My humble opinion on
October 15, 2001
The Bombing Continues
American and British attacks on
military sites, terrorist camps, and communications centers in
Afghanistan continue. The attacks have increased, and unconfirmed
reports came out today that helicopters and maybe even special forces
The troops are also dropping food
supplies to starving Afghans and today began dropping
"informational" leaflets, better known as propaganda. But
that's a good thing. After all, as long as we're telling those people
the truth, and explaining why we're doing what we're doing, there's a
slight chance they won't hate us. I'm talking about the Afghan people,
not the Taliban or terrorists, of course. The Taliban keeps its own
people in the dark. TVs are illegal, and most people have some kind of
radio, but the Taliban controls the airwaves, so the people hear only
the Taliban's propaganda. It's time they heard ours.
Anti-terrorism Bill Moves Fast
The House and Senate have passed
similar anti-terrorism bills, which were written mostly by the Justice
Department. Provisions include authorization of roving wiretaps, which
allow police to tap any phone owned by a suspect, rather than getting a
warrant for individual phones. Non-U.S. citizens may be detained for up
to seven days without charges. It broadens subpoena power for e-mail
records of suspects. It makes it illegal to knowingly harbor a
terrorist. Plus it beefs up the Border Patrol, eliminates the statute of
limitations for some of the more heinous crimes, and tightens money
Many people have criticized the bills.
They claim it was passed too quickly with insufficient debate or
analysis. They're right about that. In fact, many congressman conceded
they hadn't even read the bills before voting on them. That's
inexcusable. I don't care how much political pressure they faced to pass
a bill quickly.
Others claim the expanded powers
intrude on civil liberties. This claim is a bit weaker. Some provisions
certainly toe the line, and without proper vigilance could lead to
abuse, but it's a sensible overall package. I have no problem with
roving wiretaps. I view that as merely law enforcement finally catching
up to technology. Remember, police still need a warrant to do much of
anything, and that's all the Constitution requires.
With that said, I do think Congress
should slow down and examine the bill more closely. After all, we've
already arrested over 700 suspects without these new laws. Surely, we
have the time to get this right.
Peaceniks on the March
Thousands of peace-loving protestors
marched in cities around the world this past weekend. They were rallying
against the current American campaign against terrorism. Twenty thousand
showed up in London. Fifteen thousand in Berlin. More thousands in Rome,
Naples, Glasgow, Sydney, Melbourne, and on and on.
These folks are probably very nice,
but they're terribly misguided and hopelessly naive. Peace is not
necessarily the absence of fighting. We could stop all bombing right
now, and America would not be at peace, because she has enemies who will
continue to fight against her. The only way to make them stop, and thus
bring peace, is to defeat them in battle. A treaty won't do it.
"Encouraging development" in Afghanistan to "root out
terrorism at its base," as several protestors called for, won't
even come close. As if Osama bin Laden, a multi-millionaire and maybe
even billionaire, cares anything about the poor in Afghanistan! As if
that's why he hates America!
These same "peace activists"
somehow couldn't conjure up the oh-so-righteous anger and energy to
protest against the September 11 attacks. The monstrous crime of
innocent civilians being forced to give their lives to murder their
fellow innocents drew no peace protestor to the barricades. And yet they
cloak themselves in the armor of peace and humanity.
Curious, isn't it?
Is Islam Truly Peaceful?
Like many, if not most, Americans, I
know little about Islam, but assumed it was a noble, peaceful religion,
one that is being tarred by the actions of a few evil men. The recent
statements of some local Muslim leaders here in Arizona have bolstered
that view. "No one is going to respond to bin Laden's call to the
holy war," said Imam Ahmad Shqeirat of the Islamic Cultural Center.
"War is not holy. It is ugly."
"It is just plain
offensive," said Jameila Al-Hashimi, an American convert to Islam
and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. "We Muslims
stand behind what is right and just, according to Al-Islam. We will not
stand behind irresponsible actions and calls to war. He (bin Laden) has
insulted Muslim morals and underestimated our intelligence to assume
that all he had to do is call for a war, even on an unjust basis, and we
will act accordingly."
These are encouraging statements, and
I am sure that most Muslims agree. But Paul Johnson, a reputed
historian, has written an interesting article in the latest National
Review that challenges that view.
According to Johnson, Islam does not
mean peace, as is commonly believed. "Islam means
"submission," writes Johnson, "a very different matter,
and one of the functions of Islam, in its more militant aspect, is to
obtain that submission from all, if necessary by force."
He backs up his claim by quoting
selected verses from the Koran itself. "Strongest among men in
enmity to the Believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans," reads
Sura 5, verse 85. Pagans are Christians. Sura 9, verse 5 instructs
Muslims to "fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them. And
seize them, beleaguer them and lie in wait for them, in every stratagem
[of war]." All nations must be fought "until they embrace
History shows that several Moslem
cultures have heeded this command. Writes Johnson: "The history of
Islam has essentially been a history of conquest and reconquest.
The 7th century "breakout"
of Islam from Arabia was followed by the rapid conquest of North Africa,
the invasion and virtual conquest of Spain, and a thrust into France
that carried the crescent to the gates of Paris. It took half a
millennium of reconquest to expel the Moslems from Western Europe. The
Crusades, far from being an outrageous prototype of Western imperialism,
as is taught in most of our schools, were a mere episode in a struggle
that has lasted 1,400 years, and were one of the few occasions when
Christians took the offensive to regain the "occupied
territories" of the Holy Land.
The Crusades, as it happened, fatally
weakened the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire, the main barrier to the
spread of Islam into southeast and central Europe. As a result of the
fall of Constantinople to the ultramilitant Ottoman Sultans, Islam took
over the entire Balkans, and was threatening to capture Vienna and move
into the heart of Europe as recently as the 1680s."
This is a challenging proposition, and
I would love to hear a Muslim respond to it. Does Johnson quote the
Koran out of context? Is his history correct? I'd really like to know.
In Other News...
The Center for Disease Control and
Prevention released a 1999 study that said 23.5 percent of American
adults smoke, about 46 million people. That's down from 24 percent in
1998 and 25 percent in 1993. Health officials welcomed the news but
expressed hope that the decline be even more dramatic. But with taxes
from cigarettes now paying for so many government programs, from health
care for kids to mental health for adults, don't we need more people
smoking and paying the cigarette tax?
The patriotism movement sparked by
9-11 has started a backlash. Some don't like the Pledge of Allegiance,
because it mentions God. Others think the National Anthem is
hypocritical because so many Americans still face discrimination. Quoted
a first grade teacher in Wisconsin: "Mandating patriotism is a
really scary thing. It leads to nationalism, and, ultimately, to
fascism." Spouted another individual: "It makes our country as
bad as Osama bin Laden (by setting up) a war between the believers and
the infidels." That's right, asking first graders to say the Pledge
of Allegiance is no different than murdering six million Jews and
slaughtering six thousand Americans. Patriotism must be pretty evil.
In Colorado, you can take your
ten-year-old daughter to a therapist, force her to undergo something
called a "reborn" procedure, in which the child is wrapped in
blankets and pillows and encouraged to escape the makeshift
"womb." In Colorado, your ten-year-old daughter can vomit,
complain that she can't breathe, and beg to be released, but you and the
therapist hold her in for another hour. In Colorado, your daughter can
die from such barbarity and you, the mother who betrayed your own flesh
and blood and allowed your daughter to die, can plead guilty and get off
with probation and community service. In Colorado, such a gross offense
is no different in the eyes of the law than jaywalking.