Thursday, May 31, 2007

Peggy Noonan Pulls No Punches in Nailing the Bush Crowd

Peggy Noonan, one of Reagan's best speechwriters, rips Bush to pieces in that brief but witty style of prose that only she can write. I would love to add some commentary to this piece by her but she pretty much says it all.

Click Here to Read More..

Fondren Parking Lot Woes and the Symphony of Whines

Got to love spoiled brats.

Did it ever occur to the "power to the people" crowd that a business needs customers in order to survive? Its pretty simple. No customers=no business. If people can't park close to your business, they can't patronize your business. Apparently this elementary lesson of economics escapes some people.

I wonder how much they would complain if they went to the bank to make deposits( so they could pay their bills ) 30 minutes before the bank closed but were unable to do so because there was a long line of people there to cash checks who did not have accounts at the bank but the bank cashed them anyway.

Lenny's is not the only business that does this. For years the Elite Restaurant on Capitol Street has had a reputation for towing cars if the owners were not patrons if the restaurant. I've yet to hear a peep about all the cars that were towed over the years.

Instead of complaining to the businesses and their landlords or to the city council and Mayor about the lack of parking, they instead complain about a business that does have some parking space but won't let them use it as it fills up with his customers. More than likely he was being nice for awhile and let non-customers park in his lot but then it got to the point where it was hurting his business as his customers were turned away by the filled up parking lot.

However, he is the selfish one.


Thought I just had. Where is our fearless leader? When he is not playing cops and robbers, cowboys and injuns, or whatever his game of the hour is, you would think that this is the kind of problem he would be interested in solving. Of course, it might not appeal to him as it doesn't involve sirens or guns.

June 1, 2007: Just had yet another thought reading through the JFP thread. Since the leadership of the JFP thinks the owners of Lenny's have gone too far, why don't they allow people who need to park to use their parking lot and put up signs at the affected businesses saying so? I am all for leading by example. ;-)

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

When it comes to the criminal justice system in Jackson, a pox on all your houses!!!

Faye Peterson, Federal District Court Judge Tom Lee, and the faculty and administration at Jackson State University: a pox on all your houses. Thanks for working together to make sure a school shooter goes free.

This involves Mr. Mack, last seen shooting a fellow student at JSU. In this particular story, the sentencing of Mr. Mack by a federal judge is reported. You may ask why he was not prosecuted at the state/county level. Well, it seems he was not indicted by a Hinds County Grand Jury. No shame for the DA there. Sometimes you just don't have a strong enough case to take to a grand jury.

However, what case was presented to the grand jury for indictment? Apparently not much of one. The case against Mack was presented to a Hinds County grand jury, but he was not indicted.

"Hart, of Inverness, said he was never called to testify for the grand jury. Neither was Butler, a retired Jackson police officer.Federal prosecutors stepped in and charged Mack with being a felon in possession of a firearm and of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number.He pleaded guilty to the charges last year. "

There you have it. The DA did not call before the grand jury the man that was shot by Mack and could clearly identify him. She also did not call Officer Butler, who arrested Mr. Mack and saw most if not all of the incident beginning with Mack pulling his gun and firing at Mr. Hart. Mr. Mack then aimed his gun at Mr. Hart, who was unarmed and wounded, and fired at his chest and would've killed him but for the gun jamming (I hope Mr. Hart now goes to church every week).

However, the grand jury did not see this testimony because our illustrious DA didn't present to the grand jury the victim and the arresting police officer. The result is Mr. Mack walked free in Hinds County from bringing a gun to JSU and shooting a fellow student and clearly trying to kill him.

The DA also did not charge him with (which would have been much easier to prosecute) carrying a gun on school campus in violation of Section 97-37-17(2) of the Mississippi Code of 1972.

My first question is why weren't these witnesses presented to the grand jury? Is this incompetence or corruption? Corruption? Is that too strong a charge? Is Kingfish out of control? Well, the story does say that, "Swayed by numerous letters of support from deans and professors at JSU Judge Lee reduced the recommended sentence."

Everyone knows that all of these JSU deans and faculty members are connected (I'd love to know why Cleon Butler is working for JSU when his crazy ex girlfriend murdered one of their professors in cold blood) through professional and political relationships. I wonder how much pressure they put on the DA. There is NO EXCUSE for not presenting Hart and Butler to the grand jury nor charging him with having a gun on a college campus in violation of state law.This is either incompetence or corruption.

The result is, a cokehead who is a student at JSU walks onto campus with a stolen gun that has been sanitized and shoots another student and not only does not go to trial or is indicted by the county, but the case is presented to a grand jury by the DA in a way that makes it look like the DA is intentionally trying to drop the case, especially when he is not charged with more easily prosecuted offenses.

However, the D.A. is not the only one to blame for this travesty of justice. Judge Lee, who should know better, was "swayed" by the support for this low-life from the JSU community. So much for school safety. Nice to know that if I am going to school at JSU that my professors and administrators don't care about the safety of me and my classmates.

This whole case stinks and everyone involved should be beotch-slapped, from the staff at JSU for abdicating their moral responsibility to their students, to Faye Peterson and her office for an obvious display of incompetence or corruption, to the federal judge, Tom Lee, who went very easy on this thug.

A pox on all of you.

Click Here to Read More..

So much for the War on Terror

Inspector General Report:

What the hell is going on?

" According to the Homeland Security report, the "suspicious passengers," 12 Syrians and their Lebanese-born promoter, were traveling on Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on expired visas. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services extended the visas one week after the June 29, 2004, incident...."

"The report also says that a background check in the FBI's National Crime Information Center database, which was performed June 18 as part of a visa-extension application, produced "positive hits" for past criminal records or suspicious behavior for eight of the 12 Syrians, who were traveling in the U.S. as a musical group.

In addition, the band's promoter was listed in a separate FBI database on case investigations for acting suspiciously aboard a flight months earlier. He was detained a third time in September on a return trip to the U.S. from Istanbul, the details of which were redacted.

The inspector general criticized the Homeland Security officials for not reporting the incident to the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC), which serves as the nation's nerve center for information sharing and domestic incident management. The report comes three years after the incident, which was not officially acknowledged until a month later, after The Washington Times reported passenger and marshal complaints that the incident resembled a dry run for a terrorist attack.".......

"The men were briefly detained, but only two were questioned. "The Federal Air Marshal supervisor examined the visas, but did not notice the visas had expired on June 10, 2004," the report said. One of the air marshals assigned to the flight noticed the expiration, but "erroneously believed he was not legally entitled" to run a background check.

According to the report, the marshal's "primary concern, at that time, was not whether the visas expired, but to copy the visa pages so that Customs and Border Patrol could later run a database check on these individuals."

The FBI issued a warning in April 2004, just two months before the flight, that terrorists may be trying to enter the country under cultural or sports visas, the same visas carried by the 12 Syrian men who claimed to be musicians.

Robert Jamison, deputy administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), defended the agency's action in its official response to the IG audit, which is included in the report. "....

So lets get this straight. A group of men composed mainly of Syrians (Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism) board an airplane with expired visas. They were under surveillance by air marshals and acted in a way that looked very much like a dry run for a terrorist operation. They were detained by only two were questioned and no one noticed the expired visas despite an FBI warning. The leader of the group had been the subject of a prior investigation for suspicious behavior on an airplane. DHS and TSA first deny that anything took place then downplayed the incident. The only reason we even know the details of this is because the Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

This is simply outrageous. I am simply stunned as I reread this story and the accompanying report. What the hell is going on in our government? One of my main criticisms of President Bush has been that he rarely fires anyone for anything and there is very little accountability in our government under him for bad decisions. Not one person was held accountable for 9/11. No one was punished for obstructing the investigations by the field agents that might have led to more clues that would have prevented 9/11. We are told by Bush repeatedly to trust the government and yet, the government refuses to do anything when it has a group of men on an airplane that are from Syria traveling with expired visas acting very suspiciously like a group of terrorists. We are told to go shopping and leave any worries about our safety at home.

I hate to say this but I don't trust our government to protect us. I don't think the government was trapped by some notion of political correctness. I think the government is just that incompetent and there is no accountability whatsoever for gross mismanagement or neglect. It is virtually impossible to fire someone in the government and at some point, the dead weight achieves critical mass upon which time the government is incapable of carrying out its duties. This incident is very similar to the 9/11 case in that the field agents (the guys not in the bunkers or ivory towers) knew something bad was happening, tried to do their jobs, and were stymied by the bureaucrats. Please keep in mind that if this was a dry run (and it probably was), the terrorists were probably successful in their mission. Good job team. Way to fight the War on Terror.

I'm starting to think for all the memorials, wars, and "never again" speeches as well as the hot air on cable news channels every night, we have learned nothing from 9/11 and will not take it seriously until we reap the violent harvest that will stem from our carelessness.

Click Here to Read More..

Good Analysis of Republican and Democratic Strategies for Iraq

This is a pretty even-handed analysis by Dr. Walid Phares of the two strategies pursued by the Republicans and Democrats in Iraq. Dr. Phares is a Jihadism and Terrorism Expert for the U.S. Department of Justice, Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He has produced a master video presentation for US security agencies on "Profile of the Terrorists," is a Terrorism Analyst with NBC-MSNBC, and appears on Fox News, CNN, BBC, al Hurra, al Jazeera and other networks around the world. Dr. Phares is the author of eight books on Middle East Conflicts and is currently a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, DC.

He states that the Democrats are correct in pushing for greater Iraqi participation in bringing order to their country. He states:

"America paid a dear price over the past four years: 3,000 lives and tens of billions of dollars to remove Saddam Hussein and allow the Iraqi new justice system to try him. The US helped the Iraqis vote three times, draft a constitution and form a new army. In this fourth year, it is time for Iraqis to stand. "

He also says the Republican plan can succeed only if:

"the new Baghdad Plan makes sense only if there is a new Iraq plan as a whole. If the so-called "surge" is only to satisfy American pride now, Americans will pay a higher price later in the process. But if the plan is to move the geopolitics of the War forward, the Baghdad step fits the wider puzzle of surging Iraq out of the current equation. So, if the plan is successful, and the city is somewhat transformed into a "security island" and a launching pad for wider circles of Government led offensives all the way to the border, this is a winning vision. And the "ifs" are very important."

What I fear is how victory is defined by Bush or the Democrats. Too often, I hear the "bring them home" mantra from the Democrats and think that is how they define victory. From Bush I don't really hear a definition of victory except to say that we want a stable Iraq and freedom for the Iraqi people. I found Dr. Phares column to be thorough, well thought-out, and balanced. He mentioned the strong points of each side and the weaknesses as well.

Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Louisiana Democrats are Racists

Congressman Bobby Jindal is running for governor. He has been known as Bobby for a VERY long time. This tactic by the Democrats is nothing but racism and using racist tactics to get votes. I remember how they howled when Dan Quayle referred to Governor Cuomo as Mario and accused him of racism. This is nothing but an attempt to get voters to not vote for Jindal because he is not white. Just shows how Democrats will play the race card when threatened.

Click Here to Read More..

Monday, May 28, 2007

Remembering Our Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day

Thanks to those of you who gave your lives in defense of this country. We would not be able to enjoy our freedoms if it had not been for your paying the ultimate price. May God bless your families that have endured through the heartache and pain of their losses. May we be worthy of their sacrifice.

Here are some articles I came across on the web for Memorial Day:

This is a story on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. A historian who was also a critic of the War in Iraq supports his son's decision to serve in Iraq even after he is killed. Poignant.

Sadly, the media focuses on stories like Abu or so called poll results showing discontent among the troops (when have soldiers ever NOT griped? Griping is part of being a soldier.). Very few stories are reported of the heroism of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are a few for you to remember on Memorial Day:

Good Essay on our heroes of WWII and Vietnam.

This is one of my favorite essays. I first read it in college in English Comp under Mr. Valentine at Hinds. Every Vietnam Vet I know that has read this essay said the writer nailed what Vietnam was like and what it meant to them. This guy writes with acid.

Click Here to Read More..

Monk's Mood

Here is an excellent show I came across through National Public Radio.

In this episode of Jazz from the Lincoln Center, Ed Bradley focuses on Thelonious Monk. I am just now beginning to listen to more of Monk's music. I only have 3 of his cds: Live at Carnegie Hall with John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, The Complete Riverside Recordings, and Thelonious Monk & Sonny Rollins. Have Live at the It Cafe ordered. This is a pretty good show for those who have not heard much, if any, of Monk's music and has enough for Monk enthusiasts to enjoy.

I'm listening to this one about Duke Ellington and it is pretty good too. My first exposure to the Duke. ;-)

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dr. Lewis Nobles died yesterday.

Dr. Lewis Nobles, former President of Mississippi College, passed away this weekend.

He was another man whose talents were overcome by his personal flaws. I had the luck of interviewing him for the school newspaper when I was a student at Mississippi College. I spent an hour with him and learned quite a bit of information about him. It is forgotten that Dr. Nobles was a brilliant chemist. He held several patents, including the one for the gel formula that is used in all toothpastes, shaving creams, and other gel-based products (he worked on the team that invented the formula). He was the Dean of the Pharmacy School at Ole Miss. He even kept a lab for some time at MC and even after becoming President, he would go "putter" around in his lab one afternoon a week. He had impeccable academic credentials and was a true genius.

Although he was very nice and professional in the interview, one thing I did notice was that he never would look me in the eye. During the entire interview, he always looked away from me. At the time, I thought it was odd and several people told me he was like that when I commented on it to them. Then two years later, the scandals exploded at MC and then much fell into place. What happened since then is well known to everyone in Jackson. Its a shame that this had to happen and that whatever demons possessed him drove him so.

On one hand, I look at his life and am saddened by his fall. I take no pleasure at all in what happened to him. However, as an MC alumnus, I still carry anger towards what he did to my school. I think Dr. Nobles was President for far too long. MC had become ossified. The administration was made up of people who had been there for what seemed to be forever and had tenures dating back to the early 70's. There had been no new buildings built for some time. There had been no major endowment drives . There was no pre-registration for the fall semester even though this was the standard operating procedure at colleges and universities for years. It seemed MC was always behind when it came to technology and student services. Some of the dorms were in pretty bad shape. The business school did not even have intern/externships for its students. Then there was the double standard. Some of you will remember these oldies but goodies. The no smoking rule for women only. The curfew for women that was non-existent for men. Its hard to believe that this rules were in effect until the mid-90's when Dr. Todd assumed office.

However, the faculty was awesome. I am still friends with some of my teachers. They were dedicated and truly committed to teaching us and pushing us in the classroom. However, for a very long time, they were poorly paid (which made me admire them even more) and given little in the way of benefits. I remember one professor of mine telling me that even though she had been there for over ten years, she only made $27,000 a year teaching a full-time load. She told me if she earned her PhD, it would mean at the most a $5,000 a year raise. I remember the cars in the faculty parking as usually being older, cheaper cars and shaking my head at the unfairness of it. Those faculty members were truly dedicated to their jobs and are the main reason I do not share the sentiments of those who are praising him in some of the news stories. Every time I read a word of praise about him, I think of the $3 million he stole and the professors trying to scrape by on crumbs while trying to feed their families and constantly being told there was no money for anything. I think of the poor health insurance plans they were given by the Nobles Adminstration. Imagine being 45 years old with a PhD and trying to support a family on less than $40,000 a year while the President is stealing millions.

I remember the football scandals that wrecked our athletic program and how Dr. Nobles bore repsonsibility for a good part of them. We were the only team in NCAA history to be stripped of its national championship. The emphasis at MC during his tenure was football. He fired our coach and treated him pretty shabbily, thus incurring the suspicion that the Coach had turned in MC to the NCAA as revenge. As small a campus and as heavily involved as the administration was in the number of illegal scholarships and other practices, Dr. Nobles ultimately bears a good deal of responsibility for MC going on probation and the surrounding controversy.

I am sad that Dr. Nobles has passed away. He did mean something good to alot of people and is obviously missed by more than a few. I would call his life a tragedy as I would any life that is filled with such promise and talent but takes such a wrong turn. I have no idea why he went down the path that he did. Others have a much better idea, of that I am sure. Here is to hoping he finally made peace with his maker and sought comfort in the arms of our father, whose capacity for forgiveness knows no bounds.

PS) on a sidenote, once again, the Clarion-Ledger gets it wrong. He did not try to commit suicide with cyanide. They reported it was strychnine at the time. I guess they are too lazy to read their own news stories.

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Former terrorist, now an Islamic Reformer, Speaks Out

This is a link to the website of Tawfik Hamid, a former terrorist who is now an Islamic Reformer. Sadly, he lives in the west now and does not allow photographs to be taken of him and lives in an undisclosed location.

This is an article he wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal.
Some choice quotes:

It may seem bizarre, but Islamic reformers are not immune to the charge of "Islamophobia" either. For 20 years, I have preached a reformed interpretation of Islam that teaches peace and respects human rights. I have consistently spoken out--with dozens of other Muslim and Arab reformers--against the mistreatment of women, gays and religious minorities in the Islamic world. We have pointed out the violent teachings of Salafism and the imperative of Westerners to protect themselves against it.
Yet according to CAIR's Michigan spokeswoman, Zeinab Chami, I am "the latest weapon in the Islamophobe arsenal." If standing against the violent edicts of Shariah law is "Islamophobic," then I will treat her accusation as a badge of honor.........

According to a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey, "younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified." About one out of every four American Muslims under 30 think suicide bombing in defense of Islam is justified in at least some circumstances. Twenty-eight percent believe that Muslims did not carry out the 9/11 attacks and 32% declined to answer that question.
While the survey has been represented in the media as proof of moderation among American Muslims, the actual results should yield the opposite conclusion. If, as the Pew study estimates, there are 2.35 million Muslims in America, that means there are a substantial number of people in the U.S. who think suicide bombing is sometimes justified. Similarly, if 5% of American Muslims support al Qaeda, that's more than 100,000 people......

We Muslims should publicly show our strong disapproval for the growing number of attacks by Muslims against other faiths and against other Muslims. Let us not even dwell on 9/11, Madrid, London, Bali and countless other scenes of carnage. It has been estimated that of the two million refugees fleeing Islamic terror in Iraq, 40% are Christian, and many of them seek a haven in Lebanon, where the Christian population itself has declined by 60%. Even in Turkey, Islamists recently found it necessary to slit the throats of three Christians for publishing Bibles......

Of course, Islamist attacks are not limited to Christians and Jews. Why do we hear no Muslim condemnation of the ongoing slaughter of Buddhists in Thailand by Islamic groups? Why was there silence over the Mumbai train bombings which took the lives of over 200 Hindus in 2006? We must not forget that innocent Muslims, too, are suffering. Indeed, the most common murderers of Muslims are, and have always been, other Muslims. Where is the Muslim outcry over the Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq?
Islamophobia could end when masses of Muslims demonstrate in the streets against videos displaying innocent people being beheaded with the same vigor we employ against airlines, Israel and cartoons of Muhammad. It might cease when Muslims unambiguously and publicly insist that Shariah law should have no binding legal status in free, democratic societies.

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

You can't be serious!!! (Jackson Fire Department Becomes More of a Joke)

Kudos to the Jackson Free Press for nailing this story as it is not even mentioned on the Clarion-Ledger's website.

Apparently our Mayor has been SO busy having an unconfirmed and unqualified chief run the fire department for 2 years now in violation of state law that JFD has no one qualified to administer the test necessary to become a fireman. What this means is that the recent graduates of the fire academy (25 in number) wasted their time in going through the training and Jackson wasted its time and money in conducting a training cycle. The doofuses that work for Melton thought that having the exam videotaped was the same as having a live monitor in the room where the test was given.

My prediction: Melton accuses the video camera of being corrupt. He then promises a thorough investigation of the video camera. Melton's new bodyguard, Batman (Reico was promoted to a $100,000 a year position as Outside Police Consultant for the JPD), will accuse the video camera of sleeping with the head of the state certification board. Melton then orders the trainees to work saying he has too many important things for them to do without worrying about their being actually certified as firefighters. "How hard can it be for them to turn on a hose and point at a fire?" he will say. When asked to release documents relating to this, Michelle Purvis says that she is not sure if Jackson has a fire department and that a freedom of information act request must be filed before she can say if Jackson has a fire department anyway.

7-2-07. Update: Clarion-Ledger carries the story.

Click Here to Read More..

Iraq round up. Some interesting stories

Here are some interesting pieces on Iraq that are thought provoking:

That rabid right-winger, former U.S. Senator Bob Kerry (D-Nebraska), who is a former SEAL and was co-chair of the 9/11 commission, writes this week that the War in Iraq is central to the our fight against terrorism by the jihadists:

In this article, a writer from Istanbul spends time in Iraq and observes the battles between Al Queda and local Iraqi security forces.

This is a story about embedded journalists and how actually viewing the action and not sitting back at the Ritz wearing a field jacket like that squaw on CNN have had their thinking challenged by their personal experiences:

Support the troops, send silly string:

In this piece, leading Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis asks if Osama was right:

Turkish Leader attacks secular constitution. Like Bernard Lewis wrote, some Muslims believe in democracy: once. was started by 3 individuals, one was former minister of IDF).

Hitchens rips Jimmy Carter in Slate. Can't say Carter didn't have it coming to him.

This last one is about a Conservative critic of the war, a Vietnam Vet and historian, who supports his son when he decides to enlist and serve in Iraq. Poignant.

Click Here to Read More..

All that Jazz (This post is REALLY about jazz)

I love jazz. My favorites are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious, and Bird. I don't like smooth jazz, I like my jazz to say something, to have a feel or a mood to it, to have a little bit of a dark side. Its a shame in Jackson that with all the jazz lovers that live here, there is no opportunity to discuss jazz or swap our ideas.

Here is something I discovered through the Wall Street Journal, of all things.

Its a series of five minute webcasts on John Coltrane and his work. Just enough to teach you something, not bore you, and leave you wanting to learn a little bit more about his music.

My favorite Trane cds are probably Crescent and Live at Birdland. His "Live at Carnegie Hall" with Monk is pretty awesome as well. Interesting story behind that one. He and Monk collaborated for several months but there were no known existing recordings of their concerts or sessions. However, a couple of years ago (literally) in the archives of the Library of Congress, someone discovered some recordings of the Carnegie Hall concert. It was remastered, released and voila, a true treasure was given back to us.
I'm not an expert on jazz. I just love the music and welcome any and all comments or discussions about jazz on this blog.
This is the story from the WSJ on the Traneumentary:
Jazz: Downloading Coltrane
The podcast meets the documentary in a new exploration of the saxophonistBy JAMIN WARRENFebruary 17, 2007; Page P2For an innovative look at the life of John Coltrane, grab your iPod."The Traneumentary" is a documentary presented in podcast form. Unlike traditional radio or television profiles, it's parcelled out in free five-minute weekly installments.
In each episode, a different jazz musician offers recollections or impressions of Mr. Coltrane as the legendary saxophonist's music plays in the background. The podcasts's creator, Joseph Vella, a media consultant and former musician, has interviewed dozens of musicians for the series and posts a new episode every week. The artists range from some who played with Mr. Coltrane, such as pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Jimmy Cobb (the last remaining member of Miles Davis's legendary "Kind of Blue" sessions), to contemporary jazz stars like Terence Blanchard and Jason Moran.The resulting recordings have an informal, conversational feel. There are no introductions or repartee between Mr. Vella and the musicians, who simply tell their stories.
The music -- clips from classics such as "My Favorite Things" and "A Love Supreme" -- ebbs and flows, growing louder during pauses and subsiding as the artists speak.Mr. Vella, who has worked on similar documentary projects with Yo-Yo Ma and the Beach Boys, was originally commissioned to make a single podcast on Mr. Coltrane last summer for Concord Records, which was releasing a box set of Mr. Coltrane's recordings.Mr. Vella decided to expand the project to a full-scale audio documentary.
He enlisted the support of Warner Music Group, Impulse! and Blue Note Records, who, along with Concord, provided access to their Coltrane recordings and funding for the project.Mr. Vella, who started his own jazz Web site in 1991 and has streamed live broadcasts for more than a decade, says the podcast was the natural medium for the project. Podcasts are "a way to reveal something that had been lost in the commercialization of radio: its intimacy," he says.

Click Here to Read More..

Excellent Piece on Islam by Bernard Lewis.

For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Bernard Lewis is considered by many to the the leading scholar on the Middle East in America. He is somewhat controversial. Indeed, how could any expert on such a subject NOT attract controversy.

This is a piece that appeared in the New Yorker and later was expanded into the book Crisis of Islam. It is well worth reading. Preferrably with a drink in hand and a cigar if you have a good one. Plantation Reserve Churchills from New Orleans Cigar Factory are my favorite. The book has an excellent section on Wahhabism and how the Saudis are funding its spread and what a threat it is world wide.

If you'd like a quick read on the beginnings of Islam, The Age of Faith by Will Durant is an excellent volume. You can order a copy on ebay for less than ten dollars. Fred usually has a copy at Choctaw Books. It has a section that is 100 pages that is a very good primer on the beginnins and early spread of Islam. He is an excellent author; one of his volumes won a Pulitzer Prize, and writes in a very witty style.

Here is the text:

When did the conflict with the West begin, and how could it end?
Issue of 2001-11-19Posted 2001-11-19

President Bush and other Western politicians have taken great pains to make it clear that the war in which we are engaged is a war against terrorism—not a war against Arabs, or, more generally, against Muslims, who are urged to join us in this struggle against our common enemy. Osama bin Laden's message is the opposite. For bin Laden and those who follow him, this is a religious war, a war for Islam and against infidels, and therefore, inevitably, against the United States, the greatest power in the world of the infidels.
In his pronouncements, bin Laden makes frequent references to history. One of the most dramatic was his mention, in the October 7th videotape, of the "humiliation and disgrace" that Islam has suffered for "more than eighty years." Most American—and, no doubt, European—observers of the Middle Eastern scene began an anxious search for something that had happened "more than eighty years" ago, and came up with various answers. We can be fairly sure that bin Laden's Muslim listeners—the people he was addressing—picked up the allusion immediately and appreciated its significance. In 1918, the Ottoman sultanate, the last of the great Muslim empires, was finally defeated—its capital, Constantinople, occupied, its sovereign held captive, and much of its territory partitioned between the victorious British and French Empires. The Turks eventually succeeded in liberating their homeland, but they did so not in the name of Islam but through a secular nationalist movement. One of their first acts, in November, 1922, was to abolish the sultanate. The Ottoman sovereign was not only a sultan, the ruler of a specific state; he was also widely recognized as the caliph, the head of all Sunni Islam, and the last in a line of such rulers that dated back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad, in 632 A.D. After a brief experiment with a separate caliph, the Turks, in March, 1924, abolished the caliphate, too. During its nearly thirteen centuries, the caliphate had gone through many vicissitudes, but it remained a potent symbol of Muslim unity, even identity, and its abolition, under the double assault of foreign imperialists and domestic modernists, was felt throughout the Muslim world.
Historical allusions such as bin Laden's, which may seem abstruse to many Americans, are common among Muslims, and can be properly understood only within the context of Middle Eastern perceptions of identity and against the background of Middle Eastern history. Even the concepts of history and identity require redefinition for the Westerner trying to understand the contemporary Middle East. In current American usage, the phrase "that's history" is commonly used to dismiss something as unimportant, of no relevance to current concerns, and, despite an immense investment in the teaching and writing of history, the general level of historical knowledge in our society is abysmally low. The Muslim peoples, like everyone else in the world, are shaped by their history, but, unlike some others, they are keenly aware of it. In the nineteen-eighties, during the Iran-Iraq war, for instance, both sides waged massive propaganda campaigns that frequently evoked events and personalities dating back as far as the seventh century. These were not detailed narratives but rapid, incomplete allusions, and yet both sides employed them in the secure knowledge that they would be understood by their target audiences—even by the large proportion of that audience that was illiterate. Middle Easterners' perception of history is nourished from the pulpit, by the schools, and by the media, and, although it may be—indeed, often is—slanted and inaccurate, it is nevertheless vivid and powerfully resonant.
But history of what? In the Western world, the basic unit of human organization is the nation, which is then subdivided in various ways, one of which is by religion. Muslims, however, tend to see not a nation subdivided into religious groups but a religion subdivided into nations. This is no doubt partly because most of the nation-states that make up the modern Middle East are relatively new creations, left over from the era of Anglo-French imperial domination that followed the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, and they preserve the state-building and frontier demarcations of their former imperial masters. Even their names reflect this artificiality: Iraq was a medieval province, with borders very different from those of the modern republic; Syria, Palestine, and Libya are names from classical antiquity that hadn't been used in the region for a thousand years or more before they were revived and imposed by European imperialists in the twentieth century; Algeria and Tunisia do not even exist as words in Arabic—the same name serves for the city and the country. Most remarkable of all, there is no word in the Arabic language for Arabia, and modern Saudi Arabia is spoken of instead as "the Saudi Arab kingdom" or "the peninsula of the Arabs," depending on the context. This is not because Arabic is a poor language—quite the reverse is true—but because the Arabs simply did not think in terms of combined ethnic and territorial identity. Indeed, the caliph Omar, the second in succession after the Prophet Muhammad, is quoted as saying to the Arabs, "Learn your genealogies, and do not be like the local peasants who, when they are asked who they are, reply: 'I am from such-and-such a place.' "
In the early centuries of the Muslim era, the Islamic community was one state under one ruler. Even after that community split up into many states, the ideal of a single Islamic polity persisted. The states were almost all dynastic, with shifting frontiers, and it is surely significant that, in the immensely rich historiography of the Islamic world in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, there are histories of dynasties, of cities, and, primarily, of the Islamic state and community, but no histories of Arabia, Persia, or Turkey. Both Arabs and Turks produced a vast literature describing their struggles against Christian Europe, from the first Arab incursions in the eighth century to the final Turkish retreat in the twentieth. But until the modern period, when European concepts and categories became dominant, Islamic commentators almost always referred to their opponents not in territorial or ethnic terms but simply as infidels (kafir). They never referred to their own side as Arab or Turkish; they identified themselves as Muslims. This perspective helps to explain, among other things, Pakistan's concern for the Taliban in Afghanistan. The name Pakistan, a twentieth-century invention, designates a country defined entirely by its Islamic religion. In every other respect, the country and people of Pakistan are—as they have been for millennia—part of India. An Afghanistan defined by its Islamic identity would be a natural ally, even a satellite, of Pakistan. An Afghanistan defined by ethnic nationality, on the other hand, could be a dangerous neighbor, advancing irredentist claims on the Pashto-speaking areas of northwestern Pakistan and perhaps even allying itself with India.

In the course of human history, many civilizations have risen and fallen—China, India, Greece, Rome, and, before them, the ancient civilizations of the Middle East. During the centuries that in European history are called medieval, the most advanced civilization in the world was undoubtedly that of Islam. Islam may have been equalled—or even, in some ways, surpassed—by India and China, but both of those civilizations remained essentially limited to one region and to one ethnic group, and their impact on the rest of the world was correspondingly restricted. The civilization of Islam, on the other hand, was ecumenical in its outlook, and explicitly so in its aspirations. One of the basic tasks bequeathed to Muslims by the Prophet was jihad. This word, which literally means "striving," was usually cited in the Koranic phrase "striving in the path of God" and was interpreted to mean armed struggle for the defense or advancement of Muslim power. In principle, the world was divided into two houses: the House of Islam, in which a Muslim government ruled and Muslim law prevailed, and the House of War, the rest of the world, still inhabited and, more important, ruled by infidels. Between the two, there was to be a perpetual state of war until the entire world either embraced Islam or submitted to the rule of the Muslim state.
From an early date, Muslims knew that there were certain differences among the peoples of the House of War. Most of them were simply polytheists and idolaters, who represented no serious threat to Islam and were likely prospects for conversion. The major exception was the Christians, whom Muslims recognized as having a religion of the same kind as their own, and therefore as their primary rival in the struggle for world domination—or, as they would have put it, world enlightenment. It is surely significant that the Koranic and other inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock, one of the earliest Muslim religious structures outside Arabia, built in Jerusalem between 691 and 692 A.D., include a number of directly anti-Christian polemics: "Praise be to God, who begets no son, and has no partner," and "He is God, one, eternal. He does not beget, nor is he begotten, and he has no peer." For the early Muslims, the leader of Christendom, the Christian equivalent of the Muslim caliph, was the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople. Later, his place was taken by the Holy Roman Emperor in Vienna, and his in turn by the new rulers of the West. Each of these, in his time, was the principal adversary of the jihad.
In practice, of course, the application of jihad wasn't always rigorous or violent. The canonically obligatory state of war could be interrupted by what were legally defined as "truces," but these differed little from the so-called peace treaties the warring European powers signed with one another. Such truces were made by the Prophet with his pagan enemies, and they became the basis of what one might call Islamic international law. In the lands under Muslim rule, Islamic law required that Jews and Christians be allowed to practice their religions and run their own affairs, subject to certain disabilities, the most important being a poll tax that they were required to pay. In modern parlance, Jews and Christians in the classical Islamic state were what we would call second-class citizens, but second-class citizenship, established by law and the Koran and recognized by public opinion, was far better than the total lack of citizenship that was the fate of non-Christians and even of some deviant Christians in the West. The jihad also did not prevent Muslim governments from occasionally seeking Christian allies against Muslim rivals—even during the Crusades, when Christians set up four principalities in the Syro-Palestinian area. The great twelfth-century Muslim leader Saladin, for instance, entered into an agreement with the Crusader king of Jerusalem, to keep the peace for their mutual convenience.
Under the medieval caliphate, and again under the Persian and Turkish dynasties, the empire of Islam was the richest, most powerful, most creative, most enlightened region in the world, and for most of the Middle Ages Christendom was on the defensive. In the fifteenth century, the Christian counterattack expanded. The Tatars were expelled from Russia, and the Moors from Spain. But in southeastern Europe, where the Ottoman sultan confronted first the Byzantine and then the Holy Roman Emperor, Muslim power prevailed, and these setbacks were seen as minor and peripheral. As late as the seventeenth century, Turkish pashas still ruled in Budapest and Belgrade, Turkish armies were besieging Vienna, and Barbary corsairs were raiding lands as distant as the British Isles and, on one occasion, in 1627, even Iceland.
Then came the great change. The second Turkish siege of Vienna, in 1683, ended in total failure followed by headlong retreat—an entirely new experience for the Ottoman armies. A contemporary Turkish historian, Silihdar Mehmet Aga, described the disaster with commendable frankness: "This was a calamitous defeat, so great that there has been none like it since the first appearance of the Ottoman state." This defeat, suffered by what was then the major military power of the Muslim world, gave rise to a new debate, which in a sense has been going on ever since. The argument began among the Ottoman military and political élite as a discussion of two questions: Why had the once victorious Ottoman armies been vanquished by the despised Christian enemy? And how could they restore the previous situation?
There was good reason for concern. Defeat followed defeat, and Christian European forces, having liberated their own lands, pursued their former invaders whence they had come, the Russians moving into North and Central Asia, the Portuguese into Africa and around Africa to South and Southeast Asia. Even small European powers such as Holland and Portugal were able to build vast empires in the East and to establish a dominant role in trade.
For most historians, Middle Eastern and Western alike, the conventional beginning of modern history in the Middle East dates from 1798, when the French Revolution, in the person of Napoleon Bonaparte, landed in Egypt. Within a remarkably short time, General Bonaparte and his small expeditionary force were able to conquer, occupy, and rule the country. There had been, before this, attacks, retreats, and losses of territory on the remote frontiers, where the Turks and the Persians faced Austria and Russia. But for a small Western force to invade one of the heartlands of Islam was a profound shock. The departure of the French was, in a sense, an even greater shock. They were forced to leave Egypt not by the Egyptians, nor by their suzerains the Turks, but by a small squadron of the British Royal Navy, commanded by a young admiral named Horatio Nelson. This was the second bitter lesson the Muslims had to learn: not only could a Western power arrive, invade, and rule at will but only another Western power could get it out.
By the early twentieth century—although a precarious independence was retained by Turkey and Iran and by some remoter countries like Afghanistan, which at that time did not seem worth the trouble of invading—almost the entire Muslim world had been incorporated into the four European empires of Britain, France, Russia, and the Netherlands. Middle Eastern governments and factions were forced to learn how to play these mighty rivals off against one another. For a time, they played the game with some success. Since the Western allies—Britain and France and then the United States—effectively dominated the region, Middle Eastern resisters naturally looked to those allies' enemies for support. In the Second World War, they turned to Germany; in the Cold War, to the Soviet Union.
And then came the collapse of the Soviet Union, which left the United States as the sole world superpower. The era of Middle Eastern history that had been inaugurated by Napoleon and Nelson was ended by Gorbachev and the elder George Bush. At first, it seemed that the era of imperial rivalry had ended with the withdrawal of both competitors: the Soviet Union couldn't play the imperial role, and the United States wouldn't. But most Middle Easterners didn't see it that way. For them, this was simply a new phase in the old imperial game, with America as the latest in a succession of Western imperial overlords, except that this overlord had no rival—no Hitler or Stalin—whom they could use either to damage or to influence the West. In the absence of such a patron, Middle Easterners found themselves obliged to mobilize their own force of resistance. Al Qaeda—its leaders, its sponsors, its financiers—is one such force.

America's new role—and the Middle East's perception of it—was vividly illustrated by an incident in Pakistan in 1979. On November 20th, a band of a thousand Muslim religious radicals seized the Great Mosque in Mecca and held it for a time against the Saudi security forces. Their declared aim was to "purify Islam" and liberate the holy land of Arabia from the royal "clique of infidels" and the corrupt religious leaders who supported them. Their leader, in speeches played from loudspeakers, denounced Westerners as the destroyers of fundamental Islamic values and the Saudi government as their accomplices. He called for a return to the old Islamic traditions of "justice and equality." After some hard fighting, the rebels were suppressed. Their leader was executed on January 9, 1980, along with sixty-two of his followers, among them Egyptians, Kuwaitis, Yemenis, and citizens of other Arab countries.
Meanwhile, a demonstration in support of the rebels took place in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. A rumor had circulated—endorsed by Ayatollah Khomeini, who was then in the process of establishing himself as the revolutionary leader in Iran—that American troops had been involved in the clashes in Mecca. The American Embassy was attacked by a crowd of Muslim demonstrators, and two Americans and two Pakistani employees were killed. Why had Khomeini stood by a report that was not only false but wildly improbable?
These events took place within the context of the Iranian revolution of 1979. On November 4th, the United States Embassy in Teheran had been seized, and fifty-two Americans were taken hostage; those hostages were then held for four hundred and forty-four days, until their release on January 20, 1981. The motives for this, baffling to many at the time, have become clearer since, thanks to subsequent statements and revelations from the hostage-takers and others. It is now apparent that the hostage crisis occurred not because relations between Iran and the United States were deteriorating but because they were improving. In the fall of 1979, the relatively moderate Iranian Prime Minister, Mehdi Bazargan, had arranged to meet with the American national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, under the aegis of the Algerian government. The two men met on November 1st, and were reported to have been photographed shaking hands. There seemed to be a real possibility—in the eyes of the radicals, a real danger—that there might be some accommodation between the two countries. Protesters seized the Embassy and took the American diplomats hostage in order to destroy any hope of further dialogue.
For Khomeini, the United States was "the Great Satan," the principal adversary against whom he had to wage his holy war for Islam. America was by then perceived—rightly—as the leader of what we like to call "the free world." Then, as in the past, this world of unbelievers was seen as the only serious force rivalling and preventing the divinely ordained spread and triumph of Islam. But American observers, reluctant to recognize the historical quality of the hostility, sought other reasons for the anti-American sentiment that had been intensifying in the Islamic world for some time. One explanation, which was widely accepted, particularly in American foreign-policy circles, was that America's image had been tarnished by its wartime and continuing alliance with the former colonial powers of Europe.
In their country's defense, some American commentators pointed out that, unlike the Western European imperialists, America had itself been a victim of colonialism; the United States was the first country to win freedom from British rule. But the hope that the Middle Eastern subjects of the former British and French Empires would accept the American Revolution as a model for their own anti-imperialist struggle rested on a basic fallacy that Arab writers were quick to point out. The American Revolution was fought not by Native American nationalists but by British settlers, and, far from being a victory against colonialism, it represented colonialism's ultimate triumph—the English in North America succeeded in colonizing the land so thoroughly that they no longer needed the support of the mother country.
It is hardly surprising that former colonial subjects in the Middle East would see America as being tainted by the same kind of imperialism as Western Europe. But Middle Eastern resentment of imperial powers has not always been consistent. The Soviet Union, which extended the imperial conquests of the tsars of Russia, ruled with no light hand over tens of millions of Muslim subjects in Central Asian states and in the Caucasus; had it not been for American opposition and the Cold War, the Arab world might well have shared the fate of Poland and Hungary, or, more probably, that of Uzbekistan. And yet the Soviet Union suffered no similar backlash of anger and hatred from the Arab community. Even the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979—a clear case of imperialist aggression, conquest, and domination—triggered only a muted response in the Islamic world. The P.L.O. observer at the United Nations defended the invasion, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference did little to protest it. South Yemen and Syria boycotted a meeting held to discuss the issue, Libya delivered an attack on the United States, and the P.L.O. representative abstained from voting and submitted his reservations in writing. Ironically, it was the United States, in the end, that was left to orchestrate an Islamic response to Soviet imperialism in Afghanistan.
As the Western European empires faded, Middle Eastern anti-Americanism was attributed more and more to another cause: American support for Israel, first in its conflict with the Palestinian Arabs, then in its conflict with the neighboring Arab states and the larger Islamic world. There is certainly support for this hypothesis in Arab statements on the subject. But there are incongruities, too. In the nineteen-thirties, Nazi Germany's policies were the main cause of Jewish migration to Palestine, then a British mandate, and the consequent reinforcement of the Jewish community there. The Nazis not only permitted this migration; they facilitated it until the outbreak of the war, while the British, in the somewhat forlorn hope of winning Arab good will, imposed and enforced restrictions. Nevertheless, the Palestinian leadership of the time, and many other Arab leaders, supported the Germans, who sent the Jews to Palestine, rather than the British, who tried to keep them out.
The same kind of discrepancy can be seen in the events leading to and following the establishment of the State of Israel, in 1948. The Soviet Union played a significant role in procuring the majority by which the General Assembly of the United Nations voted to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, and then gave Israel immediate de-jure recognition. The United States, however, gave only de-facto recognition. More important, the American government maintained a partial arms embargo on Israel, while Czechoslovakia, at Moscow's direction, immediately sent a supply of weaponry, which enabled the new state to survive the attempts to strangle it at birth. As late as the war of 1967, Israel still relied for its arms on European, mainly French, suppliers, not on the United States.
The Soviet Union had been one of Israel's biggest supporters. Yet, when Egypt announced an arms deal with Russia, in September of 1955, there was an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response in the Arab press. The Chambers of Deputies in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan met immediately and voted resolutions of congratulation to President Nasser; even Nuri Said, the pro-Western ruler of Iraq, felt obliged to congratulate his Egyptian colleague—this despite the fact that the Arabs had no special love of Russia, nor did Muslims in the Arab world or elsewhere wish to invite either Communist ideology or Soviet power to their lands. What delighted them was that they saw the arms deal—no doubt correctly—as a slap in the face for the West. The slap, and the agitated Western response, reinforced the mood of hatred and spite toward the West and encouraged its exponents. It also encouraged the United States to look more favorably on Israel, now seen as a reliable and potentially useful ally in a largely hostile region. Today, it is often forgotten that the strategic relationship between the United States and Israel was a consequence, not a cause, of Soviet penetration.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only one of many struggles between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds—on a list that includes Nigeria, Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Chechnya, Sinkiang, Kashmir, and Mindanao—but it has attracted far more attention than any of the others. There are several reasons for this. First, since Israel is a democracy and an open society, it is much easier to report—and misreport—what is going on. Second, Jews are involved, and this can usually secure the attention of those who, for one reason or another, are for or against them. Third, and most important, resentment of Israel is the only grievance that can be freely and safely expressed in those Muslim countries where the media are either wholly owned or strictly overseen by the government. Indeed, Israel serves as a useful stand-in for complaints about the economic privation and political repression under which most Muslim people live, and as a way of deflecting the resulting anger.

This raises another issue. Increasingly in recent decades, Middle Easterners have articulated a new grievance against American policy: not American complicity with imperialism or with Zionism but something nearer home and more immediate—American complicity with the corrupt tyrants who rule over them. For obvious reasons, this particular complaint does not often appear in public discourse. Middle Eastern governments, such as those of Iraq, Syria, and the Palestine Authority, have developed great skill in controlling their own media and manipulating those of Western countries. Nor, for equally obvious reasons, is it raised in diplomatic negotiation. But it is discussed, with increasing anguish and urgency, in private conversations with listeners who can be trusted, and recently even in public. (Interestingly, the Iranian revolution of 1979 was one time when this resentment was expressed openly. The Shah was accused of supporting America, but America was also attacked for imposing an impious and tyrannical leader as its puppet.)
Almost the entire Muslim world is affected by poverty and tyranny. Both of these problems are attributed, especially by those with an interest in diverting attention from themselves, to America—the first to American economic dominance and exploitation, now thinly disguised as "globalization"; the second to America's support for the many so-called Muslim tyrants who serve its purposes. Globalization has become a major theme in the Arab media, and it is almost always raised in connection with American economic penetration. The increasingly wretched economic situation in most of the Muslim world, relative not only to the West but also to the tiger economies of East Asia, fuels these frustrations. American paramountcy, as Middle Easterners see it, indicates where to direct the blame and the resulting hostility.
There is some justice in one charge that is frequently levelled against the United States: Middle Easterners increasingly complain that the United States judges them by different and lower standards than it does Europeans and Americans, both in what is expected of them and in what they may expect—in terms of their financial well-being and their political freedom. They assert that Western spokesmen repeatedly overlook or even defend actions and support rulers that they would not tolerate in their own countries. As many Middle Easterners see it, the Western and American governments' basic position is: "We don't care what you do to your own people at home, so long as you are coöperative in meeting our needs and protecting our interests."
The most dramatic example of this form of racial and cultural arrogance was what Iraqis and others see as the betrayal of 1991, when the United States called on the Iraqi people to revolt against Saddam Hussein. The rebels of northern and southern Iraq did so, and the United States forces watched while Saddam, using the helicopters that the ceasefire agreement had allowed him to retain, bloodily suppressed them, group by group. The reasoning behind this action—or, rather, inaction—is not difficult to see. Certainly, the victorious Gulf War coalition wanted a change of government in Iraq, but they had hoped for a coup d'état, not a revolution. They saw a genuine popular uprising as dangerous—it could lead to uncertainty or even anarchy in the region. A coup would be more predictable and could achieve the desired result—the replacement of Saddam Hussein by another, more amenable tyrant, who could take his place among America's so-called allies in the coalition. The United States' abandonment of Afghanistan after the departure of the Soviets was understood in much the same way as its abandonment of the Iraqi rebels.
Another example of this double standard occurred in the Syrian city of Hama and in refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila. The troubles in Hama began with an uprising headed by the radical group the Muslim Brothers in 1982. The government responded swiftly. Troops were sent, supported by armor, artillery, and aircraft, and within a very short time they had reduced a large part of the city to rubble. The number killed was estimated, by Amnesty International, at somewhere between ten thousand and twenty-five thousand. The action, which was ordered and supervised by the Syrian President, Hafiz al-Assad, attracted little attention at the time, and did not prevent the United States from subsequently courting Assad, who received a long succession of visits from American Secretaries of State James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Madeleine Albright, and even from President Clinton. It is hardly likely that Americans would have been so eager to propitiate a ruler who had perpetrated such crimes on Western soil, with Western victims.
The massacre of seven hundred to eight hundred Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila that same year was carried out by Lebanese militiamen, led by a Lebanese commander who subsequently became a minister in the Syrian-sponsored Lebanese government, and it was seen as a reprisal for the assassination of the Lebanese President Bashir Gemayyel. Ariel Sharon, who at the time commanded the Israeli forces in Lebanon, was reprimanded by an Israeli commission of inquiry for not having foreseen and prevented the massacre, and was forced to resign from his position as Minister of Defense. It is understandable that the Palestinians and other Arabs should lay sole blame for the massacre on Sharon. What is puzzling is that Europeans and Americans should do the same. Some even wanted to try Sharon for crimes against humanity before a tribunal in Europe. No such suggestion was made regarding either Saddam Hussein or Hafiz al-Assad, who slaughtered tens of thousands of their compatriots. It is easy to understand the bitterness of those who see the implication here. It was as if the militia who had carried out the deed were animals, not accountable by the same human standards as the Israelis.
Thanks to modern communications, the people of the Middle East are increasingly aware of the deep and widening gulf between the opportunities of the free world outside their borders and the appalling privation and repression within them. The resulting anger is naturally directed first against their rulers, and then against those whom they see as keeping those rulers in power for selfish reasons. It is surely significant that most of the terrorists who have been identified in the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington come from Saudi Arabia and Egypt—that is, from countries whose rulers are deemed friendly to the United States.

If America's double standards—and its selfish support for corrupt regimes in the Arab world—have long caused anger among Muslims, why has that anger only recently found its expression in acts of terrorism? In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Muslims responded in two ways to the widening imbalance of power and wealth between their societies and those of the West. The reformers or modernizers tried to identify the sources of Western wealth and power and adapt them to their own use, in order to meet the West on equal terms. Muslim governments—first in Turkey, then in Egypt and Iran—made great efforts to modernize, that is, to Westernize, the weaponry and equipment of their armed forces; they even dressed them in Western-style uniforms and marched them to the tune of brass bands. When defeats on the battlefield were matched by others in the marketplace, the reformers tried to discover the secrets of Western economic success and to emulate them by establishing industries of their own. Young Muslim students who were sent to the West to study the arts of war also came back with dangerous and explosive notions about elected assemblies and constitutional governments.
All attempts at reform ended badly. If anything, the modernization of the armed forces accelerated the process of defeat and withdrawal, culminating in the humiliating failure of five Arab states and armies to prevent a half million Jews from building a new state in the debris of the British Mandate in Palestine in 1948. With rare exceptions, the economic reforms, capitalist and socialist alike, fared no better. The Middle Eastern combination of low productivity and high birth rate makes for an unstable mix, and by all indications the Arab countries, in such matters as job creation, education, technology, and productivity, lag ever farther behind the West. Even worse, the Arab nations also lag behind the more recent recruits to Western-style modernity, such as Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. Out of a hundred and fifty-five countries ranked for economic freedom in 2001, the highest-ranking Muslim states are Bahrain (No. 9), the United Arab Emirates (No. 14), and Kuwait (No. 42). According to the World Bank, in 2000 the average annual income in the Muslim countries from Morocco to Bangladesh was only half the world average, and in the nineties the combined gross national products of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon—that is, three of Israel's Arab neighbors—were considerably smaller than that of Israel alone. The per-capita figures are worse. According to United Nations statistics, Israel's per-capita G.D.P. was three and a half times that of Lebanon and Syria, twelve times that of Jordan, and thirteen and a half times that of Egypt. The contrast with the West, and now also with the Far East, is even more disconcerting.
Modernization in politics has fared no better—perhaps even worse—than in warfare and economics. Many Islamic countries have experimented with democratic institutions of one kind or another. In some, as in Turkey, Iran, and Tunisia, they were introduced by innovative native reformers; in others, they were installed and then bequeathed by departing imperialists. The record, with the possible exception of Turkey, is one of almost unrelieved failure. Western-style parties and parliaments almost invariably ended in corrupt tyrannies, maintained by repression and indoctrination. The only European model that worked, in the sense of accomplishing its purposes, was the one-party dictatorship. The Baath Party, different branches of which have ruled Iraq and Syria for decades, incorporated the worst features of its Nazi and Soviet models. Since the death of Nasser, in 1970, no Arab leader has been able to gain extensive support outside his own country. Indeed, no Arab leader has been willing to submit his claim to power to a free vote. The leaders who have come closest to winning pan-Arab approval are Qaddafi in the seventies and, more recently, Saddam Hussein. That these two, of all Arab rulers, should enjoy such wide popularity is in itself both appalling and revealing.
In view of this, it is hardly surprising that many Muslims speak of the failure of modernization. The rejection of modernity in favor of a return to the sacred past has a varied and ramified history in the region and has given rise to a number of movements. The most important of these, Wahhabism, has lasted more than two and a half centuries and exerts a significant influence on Muslim movements in the Middle East today. Its founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-87), was a theologian from the Najd area of Arabia. In 1744, he launched a campaign of purification and renewal. His purpose was to return the Muslim world to the pure and authentic Islam of the Prophet, removing and, where necessary, destroying all later accretions. The Wahhabi cause was embraced by the Saudi rulers of Najd, who promoted it, for a while successfully, by force. In a series of campaigns, they carried their rule and their faith to much of central and eastern Arabia, before being rebuffed, at the end of the eighteenth century, by the Ottoman sultan, whom the Saudi ruler had denounced as a backslider from the true faith and a usurper in the Muslim state. The second alliance of Wahhabi doctrine and Saudi force began in the last years of the Ottoman Empire and continued after the collapse. The Saudi conquest of the Hejaz, including the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, increased the prestige of the House of Saud and gave new scope to the Wahhabi doctrine, which spread, in a variety of forms, throughout the Islamic world.
From the nineteen-thirties on, the discovery of oil in the eastern provinces of Arabia and its exploitation, chiefly by American companies, brought vast new wealth and bitter new social tensions. In the old society, inequalities of wealth had been limited, and their effects were restrained, on the one hand, by the traditional social bonds and obligations that linked rich and poor and, on the other hand, by the privacy of Muslim home life. Modernization has all too often widened the gap, destroyed those social bonds, and, through the universality of the modern media, made the resulting inequalities painfully visible. All this has created new and receptive audiences for Wahhabi teachings and those of other like-minded groups, among them the Muslim Brothers in Egypt and Syria and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
It has now become normal to designate these movements as "fundamentalist." The term is unfortunate for a number of reasons. It was originally an American Protestant term, used to designate Protestant churches that differed in some respects from the mainstream churches. These differences bear no resemblance to those that divide Muslim fundamentalists from the Islamic mainstream, and the use of the term can therefore be misleading. Broadly speaking, Muslim fundamentalists are those who feel that the troubles of the Muslim world at the present time are the result not of insufficient modernization but of excessive modernization. From their point of view, the primary struggle is not against the Western enemy as such but against the Westernizing enemies at home, who have imported and imposed infidel ways on Muslim peoples. The task of the Muslims is to depose and remove these infidel rulers, sometimes by defeating or expelling their foreign patrons and protectors, and to abrogate and destroy the laws, institutions, and social customs that they have introduced, so as to return to a purely Islamic way of life, in accordance with the principles of Islam and the rules of the Holy Law.

Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda followers may not represent Islam, and their statements and their actions directly contradict basic Islamic principles and teachings, but they do arise from within Muslim civilization, just as Hitler and the Nazis arose from within Christian civilization, so they must be seen in their own cultural, religious, and historical context.
If one looks at the historical record, the Muslim approach to war does not differ greatly from that of Christians, or that of Jews in the very ancient and very modern periods when the option was open to them. While Muslims, perhaps more frequently than Christians, made war against the followers of other faiths to bring them within the scope of Islam, Christians—with the notable exception of the Crusades, which were themselves an imitation of Muslim practice—were more prone to fight internal religious wars against those whom they saw as schismatics or heretics. Islam, no doubt owing to the political and military involvement of its founder, takes what one might call a more pragmatic view than the Gospels of the realities of societal relationships. Because war for the faith has been a religious obligation within Islam from the beginning, it is elaborately regulated. Islamic religious law, or the Sharia, deals in some detail with such matters as the opening, conclusion, and resumption of hostilities, the avoidance of injury to noncombatants, the treatment of prisoners, the division of booty, and even the types of weapons that may be used. Some of these rules have been explained away by modern radical commentators who support the fundamentalists; others are simply disregarded.
What about terrorism? Followers of many faiths have at one time or another invoked religion in the practice of murder, both retail and wholesale. Two words deriving from such movements in Eastern religions have even entered the English language: "thug," from India, and "assassin," from the Middle East, both commemorating fanatical religious sects whose form of worship was to murder those whom they regarded as enemies of the faith. The question of the lawfulness of assassination in Islam first arose in 656 A.D., with the murder of the third caliph, Uthman, by pious Muslim rebels who believed they were carrying out the will of God. The first of a succession of civil wars was fought over the question of whether the rebels were fulfilling or defying God's commandment. Islamic law and tradition are very clear on the duty of obedience to the Islamic ruler. But they also quote two sayings attributed to the Prophet: "There is no obedience in sin" and "Do not obey a creature against his creator." If a ruler orders something that is contrary to the law of God, then the duty of obedience is replaced by a duty of disobedience. The notion of tyrannicide—the justified removal of a tyrant—was not an Islamic innovation; it was familiar in antiquity, among Jews, Greeks, and Romans alike, and those who performed it were often acclaimed as heroes.
Members of the eleventh-tothirteenth-century Muslim sect known as the Assassins, which was based in Iran and Syria, seem to have been the first to transform the act that was named after them into a system and an ideology. Their efforts, contrary to popular belief, were primarily directed not against the Crusaders but against their own leaders, whom they saw as impious usurpers. In this sense, the Assassins are the true predecessors of many of the so-called Islamic terrorists of today, some of whom explicitly make this point. The name Assassins, with its connotation of "hashish-taker," was given to them by their Muslim enemies. They called themselves fidayeen—those who are ready to sacrifice their lives for their cause. The term has been revived and adopted by their modern imitators. In two respects, however—in their choice of weapons and of victims—the Assassins were markedly different from their modern successors. The victim was always an individual—a highly placed political, military, or religious leader who was seen as the source of evil. He, and he alone, was killed. This action was not terrorism in the current sense of that term but, rather, what we would call "targeted assassination." The method was always the same: the dagger. The Assassins disdained the use of poison, crossbows, and other weapons that could be used from a distance, and the Assassin did not expect—or, it would seem, even desire—to survive his act, which he believed would insure him eternal bliss. But in no circumstance did he commit suicide. He died at the hands of his captors.
The twentieth century brought a renewal of such actions in the Middle East, though of different types and for different purposes, and terrorism has gone through several phases. During the last years of the British Empire, imperial Britain faced terrorist movements in its Middle Eastern dependencies that represented three different cultures: Greeks in Cyprus, Jews in Palestine, and Arabs in Aden. All three acted from nationalist, rather than religious, motives. Though very different in their backgrounds and political circumstances, the three were substantially alike in their tactics. Their purpose was to persuade the imperial power that staying in the region was not worth the cost in blood. Their method was to attack the military and, to a lesser extent, administrative personnel and installations. All three operated only within their own territory and generally avoided collateral damage. All three succeeded in their endeavors.
Thanks to the rapid development of the media, and especially of television, the more recent forms of terrorism are targeted not at specific and limited enemy objectives but at world opinion. Their primary purpose is not to defeat or even to weaken the enemy militarily but to gain publicity—a psychological victory. The most successful group by far in this exercise has been the Palestine Liberation Organization. The P.L.O. was founded in 1964 but became important in 1967, after the defeat of the combined Arab armies in the Six-Day War. Regular warfare had failed; it was time to try other methods. The targets in this form of armed struggle were not military or other government establishments, which are usually too well guarded, but public places and gatherings of any kind, which are overwhelmingly civilian, and in which the victims do not necessarily have a connection to the declared enemy. Examples of this include, in 1970, the hijacking of three aircraft—one Swiss, one British, and one American—which were all taken to Amman; the 1972 murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics; the seizure in 1973 of the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum, and the murder there of two Americans and a Belgian diplomat; and the takeover of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, in 1985. Other attacks were directed against schools, shopping malls, discothèques, pizzerias, and even passengers waiting in line at European airports. These and other attacks by the P.L.O. were immediately and remarkably successful in attaining their objectives—the capture of newspaper headlines and television screens. They also drew a great deal of support in sometimes unexpected places, and raised their perpetrators to starring roles in the drama of international relations. Small wonder that others were encouraged to follow their example—in Ireland, in Spain, and elsewhere.
The Arab terrorists of the seventies and eighties made it clear that they were waging a war for an Arab or Palestinian cause, not for Islam. Indeed, a significant proportion of the P.L.O. leaders and activists were Christian. Unlike socialism, which was discredited by its failure, nationalism was discredited by its success. In every Arab land but Palestine, the nationalists achieved their purposes—the defeat and departure of imperialist rulers, and the establishment of national sovereignty under national leaders. For a while, freedom and independence were used as more or less synonymous and interchangeable terms. The early experience of independence, however, revealed that this was a sad error. Independence and freedom are very different, and all too often the attainment of one meant the end of the other.
Both in defeat and in victory, the Arab nationalists of the twentieth century pioneered the methods that were later adopted by religious terrorists, in particular the lack of concern at the slaughter of innocent bystanders. This unconcern reached new proportions in the terror campaign launched by Osama bin Laden in the early nineties. The first major example was the bombing of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998. In order to kill twelve American diplomats, the terrorists were willing to slaughter more than two hundred Africans, many of them Muslims, who happened to be in the vicinity. The same disregard for human life, on a vastly greater scale, underlay the action in New York on September 11th.
There is no doubt that the foundation of Al Qaeda and the consecutive declarations of war by Osama bin Laden marked the beginning of a new and ominous phase in the history of both Islam and terrorism. The triggers for bin Laden's actions, as he himself has explained very clearly, were America's presence in Arabia during the Gulf War—a desecration of the Muslim Holy Land—and America's use of Saudi Arabia as a base for an attack on Iraq. If Arabia is the most symbolic location in the world of Islam, Baghdad, the seat of the caliphate for half a millennium and the scene of some of the most glorious chapters in Islamic history, is the second.
There was another, perhaps more important, factor driving bin Laden. In the past, Muslims fighting against the West could always turn to the enemies of the West for comfort, encouragement, and material and military help. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, for the first time in centuries there was no such useful enemy. There were some nations that had the will, but they lacked the means to play the role of the Third Reich or the Soviet Union. Bin Laden and his cohorts soon realized that, in the new configuration of world power, if they wished to fight America they had to do it themselves. Some eleven years ago, they created Al Qaeda, which included many veterans of the war in Afghanistan. Their task might have seemed daunting to anyone else, but they did not see it that way. In their view, they had already driven the Russians out of Afghanistan, in a defeat so overwhelming that it led directly to the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. Having overcome the superpower that they had always regarded as more formidable, they felt ready to take on the other; in this they were encouraged by the opinion, often expressed by Osama bin Laden, among others, that America was a paper tiger.
Muslim terrorists had been driven by such beliefs before. One of the most surprising revelations in the memoirs of those who held the American Embassy in Teheran from 1979 to 1981 was that their original intention had been to hold the building and the hostages for only a few days. They changed their minds when statements from Washington made it clear that there was no danger of serious action against them. They finally released the hostages, they explained, only because they feared that the new President, Ronald Reagan, might approach the problem "like a cowboy."
Bin Laden and his followers clearly have no such concern, and their hatred is neither constrained by fear nor diluted by respect. As precedents, they repeatedly cite the American retreats from Vietnam, from Lebanon, and—the most important of all, in their eyes—from Somalia. Bin Laden's remarks in an interview with John Miller, of ABC News, on May 28, 1998, are especially revealing:
Similar inferences are drawn when American spokesmen refuse to implicate—and sometimes even hasten to exculpate—parties that most Middle Easterners believe to be deeply involved in the attacks on America. A good example is the repeated official denial of any Iraqi involvement in the events of September 11th. It may indeed be true that there is no evidence of Iraqi involvement, and that the Administration is unwilling to make false accusations. But it is difficult for Middle Easterners to resist the idea that this refusal to implicate Saddam Hussein is due less to a concern for legality than to a fear of confronting him. He would indeed be a formidable adversary. If he faces the prospect of imminent destruction, as would be inevitable in a real confrontation, there is no knowing what he might do with his already considerable arsenal of unconventional weapons. Certainly, he would not be restrained by any scruples, or by the consideration that the greatest victims of any such attack would be his own people and their immediate neighbors.
For Osama bin Laden, 2001 marks the resumption of the war for the religious dominance of the world that began in the seventh century. For him and his followers, this is a moment of opportunity. Today, America exemplifies the civilization and embodies the leadership of the House of War, and, like Rome and Byzantium, it has become degenerate and demoralized, ready to be overthrown. Khomeini's designation of the United States as "the Great Satan" was telling. In the Koran, Satan is described as "the insidious tempter who whispers in the hearts of men." This is the essential point about Satan: he is neither a conqueror nor an exploiter—he is, first and last, a tempter. And for the members of Al Qaeda it is the seduction of America that represents the greatest threat to the kind of Islam they wish to impose on their fellow-Muslims.
But there are others for whom America offers a different kind of temptation—the promise of human rights, of free institutions, and of a responsible and elected government. There are a growing number of individuals and even some movements that have undertaken the complex task of introducing such institutions in their own countries. It is not easy. Similar attempts, as noted, led to many of today's corrupt regimes. Of the fifty-seven member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, only one, the Turkish Republic, has operated democratic institutions over a long period of time and, despite difficult and ongoing problems, has made progress in establishing a liberal economy and a free society and political order.
In two countries, Iraq and Iran, where the regimes are strongly anti-American, there are democratic oppositions capable of taking over and forming governments. We could do much to help them, and have done little. In most other countries in the region, there are people who share our values, sympathize with us, and would like to share our way of life. They understand freedom, and want to enjoy it at home. It is more difficult for us to help those people, but at least we should not hinder them. If they succeed, we shall have friends and allies in the true, not just the diplomatic, sense of these words.
Meanwhile, there is a more urgent problem. If bin Laden can persuade the world of Islam to accept his views and his leadership, then a long and bitter struggle lies ahead, and not only for America. Sooner or later, Al Qaeda and related groups will clash with the other neighbors of Islam—Russia, China, India—who may prove less squeamish than the Americans in using their power against Muslims and their sanctities. If bin Laden is correct in his calculations and succeeds in his war, then a dark future awaits the world, especially the part of it that embraces Islam.

Click Here to Read More..

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel


Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS