Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Recovered memories of Koran desecration at Guantanamo

Reuters tells us that Airat Vakhitov now recalls that abuse of the Koran was a regular event during his imprisonment at Guantanamo.
In Cuba, they used to take them (the Koran) and throw them, take them and throw them, into lavatories or elsewhere. It happened regularly and this was to provoke protests.

Lying then or lying now?

Typically, Reuters failed to dig up the last time Vahkitov made news, when his mother, Amina Hasanova, told the press that his letters to her indicated he was being treated well by the Americans and feared being extradited to Russia.
She said her son is feeling well and is satisfied with the conditions of his detention at Guantanamo. "He writes that he is treated kindly and with respect, that he has good food, cleanliness, and as he says in his letter, he feels better than if he was at the best Russian sanatoriums," Hasanova said. Vakhitov's mother said he also writes that his fellow detainees are friendly toward him, and that they often lend each other copies of the Koran and pray together.

I guess Newsweek jogged his memory.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The F-word

Worldwide news provider l'Agence France-Presse appears to have decided that the "F" in AFP stands for "Forgot-where-we're-from," at least for their English-speaking readers. While puzzling over a particularly artistic "news" photo of a North Korean soldier, I jumped to the website of the photo's source, AFP. Nothing new there, but I was struck by the complete absence of the word "France" anywhere on the home page of Agence France-Presse's site. Not in the masthead, not in the copyright, not anywhere--least of all not stuck between the words "Agence" and "Presse." Even clicking over to the site's "History" page, you have to dig pretty far down to find out what the F stands for. It's there in an entry on the year 1944, notable in that this was also the year they got to start calling their nation "France" again. But let's not get into that again.

Digging a little deeper, I found the word equally absent from the next six pages I linked to on their site. I finally discovered the F-word a couple of times on their special-report page on the Tour de France ... I suppose their PR people just couldn't get them to call it the "Tour de F."

Is this deliberate? Have the French suddenly turned modest? Or shy? Or is someone at afp.com desperately trying not to lose American eyeballs, given that we Yanks spend so much time at the keyboard when we're not standing in line at McDonalds or attending tractor-pulls?

So I thought I'd test out this little bit of paranoia by switching over to the same site en Francais. Sure enough, I'm not crazy: there's the word "France" in the copyright at the bottom of the French-language home page, right where it just said "F" for us anglophones. In German, "Agence France-Presse" gets center stage on the home page, right in the spot where the English home page says "Worth Checking Out." I was surprised to find that the site's Arabic page is a kind of truncated version of the others, with just three news photos: a bloody scene that looks like a suicide bombing, U.S. soldiers pushing Iraqis around, and a mustachioed man beneath a huge banner bearing the image of someone who might be his father. My Arabic sucks--and is not likely to improve any time soon--so if you want to know whether the page says "France" anywhere, you'll have to ask someone else.

The site's various sub-links reveal a consistent difference between the English version and the same pages in other languages. It's amusing to think that someone at AFP's public relations office decided to minimize their references to France on their English web site, but it's not really surprising.

AFP - Home

Monday, June 20, 2005

Australian cleric: Iraqi soldiers spoiled a peaceful resolution to hostage crisis

After being kidnapped and held hostage by terrorists in Iraq for 47 days, Douglas Wood was freed last week when an Iraqi military patrol happened upon his captors' hideout in Baghdad. The "Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq" had made three videos of Wood, two threatening to kill him if coalition forces did not withdraw immediately, and then a third to prove they hadn't killed him yet.

Mujahedeen hospitality

According to the Iraqis and the Americans, the patrol discovered Wood tied up and hidden under a blanket. Officials also claim that his three captors were arrested--Wood has said in a tape released by the U.S. Defense Department that he heard doors being kicked in and a brief exchange of gunfire before being freed. CNN viewed the tape and reported that Woods appeared genuinely happy about getting rescued:
"The Iraqi forces did a very good job of saving me," Douglas Wood said from his hospital bed.

Flashing a thumbs up, he added, "God bless America."

His upbeat mood was in stark contrast to videos released by his hostage-takers during his captivity, when guns were pointed at his head.

Coalition hospitality

So being held by coalition forces is apparently better than being held by the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen. How surprising.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Taj El Din Al Hilali, the Australian cleric who went to Iraq to negotiate for the hostage's release, claims that the Iraqi forces "spoiled" the peaceful freeing Hilali had planned for just the next day, at 6:00 o'clock on Wednesday, at the Babel Hotel. Babel indeed. I think the way the Iraqi forces handled it was just peaceful enough. Now three hostage-takers are in jail, their weapons are locked up, and no ransom was paid to fund future terrorism. Sheikh Hilali would apparently prefer that Wood spend 48 days in captivity instead of 47, and that his kidnappers and torturers slip quietly away to begin planning their next crime. For his part, Wood says he has no clue who Sheihk Hilali is, despite Hilali's claim that they spoke on the phone.

Wood has expressed a considerably greater measure of appreciation for the soldiers who came in firing, caught the bad guys and saved the innocent. He's even gone so far as to apologize to Bush and to Australian Prime Minister John Howard for what he said on tape with a gun to his head. Now that's unnecessary, but I'm sure the gratitude and support are welcome. Once safely back in Melbourne, he had this to say:

"I'm proof positive that the policies of the American and Australian governments is the right one."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Robert Redford loses his mind

Oh dear. Robert Redford appears to be getting fuzzy on the distinction between reality and film. We have this from the Associated Press:

Redford Figured Deep Throat Was With FBI

Sorry, Mr. Redford, but that guy you met in the shadows in that parking garage was not from the FBI, he was from SAG. And if you think hard, you may recall that there was a camera crew there also.

In his new role as [the actor who played] one of the reporters responsible for the sacking of a president, Redford is "waiting to see if anybody is going to connect where we were then and where we are now." I suppose that means he's adopting George McGovern's position that someone high up in the Bush administration should become a traitorous mole instead of having the bravery to stand up and speak out openly. I'm baffled by the way Felt has been lionized, when it seems obvious that he got some perverse adolescent kick out of being a weasel. If this is what we admire, then let's dispense with openness altogether. The media can become a kind of star chamber where we'll keep all accusers hidden safely in anonymity. Terrorists with pixelated faces and electronically modified voices can weep about their offended sensibilities before the cameras while Rumsfeld stands with his neck in a noose. We'll all text-message in our votes and wait to see if the platform drops.

Redford goes on to illustrate the danger of taking film too seriously:

Redford said he once asked Woodward who Deep Throat was, but the reporter would not tell him.

"Some part of me did not want it to come out, because it was this great piece of melodrama in the middle of this movie," he said.

That great piece of melodrama was an integral part of a series of real-life events that ultimately left America less-than-leaderless at a crucial point in world affairs. By the end of the decade, America's flaccid foreign policy would turn our nation into a cringing whipping-boy. While the American left had its drawn-out ass-slapping victory dance over Watergate, Jimmy Carter managed to embolden both Communists and jihadis everywhere by making it clear that the only vision deserving criticism was our own. The 1979 revolution in Iran became a template for the Islamist version of "I Have a Dream" all over the Muslim world, despite its having been executed by Shiites. Pulling our nukes out of South Korea and responding to Soviet aggression in Afghanistan with a petulant Olympic boycott merely served to turn the crank on the sputtering Soviet engine. If it hadn't been for America coming to its senses and electing Reagan, we'd now be cowering in our piece of this hemisphere while a much different Vladimir Putin made deals with Ayatollahs and Chavezes to squeeze the last breath out of America with a concerted oil embargo.

Much has been made of the concept of Bin Laden as a Frankenstein's monster created by Reagan and George H.W. Bush's policies in Afghanistan, and I don't disagree with the critics of those policies. (Ironically, Nixon advocated a more aggressive approach that I believe would have weakened the jihadis' role in ousting the Soviets and prevented the rise of the Taliban.) Let's not forget, however, that Nixon did not give us Afghanistan, just as he did not give us the Ayatollahs. Jimmy Carter did. And we have Deep Throat to thank for the curse of Jimmy Carter.

Nixon should have gone down. But whether he should have gone down in a spectacle that would alter the course of America's foreign policy (and therefore alter the course of world politics itself) is another issue. Nixon's Machiavellian nature is more to blame for this than Woodward and Bernstein's perseverance in their search for the truth. But here Felt comes into play. Subterfuge may seem clever in such circumstances, but we don't want "clever" government any more than we want "tricky" government. Thanks to all the cleverness, the shame of Watergate was not allowed to be Nixon's shame alone. In the aftermath of Vietnam, and with the encouragement of Carter's incessant Baptist chest-beating, we turned Watergate into a nation's shame and adopted a mindset so insurmountably cynical that now if our search for truth has not uncovered corruption, then the search is not over. We have become so obsessed with finding ulterior motives for our government's actions that we dismiss out-of-hand the motives stated, no matter how noble or right.

I am not talking just about Bush. I am ashamed to admit that I marched against the first Gulf war with this spirit of cynicism strong in my heart, deliberately setting aside as irrelevant what I knew about the horrors of Saddam's rule. And I let Whitewater and the Lewinski fiasco blind me to what Clinton might have been right about, such as healthcare reform or the bombing of Serbia. (Actually, I supported him on Serbia, but why didn't I go to Washington to voice my opinion when my comrades were marching against it?) In the confusion after the African embassy bombings and Clinton's subsequent cruise-missile attacks, I speculated at dinner parties that Bin Laden might not even exist. That is the mindless cynicism of a child of Watergate schooled by Redford's Hollywood.

You are wrong, Mr. Redford. We do not today need the tactics of Deep Throat--if we ever needed them at all. We have Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson, Karen Kwiatkowski, Bassem Youssef, and numerous others who have opted to stand up and speak out publicly from their positions within government, without hiding in dark garages and behind bizarrely chosen pseudonyms. Plus we have a million moonbats daily offering spurious leads purporting to show that Halliburton planned the war or that Zarqawi works for the CIA or that the World Trade Center was brought down by timed explosives. We don't have too few Deep Throats, we have too many.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The downward spiral at Reuters

Reuters' unabashedly biased reporting is nothing new, but I still get a laugh out of their word choice from time to time. Their headline writers have all the linguistic facility of a first-year ESL student.
Iranians vote in presidential poll damned by Bush

"Damned by Bush"? So now he's a god? Or a church elder? "A curse upon your foul and unholy electoral process!"

Does Reuters know the word "condemned"? Of course they do. But they also know that when their arguments against the Bush agenda fail to have any effect, they can always resort to making the guy look foolish by twisting his words. Or by publishing photos like this:

Oh, brother.

Chris Kleponis of Reuters must have giggled himself silly when he caught this shot, which eventually ended up in a Yahoo slideshow entitled "Republican Party" (thanks to Little Green Footballs for noticing this). Publishing this photo would be infantile even for The Onion or a college newspaper. For Reuters it's expected.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Another perfect non-sequitur from the American left

While perusing the morass of sameness that is Air America's website tonight, I thought I'd wake myself up by shopping for a bumper sticker from one of their advertisers, dontblamemeivoted4kerry.com. And guess what? I found one I like!

You'll find this marvelous sentiment for sale in the category of "Pro Democrat Progressive Anti-Right Wing Products." Methinks the moonbat doth protest too much. I know my punctuation, and I don't think "anti-right wing product" means what they wanted to say. (Sounds like something you buy when you want the wrong part for your plane. Or maybe feather moisturizer for a duck's left wing.) I know what progressive means, and this bumper sticker is certainly progressive--let's keep religion out of the business of determining rights. But pro-Democrat? What are Democrats doing for people whose rights are being restricted by religion? Not much.

In fairness, let's not forget that Bill Clinton did nobly ignore the misguided pacifism of his own party and send B-52s to halt the genocide of Muslims by Christians in the former Yugoslavia. Earned us the muffled appreciation of the Albanians, for what it's worth. It was Clinton's finest hour ... makes him a sort of one-hit-wonder in the Hit Parade of the executive branch. For his troubles, he received plenty of flak from the American left, including this caricature from The Progressive.

You try to do the right thing for a change ...

Aside from that brief anomaly, however, the Democrats can't really seem to get themselves mobilized against the oppressive forces of theocracy unless the object of scorn is the over-inflated bop bag of the Christian right. As I write, Sean Penn embarks on a new career as the left's favorite foreign correspondent, deftly downplaying the violent nature of Iran's Islamic oligarchy:
[Penn] told a film student during a visit to Iran's Film Museum in Tehran on Monday that the "Death to America" slogan chanted each week at Friday Prayers hurt Iran-U.S. relations.
"I understand the nature of where it comes from and what its intention is," he said. "But I don't think it's productive because I think the message goes to the American people and it is interpreted very literally."

So they mean "Death to America" metaphorically? I'll buy that. I've always thought that the mullahs' true underlying meaning was closer to "Raise the Banner of Primitivist Islam Over the Bloodied Corpse of Modern Ideals of Freedom and Equality."
Oh ... that's not it either?

I have a feeling that Penn may be learning a lesson in Iran, and his pro-tyranny tone may change a little once he is safely out of their airspace. On the other hand, I may just be letting my admiration for his acting skills and my irrepressible optimism get the better of me. We shall see. Maybe he didn't like getting his camera confiscated. But then he can't really complain--it's not like the Ayatollah hit him on the head with a rock.

I think I'll buy a big stack of these bumper stickers and send them to the Women's Automobile Drivers Association of Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

France learns humility

This is rich. The Chirac government's petulance appears to have run smack into immutable reality. After badgering reluctant E.U. member states to vote on the constitution by November of 2006, the French now feel that other nations can decide for themselves when and if they'll give the 500-page travesty the old "up-or-down." French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy made this rather novel statement regarding the French attitude toward the sovereignty of its neighbors: "Our humble and modest position says we simply respect the position of each member state."

Arrogant? ... moi?
This is certainly a change of tack. Back in 2003 the governments of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom all signed open letters supporting Washington's stance on Iraq. Chirac's response received wide media attention and pretty much universal derision. He said, in Brussels, in front of reporters and diplomats, in English: "They missed a great opportunity to shut up."

So if France's new position is "humble and modest," I think it's fair to say that the old one was "prideful and arrogant." Too bad the change comes a little late to undo Chirac's weakening of the coalition and emboldening of the Baathists in Iraq.

Does Douste-Blazy's announcement indicate a new French approach toward autonomy in the still-incubating political identity of the E.U.? Not likely. Chances are that Chirac has finally stopped pouting and taken stock of his credibility in light of France's resounding "non" to the constitution. And being so freshly humble and modest, he's not about to miss a great opportunity to shut up.

Monday, June 13, 2005

GOP apologizes for Democrat sins

I worked as a high school teacher in the early 1990's, the days of the glorious nascence of "crisis counseling" and the demise of "punishment." There, in a corner of the principal's office festooned with posters of rock-climbers and well-appointed with tissue boxes, I was witness to a new and troubling trend in eliciting false confessions. The new strategy was to badger the aggrieved party (say, the student whose backback had been adorned with rude graffiti) into confessing to and apologizing for some other, prior offense against the offender (say, being insensitive to the graffiti artist's feelings of inferiority and not reaching out in friendship before ink was spilled). With the scales of justice thus more easily balanced, apologies were passed around, exactly one to and one from each party present, and then please put your used tissues in the garbage and back to class, boys. It was nothing more than relativism at work, and I always got a nasty feeling when watching a student who had done nothing wrong glumly concede to whatever imagined offense the crisis counselor had manufactured.

So now Senator George Allen, a Republican from Virginia, is joining Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, in leading a great big mutual mea culpa for "the Senate's unwillingness for years to pass a law stopping a crime that cost the lives of over 4,700 people, mostly blacks, between 1882 and 1968." Unbelievable. The only unwillingness that stopped anti-lynching bills from being passed into law was the intransigence of racist southern Democrat senators and their reprehensible use of the filibuster. One such Democrat was Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi. Bilbo advocated deporting blacks to Africa, railed against intermarriage, and spoke glowingly of Hitler. He also filibustered two anti-lynching bills and used the threat of a filibuster to see to it that numerous others never came to a vote. The Annenberg Foundation's FactCheck.org did a piece in March on the filibuster's dirty history; it points to Bilbo and Strom Thurmond (who was a Democrat at the time) as two who used the filibuster to block not only anti-lynching bills but also civil rights legislation. In fact, Thurmond holds the record for the longest one-man speechifying in history: twenty-four hours spent in 1957 blocking the passage of a civil rights bill. For a more complete look at the Democrats' secret love affair with Jim Crow, go to my earlier post on Howard Dean's attempts to rewrite history.

The senators are correct that America's black community, especially the families of those murdered, deserves an apology. Blacks should also demand an explanation, and that explanation can come from only one place: the Democrat party whose southern members worked so hard to keep them down.

Run for the hills

The Associated Press has reported that our beleaguered nation is about to face a new assault--a wave of politically correct, people-to-people, touchy-feely diplomacy.
"It starts with a good feeling," German Embassy spokeswoman Martina Nibbeling said of public diplomacy in general and a new German advertising campaign. It includes the "friendship bus" — a Washington city bus that German officials had painted with U.S. and German figures talking to each other from across the globe.
That's right, from across the globe. And let's keep it that way. Thank god for the Atlantic.
Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger rode the bus one day through central Washington, greeting startled commuters.
("Startled"? Skip the lederhosen next time, Wolfgang.)
Other countries also are reaching out.
Canada plans to use millions of its expatriates in the United States as an army of spokesmen. France has a new campaign to explain its economic reforms and promote business. The Chinese Embassy last month held a "bridge" language contest, asking American students to speak on the subject of the "Splendor of Chinese Culture."
Let me get this straight. An "army" of Canadian spokesmen? Yikes. So on my way to the corner deli I'll be buttonholed by some diphthong-raising yahoo who wants to tell me about curling? And with my morning croissant I'm to be treated to an explanation of French economic reforms? Perhaps France should try explaining them to the French first. And the Chinese Embassy thinks that building bridges means offering American kids prizes for praising China? What happens if my essay doesn't quite manage to convey the splendor? Off to a re-education camp?

Okay, okay. I see the splendor. Now can I go home?

Aside from the staggering egoism behind the Chinese contest, it's hardly diplomatic. (But then diplomacy in Asia is about as subtle as professional wrestling.) How would it be received if we ask schoolchildren in China to wax eloquent on "The Glory of America"?

The article goes on to suggest that the U.S. is wisely jumping into this gag-inducing group-hug. The author says the State Department already has in place a "campaign to sell the U.S. to the Muslim world." I'm not sure I like the way that's phrased, but I'm doubtful the Muslim world is buying, anyway. Sadly, it is true that the State Department is making this a priority, as if there's any lack of exposure to American culture anywhere on the planet. If you're not watching American television shows or at least sampling our fine cuisine every now and then, you're probably scrambling around on some mountainside in Waziristan trying to dodge a CIA hit squad. We're everywhere ... and I thought that was supposed to be one of the reasons for our unpopularity. So should we really spend our energy and money dropping copies of Hi magazine on Muslim doorsteps around the world? Each month, Hi chooses a series of images for its "America Moments" section. This is June's lead "American Moment":

Yeah ... that's the mental image we'd like Muslims to associate with America.

This might be useful if you're trying to ingratiate yourself with football hooligans or 18th-century Scottish warriors, but I don't think any PR person can accurately predict what the vast majority of Muslims would make of this picture. And the idiocy doesn't stop there. Hi drew some criticism last week for an article portraying American men as preening "metrosexuals." Now I have my share of moisturizers in my medicine cabinet, but you won't catch me bragging about it down in the souk. The author and columnist Mona Charen reported on the magazine's lunacy at townhall.com, and her critique made the blog rounds until the offending article finally vanished from Hi's website.
So when the Canadians, French, and Germans try to chat us up with pick-up lines about their hair-care products or their economic reforms, let's give them a sensible response: "Sorry, but we're a little busy for that now."

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Arroyo hits the skids

Let's hope Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's departure doesn't become too protracted. This political opportunist and friend of the muddleheaded pacifist left deserves nothing more than a fast fade into oblivion. The memory of every hostage slaughtered in Iraq should haunt her for her shameful decision to reward terrorism and withdraw her nation's troops just to give herself a bounce in the polls. Naturally, it was what Wall Street calls a "dead-cat bounce."

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Now this purported enemy of corruption is facing accusations of bribery and vote-fixing.
May she rot.

Justice undone

Two judges in Lahore have overturned the convictions of the men accused of gang-raping Pakistani schoolteacher Mukhtar Bibi. As hard as it is to turn our attention back to this utterly nauseating case of Islamic misogyny, it's worthwhile reviewing the details. Apologists for Islam who are wasting their outrage on the supposed desecration of a book should know how that book's law is applied.

Mukhtar Bibi's little brother was judged by a Pakistani panchayat (a tribal court of Islamic law) to have offended another family's honor by flirting with one of that family's young women. In fact he probably did no such thing, as there is evidence the trial was a cover to keep him from revealing that several members of the panchayat had raped him earlier in the day. The panchayat ruled that the boy's punishment would be the public gang rape of his older sister. Afterward, Mukhtar refused to shut up about it, and eventually drew enough attention that a court in Pakistan had no choice but to bite the bullet and apply a little moral justice. The men went to jail. I guess the cretins on the bench in Lahore think the west doesn't have the moral stamina to object to the rapists going free after serving less than a year. Sadly, they are probably correct.

This case was the subject of one of my first posts on this blog. That post links to an August, 2002 article from the Pakistani online journal Newsline that gives the more complete account of the case than you'll find in the western media. You can jump directly back to the post from March 8 here. The post's title will take you to the Newsline article.

Islam's "bloody borders" and the press

A look at the web site of the Committee to Protect Journalists reveals a disturbing but unsurprising correlation: writing is a risky occupation if you are Muslim or live among Muslims. Of the fifteen most recent alerts and protests posted by CPJ, nine relate to attacks on or threats against journalists in places that are clearly Muslim-dominated (Lebanon, Bangladesh, Libya, etc.). four of the remaining six are about day-by-day developments in Nepal. Another attack is listed as occurring in Serbia and Montenegro, when in actuality it occurred in the predominantly Muslim enclave of U.N.-controlled Kosovo. And the last presumably non-Muslim case of journalist intimidation took place right here in my home town of New York City. Oh, but wait ... it's about Asra Nomani, an author and former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

Asra Nomani

It seems some of her fellow Muslims have taken offense at her writing, so they plan to "slaughter" her and her parents, "halal style." The FBI is looking into it while the mainstream media (with the exception of the Washington Post) ignore the plight of a journalist under attack. The last time The New York Times mentioned Nomani was back in March. I wonder if they would see fit to print her name should the NYPD find her murdered for speaking out.

I'm not suggesting that Islam universally condones the harassment and murder of journalists. The problem is that Islam does not condemn such acts, at least not consistently and not with any moral fortitude. There is a reason that the datelines on CPJ's alerts and protests do not read, "Denmark," "Japan," or "Canada." The fact that one of them reads "U.S.A." should give us pause.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis in Iraq:
Just compromise or compromising justice?

Sunnis in Iraq want voting parity with the Kurds, since their population is roughly the same size as the Kurds' (about 20 percent of Iraq's total). Sounds reasonable, until you consider these facts:

-The Sunni minority enjoyed political dominance and social privilege over the other 80 percent of Iraq for three decades by collaborating with a kleptomaniacal crime family (a marvelously accurate phrase from Christopher Hitchens). Voting parity did not seem high on their priority list back then.

-Sunnis form the backbone of the terrorist network that has made Iraq's transition from tyranny to democracy such a nightmare. More than 10,000 of the 12,000 Iraqi civilians killed by "insurgent" or "resistance" terrorism were Shiites, according to a report issued last week by Iraq's Interior Minister (and widely ignored by the media). Conversely, the report indicated, the terrorists' ranks and leadership are dominated by Sunnis.

-Sunnis chose to boycott the election. Shiites and Kurds bravely faced the violence of the Sunni-dominated "insurgency" to cast their votes and guarantee their representation. Sunnis now ask for the same representation as a reward for their cowardly rejectionism.

That said, to invite civil war out of spite would be to adopt a strategy no less pointless and stupid as the insurgency's. The Shiite and Kurd leadership deserve admiration for their tolerance and patience. The spirit of democracy is more evident in the protracted negotiations over Iraq's constitutional committee than in the shameful two-party sumo-wrestle-fest going on in our own Congress today.

The Sunnis should be careful not to ask too much; a little humility would be appropriate, considering the collective guilt that stains their community. They should not expect that Sunni leaders involved in terrorism will be welcomed into the political process. Some reasonable benchmark must be established, however, for disqualification. Perhaps the Shiites and the Kurds (and the U.S.) must accept that violent resistance in the past to the military occupation of Iraq does not equal terrorism and does not mean exclusion from government. This is already the case, de facto, as at least a dozen members of al-Sadr's Shiite resistance movement now hold seats in the new government, even as their logic-challenged leader questions the elections' legitimacy. But Iraq must now close the door on those tainted with unquestionably terrorist acts. The kidnapping and killing of soldiers and civilians, the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Iraq, bombings and shootings in mosques and marketplaces, and threats against polling stations are just a few acts that cannot now be justified as reasonable resistance to a foreign occupation. Likewise Shiites implicated in the murders of Sunni clerics and Kurds implicated in terrorist acts in their long-running conflict with Turkey should find no place in the new Iraqi government

It appears that the Shiites and the Kurds will wisely accomodate the Sunnis' desire for accurate representation in the creation of the new Iraqi constitution. Should one fifth of the nation's people regard the constitution as illegitimate, the nightmare will be far from over. The new government should not, however, adopt a policy of amnesia. Those who acted wisely in the past--even while resisting the direction of the new Iraq--should not be asked to sit beside those who let spite, hatred, and the bloodlust of rage guide their actions.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Will the new Iraqi government open its arms to terrorists?

According to the Associated Press, Ayham al-Samarie, who used to be electricity minister in Iraq, claims the Iraqi government is opening channels of communication with terrorist groups such as the Islamic Army in Iraq.
"We told them that 'no one knows what you want. You say you want the occupier to leave Iraq but what do you want after that? You must have a political agenda. You must come out to the political arena and make clear what you want," said al-Samarie. "They set no conditions and we agreed with them that the time has come for them to come out,' he added, but would not disclose who else was involved."

The terrorists must be thinking, "Make clear what we want? Where has al-Samarie been? Doesn't he read our statements? Watch our videos? Listen to our tapes?" Near the end of last December, Ansar Al-Sunna, the Islamic Army in Iraq, and the Army of the Mujahedeen issued a joint statement on the internet that was reported by both western and Arab media. It echoed many of Zarqawi's sentiments regarding democracy and western influence on Islamic society.

The text of the original statement has been pretty much shoved down the memory hole by the mainstream media. In December and January, it was reported by many media outlets, including The Times, the BBC, The Guardian, and al Jazeera. None have archived the text of the statement. All the links I can find now lead back to an irritatingly password-protected PDF file from Global Terror Alert. The PDF won't allow copying from its text, so loath as I am to become a typist for murderers, here's a sampling of the PDF, retyped. (Though there's no way to Dowdify this statement, I still encourage you to read the alleged translation of the original:
O Mujahideen! Know that fighting is not considered jihad unless undertaken in the cause of the religion ... Also, jihad must be the best way to serve that cause, as the praised one [Allah] has said: 'And kill them until there is no more dissent and the religion of Allah is supreme ...

We are concerned that Muslims will be fooled by their pagan magic tricks and misleading propaganda and, therefore, the scholars of our nation must reveal the truth. In this statement, we reveal some evidence of why democracy should be prohibited and why it stands in opposition to the religion of Allah:

1.) Ruling is for Allah alone--not for the people--and the people should merely obey Allah's commands and his Islamic law ...

3.) The religion of Allah is complete, as are his Islamic laws comprehensive and complete. Therefore, casting ballots over his already known and established laws is considered to be among the worst of the forbidden acts ...

8.) Democracy looks upon everyone as equals: the Muslims and the non-Muslims, males and females, the righteous and the evil, the educated and the ignorant. However, the laws of Allah do not look equally at all these groups ...

11.) The religion of democracy is a belief system used by the enemies of Allah--the Christians and the Jews--in order to trick and deceive the people

Is al-Samarie suggesting that there is some place in the new Iraqi government for these views? He can negotiate some kind of truce with these primitivist thugs?

In addition to the Jihadis hoping to create in Iraq a new Caliphate to rule over a vast Taliban-style Islamic super-state, there are the Baathists (some leftover Fedayeen Saddam, some Syrian agents and insurgents) hoping to resurrect the old guard and get back to raiding Iraq's wealth for the personal gain of the Sunni minority. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (which goes by the acronym UNAMI--sounds like Esperanto for "unfriendly") noted in March a comment in the Iraqi press by Rashid al-Khayun:
Such a heinous atrocity as the blowing up of a health centre in a sprawling marketplace leaves no doubt that the mastermind behind it has one clear message to get across to Iraqis: Accept a new Ba'thist state with a Salafi faade, or risk physical liquidation to the last one of you. After such knowledge, what national reconciliation can some still talk about?
I agree wholeheartedly. There is no room the new Iraqi democracy for murderers, even supposedly repentant murderers.

There is a somewhat lame defense of Baathist resistance in an open letter written by Nada Al-Rubaiee of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance and reprinted on the odious but useful albasrah.net.
The resistance in Iraq is the resistance of the Iraqi people and it is mainly represented by the major political groups; the Patriotic, Islamic and the Pan-Arab groups.

By this, we want to emphasis on the fact that our resistance has an anti-imperialistic profile with Islamic and patriotic elements. Adding on that, the effective participation of members of the dismantled Iraqi army and the Baath party.

We could expect some objections about the participation of the Baath party in the resistance. There are more than three million active Baath party members in Iraq. So, when we mention members of this party we do not mean only those who were in the former Iraqi government. But those who believe in the Baath ideology expressed in their slogan: Unity, Liberty and socialism.

The fear of the Islamic character of the Iraqi resistance could be answered by the fact that after the liberation of Iraq, the Iraqi resistance will then be the only legitimized representative of the Iraqi people. A transition period will then give the Iraqi people the chance to choose their representatives to form a united national government with full participation of all parties including the Islamic forces. We have then to accept the choice of the Iraqi people.

Al-Rubaiee then lapses into typical terrorist mendacity and obfuscation to address the problem that no sane people would want their nation placed in the hands of those behind the indiscriminate bloodletting that poses as "resistance" in Iraq:
Schools, churches, mosques and other civilian places have never been the target of the Iraqi resistance. Besides, we have to be very critical and careful about any kidnapping or killing process of a foreigner-worker in Iraq. The resistance has no benefit in attacking people like Margaret Hassan, two Simona's or others. These actions are meant to discredit the legal resistance of our people.

They "have to be very critical and careful about any kidnapping or killing process of a foreigner-worker in Iraq." What on earth does that mean? Bear in mind that this is a written letter, not an off-the-cuff radio interview. That's the best he could come up with?

Those Sunnis who foolishly boycotted the elections should be invited into the government, included in the development of the permanent constitution, and shown the value of the voting power they possess. Those who went beyond merely boycotting and waged war on the civilian population of Iraq (whether for heresy or for collaboration) are criminals and should be treated as criminals.

For another glimpse into the nature of the Iraqi "resistance," we have this, from Albasrah.net:
Resistance sharpshooter kills American soldier in Samarra

An Iraqi Resistance sharpshooter shot and killed an American soldier who was standing in a US armored vehicle that was passing on patrol in the ad-Dubbat neighborhood of western Samarra, Mafkarat al-Islam reported. The Resistance sharpshooter was perched in a large medical building opposite the street where the patrol was.

"A large medical building." Hmmm, pass me the thesaurus, because I think there's an easier way to say that. Here it is: "hospital." So the Iraqi Resistance proudly places sharpshooters in hospital windows. You have to give them--and Albasrah--credit for their honesty.

Albasrah is a goldmine of jihadi hatred and violence, with accounts and videos of attacks on troops, beheadings of hostages, and bombings of civilian targets (including polling places). Notably, Albasrah also offers clips of Michael Moore speeches, a bootleg download of Fahrenheit 911, BBC documentaries, George Galloway's blather before the U.S. Senate, and interviews with Seymour Hersh, Scott Ritter, Senator Robert Byrd, and other shining stars of the American left.

Samir Haddad and Mazin Ghazi wrote in September 2004 a brief and useful analysis of the different insurgent groups operating in Iraq. The article was originally published in the weekly Baghdad Al-Zawra and is reprinted on the website of the Socialist Unity Network.

And here are a couple of quotes I find relevant to this issue:

In an interview with David Remnick, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said: "The U.S and U.K., including human-rights groups, have, in the past, been calling on us to give these terrorists their 'human rights' ... You can give them all the human rights they deserve until they kill you."

"He who would kill you would also lie to you." Mid-east maxim.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A note on my blogrolls

After researching and writing the piece on infibulation for the better part of Monday, I slept about as well as a death-row convict last night. So I'm taking a one-day break from ranting to point you in the direction of some other blogs. (I'm also guardian-for-a-day of two ducklings from my daughter's kindergarten class, a considerable challenge to my attention span.)

California Medicine Man writes eloquently and frequently on topics that are primarily medical but often have important political or public policy ramifications. Those of us stuck in the Clash of Civilizations rut would do well to take a daily dose of his blog. There are other issues out there. His posts on topics like health insurance tax law and the R&D of antibiotics also tend to inspire thoughtful debate, so don't skip the comments. In the interest of total disclosure, he also gave Commoner Sense a glowing recommendation. Check out California Medicine Man and you'll see this isn't a quid pro quo ... great stuff, and quite a change from the ordinary political-blog menu.

Gateway Pundit is either a team masquerading as a single blogger, or he's OCD and off his meds. Someone invite him out to dinner ... get him away from the keyboard. Prolific doesn't even some close to describing his work habits. His posts are a little free-form, not much like the SAT reading-comprehension essays you find on some other blogs ... hmmm. Lots of exclamation points, lots of good links, and great photos! (Look, I used an exclamation point.) Check out the dead pony photo accompanying his post on the demise of the EU Constitution. (Do constitutions no one understands or signs still get a capital "C"?)

In one of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, there's a character who has immortality inadvertently foist upon him and spends his eternity traveling everywhere, insulting everyone in the universe, in alphabetical order. Bernard Cloutier seems to be on a similar mission, without the insults. (Except when it comes to Bush, but then who doesn't insult Bush?) He's been everywhere except Afghanistan, New Guinea, Zaire, Angola, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Oman, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. That's it. Every other country on the planet, he's been to, often more than once, and he's written about and photographed all of them. Except Belgium. I don't know what he has against Belgium ... maybe it's another Hitchhiker's Guide thing. Check it out.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Another outrage overlooked

In a New York Times op-ed column published yesterday, Nicholas Kristof writes that the systematic gang rape by Arab militiamen terrorizing the black population of Darfur is exacerbated by the fact that these women have, by the time they reach puberty, undergone a form of ritual female genital mutilation (FGM) called “infibulation”:
[M]ost girls in Darfur undergo an extreme form of genital cutting called infibulation that often ends with a midwife stitching the vagina shut with a thread made of wild thorns. This stitching and the scar tissue make sexual assault a particularly violent act ...

Kristof is right to call attention to the victimization of Sudanese women by rapists, but why are we led so quickly away from the shocking fact that these women have already been victimized before the rapists catch them? Women in Darfur are systematically violated as children by their own parents, by their own backward societies, and by a world that looks on and does nothing. To his credit, Kristof has tried many times to call attention to such abuses of women, and he has drawn the ire of feminists like Katha Pollitt for not shutting up and letting them handle it their own way. Responding to accusations of inaction on the part of feminists, Jessica Neuwirth of the group Equality Now said: “I don't think [Kristof] appreciates how stretched women's organizations are." Right. Tell that to a woman trying to give birth through a scarred vaginal opening the diameter of a quarter. There’s nothing wrong with shouting about this, even if you happen to be a privileged white guy like Kristof (or me). The more outrage, the better. And the more people know about this, the more outrage there will be, if we have any sense of morality left.

What exactly is infibulation? It’s more complicated--and far more horrifying--than you’d know from Kristof’s recent piece. The fibula was a sort of safety pin used by the fashionable of ancient Rome to keep the folds of their togas pinned together.

A fibula

Those readers with more colorful imaginations can probably see where this is going. There’s a good deal of disagreement over the origins of this kind of body alteration, but for what it’s worth, it’s been practiced in varying forms in Africa and parts of Europe for millennia. Gynecologists in the west still encounter women who have had their labia pierced specifically for the attachment of chastity devices. In fact some members of the S&M community today object to Sudan’s ritual genital mutilation being confounded with infibulation as S&M aficionados practice it: a much more “civilized” procedure involving sterile piercing tools, training rings, a padlock, and--importantly--the consent of the woman. What is happening in Sudan today bears as much resemblance to this “alt-dot” kink as a mastectomy does to a nipple ring.

This is not consent.

[Update: In fairness, this is probably not FGM either. It looks more like a vaccination than a circumcision, now that I think about it. I'll keep searching for an image of an actual FGM that would be appropriate for this blog.]

Today in Sudan the practice has devolved from its dubious beginnings into an indefensible horror that humiliates, tortures, and kills girls who already suffer the misfortune of being born into an African nation in the grip of aggressive Islam. Sudanese female genital mutilation is not just a cutting away of parts that men consider extraneous. It is the total removal of the girl’s outer lips, inner lips, and clitoris, followed by the abrasion and stitching together (with a thorn) of what is left, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood to escape. This opening will become stiff with scar tissue, making sex excruciating painful (though allegedly great for the pig of a man who takes her by tearing her open--read the case histories at the end of the study here at this link). Obviously, the damage can also make childbirth a potentially fatal nightmare of agony and tearing flesh.

The surgical instrument

America’s mainstream media have done what they usually do when they encounter an indefensible horror. They’ve ignored it. Worse, some in the west have even given credence and airtime to those who defend it. Oddly, groups protesting the practice of male circumsicion have managed to undermine the efforts of those fighting to end FGM by trying to draw parallels between the two. (If there is a simpler example of how relativism can lead to inaction in the face of evil, I can’t think of it.) Outside of Africa and some European mosques, there are few who will defend infibulation--except for the standard cast of muddleheaded multiculturalists who tromp around the third world peering through the underbrush, ready to declare any barbarity they spy an intrinsically valuable cultural institution. These were the apologists for the Taliban. They think that films of Yanamamo Indians sitting around getting high while their teeth rot are a blast. Politically, they were the ones who told us that for the sake of stability, eastern Europeans needed the fist of Communism hovering above them. And you still catch them chirping occasionally that Arabs aren’t ready for democracy, though lately they’ve found it better to lay low on that front. It is generally the extreme right and the extreme left who choose to do and say nothing about infibulation. The right because they take a reprehensibly isolationist, let-the-savages-eat-themselves approach. The left because they have lost the ability to be outraged by any act they cannot pin on the Bush administration.

Ironically, on this issue the extreme right and left find themselves alone together beneath the sheets, without their usual menage a trois partner--supposedly moderate Muslims. Infibulation is a practice not widely condoned by the Islamic religious hierarchy, and it is in fact frequently condemned by clerics as haram for violating the Koran’s direction that men and women should not alter what Allah has made. This is the same philosophy that prohibits tattoos. I don’t agree with this line of reasoning, but I think we should make whatever alliances we can to try to slow and stop this barbarism in months and years rather than in decades or centuries. Muslim clerics elsewhere in the world must hold some sway over their African counterparts, and they should find it in their best interests to exercise what influence they have. (And not just on the issue of FGM. Imams in the Nigerian state of Kano have managed with their primitivism to resurrect the scourge of polio and export it to Asia, all in just over a year.)

It seems to me that the left in the U.S., with its vaunted legacy of bringing change for the better (ending child labor, fighting for racial equality in the American south, championing the rights of the disabled) has turned impotent, ineffectual when confronted by injustice. What happened? How did the left become so fearful of moral certainty that it stands paralyzed in the face of such outrages? Why does it scramble eagerly toward irrelevance, going into paroxysms over the mishandling of a book, while real, living girls and women suffer and bleed? There are groups fighting against infibulation, issuing press releases and holding conferences. Aren’t they more deserving of America’s attention than Michael Jackson’s tribulations, or Jacques Chirac’s? Or even the offense to a prisoner’s sensibilities at the sight of a Koran on a toilet? What is wrong with us?

For a clear summary of the details of different forms of FGM and the mistreatment of women in Africa, read Jessica Kurtzer’s “Blood of Africa,” a carefully researched review of two books by women who have suffered the practice.

Since archived New York Times op-ed pieces are accessible only by subscription, the best way to find Kristof's piece on rape in Darfur is to Google "Kristof infibulation" and cross your fingers.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Is Azerbaijan a democratic ambush?

The always-attentive and prolific Gateway Pundit has written a noteworthy post on the pro-democracy protests in Azerbaijan. As someone who remembers the origins of the 1998 African embassy bombings, I initially regarded the Azerbaijan pro-democracy movement with a little skepticism. Sort of the way I feel about feminists in headscarves. But I have to put my money where my mouth is, so let's have a look at the parties rallying for change, just to make sure we don't catch a note of Wahhabi in the noble noise of freedom and self-determination. After all, Islamists in other places have made clear the utility of democratic elections (combined with systematic voter intimidation) as a means of gaining power ... and then using the power to ban elections as un-Islamic. This strategy of "One Man, One Vote, One Time" was made infamous by Ali Belhadj, the leader of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front (FIS): "When we are in power, there will be no more elections because God will be ruling." (Other FIS leaders claim he was misquoted, and there is no link available to substantiate the statement. Belhadj was so quoted by Said Sadi in an article in the French weekly Le Point on August 6, 1994.) So how do we know that's not the plan in Azerbaijan?

I think we can say there is good news and bad news. Bad new first: I don't see a single woman in any of the photos of the protests--not a good sign.

The protest in Azerbaijan

Remember the Cedar Revolution?

The protest in Lebanon

Not all democratic movements are created equal. (Thanks to LGF and Gateway Pundit for the photos.)

So what's up with the all-boys march? Could it be ... Allah? Well here's the good news. The political parties that called the march appear to have no connections whatsoever to the Islamist movements that do exist in Azerbaijan. Asbed Kotchikian writes in The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor that while there has been an upswing in radical Islamist activity in Azerbaijan recently, "historically speaking, Azerbaijan has had a nationalist orientation rather than a religious one." Maybe the women of Baku will get involved in protest marches when they have something to vote about. The three parties that called the protest--the People’s Front of Azerbaijan, the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan and the Musavat party--have no connections to Islamists that I can find. Eurasianet provides brief histories of each of the parties involved.

So thanks again to Gateway Pundit for calling attention to what the mainstream media finds less than newsworthy. The Swiss vote half-heartedly to join the withering EU (at least in regard to border checks) and it makes the Associated Press top stories list. Pro-democracy protesters in a Muslim nation march with pictures of George W. Bush (without swastikas added and not in flames), and it's just not news. Bush's democracy-domino-theory is looking more credible with each passing month, but the biased media in America can't bring themselves to admit it.

Friday, June 03, 2005

What the Geneva Conventions actually say

Amid all the breathless hyperbole over the Gulag of the Greater Antilles, I haven't seen any mainstream media source make any use of the text of the Geneva Conventions relative to the Bush Administration's claim that the detainees in Guantanamo do not qualify as "prisoners of war." Let's have a look at Article 4A of the third Geneva Convention, which defines who is and who is not a prisoner of war:

Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions: (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.
(5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.
(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

Unfortunately, the writers of the convention managed to make Article 4 practically meaningless through inconsistency and overlapping provisions. However, the four provisos attached to Section 2 offer some insight into the intention of "framers" of the conventions. A member of a "militia" or "resistance movement" must satisfy all four to qualify as a prisoner of war under Section 2. The first proviso--that they have a command structure--is true of the Bloods and the Crips, the Washington Redskins, and just about every other group on earth except my own family. The second is more significant: "that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance." Why is this so important? So armies can better avoid killing civilians, and on this point the Taliban, their supporters, and Michael Moore's Iraqi "freedom fighters" fail miserably. If fact, they deliberately hide their identity as militias. The third proviso hardly matters in Afghanistan or Iraq, since just about everyone over the age of twelve carries a Kalashnikov. And the last, that they conduct their operations "in accordance with the laws and customs of war," knocks the Gitmo prisoner-of-war argument flat. The actions of the Taliban and the Iraqi insurgents couldn't be farther from accordance. Try reading Article 3 of the third Geneva Convention with Nick Berg in mind. Amnesty International itself condemned the "armed group, Muntada al-Ansar" for Berg's murder, calling it a "war crime" and "a serious crime under international law." As long as Muntada al-Ansar fails to arrest and turn over for prosecution its errant "soldiers," doesn't this disqualify them from claiming POW status?

Section 6 of Article 4 offers another loophole that the ACLU might attempt to exploit, but again, it requires that "inhabitants" who "spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces" respect the laws and customs of war. Sorry, Zarqawi, POW status is for soldiers, and you're a terrorist.

McGovern thinks Bush deserves a Deep Throat

Back in 1972 I bet my bus driver that McGovern would win. I lost a 1972 dime. I had an excuse, though ... I was six years old. It would take me another twenty-five years--and two Democrat presidents--to learn the difference between a carpetbagging blowhard and a man of action. Another stipulation, my bus driver told me, was that I had to shut my mouth about Nixon. Sadly, that applied only to the loser of the bet, not the loser of the election ...

So now, thanks to the ever-vigilant ear of the mainstream media, we must suffer the opinion of a half-rate legislator whose claim to fame is that once-upon-a-time the Democrats couldn't find anyone less repulsive to put up for president. McGovern thinks our government would be improved by having more traitors in high places. Actually, that's been the Democrats' driving philosophy for more than half a century.
"This war in Iraq, in my opinion is worse than anything Nixon did. I think Nixon deserved to be expelled from office in view of the cover-up that he carried on and the laws that he violated ... But we have an administration in power now that led us to a war that is internationally illegal; it's a war that we are fighting with a country that has no threat to us that has nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks." McGovern said Nixon was undoubtedly 'tricky,' but said of Bush: "This man claims to be Christian, following the will of God, and then he misleads the whole nation on a totally fraudulent enterprise in Iraq that we should have never been attached to."

To be frank, I'd forgotten McGovern was still among the living. It galls me that I have to give him some respect for his service in WWII. And that's as much as I'll give, as he's devoted far more time and effort to being a U.N. bureaucrat.

Let's also take note that here we have another example of a Bush opponent needlessly invoking religion. I've heard the administration come up with various rationales for dethroning Saddam, but divine direction hasn't been one of them.

Pass me an airsick bag. And gimme my dime back.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Keeping an eye on the Beslan trial

Little Green Footballs has pointed the way to a blogger doing some fantastic work, including keeping an eye on the progress of the trial of the only surviving terrorist involved in the Beslan school massacre. News of Pashi Kulayev's not-guilty plea is nowhere to be found in America and Europe's mainstream media, naturally. As always, CBS and the BBC would rather we forget about Belsan and focus instead on the Gulag of the Greater Antilles. Many thanks--and a spot on "Consciousness-Raising Links"--to Gateway Pundit, for foiling the misdirection and keeping the focus where it belongs.

Mainstream media "shocked, simply shocked" at violence in mosques

A suicide bomber dressed as a policeman blew himself up inside a mosque in Kandahar yesterday during a prayer service, killing nineteen people and maiming dozens more. A New York Times reporter speaking on NPR's Morning Edition described the tragedy with a touch of weariness in her voice, and then said: "It is particularly shocking in this religious country that it [the bombing] was in a mosque."

Shocking to whom? Toddlers and the senile might legitimately claim to be shocked, but anyone who's been paying attention for the last decade cannot.

Later in the morning, the BBC World Service Newshour asserted that there has not been a bomb attack on a mosque in Afghanistan in three years. The BBC apparently doesn't count the deadly bombings at mosques in January of 2005 and July of 2004. Perhaps they don't know about them or don't know what "three years" means. In either case, they should take the words "world," "service" and "news" out of their name and just call themselves "hour" ... if they can remember how long an hour is.

Here are some other recent attacks on mosques in Afghanistan (each one is also a link to the relevant news or human rights report):

Shiberghan, Afghanistan--January 20, 2005--2 Killed

Sar Marda, Afghanistan--January 16, 2005--3 Wounded

Ghazni, Afghanistan--July 28, 2004--6 Killed

Herat, Afghanistan--May 5, 2001--10 Killed

Yakaolang, Afghanistan--March 8, 2001--71 Killed

And just a sampling of the numerous attacks by Muslims on mosques in other places around the world:

Karachi, Pakistan--May 30, 2005--1 Killed

Baghdad, Iraq--April 22, 2005--9 Killed

Mosul, Iraq--March 10, 2005--Around 40 Killed

Baghdad, Iraq--February 18, 2005--17 Killed

Baghdad, Iraq--January 21, 2005--15 Killed

Quetta, Pakistan--July 4, 2003--53 Killed

Najaf, Iraq--August 30, 2003--124 Killed

And let's not overlook the November, 1979 attack on the "holiest" place in all Islam--the Grand Mosque in Mecca. More than 250 people were killed.

Anything close to thoughtful examination of the facts reveals that attacks on mosques are not uncommon. The persistent image of mosques as a refuges from hatred and violence is nothing more than Islamist obfuscation mixed with Western leftist self-deception.