossroads Arabia]

Sharansky on Egypt

From The Wall Street Journal:


'If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky's book, 'The Case for Democracy.'" With that comment in 2005, George W. Bush created a best seller, impelling hordes of statesmen, policy wonks and journalists to decode this Rosetta Stone of the "freedom agenda."

In the book, Mr. Sharansky argues that all people, in all cultures, want to live in freedom; that all dictatorships are inherently unstable and therefore threaten the security of other countries; and that Western powers can and should influence how free other countries are. Rarely have these arguments been dramatized as during the past weeks—in Tunisia [link], Jordan, Yemen and especially Egypt. So late Wednesday night I interviewed Mr. Sharansky to hear his explanation of our current revolutionary moment.

"The reason people are going to the streets and making revolution is their desire not to live in a fear society," Mr. Sharansky says. In his taxonomy, the world is divided between "fear societies" and "free societies," with the difference between them determinable by what he calls a "town square test": Are the people in a given society free to stand in their town square and express their opinions without fear of arrest or physical harm? The answer in Tunisia and Egypt, of course, has long been "no"—as it was in the Soviet bloc countries that faced popular revolutions in 1989.

The comparison of today's events with 1989 is a common one, but for Mr. Sharansky it is personal. He was born in 1948 in Donetsk (then called Stalino), Ukraine, and in the 1970s and 1980s he was one of the most famous dissidents in the Soviet Union—first as an aide to the nuclear physicist-turned-human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, then as a champion for the rights of Soviet Jews like himself to emigrate. His outspoken advocacy landed him in the Soviet Gulag for nine years (including 200 days on hunger strike).

Mr. Sharansky was released from prison in 1986, after his wife Avital's tireless campaigning earned his case international renown and the strong support of President Ronald Reagan. He moved to Israel, where he eventually entered politics and served until 2006 in various ministerial posts and in the parliament. Throughout, he preached and wrote about, as his book's subtitle puts it, "the power of freedom to overcome tyranny and terror."

This idea is the animating feature of a worldview that bucks much conventional wisdom. Uprisings like Tunisia's and Egypt's, he says, make "specialists—Sovietologists, Arabists—say 'Who could have thought only two weeks ago that this will happen?'" But "look at what Middle Eastern democratic dissidents were saying for all these years about the weakness of these regimes from the inside," and you won't be surprised when they topple, he says.

And yet policy makers from Washington to Tel Aviv have seemingly been in shock. Many of them—on the right and the left—look upon the demise of Hosni Mubarak and the potential rise of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood with dread.

"Why is there such a big danger that if now there will be free choice for Egyptians, then the Muslim Brotherhood can rise to power?" Mr. Sharansky asks. "Because they are the only organized force which exists in addition to Mubarak's regime." Mr. Mubarak quashed almost all political dissent, with the general acquiescence of his American patrons. But he couldn't stop the Brotherhood from spreading its message in mosques. Meanwhile, he used the Brotherhood as a bogeyman, telling the U.S. that only he stood between radical Islamists and the seat of power.

It worked. Mr. Sharansky says that in a 2007 meeting in Prague, President Bush told him that the U.S. supports Mr. Mubarak—to the tune of nearly $2 billion in annual aid—because if it didn't, the Brotherhood would take over Egypt.

For all his good intentions and pro-democracy rhetoric, Mr. Bush was inconsistent in practice. By Mr. Sharansky's calculus, simply propping up Mr. Mubarak's fear society would make it more likely, not less, that radicals would gradually become the only viable opposition and be best-positioned to gain power when the regime inevitably fell. And so it is today, as the Mubarak regime teeters.

Still, Mr. Sharansky finds reason for optimism. While recognizing common Israeli fears that Mr. Mubarak's ouster could give Hamas more power in and around Gaza and endanger the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, he doesn't expect the security balance to change much. As he wrote in "The Case for Democracy," over the past 30 years Israel's "border with Syria, with whom we do not have a peace treaty, has been just as quiet, and [I] suggest that Israeli deterrence is responsible for both."

Mr. Sharansky points out that Mr. Mubarak is no great man of peace. Indeed, since 1979, Egyptians' "hatred toward Israel only grew. . . . Egypt became one of the world centers of anti-Semitism." That's because all dictators must cultivate external enemies in order to maintain their grip on power. So even when Mr. Mubarak "lost Israel as an enemy, he continued to need Jews as the enemy."

Mr. Sharansky says the recent uprisings prove his fundamental contentions "that there are limits to how much you can control people by fear," and that all people, regardless of religion or culture, desire freedom. "That's a very powerful universal message. It was very powerful when the Iron Curtain exploded, and it's as powerful today," he says.

He has a prescription for what should happen next. First, he says there's no justification for Mr. Mubarak staying in place. "What would that mean? . . . He could continue for another few months or for another year, until [Egypt] explodes with more hatred toward America and Israel and the free world."

Second, U.S. policy should shift from its focus on illusory "stability" toward "linkage"—an approach that successfully pressured the Soviet Union. That means linking U.S. aid to Egypt's progress in developing the institutions of a free society.

If he were a U.S. senator, Mr. Sharansky says, he would immediately introduce a law to continue support to Egypt on condition that "20% of all this money goes to strengthening and developing democratic institutions. And the money cannot be controlled by the Egyptian government." Ideally his measure would kick in as soon as possible, so that it can affect the incentives of any Egyptian transitional government established to rule until September, when a presidential election is scheduled.

The model for such linkage is the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which forced the Soviet Union to allow Jewish emigration or lose the economically-valuable "Most Favored Nation" trade designation. But Jackson-Vanik has been controversial ever since its enactment 35 years ago, and Washington has shown little willingness to deploy linkage since.

But Mr. Sharansky holds out hope, partly because on Egypt "the statements from the White House are improving with every day, especially in comparison with its catastrophic statements at the time of the Iranian revolution [in 2009]." By his reckoning, the Obama administration's position during the recent Iranian protests was "maybe one of the biggest betrayals of people's freedom in modern history. . . . At the moment when millions were deciding whether to go to the barricades, the leader of the free world said 'For us, the most important thing is engagement with the regime, so we don't want a change of regime.' Compared to this, there is very big progress [today]."

Inconsistency is par for the course in this field. "From time to time," Mr. Sharansky says of the George W. Bush administration, "America was giving lectures about democracy." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a strong address in Cairo in 2005. And in 2002, by threatening to withhold $130 million in aid to Egypt, the administration successfully pressured Mr. Mubarak to release the sociologist and democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim from prison. In their final years, however, administration officials reverted to bureaucratic form and relaxed their pressure drastically.

President Obama relaxed it even further, Mr. Sharansky notes, inserting only vague language about democracy into his June 2009 address in Cairo. "There was no mention at all that at that moment democratic dissidents were imprisoned, that Mubarak had put in prison the leading [opposition] candidate in the past election," Ayman Nour.

Even if the U.S. embraces linkage, Egypt's September election could be quite problematic. "Only when the basic institutions that protect a free society are firmly in place—such as a free press, the rule of law, independent courts, political parties—can free elections be held," Mr. Sharansky wrote in "The Case for Democracy." In Egypt, those "free, developed institutions," he tells me, "will not be developed by September."

What can develop over the next eight months, Mr. Sharansky says, is a U.S. policy making clear that "whoever is elected cannot continue to survive—he cannot continue to rely on the assistance of the free world in defense, economics, anything—if democratic reforms are not continued and if democratic institutions are not built." After several years of such democracy-building, he says, when dissidents like Mr. Ibrahim enjoy the ability to build institutions like trade unions and women's organizations, "then in a few years you'll have a different country, and you can have really free elections."

For this to happen, "there must be consistent policy in the free world," says Mr. Sharansky. That means "no compromise for the sake of stability with those who will come to power—and who, inevitably, if they have the opportunity to lead as dictators, will try to lead as dictators."

"There is a real chance now," he says. "And the fact that it happened with the country which has the [second-] biggest level of assistance from the United States makes this chance for success even bigger if the leaders of the free world—and first of all the United States of America—play it right."

What shouldn't happen is a repeat of the 2006 election in Gaza, when Hamas won office without demonstrating any commitment to democracy, and Palestinian society had no checks in place to prevent the outcome from being one man, one vote, one time. But the Gaza scenario seems unlikely in Egypt, says Mr. Sharansky.

"Hamas really used a unique opportunity. First of all, there was the policy of Yasser Arafat, who really turned the daily life of Palestinians into a mafia [environment] with racket money paid by all the population to the leaders. That's why you saw when there were elections, many Christian villages like Taiba were voting for Hamas. Why is a Christian village voting for Islamic fundamentalists? Because they were like the Magnificent Seven, saving the village from the mafia. . . . Second, geographically, it was like there was a special closed area, Gaza, which was brought [to Hamas] on a plate by us."

So can the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt replicate Hamas's electoral coup in Gaza? "Only in one case: if the systematic practice of keeping people under dictatorship—so the dictatorship becomes more and more cruel against any dissident thinking— continues and strengthens. Then it'll unite people more and more around the only force which can resist this and get military and organizational and financial support: the Muslim Brothers. . . .

"That's why I'm saying we must be happy that [Egypt's uprising] happened now and not a few years later because then the Muslim Brothers would be even more strong. . . . This revolt happened when the Muslim brothers are not as strong as Hamas was."

With Cairo's streets still aflame, the immediate question is how far Mr. Mubarak will go to maintain his rule—how many police trucks will run down street protesters, how many plainclothes thugs will hunt down Western journalists in their hotel rooms. Beyond that, the question is whether over time Egypt will come to pass the town square test. "There is a good chance," says Mr. Sharansky, "but a lot depends. Some Egyptians are now working for this. The thing is whether the free world will become a partner in this work.

Mr. Feith is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Meaning of "Citizen"

“muslims in the west will do whatever they want regardless of what the local law says/permits.” link

George Washington: “…the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” link

Take a look at that word, “citizen”. We now think of a citizen as a naturalized resident or someone born in the United States. The Founders did not think of citizenship that way. Being a citizen entailed a certain duty and outlook. The specific and most important duty was obedience to civil law.

How do Arabs settle their disputes? How often do they refer to law and courts? As little as possible. Rather, by custom they resolve conflicts using a strong person to mediate between parties, the usual outcome being the weaker party yields to the stronger one in a face-saving manner. The legal processes of a city or country are to be avoided, if indeed they are anything more than paper at all: in Pakistan, Yemen, and other Muslim countries legal officials often defer to the threat of Muslim terror and refrain from enforcing the law.

Hence, the contempt of many Arab (and Arabized Muslim) immigrants for Western laws and customs. Arabs are not the first immigrants to the U.S. to think this way; Sicilian Italians did as well. The Irish probably would have maintained this outlook if so many of them hadn’t been integrated into police forces immediately upon arrival. However, because in the U.S. the law really does belong to the people and is not an instrument of unjust persecution, all these immigrant groups substantially integrated into the melting pot by the third generation.

Yet none of these previous parties maintained the Arab/Muslim religiously-held imperative of innate and unquestionable cultural superiority and non-integration with the surrounding community. Examples throughout the world of Muslim populations growing in power to the point they oppress or expel non-Muslims probably heighten such resistance: they probably feel they will triumph eventually. Therefore the U.S. may need to revise who it considers a citizen in the next generation, or accept that the days of the reign of civil law will soon be reduced to a fiction, as in parts of Lebanon, Pakistan, France, and Sweden.

Note: it is an error to claim that immigrants always seek economic opportunity or to escape government and religious oppression. The Separatists had all of that when they were in Holland. Rather, they came to the U.S. to build their own community. They took their values with them for a fresh start in a new country. That should properly be called colonization, not immigration.

The Best 2011 Superbowl Commercial

For every father who as a boy imagined himself in the universe of Star Wars can sympathize.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Egypt: Observations and Questions

Sandmonkey is highly principled. That is good for his self-image, but might be bad for Egyptian reform in general. The thing is, if Mubarak can’t reach a compromise with liberal forces he will seek one with the Brotherhood. And any compromise that the Brotherhood accepts entails them eventually reaching power and suppressing everyone else.

The trick is to compel Mubarak to reach a compromise that makes him yield most executive authority to representatives of the liberals. That means liberals spending a lot more time in Tahrir square, both protesting and organizing to select leaders in the safety of the crowd that also represents the crowd.

Finally, liberal forces have an important matter to consider: what will they do when and if they are confronted by violence or the threat of violence from forces of the Muslim Brotherhood? Will they cave? Run? Or will they fight back? And if they are unwilling to cave or run or fight back yet still want to see an Egypt not ruled by an Islamist regime, don’t they have to keep a Mubarak handy, at least temporarily, and what is it necessary for him to do? What will they offer him in exchange? link

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sandmonkey: Egypt, right now!

His account having been "suspended" - that is, hacked by the Mubarak regime - I am re-posting it from the Google cache:

I don't know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one's friend house to another friend's house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.

It didn't start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.

That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn't go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.

Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what's right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn't believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak's departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime's ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn't nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.

Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because "we got what we wanted" and "we need the country to start working again". People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it's time for Unity under Mubarak's rule right now.

To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn't caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren't the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn't enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it's not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.

Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.

You watched on TV as "Pro-Mubarak Protesters" – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID's on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn't give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.

In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it's the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.

Now, just in case this isn't clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it's one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won't say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay "because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people". This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can't. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can't allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn't over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak's gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.

Update, 11:30am

I think I panicked a bit. I thought a bit and contacted his host. His account wasn’t hacked, his host says it was suspended because it was under attack:

“Due to problems related to traffic and attacks (many from IPs in Saudi Arabia), the blog Rantings of a Sandmonkey (hosted on Freedom’s Zone server … an affiliate of Hyscience), one of Egypt” top bloggers and activists, has been temporarily suspended until the problems can be resolved (hopefully by this evening). Before Sandmonkey was suspended, his last post, dated Thursday, 3 February 2011, was posted below.” link

And, as Roger Simon knows, Sandmonkey is out of jail – after being beaten, robbed, and his car wrecked:

Update, 2/4/11 8:20am

The Sandmonkey is back on-line. Thank you for visiting.

Update, 2/4/11 3:00pm

The story, from one of Sandmonkey's friends and companions:

"...I was a reporter, a Sudan-based contract journalist for Bloomberg News returning to Cairo for vacation. The friends giving me a ride downtown were just trying to take food and first-aid supplies to those injured -" link

Sandmonkey: Fundamentals!

Sandmonkey's account has been hacked. Here is a previous post of his from August 25, 2009:


As far back as I can remember I’ve had this dream. Not much anymore, but for a while I had it all the time. There’s people on a rollercoaster and they’re having the time of their lives, and it’s loud and crashing, and there’s the booming of the ocean and the acoustics of the wind, and they’re screaming with their hands in the air, and the thing that they don’t know is that the tracks stop, somewhere at a crest, just gap into nothing, and they’re hurtling toward it. They think that they’re safe but they’re not safe.

And usually the dream gets bogged down in bureaucratic detail, trying to mobilize a team to somehow solve this problem, all the futile possible ways we could save them. Dream logic; leadership dreams. Maybe if they all raised their arms at the same counterintuitive time, at the bottom of the hill maybe, it would provide some kind of drag. Maybe if they all unlatched their harnesses at the same moment, if they somehow all knew to do it at the same time, like in a football wave, if they could do this as they were launching into space, and off the tracks altogether, they would take flight, and we could… catch them, somehow. Everyone would be safe.

Karen Armstrong wrote one of my favorite books of all time, the elegant and accessible “A History Of God”. It’s brilliant, I’ve read it lots of times. In 2000, she wrote a sort of follow-up called “The Battle For God”, about fundamentalism in the new millennium.

The idea, the rationale as such, is pretty simple. We find ourselves in a complex, degenerate post-God secular world; there are no rules, the center doesn’t hold, nobody’s watching you or judging you. Some thrive; I thrive. But it’s nervous: you’re looking into an existential abyss, or you’re standing in the middle of Sodom trying to avoid eye contact, or you’re getting turned on and about to do something really stupid. Those are the main things. Fundamentalism is sort of like all of those things at once. Let me elaborate

What’s most amazing about the millennial fundamentalists, which every single religion has, is their basic intent on going “back to basics” in some fashion, while completely ignoring the fact that there aren’t actually any “basics” to go back to. The stuff they want to accomplish, for all of us, the walls they want where a body meets a body, the rules be which we must abide, never actually existed. They’re fantasies about control, mental lockdown, revisions to decisions that no moment can erase. Every single fundamentalism is synthetic, reaching backwards for an imaginary grace.

Fundamentalism reaches past all that nonsense and chaos and into a primordial world where men were men and women weren’t, where no decisions ever had to be made, where every single option was laid out ahead of time by a firm but loving God, where families meant a certain thing and sex meant a certain thing, and everything was easy except temptation. But that’s obviously a crock. You can’t honestly tell me there was ever a time when human beings were less complex, less passionate or afraid or unpredictable, less wonderful than they are now.

For me, all this was a revelation on the level of learning, as a kid, that Allah and JHVH and the christian God were the same thing: that all Big Three monotheisms worship the God of Abraham and don’t even bother hiding that fact. The idea that “fundamentalism” was a logically tortured appeal to a beautiful pure world that never existed, and that Al Qaeda and Juniper Creek are essentially parallel movements with the same agenda and arising from the same confusion and fear… Revelatory.

Things are confusing, lots of stuff coming at your face all the time. Sex keeps getting less and less kind, and we keep blaming more and more shit on our parents and our kids, and technology is overwhelming and even the hippest among us can sometimes feel like the world is changing so fast and flying by so carelessly without giving us more than a glimpse of itself, much less a place to grab hold. I can’t say they don’t have a point. But then, terrorists usually do. If they didn’t have something to say (even if it’s usually a crock of bullshit), they wouldn’t feel silenced, and they wouldn’t pull the shit they pull. They wouldn’t feel the need to scream so loudly that the whole world must listen.

For a lot of us, it’s enough to have self-control and to make good choices, and not get out of hand, or take part in what’s going on all around you. For others, the projected disarray is way too much to handle, and you start feeling like a rat in a cage as big as the world. Everywhere around you, the world is on fire, and everyone around you goes on like the world hasn’t ended. You’re on a roller coaster with everybody alive, headed for a gap, and nobody knows it but you: we’re all heading merrily toward our destruction, and we don’t even know it. We think that we’re safe but we’re not safe.

If you have that kind of information, if you know that the tracks run out and people are going to die, it’s not only your duty to use it, but your purpose on this earth. To be in the world, but not of it. To help, and to heal, and to save the world, and in so doing, save yourself. To do what’s necessary to fulfill your destiny: to love them, and take care of them, show them the glory of peace. To see your infinite mercy matched only by your power, and complete control. Isn’t that the definition of the righteous man? The saint? The martyr? All of them…Terrorists. To give up the right to walk in this world, for a duty that must be obeyed for our souls to stay intact, unbending.

If you saw the roller coaster heading toward the gap, if you were in the middle of that nightmare, wouldn’t you do anything to stop it?

Welcome to the War!