The Long and Foggy War
Political and media elites continue to view the global conflict through clouded eyes.
We Americans are uncomfortable with such ideas as holy war and religiously motivated mass murder. Raised to believe in equality, tolerance, and diversity, we cannot imagine slaughtering fellow human beings so that adherents of the “true faith” might prevail over “enemies of God.” Nor can most of us imagine others acting in this way. Our imaginations are failing us.
Two years ago, Andrew C. McCarthy published Willful Blindness, his authoritative memoir of the years he spent prosecuting terrorists for the federal government. It should have opened the eyes of anyone who, despite the atrocities of 9/11, still could not grasp the fact that those who say they are waging a jihad against infidels really mean they are waging a jihad against infidels.
But the response to the attempted terrorist bombing in Times Square demonstrates that many political and media leaders continue to view the global conflict though clouded eyes, insisting that terrorism must be motivated by political grievance or personal frustration or economic deprivation or desperation — anything but theological conviction.
For example, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg theorized that the would-be car bomber might be “someone with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health-care bill or something.”
The Associated Press was quick to tell the public that the perpetrator’s motives were “unknown.” It added, however, that suspect Faisal Shahzad’s “life had unraveled.” National Public Radio provided a specific turning point: “Times Square Suspect’s World ‘Flipped Upside Down’ Last Summer.”
Newsweek asked: “Did the economy make him do it?” (Perhaps he had read Newsweek’s Feb. 9, 2009, cover story, “We Are All Socialists Now”?)
Newsday drilled down to the fact that “Faisal Shahzad’s home was in foreclosure,” suggesting that he was just one more victim of the real-estate market.
CBS’s Bob Orr thought he might be “angry over Predator strikes that have killed both terror leaders and civilians in his native Pakistan.” In other words, if only President Obama would stop targeting terrorists, maybe the terrorists would . . . do what? Concentrate on other victims about whom we need not concern ourselves?
Orr also lamented that while Shahzad has been a U.S. citizen for a year, “he has not realized any American dream.” Well, that would justify just about anyone leaving a car bomb in the theater district, don’t you think?
Similar theories were offered by CNN and the Washington Post, prompting satirist Joe Queenan to ponder the history of “the connection between personal humiliation and violence. Hitler, it is widely known, was so devastated by his failure to win acceptance into art school that he drifted into fascism and violence. Stalin, with his peasant roots and comically rustic accent, never really felt part of the Soviet in-crowd, which may have accounted for his otherwise puzzling decision to butcher 50 million of his countrymen.”
Such self-delusion would be more amusing were it not putting Americans in peril. As noted above, I think a failure of imagination is part of the explanation. Also at work is an understandable reluctance to give offense to Muslims.
But genuinely moderate Muslims are not offended by the truth. Commenting on the Times Square bombing attempt, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a prominent American Muslim reformer, stated what so many others will not: “Islamists are at war intellectually and kinetically with western liberal democracies.” He added that while Americans are often the victims, “most Islamists globally actually target moderate Muslims who are their greatest existential threat.”
Anti-Islamist Muslims know, too, that the Islamists have not “hijacked” a “religion of peace,” comforting as that might be for us to believe. Islamists are fundamentalists, not heretics. Their reading of Islam is neither new nor unorthodox. They advocate a return to Islam as it was practiced in the seventh century. In that era, Islam was, without apology or ambiguity, a warrior faith dedicated to conquest — with power, wealth, and glory accruing to conquerors.
Muhammad was a not just a prophet; he also was a military commander. He, his successors, and their armies established one of the greatest empires of all time. They began in Arabia, then marched westward to the Atlantic, eastward to the Pacific, and into Europe as well. Islamists believe that similar conquests can and should be won in the 21st century — if only Muslims will return to their roots and fulfill their obligation to wage jihad, which now takes the form of asymmetrical warfare.
One additional reason for confusion is taqquiyah, deception of the infidel, an authorized weapon of jihad. For example, Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-born academic — he holds the His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford (no kidding) — last week told the Washington Post that jihad “has nothing to do with holy war. . . . Where you are trying to resist bad temptations and reform yourself with good aspirations that you have, this is a jihad of the self.”
What makes this lie so brazen — though the Post did not think to question it — is that Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, who in 1928 founded the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Banna himself stated clearly that the Qur’an and other Islamic doctrines “summon people . . . to jihad, to warfare, to the armed forces, and all means of land and sea fighting.”
In addition: The Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas. Among Hamas’s founders was Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, who also was Osama bin Laden’s mentor. As Andy McCarthy relates in Willful Blindness, Azzam “galvanized Muslims worldwide with his call to jihad — traditional, unreservedly violent jihad.” In a speech in Oklahoma City in 1988, Azzam instructed fellow Muslims: “The jihad, the fighting, is obligatory on you whenever you can perform it. And just as when you are in America you must fast . . . so, too, must you wage jihad. The word jihad means fighting only, fighting with the sword.”
And fighting with car bombs, and plastic explosives in one’s underwear, and FN Five-seven semi-automatic pistols and .357 magnums (used to slaughter American soldiers at Fort Hood), and hijacked passenger planes, and maybe, before long, with nuclear weapons as well.
None of this should be surprising. What is: the obstinate naïveté, the determined ignorance, the continuing willful blindness of so many of our political and media leaders in the face of the 21st century’s most daunting challenge and most deadly threat.
— Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and Islamism.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
From the AP:
Muhammad cartoonist 'head-butted' during lecture
STOCKHOLM – A Swedish artist who angered Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog was assaulted Tuesday as furious protesters interrupted his university lecture about the limits of free speech.
Lars Vilks told The Associated Press a man leaped from the front row and head-butted him as he was delivering his lecture at Uppsala University, breaking Vilks' glasses but leaving him uninjured.
Police later said the attacker was stopped before he could reach Vilks and that the artist may have bumped into plain-clothes officers who briskly evacuated him from the room. Three people were detained, but it wasn't immediately clear whether the attacker was among them.
A video clip of the incident by a Swedish newspaper showed police using pepper spray and batons to hold off an angry crowd shouting "God is great" in Arabic after Vilks was escorted out of the lecture hall.
Locally, both Henry Ford Community College, and the University of Michigan-Dearborn have active chapters of the MSA. It’s the college organization created by the Muslim Brotherhood to advance the Ikhwan’s ideological objectives through nonviolent student Dawa campaign. But that’s just a softening-up operation, because the final goal of the Muslim Brotherhood/MSA is not nonviolent. As I wrote three years ago:
Advocating patience in achieving Brotherhood goals at an Ohio rally in 1995, "top Brotherhood official, Youssef Qaradawi, said victory will come through dawah .... ‘Conquest through dawah, that is what we hope for,’ said Qaradawi, an influential Qatari imam who pens some of the religious edicts justifying Hamas suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. ‘We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not through the sword but through dawah,’ said the imam, who has condemned the Sept. 11 attacks but is now barred from the United States.” (“Just What Is the MSA?”).Recently, David Horowitz gave a speech at the University of California, San Diego, which was attended by some MSA members. At least one young lady had her shell peeled back to show what was underneath. You tell me if it doesn’t make your blood run cold.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
He had this to say in the New York Post:
Obama wakes up
By RALPH PETERS
Something big is happening. Big enough to alarm the White House. So big that the administration did an abrupt about-face regarding terrorism.
Terrorism's serious now -- driving major policy reversals. The administration just won't tell us why.
A week ago, failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad wasn't even a Muslim, but a 40-something white male and, as Mayor Bloomberg insisted, probably an opponent of ObamaCare.
Then, after Shahzad's apprehension, we were told that he was just another "one-off" in the tradition of Islamist terrorists who aren't really Islamist terrorists at all, but distraught homeowners unable to meet mortgage payments or victims of our prejudice (such as Maj. Nidal Hassan, the traitor and butcher of Fort Hood).
Even generals who knew better lined up to deny that Shahzad was part of a terror network.
Then wham! Over the weekend, the Obama administration unleashed a reverse-course media offensive -- deploying Attorney General Eric Holder, terror czar John Brennan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and plentiful back-channel messages from staffers.
Instead of Shahzad being a one-off, Brennan tied him to the Pakistani Taliban and stressed to TV viewers that there are dangers we're "taking very seriously."
Clinton and others warned Pakistan that it must crack down on militant strongholds in North Waziristan, hinting that Islamabad's failure to do so might lead to direct US intervention in Cambodia (uh, sorry, that's Pakistan).
But the administration's biggest policy reversal to date came from Holder, the longtime advocate of terrorist "rights," who offered one of the most belated acknowledgments in history when he told a TV network, "We're now dealing with international terrorism."
Holder, of all people, now wants Congress to change the rules for Miranda rights, giving the government more time under a "public-safety exception" to permit extended questioning of terrorist suspects before arming them with lawyers.
And there wasn't a single mention of "man-caused disasters" this time around. Every administration point person talked "terrorism." Next thing you know, somebody in the White House will use the term "Islamist terrorist."
So what does this startling policy shift mean for you?
First, the administration has plainly realized that the terror danger is much higher than it believed one week ago.
Second, it means that Shahzad really has been talking -- almost certainly tipping us that there are more America-bound terror trainees out there (or already here) and letting us fit together important pieces of the intelligence puzzle.
Third, the White House obviously fears more terror attacks sooner rather than later.
This sudden policy shift and media mobilization by an administration that's usually lethargic on security issues means that folks at the top are worried about the political costs of a successful terrorist strike.
For all the backslapping over how quickly we nabbed Shahzad after the failed attack (a combination of superb police work and dumb luck), it seems at last to have dawned on the administration that, for all his technical ineptitude, Shahzad came very, very close to killing and wounding hundreds of Americans at a location symbolic of our country.
Had Shahzad been a suicide bomber willing to stay in that SUV, the outcome could have been painfully different.
To be fair, the administration probably doesn't want to give us more details because of intelligence concerns (and embarrassment that it's been asleep at the wheel). It also doesn't want to generate panic. Or drive down the stock market yet again.
And the weekend full-court press in the media -- speaking bluntly about terror networks, possible intervention in Pakistan and modifying Miranda rights -- sends the encouraging signal that this White House may be capable of learning, after all.
Since Inauguration Day, reality denial has been an integral part of this administration's culture. But reality's a persistent intruder. For reasons we don't yet know in detail, the failed Times Square bombing appears to have brought the White House at least part way to its senses.
Some revelation about the terrorist threat has shocked the president. It's about time.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Endless War."
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan. (“Holder Backs a Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects”).I guess history really did begin with Barack Obama’s election.
Otherwise why would Attorney General Eric Holder suddenly be talking about the Islamic terrorism that’s been shadowing all of us since September 11, 2001 as a “new threat”?
Sunday on Meet the Press, AG Holder had a brand-new approach to the issue. “We’re now dealing with international terrorists,” he said, “and I think that we have to think about perhaps modifying the rules that interrogators have and somehow coming up with something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face.”
NOW dealing with international terrorists? The threat that we NOW face?
AG Holder was recently championing the 50-minute questioning of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and now last week was asking Congress for legislation allowing lengthier interrogations.
“If we are going to have a system that is capable of dealing in a public safety context with this new threat, I think we have to give serious consideration to at least modifying that public safety exception,” Mr. Holder said. “And that’s one of the things that I think we’re going to be reaching out to Congress to do: to come up with a proposal that is both constitutional but that is also relevant to our time and the threat that we now face.”NOW face? What have the rest of us been doing the last 8 ½ years?
I suppose we should count our blessings. Things on the terror front haven’t been going so well under a president who believes his ascension to office marks Year Zero of humanity’s bright new history.
But if now he realizes, even if it’s for reasons of political survival alone, that we have to actually fight back against these people, then that’s something, after all.
“It's a terrible thing when Americans have to face the day not only needing to know where their own children are, but also asking the haunting question: Do you know where your Muslim neighbor is, and what he's up to?
“We have to ask that question now because our president and his people will not.”
Kyle-Anne Shiver at American Thinker points how, when government officials who are supposed to be protecting our security refuse to do it, we have to watch out for ourselves:
Obama Stands with Muslims as He Promised
Now that Barack Obama is well into his presidency, it's clear that he is keeping at least one promise he made. He is standing with the Muslims.
In his chapter on "Race" in The Audacity of Hope, then-Senator Obama devoted a section to his post-9/11 concerns over the treatment of Muslim Americans. He makes special mention of meetings he had with Arab- and Pakistani-Americans, drawing attention to the "urgent quality" these meetings had taken after the 9/11 attacks on the WTC.
[T]he stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their [Arab- and Pakistani-Americans'] sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction. [Emphasis mine.] - Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope, p. 261
One Pakistani-American just learned that his citizenship meant a great deal of unmolested access to a whole host of possible terror victims. And since President Obama has taken a number of measures to ensure that no Muslim American feels "profiled" in any connection to terror plots, I think we can freely assume that until his arrest on board an Emirates airplane two days ago, Faisal Shahzad felt just as welcome and loved here as he did in the country of his birth and at his favorite mosque. As a naturalized American citizen, Faisal Shahzad moved freely, completely under the radar of any law enforcement entity or terror-watch agency.
Shahzad's bank knew far more about him than our so-called national security people. Our national security employees are those folks making big bucks to find people like Shahzad before they have a chance to blow any of us real American citizens to kingdom come. However, as was the case with the Ft. Hood terrorist, our national security and military personnel have become quite skittish in appearing to make any connection between the Muslim religion/political ideology and worldwide terrorism. Therefore, they don't look at the obvious until it is too late. Instead, resources are being squandered in the president's witch hunt against Tea Party grandmas and kiddies and middle-class homemakers and dads, all waving their American flags.
Shahzad's real estate agent even knew something of this Pakistani's politics. Shahzad virulently hated President Bush and vociferously denounced the Iraq War, just as Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress did.
From Shahzad's outspoken hatred of Bush and the Iraq War, we can deduce that Shahzad was most likely in full agreement with John Kerry's assertion that our troops were "terrorizing" Iraqi women and children in their homes in the "dead of night." Shahzad was most likely nodding his head the day that late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) publicly convicted -- without a shred of evidence -- the Haditha Marines of "cold-blooded murder." Those Marines, of course, have since been exonerated, but as their acquittals didn't receive nearly the media attention as the charges against them, I doubt Shahzad even knew the Marines were innocent of killing his fellow Muslim civilians in murderous with no cause.
We can also infer that Shahzad may have even cheered the day he saw the video of Rep. Stark (D-CA) standing in the floor of the once-great American Congress and screamed at his fellow representatives: "You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement." I doubt Faisal Shahzad was amused by this rant; he was most likely incensed.
Once Obama was elected, and as Obama had professed his intention to "stand with the Muslims," Shahzad may have expected an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When Obama did not perform as expected, then perhaps Shahzad felt an urgent need to strike out at America, "the great Satan."
Shahzad's work visas, prior to his request for citizenship being granted, were in the skilled-labor areas. He was a financial analyst, having earned two degrees at U.S. universities. He seems to have gone completely unnoticed by professors, who do not even remember him. Or perhaps, following this president's lead, these professors are simply refusing to remember any references their student may have made regarding his political/religious extremism.
Shahzad bought a house and lived an apparently quiet, unobtrusive lifestyle...that is, until he spent eight months out of the country, in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled hinterland.
Now, Faisal Shahzad is commonly referred to as the would-be Times Square Bomber. Yes, as his name and heritage indicate, he is a Muslim.
And yes, President Obama is standing with him. Though the president is taking great public pains to appear tough on terror and the real terrorists -- as opposed to the imaginary ones (i.e., conservatives and Tea Partiers) -- Barack Obama has actually gone to great lengths to make sure others like Shahzad remain utterly undisturbed. Others who at this very minute remain undetected among us, ready to strike on orders from radicalized Imams or terror-army chiefs, walk among us, now knowing that they have a true friend and protector in the White House. Barack Obama has successfully purged from the national discourse on terrorism -- excuse me, "man-made disasters" -- any mention of the religion/political ideology which is the undeniable common denominator.
Carefully protecting feelings can be a priority of a mommy tending her babies. Protecting a group's feelings at the expense of a nation's real safety is a huge no-no for a Commander in Chief. And if Barack Obama would prefer to be the nurturing mommy to all Muslims, he ought to resign from the presidency. Trying to be both a mommy to Muslim sensibilities and to perform adequately as our president is a losing formula for every real peace-loving American citizen.
It's a terrible thing when Americans have to face the day not only needing to know where their own children are, but also asking the haunting question: Do you know where your Muslim neighbor is, and what he's up to?
We have to ask that question now because our president and his people will not.
So in the end, Barack Obama has brought about the exact scenario he has worked so hard to avoid. If Americans were assured that our president and our national security employees are doing the necessary watching and profiling, then we would also know we don't have to do it. We could be nice, hospitable, and open to our American Muslim neighbors and coworkers.
But when we know that the people paid to fight terrorism refuse to see the obvious, then we are necessarily put on high alert. We take on their jobs. We watch. We stare. We shy from the company of those we know might become our worst nightmare.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
May 08, 2010I’ll say. The reports don’t disclose yet whether the funding is coming from Saudi Arabia, as 80% of funding of American mosques does.
$100 million mosque slated for site near Ground Zero
Ethel C. Fenig"Because," as New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg warned last week, "we must not condemn one group for the actions of one distorted individual,"...or something like that
Two Muslim groups that say they want to promote better understanding of their religion and heal the wounds from Sept. 11 are drawing close to constructing a $100-million mosque and Islamic cultural center in the shadows of the World Trade Center site.
according to Bart Jones ofNewsday.
Well, that should certainly add to the economy of New York by providing all those construction jobs. How nice. Now, just where will they get all this money? Placing the center close to the site of the late World Trade Center will not promote healing and as for promoting a "better understanding of their religion" it would certainly be a constant reminder of the evil its capable of.
But if it is being bulit with Saudi money, that would mean that, after 15 of the 19 Saudi Wahhabist hijackers succeeded in destroying the World Trade Center on 9/11, Saudi Arabia now gets to plop one of its Wahhabist mosques where all those victims died.
Obama National Security Policy: Hope Their Bombs Don't Work
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
It took Faisal Shahzad trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square to get President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to finally use the word "terrorism." (And not to refer to Tea Party activists!)
This is a major policy shift for a president who spent a month telling Americans not to "jump to conclusions" after Army doctor Nidal Malik Hasan reportedly jumped on a desk, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" and began shooting up Fort Hood.
After last weekend, now Obama is even threatening to pronounce it "Pack-i-stan" instead of "Pahk-i-stahn." We know Obama is taking terrorism seriously because he took a break from his "Hope, Change & Chuckles" tour on the comedy circuit to denounce terrorists.
In a bit of macho posturing this week, Obama declared that -- contrary to the terrorists' wishes -- Americans "will not be terrorized, we will not cower in fear, we will not be intimidated."
First of all, having the Transportation Security Administration wanding infants, taking applesauce away from 93-year-old dementia patients, and forcing all Americans to produce their shoes, computers and containers with up to 3 ounces of liquid in Ziploc bags for special screening pretty much blows that "not intimidated" look Obama wants America to adopt.
"Intimidated"? How about "absolutely terrified"?
Second, it would be a little easier for the rest of us not to live in fear if the president's entire national security strategy didn't depend on average citizens happening to notice a smoldering SUV in Times Square or smoke coming from a fellow airline passenger's crotch.
But after the car bomber and the diaper bomber, it has become increasingly clear that Obama's only national defense strategy is: Let's hope their bombs don't work!
If only Dr. Hasan's gun had jammed at Fort Hood, that could have been another huge foreign policy success for Obama.
The administration's fingers-crossed strategy is a follow-up to Obama's earlier and less successful "Let's Make Them Love Us!" plan.
In the past year, Obama has repeatedly apologized to Muslims for America's "mistakes."
He has apologized to Iran for President Eisenhower's taking out loon Mohammad Mossadegh, before Mossadegh turned a comparatively civilized country into a Third World hellhole. You know, like the Ayatollah has.
He has apologized to the entire Muslim world for the French and English colonizing them -- i.e. building them flush toilets.
He promised to shut down Guantanamo. And he ordered the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to be tried in the same courthouse that tried Martha Stewart.
There was also Obama's 90-degree-bow tour of the East and Middle East. For his next visit, he plans to roll on his back and have his belly scratched like Fido.
Despite favorable reviews in The New York Times, none of this put an end to Islamic terrorism.
So now, I gather, our only strategy is to hope the terrorists' bombs keep fizzling.
There's no other line of defense. In the case of the Times Square car bomber, the Department of Homeland Security failed, the Immigration and Naturalization Service failed, the CIA failed and the TSA failed. (However, the Department of Alert T-Shirt Vendors came through with flying colors, as it always does.)
Only the New York Police Department, a New York street vendor and Shahzad's Rube Goldberg bomb (I do hope he's not offended by how Jewish that sounds -- Obama can apologize) prevented a major explosion in Times Square.
Even after the NYPD de-wired the smoking car bomb, produced enough information to identify the bomb-maker, and handed it all to federal law enforcement authorities tied up in a bow, the federal government's crack "no-fly" list failed to stop Shahzad from boarding a plane to Dubai.
To be fair, at Emirates Airlines, being on a "no-fly" list makes you eligible for pre-boarding.
Perhaps the Department of Homeland Security should consider creating a "Really, REALLY No-Fly" list.
Contrary to the wild excuses being made for the federal government on all the TV networks Monday night, it's now clear that this was not a wily plan of federal investigators to allow Shahzad to board the plane in order to nab his co-conspirators. It was a flub that nearly allowed Shahzad to escape.
Meanwhile, on that same Monday at JFK airport, approximately 100,000 passengers took off their shoes, coats, belts and sunglasses for airport security.
But the "highly trained federal force" The New York Times promised us on Oct. 28, 2001, when the paper demanded that airport security be federalized, failed to stop the only guy they needed to stop at JFK last Monday -- the one who planted a bomb in the middle of Times Square days earlier.
So why were 100,000 other passengers harassed and annoyed by the TSA?
The federal government didn't stop the diaper bomber from nearly detonating a bomb over Detroit. It didn't stop a guy on the "No Fly" list from boarding a plane and coming minutes away from getting out of the country.
If our only defense to terrorism is counting on alert civilians, how about not bothering them before they board airplanes, instead of harassing them with useless airport "security" procedures?
Both of the attempted bombers who sailed through airport security, I note, were young males of Middle Eastern descent. I wonder if we could develop a security plan based on that information?
And speaking of a "highly trained federal force," who's working at the INS these days? Who on earth made the decision to allow Shahzad the unparalleled privilege of becoming a U.S. citizen in April 2009?
Our "Europeans Need Not Apply" immigration policies were absurd enough before 9/11. But after 19 foreign-born Muslims, legally admitted to the U.S., murdered 3,000 Americans in New York and Washington in a single day, couldn't we tighten up our admission policies toward people from countries still performing stonings and clitorectomies?
The NYPD can't be everyplace.
For what it’s worth, I think the smoking ban goes too far. If people want to gather in bars and restaurants and smoke hookahs, it’s okay with me. I also understand that that hookah-smoking is a part of Middle Eastern culture. I like the idea of these cafes in Dearborn and would hate to see them disappear. But social smoking is no more unique to Arab culture than it is to redneck culture, or to college bohemian culture, or war veteran culture, or drunken co-worker culture, or just about any other group you can think of besides Baptists.
The law bans establishments that offer hookah smoking from selling any food or beverages -- a move that owners say would effectively drive out hookah cafés.
What galls the owners -- most of them Arab American -- is that the state has given exemptions for cigar bars and Detroit casinos to allow smoking along with eating and drinking. To them, the issue is tinged with religious and ethnic bias.
“It's a double standard,” Akram Allos, owner of Sinbad Café in Dearborn, said while puffing on a mint-flavored hookah. “Just because we didn't have a lobbyist, why should we have to suffer?”
But is this really discrimination, guys? Casino customers are not a privileged ethnic group, unless you want to call them Sucker-Americans. Nor is it discrimination that one political group coughs up (no pun intended) for a lobbyist and you don’t. That’s just life in the Great Satan.
“The law caters to wealthy special interests,” said Mike Berry, owner of 360 Degrees Lounge and Grill in Dearborn, which offers hookah smoking. Berry and other hookah café owners say that lobbyists and politicians in Lansing can relate to cigar smoking and that the Detroit casinos wield great power. In contrast, the hookah café owners and Arab Americans lacked a lobbyist to press the issue, Berry said.But not because of prejudice. And you can be sure it’s not because café owners couldn’t afford lobbyists:
Ali Badawi said he invested $650,000 -- about $90,000 for the limestone exterior alone -- to build up from scratch a new hookah café and restaurant in the heart of east Dearborn. It opened just a few months ago, a flag that reads “Grand Opening” still fluttering outside its entrance along Schaefer Road.What stopped Badawi from investing some of that 650 grand, with some contributions from his shisha-smoking business roundtable, and greasing a few legislators of their own? But nooooo. “’It's discrimination,’ said Akram Allos, owner of Sinbad Café in Dearborn.”
Shoot, it is not. You just needed to keep trying Badawi’s cell phone.
Now Badawi says the new antismoking law will put him out of business, “forcing him to fire employees and disappoint loyal customers.
“’All this,’ he said while gazing across Prestige Café & Grill, ‘’“will go down the drain.’”
Hmm. Badawi spends $650,000 to build a hookah lounge even while the smoking-law train has been rolling into town for three years? Something tells me Badawi is no stranger to watching investments go “all down the drain.”
Anyway, as Narikoo writes in his article:
Not all Arab Americans are upset with the law change.I don’t think you’ll need to worry, Shady.
Shady Shebak, 23, of Livonia is a medical student who said he supports the law for health reasons. And he's uneasy about Arab Americans using the hookah as a cultural symbol.
“As an Arab, I would rather us be known for something else besides hookahs,” said Shebak, who smokes hookahs himself.
The local media always shows up to cover the NAACP fundraiser, but refuses to acknowledge the presence of the mostly black protesters right there on the street. Some pictures here.
Rev. Yuille is the host of Joshua's Trail, a radio program that airs in the Detroit area on Saturday mornings. We recommend it.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
He Was Stupid, They Explained [Jonah Goldberg]Why not the explanation that this was a dry run? A rehearsal for placing a nuclear device, of course. I’m not saying the terrorists have one. Yet. But if I were a terrorist monitoring the Iranians’ progress towards building a bomb, vis-à-vis the complete breakdown of the West’s defensive posture, I’d expect something catastrophically lethal, and small enough to fit into an SUV, to be coming on line within two to three years.
A bunch of readers think the obvious answer is that he was simply stupid. I don't buy it. First, he apparently had two college degrees and worked in the financial sector. Lord knows that doesn't mean he had to be a genius. But a complete moron? I kind of doubt it. But even if he was a complete moron, So what? That's what training is supposed to compensate for, right? Was he really so much dumber than the illiterate brainwashed shmucks so often used in suicide bombings throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan? I certainly find it harder to believe he was a lot dumber than the Mumbai terrorists, one of whom is interviewed on camera in the HBO special on the attack. Of course, many of those guys are just given the bombs pre-made. But still, Shahzad was in no rush. He could have at least bought the right kind of fertilizer. You don't need to be a genius to be told to open the valves on the propane tank. Again, I'm not saying I know the answer. I simply think there's a disconnect between the sophistication of the terrorist network that allegedly dispatched him and the lack of sophistication on display in the actual attack.
Update: Another round of explanations focus on the possibility he chickened out or grew conscience or some such. That's certainly plausible. But the fact that he bought the wrong kind of fertilizer means that it had to be percolating subconsciously for a while. Otherwise, why go through with it at all?
We already know there are dry runs on airlines in and out of the United States. It’s one of the biggest open secrets we’ve got going. Back in July 2007 DU reported a TSA bulletin on suspicious events that “may indicate terrorists are conducting pre-attack security probes and “dry runs” similar to dress rehearsals.” As we noted then, with some dismay:
On at least four occasions passengers, (ethnicity passed over in silence by the too-timid TSA), were found to have checked baggage containing simulated IEDs, outfitted variously with wire coils, electric switches, 9-volt batteries, cell phone chargers, and sticks of modeling clay or block cheese, which share similar consistency to plastic explosive. That makes it ideal for testing x-ray detection of the working models. (“I’d Like an Aisle Seat, and Could You Hold the Cheese?”).Do you know what the air marshals and the FBI and Customs and Border Protection officers always say when they let disruptive groups of Muslim males go after they’ve terrorized a crowded airliner with their provocative behavior? They say, “They didn’t break any laws, like interfering with the flight crew.” And what was that the 9/11 Commission said about a failure of imagination? Maybe it’s not every Jihadist’s mission to interfere with the flight crew. Just like it’s not the mission of a dry-run pilot to actually release a bomb over the target. They’re just trying to prepare the way for the next guys. We’re still supposed to shoot those ones down.
Even when a terrorist doesn’t actually commit an act of terror that doesn’t mean he’s harmless. I was thinking today of how many of the terrorists have engineering training. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab studied mechanical engineering, (okay, so he flunked his final, but that’s not the point). Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is an engineer. And Slate reports that, “two of the three founders of Lashkar-e-Taibi, the group believed to be behind the Mumbai attacks, were professors at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore.” Bin Laden is a civil engineer, and his family is heavily into construction engineering in Saudi Arabia.
Engineers are problem solvers. They’ll take a complex problem, like how to blow up New York City, and they’ll break it down into component parts, solving each problem methodically. The 9/11 bombers conducted dry runs before they finally attacked.
Jihadist strategy is probably less comparable to the Japanese planning to attack Pearl Harbor than it is to our planning of the moon shot. NASA engineers didn’t just sit down in 1961 to design a rocket that would go to the moon. First we had one program to get an astronaut into space, and from there into orbit. Then there was another program to get two astronauts into space for more than a day and have one of them get out of the capsule to spacewalk. Then there was the Apollo program, where three astronauts went up, and they learned how to rendezvous and dock with the lunar lander. When they figured that out they sent three astronauts and a lunar lander all the way to the moon again and back without landing, just to test the navigation and all the other systems. We tested rocket engines, fuel mixtures, navigation computers, flight suits, rescue procedures, space toilets, how to get lunch into a toothpaste tube. Only then did we attempt the moon landing.
And before anyone sent a human being into space, they sent dogs, and especially monkeys. (The Iranians just sent a rat). Shahzad’s just another monkey in space. The giant leap for Islam is planned for later. But not that much later.
After 9/11, (thanks in part to who was in the White House that day), al Qaeda faced a much harder time hitting us again, though they have planned to do just that. Since then, each staged incident on an airplane, each smuggled phony weapon, every dry run, garners more data for the terror engineers, even when their field testers get caught. Who cares about them? Jihad assumes its soldiers will be sacrificed in every successful mission. The point is to learn what they need to know to solve the logistical problems keeping them from their next attack. And, fortunately, for our enemies, a significant portion of the dry runners are simply detained momentarily and released, so there’s little risk that American counterterrorism officials will learn anything from them.
The ultimate mission of jihadism is to either destroy us or reduce us to slavery. But the engineers of jihad first need to solve the tactical problem of how to launch a mass-casualty attack sufficiently horrendous to accomplish what 9/11 did not -- America’s terrified withdrawal from conflicts that defend against international Islamist expansion, and our abandonment of Israel. Global jihadists are already perfectly aware that a great deal of this withdrawal/abandonment goal has already been accomplished, without the shedding of any jihadist blood, simply by the election of Barack Obama as president. The United States under President Obama has all but sanitized the very concept, let alone the terminology, of jihadism and Islamic terrorism from our national security conversation. We've embarked upon a rigidly anti-Israel foreign policy. And we have embarked as well on a rigidly anti-interventionist approach to Iran’s hot-running nuclear weapons program. Iran is now on the verge of obtaining a nuclear weapon, and the entire world, (except Israel) is resigned to it. (Speaking of open secrets, this is another one).
When the Nazis were trying to beat us to the atom bomb during World War II they had to do so against formidable obstacles, such as simultaneously having to fight off the Soviets and the Allies on two fronts, difficulties getting hold of needed bomb-building materials, and the simple fact that at that point no one had every actually figured worked out how to make one of these things. The Iranians don’t face any of these obstacles. They have all the know-how they need, they can refine their own uranium, and no one outside of Israel has any plans to stop them.
Do you appreciate how little stands between Israel and an Iranian nuclear attack, or a terrorist nuclear attack in the United States?
I have no idea whether or not Shahzad’s mission was to actually set his bomb off. I'm inclined to think his job was to see how much suspicious-looking hardware could be crammed into an SUV and parked in midtown Manhattan by a single individual. Daniel Foster at NRO remarked how Faisal’s gizmo had “two clocks and wire leads attached to. . . absolutely nothing.” The dry runs of three years ago used block cheese with wires sticking out to test airport security. I do believe Faisal’s jihadist brothers in the Taliban and Al Qaeda will take careful note of our reactions.
That TSA bulletin from three years back recognized the strategy:
Terrorists may repeat operational tests to desensitize, distract, or adapt plans for specific environments. Linking repetitious probing incidents or associated items possibly could alert authorities to future terrorist plots, tactics, and personalities.There’s the key -- linking them. Why are federal authorities so determined to not even recognize them?
We had an episode this January when four (or five – accounts differ) Saudi Arabian males disrupted Flight 243 from Amsterdam, the very same flight the underwear bomber was hoping to blow up somewhere over Our Hometown only a week before. (“Unruly Saudis Disrupt Plane Before Being Released by U.S. Customs”). The airlines and federal authorities put the kibosh on this so fast it has all but vanished from history. Yet, as it was happening, both federal air marshals on board and authorities on the ground thought it was serious enough to require the airplane to remain on the tarmac after landing a safe distance from the terminal. All of the Saudis were released without being charged, or even interviewed by Customs officials. The airline refused to disclose what it was the Saudis were doing that led four air marshals on board to conclude that the situation posed a threat to security. The public was never allowed to learn the identities of these Saudis. It’s almost as if officials who get handed great big dots to connect stamp them “Return to Sender” and get rid of them as fast as they can. (“Linking repetitious probing incidents or associated items possibly could alert authorities to future terrorist plots, tactics, and personalities.”)
I’m aware of at least one Freedom of Information request that’s out there regarding the four Saudis, but I understand that so far the authorities have refused to disclose anything. If you know anyone who was on that flight and can shed some light on this, I’d love to hear from that person. Drop me a line here.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Clifford May puts some additional perspective on Comedy Central's South Park surrender:
A reporter working on the Comedy Central story asked me whether those who object to books, cartoons, operas, films, and other materials that Muslims might find offensive were not being hypocritical, since they do not apply the same standard when it comes to Christians and Jews. His question reveals a common misunderstanding. Islamist groups such as Muslim Revolution are not demanding equality for Islam. They are demanding superior status. They are supremacists: They believe it has been divinely ordained that Islam must dominate; that Sharia, Islamic law, must prevail; that “unbelievers” must submit.
So before we get too depressed about the current state of our politics, let’s remember our history. The great debates of the past all stirred great passions. They all made somebody angry, and at least once led to a terrible war. What is amazing is that despite all the conflict, despite all its flaws and its frustrations, our experiment in democracy has worked better than any form of government on Earth. (Applause.)Notice how what Franklin says we’ve got, “a republic,” a moment later turns into a “democracy” in the mouth of that same Republic’s President, with no apparent explanation.
On the last day of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was famously asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got -– a republic or a monarchy?” And Franklin gave an answer that’s been quoted for ages: He said, “A republic, if you can keep it.” If you can keep it.
Well, for more than 200 years, we have kept it. Through revolution and civil war, our democracy has survived. Through depression and world war, it has prevailed. Through periods of great social and economic unrest, from civil rights to women’s rights, it has allowed us slowly, sometimes painfully, to move towards a more perfect union.
And so now, class of 2010, the question for your generation is this: How will you keep our democracy going? At a moment when our challenges seem so big and our politics seem so small, how will you keep our democracy alive and vibrant; how will you keep it well in this century?
Because the term “democracy” also carries the meaning of government of, by, and for the people, I don’t always get as upset by its use as many Federalists do. If you want to read up on the differences, you can read James Madison on the topic.
Anyway, Franklin was asked if we had a republic or a monarchy, not a republic or a democracy. In view of Obama’s publicly expressed affection for monarchs of all kinds, I guess he could have substituted something worse.
But I do find his substitution, at least fifteen times, of the term “democracy” for our republican form of government notable, especially after he quotes Franklin specifically describing it as a “republic.” Distinctions like these should matter, especially when one is the Intellectual in Chief exhorting the graduating class of as self-consciously elitist an American university as the University of Michigan.
Suit over judge's order to remove hijab dismissedAn appeal is always a possibility, but quite unlikely in this case.
Maureen Feighan / The Detroit News
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday against a Wayne County judge accused of telling a woman to remove her Islamic head scarf. U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani ruled there was no evidence Wayne Circuit Judge J. William Callahan knew Raneen Albaghdady's head covering had religious significance when he asked her to remove it last June. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan, which brought the suit with Albaghdady, said an appeal is possible.
Walid tried to spin this into a victory. He told the Detroit News's Paul Egan that that Judge Battani’s decision is a positive thing “because it recognizes that it would have been wrong for Callahan to ask Albaghdady to remove her head scarf, called a hijab, if he knew it had religious significance.”
This is like saying that a verdict of not guilty in a murder case has the positive element of saying that, if the defendant had committed the murder, then he would have been guilty. CAIR’s lawsuit is a perfect example of the meaning of “frivolous.”
The truth is that CAIR’s lawsuit flatly accused Judge Callahan, in defiance of all the facts, of having a customary practice of “requiring Muslim women to remove their hijab.”
As Judge Battani’s opinion makes crystal clear, there was absolutely no evidence that this was so, and CAIR, Ms. Albaghdady, and her attorney, Nabih Ayad, knew that before they filed this turkey.
Why would anybody trust these guys to do anything for the right reason?