Thursday, April 17, 2014

The frappé of human kindness

Marco d’Aviano was a Capuchin priest and friar from Venice, “famed as a preacher of crusades against the Islamic armies of the Ottoman Turks”—including direct preaching to help inspire the Christians to defeat the infamous Islamic siege against Vienna in 1683—the last time that Islam was able to muster a major military invasion of the West.

On April 27, 2003, the Pope at the time, John Paul II, initiated a process of beatification of
d’Avian—effectively making him a Saint of the Church. This act by the Pope created some handwringing at the time, mostly from politically correct Catholics, such as Father Justus Lacunza, Missionary of Africa who heads the Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies (I wonder if they are studying the same Islam whose believers attacked and beseiged and raped and enslaved and pillaged Christendom for a good millennium from the 7th to the 17th centuries...?). Father Lacunza was quoted as worrying whether the beatification of d’Aviano might be “adding fuel to the fire”—even though it was apparently clear that the reasoning of the Pope for the beatification had little to do with d’Aviano’s anti-Islamic crusades, but rather to do with the rather more nebulous laudation of him as an apostle of Europe’s Christian identity” (Heaven forbid the Pope should have thought to propose him as an apostle of resistance to Islam!); for, as the Pope said, with perhaps overly diplomatic imprecision, d’Aviano’s memorialization symbolizes the conviction that Europe’s unity will be more stable if it is based on its common Christian roots.

Less hackneyed and more subtle was the response of Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria, who tried to explain away the admirable martial spirit of
d’Aviano with the deceptively anodyne phrase that the spirited monk was a “child of the times”. I.e., his errors—as a Christian helping to rally the Christian troops against Muslim invaders—can be chalked up to a bygone era when Christianity had not yet evolved into a more pacifist and politically correct culture. One one level, I agree essentially with Cardinal Schoenborn’s rudimentary historical view: Christianity indeed has evolved and become less martial. But to Cardinal Schoenborn, this is a simplistically good thing. To me, it is more complex: it is both good and bad: good in that corporal punishments for anti-Christian expressions; a general climate of censorship and intellectual oppression for anti-religious expressions; and lynchings, pogroms and internecine warfare all to a great degree religiously motivated should be consigned to the dustbin of history. But bad when the martial fortitude of Christians of old—in defense of their civilization against physically violent invaders—is thrown out with the bathwater. 

Lest the modern secularist worry that a revival of the Christian martial spirit would threaten the successful evolution of Christianity into the maturely docile partner of secularism she has become in modern times, I am of course not calling for a revival of such a martial spirit in terms of any politico-legal institutions; but only in terms of a lucid willingness and readiness to fight and kill in self-defense, without hamstringing that self-defense in ahistorical calls for us to comport ourselves, in the face of an Islam Redivivus, more mercifully and in a manner “more Christian”.

Outside the Vatican, there were signs of common sense in Italian society, somewhat less encumbered with PC MC, perhaps, than many other Western nations: Italian director Renzo Martinelli, who was reported to have been working on a film based on the life of Marco d’Aviano (possibly his 2012 film The Day of the Siege about the 1683 siege of Vienna), asserted that “without him Italian women would today be wearing the burqa.”  Martinelli, incidentally, is the director who made one of the only films to deal with Islamic terrorism in a way even approaching verisimilitude, his 2006 movie The Stone Merchant, which someday I will review here.  Also, Italy has a political party containing politicians and analysts wiser than any seen in many other Western countriesthe so-called "far-right" Northern League party.  A Northern League member of Italian parliament, Edouard Ballaman, stated publicly (and with a boldness nearly unmatched anywhere else in the free world in similar contexts) that the beatification of d'Aviano “...will make Christianity wake up, posing de facto the basis for a second crusade, this one in defense against an Islamic assault, after the first...”  Indeed, Ballaman led a delegation from the Northern League to the beatification ceremony.

Good old
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, of course, hastened to put a damper on such an interpretation.  D’Aviano “should not be instrumentalized for today’s political purposes,” he reminded us, anxiously.
Indeed, it seems that Saint d’Aviano could be hailed as a child of our time as well as of his time, for he was able to embody and understand the complexity of a Christianity at once sufficiently martial to marshal effective defense against Muslim attack, and sufficiently merciful to distinguish it from the very enemy it had to fight.

As a 2003 story in the National Catholic Reporter described:

When the imperial armies defeated the Ottomans at Belgrade in 1688, for example, d’Aviano interceded to save the lives of the surrendering Muslim troops.

It is difficult to imagine a Muslim cleric—of the 17th or the 21st century—rushing in to a city that had just been successfully overrun by Muslim jihadists, pleading to spare the lives and limbs of the vanquished. But it is not difficult to imagine Christian clerics doing so. That is the telling difference. And, if any point can be salvaged from this footnote to history, it is that we, as modern Westerners, surely have the intellectual capacity to hold in our heads and respect, at one and the same time, both the Christian mercy of Saint d’Aviano, and his Christian martialism.  

For, on the other side of the coin, a biography records that during the fighting that led to the Western victory five years earlier at the siege of Vienna, d’Aviano had brandished a crucifix at the Turks, shouting, “Behold the cross of the Lord: Flee, enemy bands!”

The milk of human kindness, so carefully and wonderfully cultivated by the West over its difficult career of centuries, not without bouts of imperfection now and then, need not be timid nor insipid.  It can help to build (or rebuild) the strong bones of the Body Politic now assailed by a global revival of that seige of 1683.


In a footnote to this footnote, we learn that aside from his military and spiritual legacy, d’Aviano left one other trace in history. When the Viennese decided to use milk to lighten the thick coffee left behind by the Ottoman invaders, they named the resulting drink for d’Aviano’s Capuchin religious order: cappuccino.

Monday, April 14, 2014

As Good As It Gets

Actor Jack Nicholson Wallpaper For Widescreen 

Since the demos (Greek for "the people") of any Muslim society is diseased, any endowment of sociopolitical power (kratos, the Greek word for "power", whence we get the "-cracy" suffix for words like democracy and theocracy) to that people (or derivation therefrom, pace Lincoln) will be as diseased as the human material composing it.

That's why the various tin-pot banana-republic dictatorships (some bigger bananas than others -- e.g., the Pahlavi dynasty of Iran, or Ataturk and the Kemalists of Turkey) which have been marginally and grudgingly amenable or pliable to pro-Western policies are, to quote Jack Nicholson in the movie by the same name, "as good as it gets" for any Islamic polity.

The “secularism” Turkey “embraced” in the aftermath of WWI was also the result of an internal revolution and coup d’etat by a Muslim apparently influenced by Western Enlightenment ideas, Ataturk. Once in power, he did do a few things to constrain the influence of Islam in Turkey (e.g., banning the veil in public; or having the government monitor mosques and censor any Friday sermons to weed out the subversion typical of such; etc.). Ataturk was the prototype of the phenomenon we saw pop up elsewhere in the 20th century in various parts of the Muslim world: the Tin Pot Dictator who would in varying degrees try to constrain and tame the natural Islamic beast within his nation, in exchange for a relationship” with the dominant geopolitical powers (at first Great Britain and Europe; increasingly as the 20th century unfolded, America). Other typical examples of this type — the Father and Son Shahs of Iran; the Bourguiba dynastry of Tunisia; the King Mohammed dynasty of Morocco; the so-called “nationalist” Nasser and then Sadat, then Mubarrak. This type was not monolithic: they manifested varying degrees of cooperation with the West and varying degrees of willingness to constrain Islam. At one end of this spectrum was Ataturk, at the other end the whackjobs Khaddafi and Saddam; somewhere in between, perhaps, Assad père; and so forth.

Historically and right into our present, Islamic polities have fallen into 4 categories:

Theocratic Monarchies

Ipso facto fanatical and supremacist-expansionist, with their expansionism only checked by limitations of real life -- i.e., superior non-Muslims around them, or competing Muslim polities in the context of internecine violence which has been endemic to the disease of Islam from day one
; with the perennial goal being to unify under a Caliphate but this, as with other ideals in Islam, more often than not frustrated by the limitations of reality (including the reality of their own many-splendored disease inherited by Mohammed's madness, which is their obsessive-compulsive blueprint for politics and laws in this life, and Paradise in the next life).
Theocratic Fascism

E.g., just to pluck a few from a turban: the Taliban, Al-Shabaab of Somalia, Sudan, North Nigeria, certain periods of post-Colonial Algeria, the MILF of the south Philippines; and what may very well unfold in certain parts afflicted by the virus of the "Arab Spring".

Tin-Pot Dictatorships

This is the most common form of modern Islamic polities, due to the constraints imposed upon Muslims by a stupdendously superior and globally influential West. Some have been marginally pro-Western (e.g., Egypt under Nasser and Mubarak; Indonesia under Sukarno and Suharto; Tunisia under Bourguiba and Ben Ali, Morocco under Mohammeds V and VI, Iran under the Shah, Turkey insofar as the Kemalists hold sway) while some have been rather anti-Western, such as Libya under Kaddafi, Pakistan, and Saddam's Iraq (even if, like Pakistan, they may pretend to be in accord with various Western requests and/or make veiled threats of not behaving, in order to get $$$$$); while some have been more or less monarchic (e.g., Iran under the Shah).

And, as I noted above, some of these tin-pot dictatorships have been of brassier mettle than others (e.g., Iran under the Shah or Turkey under Ataturk) -- but all share the basic infirmity of the disease of Islam, which forever hinders any society from truly evolving and progressing on its own without the help to the tune of trillions of $$$ plus human ingenuity and expertise loaned out to them by Western Kuffar, such as for example we have seen with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the past half century, essentially a profoundly retrograde and demonically barbarian country which would have collapsed into sheer tribalistic violence had it not been for the serendipitous geological accident of oil along with the willingness of Europeans and Americans to help them with the technology and managerial expertise necessary to extract, produce and export it.

Did I say "4 categories"...? Oh yes, the fourth would be:

Progressive Islamic Democracies
Oh wait, there are no examples of such, and none has ever existed.


Now, if we can keep in mind what is "as good as it gets" with Muslim polities, we'll be halfway to sanity and safety in this century of this new millennium of an unprecedented revival of Islam.

Clearly, as we slowly recover our former rationality with regard to the problem of Islam and adapt it to the specter of an Islam Redivivus which includes the historically unprecedented mass immigration of Muslims into the West, along the way there we'll be wise to follow the logic of Jack's wryly sage and jadedly realistic advice.

Such that, for example, given their outrageous behaviors in fomenting international sedition against the West, polities such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen should not be tolerated, and should be treated as hostile entities at war with us -- if not engaging in outright hot war, certainly pursuing a cold jihad against us. For such polities, to count once again as being "as good as it gets" in terms of a Realislamik, they'd have to rehabilitate their behavior radically. Since, however, those terms subsist in a framework of ruthless realism about Muslims, there would be little or no expectation of such reform ever, let alone in the near future, evolving; and thus our policies would proceed accordingly (viz., the
déroulement of the motley "Arab Springs" will have to be contained and reversed as surely as would any supremacist expansionist Lebensraum).

Further Reading:


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Let us revel in Revel.

[The following is taken from an article on French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel (1924-2006), published in the online magazine Free Republic in 2003 which, being timeless, has no expiration date.  Aspects of what Revel is analyzing as Western democracy in his remarks quoted below often reflect the sociopolitical phenomenon I have called Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism (PC MC).]

French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel, one of the most important conservative thinkers in France, saw European intellectuals and the political left in America undermining the very foundations of democracy.

"Democracy tends to ignore, even deny, threats to its existence because it loathes doing what is needed to counter them," explained Revel. "It awakens only when the danger becomes deadly, imminent, evident. By then, either there is too little time left for it to save itself, or the price of survival has become crushingly high."

To any insightful observer of the European scene in the decades unfolding from the Counter-Cultural Revolution of the 60s, Revel's analysis was prophetic. Leftist intellectuals were pointing to the United States as the source of all oppression in the world, while praising the Soviet Union as the liberator of human kind.  In How Democracies Perish, Revel aimed his sights at the self-destructive hypocrisies of liberal thought. As he knew, the very intellectuals who should have been supporting the United States were instead hoping for its downfall.

"What we end up with in what is conventionally called Western society is a topsy-turvy situation in which those seeking to destroy democracy appear to be fighting for legitimate aims, while its defenders are pictured as repressive reactionaries."

As Revel lamented, at times the democracies seemed to find strange comfort in calls for their own destruction. As he observed, "Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another is power is working to destroy it." Were democracies doomed to self-destruct?

Jean-Francois Revel is well known as a shining light of reason in the French academy. Long a columnist, editor, and director of L'Express, Revel is also the author of a multi-volume history of philosophy. He sprang to Western attention with the publication in 1972 of his controversial book, Without Marx or Jesus. Revel's later volumes would include The Totalitarian Temptation, Democracy Against Itself, and Anti-Americanism.

Throughout his career, Revel has been known as a stalwart defender of democracy. He does not take this matter lightly, for he understands all too well that the basic structure of government determines the achievement or loss of human freedom within a society. In Democracy Against Itself, Revel argued that "every society which has worked more or less well, which achieved any sort of viability, and which produced civilizations men found tolerable, have been--or are--societies that in some sense are democratic."

Of course, the alarm sounded by Revel in How Democracies Perish was overtaken by history with the fall of the Soviet Union and the remarkable events of 1989 and 1990. As Revel later reflected, the good news revealed in the fall of the Soviet Union was the fact that its internal weaknesses were even greater than the self-hatred of the secular left in Western democracies.

Now, twenty years after How Democracies Perish, Revel looks to the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks and asks the fundamental question: Why do so many Europeans hate America?
This is not a question of merely academic interest. Revel senses that something fundamental is revealed in the way the European Left has responded to America's status as the world's only super power.

Revel is blunt. The ascendancy of the United States, set over against the relative decline of Europe, has given birth to an intense hatred in some European corridors. Most particularly, Revel locates the root of this poisonous anti-Americanism in France. As he comments, "It is in France that this loss--real or imaginary--of great-power status engenders the most bitterness."

The virulent anti-Americanism that erupted on the streets of Europe in the aftermath of America's military action in Afghanistan and Iraq did not emerge from a vacuum. Revel's interest in anti-Americanism is rooted in his own experience as a French intellectual who actually visited the United States. When Revel first visited America in 1969, he discovered a land very different from what he expected. Having planned to write a book on the problems of the United States, Revel instead wrote a treatise criticizing the irrational anti-Americanism of the European Left.

[At that time, in the early 70s, Revel had a revelation upon traveling throughout the United States and seeing first-hand the flowering of the Counter-Cultural Revolution:  "The real revolution was taking place not in Cuba, but in California."]

Now, he has done it again--and this new book may be even more important. In Anti-Americanism, just released [in 2003] by Encounter Books, Revel considers this toxic pattern of European hatred towards the United States. He identifies one core issue as a sense of European loss. Revel cites Hubert Vedrine, the French minister of foreign affairs, who rejected the word "superpower", and instead substituted a term of his own invention: "hyperpower."  As Revel notes, since the Greek prefix "hyper" has exactly the same meaning as the Latin "super," Mr. Vedrine is merely seeking to score political capital in his own nation and in the larger European neighborhood. As Vedrine stated, "We cannot accept a politically unipolar and culturally homogenized world, any more than the unilateralism of the single hyperpower." Exactly what Mr. Vedrine meant by this, no one seems to know. Nevertheless, it is an example of French hyperventilation posing as foreign policy.

Revel sees the problem as much worse than hyperbole. If America is dominant, Revel asks, then why is this so? He will not allow Europeans off the hook. "Europeans in particular should force themselves to examine how they have contributed to that preponderance. It was they, after all, who made the 20th century the darkest in history; it was they who brought about the two unprecedented cataclysms of the World Wars; and it was they who invented and put into place the two most criminal regimes ever inflicted on the human race--pinnacles of evil and imbecility achieved in a space of less than thirty years."

The United States is far from perfect, Revel acknowledges. Nevertheless, he suggests that any criticisms should be directed at real problems, and should not take the form of irrational rantings.
According to Revel, the European Left enjoys its fantasy of America as "the worst society that ever was." According to this cartoon of reality, America is a society that is entirely under the control of money-grubbing plutocrats.  Everything is for sale and the entire culture has been commodified. The problem is not just George W. Bush, for the European Left is convinced that every recent American president "has been in the pockets of the oil companies, the military-industrial complex, the agricultural lobby or the financial manipulators of Wall Street." But, in the French view, George W. Bush is just the worst of the lot--at least as yet.

[Revel in his focus on Europeans may not have noticed one major datum in this regard: the existence of innumerable Americans who share this anti-American "cartoon of reality" -- i.e., innumerable self-hating Americans.]

The European Left is also convinced that America is primarily marked by poverty. As Revel describes the Leftist fantasy: "Hordes of famished indigents are everywhere, while luxurious chauffeured limousines with darkened windows glide through the urban wilderness." These same thinkers are convinced that violence reigns throughout the United States, and that gunshots commonly ring through even the most peaceable neighborhoods. As Revel acknowledges, European rants about America's lax gun laws would have more credibility if the same weapons were not easily available for purchase through the black market in virtually every European city.

If this picture of America is true, the pattern of immigration from Europe to the United States throughout the twentieth century was absolutely irrational. "If the picture of American society drawn everyday by the European press is accurate, then we must believe that those tens of millions of immigrants from all parts of the world, and especially those who came from Europe between 1850 and 1924, were all deluded fools. Otherwise, why did they insist on staying in the American capitalist jungle with all its evils and not return to the lands of peace, plenty, and liberty they came from? Lost in a hellish cultural wasteland, why at least didn't they write to their families and relations basking in the paradises of Ukraine, Calabria and Greece warning them not to come to America?" Clearly, Revel does not mince words.

This virulent anti-Americanism is not a matter of mere sociological interest. As Revel understands, this explains why the United Nations Security Council has become so ineffectual and why the United States has been forced to act unilaterally. As he explains, "Europeans' voluntary blindness with regard to these radical changes renders any American attempts at dialogue fruitless; as a result, America has no other option but to make unilateral decisions. How can you discuss a problem with people who deny its very existence?"

Jean-Francois Revel is a brave man who has lived through some of the most tumultuous decades of human history. Though a realist, he is not without hope. He has sounded the alarm more than once, only to have the Left ignore his cries. Anti-Americanism is Revel's latest attempt to call the trendsetting intellectuals of Europe back to sanity. Good luck, Professor Revel. This is no easy task.

Revel's prescient warning to the European Left should also serve to educate thoughtful Americans about the challenge we face in Europe, which may be as daunting a challenge as that posed by Islamic terrorism. Something sick lies at the heart of Western civilization. The democracies that will surely perish will be those who cannot tell the difference between good and evil, survival and ruin, freedom and tyranny. Or, perhaps more to the point, the greatest danger faced by democracy are those who deny that there is any real difference after all.

Further Reading:

On the broader phenomenon of anti-Americanism in Europe, see this 2005 book by Philippe Roger, The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Semitism -- particularly the penultimate chapter, "Anti-Americanism is a Humanism".

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Coffee & Counter-Jihad

Today's blast from the espresso press:  A thought on Equivalencism.

The appropriate way for an atheist to show he is not Equivalencist is to say something like the following:

“I have problems with theism in general, and I have problems with Judaeo-Christian theology in particular, as well as with some episodes in the history of the Jews and of Christians; but all this utterly pales in comparison with the deep and searing problems I have with Islam. Indeed, on the most important level—our values and existence today as freedom-loving people in the modern world—any comparison at all between Islam and any other religion should never even be mentioned at all, except by way of a stark contrast to show how good all other religions and their followers generally are capable of being and how pernicious and dangerous Islam remains today, as it always has been throughout its historical career.”

This would be the absolute minimum to establish the bonafides of an atheist today (particularly influential ones like Dawkins, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Paul Berman). One iota less, one hint of a mere whiff of equivocation on this, and he should be unceremoniously ejected to the Outer Darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (yes, you Atheist Literalists, relax; that’s just a rhetorically figurative flourish tapping into the beautiful mythopoetry of the Bible, not meant to be construed literally…).

Equivalencism = criticizing Islam in a more or less gingerly way, while making sure to include all other religions in the criticism broadly speaking, and usually reseving stronger language of criticism (if not outright condemnation and mockery) for Judaeo-Christianity. The net effect of Equivalencism is to strongly imply that Islam is no worse than other religions, or at best only slightly worse. This is evidence of an irrationality so morbid and perverse, one must use the term “mental disease” to describe it.

 (And, a postscript.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Whack-a-Mo, Swat a Mo-squito (pullulating out of Mega-Mosques and smaller Mosque-itos)...

Revisiting the Angel Sabasa's laughable (but, alas, all too seriously considered by our Beltway think-tanks) book on the problem of Muslim “extremists” and its solution (the West should help to promote worldwide networks of the putative vast majority of Muslim “moderates” who can't seem to do anything about their tiny minority of extremists) reminded me that one crucial thing that should be looked for among these various jihadist communications venues is the extent to which they realize how useful the symbolism of the “Muslim moderate” can be to their ongoing cause—to wit, as part of the current PC MC paradigm in the West by which the West continues to think in terms of a division between a harmless mainstream Islam and a relatively tiny minority of “extremists” who are trying to “hijack” harmless Islam. By perpetuating this paradigm, the West actually tends to continue to give cover to the “extremists” insofar as the extremists are drawing their inspiration and support from a much broader swath of mainstream Muslims than the paradigm’s narrow vision allows for recognizing.

Needless to say, if any jihadists are smart enough to realize this, they may then also be smart enough to realize that they should be very careful about communicating this realization too openly, for it might serve to help undermine the very Western paradigm that is currently proving useful to their efforts. Currently, the worst they have to worry about from Western intelligence are industrious networks of mosquito-swatters who forever try to swat the jihadists that keep pullulating out of the swamp of the Umma—but never think to do something about the swamp itself or worse yet, actively obstruct any analyses and policies that might be directed to doing something about the swamp, because the swamp, being Islam itself and the mainstream community of Muslims around the world, cannot possibly be connected to the jihadists who are endangering us, you see.

As long as Western intelligence is only playing whack-a-mo and swatting at the mo-squitos, not only through ObamaDrone, but through our COIN strategy itself in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its broader more diffuse (and more disastrous) spawn in the way we deal with the revival of Islam throughout the Muslim world (particularly the "Arab Spring" regions), and as long as our industrious analysts only follow the activities of these myriad moles and mosquitos in their dizzyingly complex taxonomies, the jihadists need only worry about dodging our artless clubs, swatters and sprays of insecticide—but never have to worry about the West getting wise to the real source of their nourishment, breeding, inspiration and support: Islam, the whole Islam, and nothing but Islam, so help me Allah.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Jihad of the Red Pen

Pakistani Muslim ("Muslim-American") Faran Tahir is an up-and-coming actor, possessing a handsomely brown charisma (with markedly Arabic if not even a touch of African physiognomy), sort of resembling a young and ethnic Sean Connery-meets-Ben-Kingsley.  Most notably, he was in the 2008 Iron Man movie (the one with Jeff Bridges), as well as the overblown dud-at-the-box-office sci fi movie from last year, Elysium.  His IMDB page indicates a definite upward swing to his film career, with several films and TV roles last year, six this year already, and two films slated for 2015.

In reading a bit about him, I stumbled across a very interesting tidbit of information in a news article online:
But what he counts as an achievement was being able to convince the director and producer of Iron Man to change some parts of the original script which depicted Muslims negatively. Instead of portraying the bad guys as belonging to one religion, the altered version showed them as soldiers of fortune who were in it for the money, Tahir explains.
“After seeing the script, I spoke to them [director and producer] and explained that it was a superhero movie, in which the bad guys can be mercenaries,” he said while speaking at the T2F. “To my delight, they saw the point.”

Although IMDB lists several producers of the movie, perhaps it was the Israeli Jew Avi Arad, or his son Ari Arad, both listed among the producers of that movie, who along with director Jon Favreau were "delighted" to let Tahir have his way and "adjust" the movie's script in order to protect Muslim PR.

That was Tahir's jihad: doing what he can, using his influence, to advance the cause of Islam by actually censoring or bowdlerizing a movie script:  Jihad of the Red Pen.

Ironically, back in January of 2005, Tahir played a low-level Muslim terrorist on the blockbuster television juggernaut 24.  His character ("Tomas Sherek") had planted a bomb on a train, but was only a foot soldier pawn in some larger plot by the Muslim terrorism mastermind "Habib Marwan" (played by the vaguely ethnic-looking white South African actor, Arnold Vosloo of Revenge of the Mummy fame).  Apparently, Tahir didn't have enough clout back then to wield his jihad of the red pen -- though his co-religionists in that regard picked up the slack, when C.A.I.R. pressured the Fox television network to at least have the show's star, Kiefer Sutherland, deliver public service announcements at the start of the show, in which he solemny declared that the show in no way endorses bigotry and that:

“...the American Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism.”

What other groups in the world have ever had the privilege of the star of a hit TV show anxiously cater to their sensibilities on air seconds before the breathless premier of the show and then at the start of subsequent episodes throughout the season?  None, of course.  Muslims are special that way, don't you know.  (For more on 24, see my older essay, Excellently crappy television: Oz, The Unit, and 24.)

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Well, it's been another quiet week in Lake Mobegone...

The photo accompanying this week's news from Lake Mobegone is meant, of course, to convey the comic in "tragicomic", as well as the contortion of exasperation and outrage that overcomes us when our comedy of life becomes inflected by the appalling tragedy of the West's unconscionable dereliction of civic (and civilizational) duty with respect to the ongoing human rights catastrophe caused by Muslims following Islam.

Muslim cleric extols “Palestinian” women who “have surpassed all women of the world in jihad”

Hamas jihadists to preach Friday sermons in Gaza’s mosques

US envoy Samantha Power decries “religiously motivated violence” in Africa, doesn’t mention jihad in Nigeria

Cameroon: Two priests and a nun kidnapped

Nigeria: Jihad-martyrdom suicide bombers murder 15 in oil field attack

Lithuania: Muslima acquitted of jihad-martyrdom suicide plot, although she expressed intention to commit jihad murder

Malaysia bans “Noah” film as un-Islamic

Kenya: Muslim cleric arrested with hand grenades

Thailand: Muslims “strike terror into the enemies of Allah” with new spate of burnings and beheadings

UK: Muslim London-area mayor accuses BBC of “racism” and “Islamophobia” over corruption charges

Pakistan: Christian couple sentenced to death for blasphemy for texts they didn’t send

Former Arsenal footballer joins Syria jihad, calls on Muslims in West to join him

Kenya: Muslim enters church, screams “Allahu akbar,” murders six people

UK secondary school “infiltrated by Muslim extremists” praises al-Awlaki during assemblies

Canada: Muslim pathologist knew he was funding jihad terror, says prosecutor

Afghan policeman screams “Allahu akbar,” murders AP photographer

UK opens inquiry into Muslim charity after volunteer poses with jihadis

Political scientist: “We will see a battle of apocalyptic dimensions…dialogue is a waste of time”

Austria to introduce law that respects Islamic Sharia and invites imams to preach at public institutions

Holland: Critics of Geert Wilders demonstrate with jihadi war-banner

Raymond Ibrahim: Muslim Cleric Urges Destitute Women to Become Sex-Slaves

Bangladesh: Hindu temple set on fire

Recent cases highlight terror threat from Muslim soldiers

Muslim Brotherhood to UK: Please don’t investigate us

China: Buddhist monks training to defend against jihad terror attacks

(Robert Spencer notes:  One certainty: if these monks ever did have to defend themselves against a jihad attack, the international media would portray their defense as Buddhist violence against Muslims, and the global “human rights community” would issue indignant condemnations of the brutalization of Muslims.)

Robert Spencer at Breitbart: How Many Fort Hood-Style Jihad Attacks Must There Be?

UK: Would-be jihad mass murderer complains about having to wear electronic tag

Nigerian cardinal criticizes role of Sharia, says Muslim leaders must “rein in their mad dogs”

Iran: British woman jailed for “insulting Islamic sanctities,” in danger of execution

Canada’s former ambassador to Afghanistan says Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism

Senior broadcaster for VOA is former Afghan jihadist; says West should “reintegrate” Syria jihadists

US appeals ruling granting defense in Chicago jihad terrorism case to see secret-court documents

Brunei under Sharia will deny Christians religious freedom: “There will be no baptisms. There is not a lot we can do about it.”

Ahmadinejad urges Iranians to “raise the flag of martyrs over the White House”

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood student shoots Christian teacher in the head

Army jihadi: “I cannot wait to go the Prophet Muhammad’s(S) door and prank Isa bin Maryam and party so hard that it will rock Jannah to its core”

Army jihadi: “I will soon be leaving you forever so goodbye! I am going to wage jihad and hopes that i die.”

FBI backtracks: Muslim ex-Army recruit plotting “Ft. Hood-inspired jihad” not a threat

White House curbs major counterterrorism drill designed to test response to car bombs and chemical weapons strike

Interfaith outreach in Syria: Islamic jihadists desecrate church, smash icons and statues

Weeks after welcoming the Muslim Brotherhood into the UK, Cameron orders them investigated for “links to extremism”

Vienna: Muslim vandalizes four churches after listening to Islamic chants

Interfaith outreach in Nigeria: Enraged Muslims set fire to Catholic church over alleged insult to Muhammad

Saudi Arabia declares atheists terrorists, sets 20 years prison for criticism of Islam

When it comes to rapes, Islamized Sweden is already in a state of war

Denmark: Muslim gang attacks police in Muslim-dominated area

Denmark: 41 percent of all Somali men were convicted of crimes in 2012

German law changed to accommodate Sharia funeral rules

Synagogue attacked in Muslim-dominated Malmø, Sweden

Raymond Ibrahim: Muslim Brotherhood Slaughters Christian Woman

“Palestinians” give Kerry 24 hours to force Israelis to free jihad murderers

Afghanistan: Taliban attack US NGO ‘Roots of Peace’ guesthouse in Kabul; all 5 jihadists killed

U.S. taxpayers to spend $400,000 for a camel sculpture in Pakistan

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood protesters drag Christian woman from car, stab her 16 times, strangle her to death

Kenya: Islamic jihadists murder at least five with grenade blast at bus stop and food stall in Nairobi during evening rush hour

UK: Muslim prisoner tried to start Islamic uprising in prison after jihad murder of Lee Rigby

Afghanistan: Seven Islamic jihadists blown up while making bombs inside a mosque

Robert Spencer at PJ Lifestyle: 5 Things the National Guard Jihadist Wants You to Know About Islam

Pakistan: Female legislator opposes domestic violence bill, says it would Westernize Pakistani society

Central African Republic: Ten dead as Chadian troops fire on Christian civilians

“We will enter churches and slaughter Christians…We are calling on all Muslims to come out and fight jihad”

Nigeria: 21 dead as Islamic jihadists attempt jailbreak

Terrorism theories grow as international security services join search for flight MH370

Brunei’s Sultan to impose Sharia this week, complete with stonings and amputations

U.S. blocks Christian governor from Nigeria peace talks

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood supporters attack church, four dead

U.S. official accuses Kuwaiti Minister of Islamic Affairs of funding terrorism

Egypt: Two Muslim Brotherhood supporters sentenced for throwing 9-year-old from roof

New moderate Iran names 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage-taker its UN envoy

UK: Jihadist who trained 7/7 jihad bomber sets up Islamic primary school

Egypt: Christian murdered because of cross tattoo

Ireland: Judge who said “Muslims feel they can actually beat their wives” apologizes and asks forgiveness for “incorrect” remark

Sharia in action in Syria: Jihadists kill, crucify man for “purposely killing a Muslim to take his money”

Nigeria: Over three million people facing humanitarian crisis because of Islamic jihad

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Asymmetrical World War

A world war is happening now.

This world war is asymmetrical.

Its asymmetry is singular, if not unique, compared with the last two (or three, if counting the Cold War) world wars, and compared with all wars in world history.

The features of its assymetry:

What World War?

1) One side of this world war does not yet realize it is at war.  The other side knows quite well that it is waging a war.

Still Fighting the Last War

2) One side is astronomically superior to the other side in terms of military and paramilitary capability, yet because the superior side remains focused on conceiving of the next world war in conventional military terms, it cannot see the unconventional tactics and strategy of its enemy.

PC MC and the Stealth Jihad

3) One side is astronomically superior to the other side in terms of ethical superiority -- but this very same ethical superiority has morphed into an irrational form of politically correct multiculturalist Tolerance, which enables the other side to exploit its unconventional strategy of stealth war, including a massive stealth infiltration "hidden in plain sight", through immigration and false assimilation.

Western Guilt, Shameless Muslims

4) Closely related to asymmetry #3, one side has for many decades cultivated a historical and cultural guilt and shame about its own history and its civilizational values, while the other side is blithely unapologetic and even brazenly proud of its own history and cultural values, without a shred or trace of any of the guilt or shame which the white West routinely indulges.  This becomes doubly ironic -- and doubly asymmetrical -- in that our side represents a remarkably humane, productive and beautiful civilization (with the usual litany of warts and flaws that only means we're not perfect), while our enemy represents an anti-civilization built upon, promoting, and practicing outrageous violations of human rights.

A "Police Action", Not a War

5) Meanwhile, as the other side assiduously and fanatically pursues its parallel strategy of paramilitary violence in the form of terrorism, our side refuses to recognize that this strategy is part of a war against it, and stubbornly persists in defining it as a non-military species of disturbance practiced by a Tiny Minority of Extremists who have nothing to do with the vast diverse global Army whence they pullulate.  This particular asymmetry enables and reinforces asymmetry #3, through an elaborate Good Cop/Bad Cop situation (which, of course, requires for its success an asymmetry of Deceit/Gullibility, symbiotic with the asymmetries #1 and #2).

One Side Plays Fair, the Other Doesn't

6) In keeping with its vastly superior ethics, one side has a tradition of Just War and of an ongoing amelioration of the horrors and unfairness of war, while the other side cultivates a barbaric code of war augmented by a psychopathic fanaticism, meanwhile also cloaked by deception (i.e., stealth jihad -- see #1, 2 and 5).

The Casus Belli

7) The two sides have profoundly differing definitions of what constitutes a casus belli (i.e., the actions of a nation that for another nation justifies going to war against them).  In this world war we are in, our side frames any casus belli in three ways: as either a military invasion launched against us; a sponsorship of terrorism directed against our soil; and/or as an egregious act of genocide.  Our enemy, however, has its own casus belli, utterly unlike ours, grounded in Islamic texts:  the Islamic casus belli is not occasional, it is permanent for all time.  The declaration of war against the world which Mohammed pronounced in the 7th century has never stopped -- it has only been put on pause now and then, here and there, depending on relative strengths and weaknesses Muslims have perceived themselves to have.  The reason for this casus belli is simple, elegant, and shocking:  Muslims have been commanded by Allah and His Prophet Muhammad to wage war against all people who refuse to submit to Allah and His Prophet Muhammad, for all time. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A Civil War of Ideas (Part One)

The world is currently in a world war -- but one side (the West) largely doesn't know it yet.  The crucial question then becomes:  Why doesn't the West know that Islam has revived and renewed its perennial jihad against "Rome" (now the modern West)?

Some in the Counter-Jihad (still a minuscule group in the West, and including a few brave souls hailing from various parts of the Muslim world), think the answer to this vexing question must be that the West has come under the sway and control of some strangely powerful dastardly cabal of evil people -- usually described as "Leftists" and/or "Cultural Marxists".  While I agree that Leftism, and even Marxism, is pernicious, and is one factor in our currently massive myopia to the problem of Islam, there are reasons why I believe this cannot be the main factor.  Among those reasons, I find it symptomatic of a strange alienation from one's own West to consider the entire West to be ruled under some kind of hegemony of a nefarious cabal of evil "elites".  Some Counter-Jihadists who adopt this view even go so far as to describe the West in terms that imply it is now already a totalitarian fascist regime.  If this were true, what would be the point of defending the West?  The only logic that may be wrested from such a view is that the West is gripped by a mass malignancy, but that there exists a good Remnant who should hunker down, disconnected from the West, and fight some kind of apocalyptic civil war against their own West, hoping to win and transform the West (or restore it to its former self -- assuming that these alienated Counter-Jihadists believe it ever was good in the first place).  The degree of alienation from the massively good and healthy and beautiful West (sans the usual litany of its flaws of imperfection) which this view implies, and the conspiracy theory it requires to sustain it, are impermissible.

There has to be a better way; and one's Western faith in one's own West, based upon a complex and rich forest of reasons, apparently unseen or ignored for the trees by these strangely disaffected types of Counter-Jihadists, is why one is reasonably justified in committing to a confidence to move forward to try to wake up the West to the problem of Islam -- not through a violent civil war, but rather through a war that must remain civil:  a Civil War of Ideas.

In the view of the alternative I suggest, it is apposite to recognize that we are in, as Frank Gaffney so aptly put it, the "battle space of the war of ideas".  Our civil war is, for now, a war of ideas, and it assumes that the majority of the demographic of those in the West who Don't Get It can get it -- indeed, will get it -- if we persevere and work hard in the coming years (if not decades) to try to persuade them.

Unfortunately, one major factor in helping us persuade our fellow Westerners to wake up will be the metastasis of our enemy, the Muslims; for it is eminently reasonable to suppose that Muslims in pursuing their Islamic goals around the world will only get worse in the years and decades ahead.

Given the mountain of evidence we have to build upon now, it would be unreasonable to suppose that their outrageous hatred and violent atrocities will not escalate as this 21st century unfolds, but will remain static and stable.  No: Muslims will continue to push the envelope so flagrantly and lethally that it will rise to the threshold set irrationally high by our fellow Politically Correct Multi-Culturalists (PC MCs), and will help to cause them to perk up and take notice and to begin that epochal readjustment of a worldview called a "paradigm shift" -- consequent upon such elementary behaviors as noticing new data and changing your mind, or known colloquially as Thinking Outside the Box, and Connecting the Dots.

This project will not be easy; it will likely entail lots of very frustrating attempts on our part, leading us often to feel like pulling out our own hair by the roots in exasperation at the axioms, shibboleths, and knee-jerk responses of our fellow PC MCs who, alas, abound throughout our West all around us -- including not merely "elites" but also innumerable Ordinary People; and not merely "Leftists" but often many otherwise Conservatives and Centrists, not to mention that sociopolitical demographic under-appreciated for their sheer numbers, the Comfortably Apolitical (a post-modern holdover, perhaps, from the rather antiquated category of the Bourgeoisie; revived fashionably during the 80s and 90s as the "Yuppie").

As we forge ahead and gird ourselves for the long haul, we note, wearily, that the PC MCs around us exempt themselves from the obligation (and responsibility) to be fair and balanced with regard to Islamocritical figures (example, reporters for the online magazine Salon).  Indeed, they often go further and exempt themselves from the obligation to process pretty much any external data about the problem of Islam at all (except when the sheer force of news events make it virtually impossible for them to continue their dereliction of civic duty; though they persist in their attempts at obscuring the Islam factor with euphemisms and other circumlocutory semantics).

For, you see, PC MCs don't need external data about Islamocriticism: the PC MC template already supplies all the data they need, and they can't imagine there could possibly be any new data (let alone any data at all) that would disabuse them of their pre-judgement (= prejudice) -- their prefabricated premises and foregone conclusions.

Which is why, incidentally, we still desperately need an A.I.M. (an Anti-Islam Manual) -- not so we too can become unthinking parrots like the PC MCs, but so that we may have an arsenal more capable of outwitting and outdancing the diversely complex obfuscation tactics of the PC MCs whenever they defend various aspects of Islam and Muslims; and when they go on the offensive against Islamocriticism. The useful function of an A.I.M. would be, in effect, to deputize a few million ordinary people who also happen to be critics of Islam -- armed with a comprehensive manual of talking and rebutting points.

I say this from years of frustrated experience, where I've found myself ill-equipped, in myriad ways, to fend off Islamopologists (not to mention the minions of semi-passively lazy thinkers we have all around us in the West who allow their vaguely PC reflexes to do their thinking for them whenever the direly exigent issue of the problem of Islam comes up).

Of course, innumerable ordinary people are, and have been for years now, arming themselves autodidactically, in their earnest effort to scramble around by the seat of their pants to take a crash course in Islam.  This exigency has been rudely and horribly made necessary, most emblematically, by the planes Muslims crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon many years ago.  I also have observed, however, from years of experience, as I have with great interest witnessed and heard and read their various efforts in various venues online and offline that -- again, in myriad ways -- most of this still minuscule army of autodidacts, with good intentions and often lots of determination and dedication (bless their hearts), seem more often than not to be stumbling and fumbling along, groping and flailing in a situation where the data they need to deploy most effectively is scattered all over the place in ill-organized ways.  All too often, the data we need to deploy in our "battle space of the war of ideas" remains far-flung, or chopped into various pieces in various places, overly complicated, often maddeningly overlapping with unhelpful redundancy, plagued with insufficient source citations forcing the concerned researcher to Google for hours amid the Blogospheric Echo Chamber and rarely find an adequate reference for their pains and trouble.  And this is not to mention the problem of Too Much Information for any given topic -- or for the hundreds of important subtopics with which this dreadful issue of Islam teems and bristles, like a veritable jungle.

Not all of us have the nimbly encyclopedic talents of Robert Spencer; indeed, very few of us do. Wouldn't it be nice if a few million Ordinary People could become better equipped in this war of ideas which is really a Civil War of Ideas, direly in need of persuading our pleasantly Islamo-ignorant fellow Westerners?

One vivid example of what I am talking about I myself experienced a little over three years ago.  It was on a discussion forum that revolved around issues of science, politics, and philosophy, called (I wrote a couple of essays here describing my time there).  An all-too typical commenter there (all-too typical of the West at large, that is), whose mind was evidently compromised by PC MC, in pursuing her own war of ideas against my Islamocritical postings there (a war of ideas in which her surrounding sociopolitical milieu -- the entire West also compromised by PC MC -- remains overwhelmingly in her favor), in one discussion thread took exception to one key statement I made. She asked:

Show me evidence to support your claim that there is a law in Afghanistan that a person is killed if they leave Islam?

My lengthy, detailed and responsive answer to her I now will paste in here.  Three things the reader should note as they read through this:

1) I clearly and massively support my claim which my PC MC demurrer there ("Ms. Lucysnow") implies in her passive-aggressively rhetorical question cannot possibly be true.

2) After all the time and effort I put into responsively answering her question, "Ms. Lucysnow" didn't even bother to thank me or acknowledge that I had addressed a key point revealing a flaw in her anti-anti-Islam position.

3) Most importantly for the purpose of my essay here today is that it took me at least three hours of painstaking research to find, marshal, and present my evidence (including my concern to use only mainstream news sources, so that my "Ms lucysnow" wouldn't try to deflect by sneering at my use of "Jihad Watch" or "FOX news") -- time which we few, we proud in the Counter-Jihad often don't have for all the 1,001 different questions and issues raised by the problem of Islam.  If we had a digital Anti-Islam Manual (or app), I could have punched in a few keystrokes, and within 30 seconds I would have been able to access the lengthy detailed response that took me over three hours to ascertain.
Here then is that detailed response which blew "Ms. Lucysnow" out of the water:

The fact that you don't know this [viz., that Afghanistan had passed a law, based on Sharia, that makes apostasy a capital crime] is telling (but, alas, not surprising).

This past February, as this Telegraph article reported, NATO chief Anders Rasmussen appealed to the Afghanistan government to spare the life of a Muslim, Musa Sayed, who had left Islam to convert to Christianity -- who was sentenced to death according to its "moderate" constitution which is explicitly based in Sharia Law.

And from a CNN story back in late 2010 on the same case:

"According to Afghanistan's constitution, if there is no clear verdict as to whether an act is criminal or not in the penal code of the Afghan Constitution, then it would be referred to sharia law where the judge has an open hand in reaching a verdict," Shenwari said.

Under sharia law, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death....

(I'm amazed a mainstream news source actually recognized that unremarkable yet horrific fact; since we are usually coddled with the milk & honey of assurances that sharia law is benign.)

The Afghan constitution (which we, under Bush and Obama, have helped to realize through our ongoing committment of billions of dollars, and the lives and blown-up limbs of our men and women) identifies the country as an Islamic republic, and says that "followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law, " but "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam" (Chapter 1, Articles 1-3).

An amendment in the tenth chapter of the constitution adds: "The provisions of adherence to the fundamentals of the sacred religion of Islam and the regime of the Islamic Republic cannot be amended."

And, of course, sharia law is part of the Sunna, which is based centrally on the hadiths (or "ahadith" for those who are precise about their transliteration from Arabic) -- which are the Sayings of Mohammed, whose Dos and Don'ts preserved therein are the very heart of all Islamic law. The most authoritative collection of hadiths is Sahih Bukhari. According to Bukhari, it was reliably narrated that Muhammad said:

"Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him."

-- Sahih al-Bukhari, 9.84.57.

Other hadiths back this up, for example, Jami At-Tirmidhi:

...the Messenger of Allah said: It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim, except a man who committed adultery after being married, or one who reverted to Kufr after becoming a Muslim...

And Sunan an-Nasa’i:

It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim except in one of three cases: A man who reverts to Kufr after becoming Muslim, or commits adultery after being married, or one who kills a soul unlawfully.

(as well as the hadiths of Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Malik, Tayalisi, and Ibn Hanbal).

Back in 2006, another Muslim in Afghanistan was similarly sentenced to death for leaving Islam ("apostasy"), Abdul Rahman. Only concerted international pressure convinced the Afghanistan government from relenting and sparing his life. (After all, they don't want to annoy the Americans who give them billions annually in the form of cash and the construction, and reconstruction (after frequent destruction by their homegrown and imported fanatics), of infrastructure projects.). An Afghanistan court ruled that he was "mentally ill" (which is one way to avoid getting killed under sharia law for apostasy, since sharia law stipulates that only if a person is an adult and mentally capable should he be killed for leaving Islam -- wow, how rational of them to be so obsessive-compulsively punctilious about their grotesque fanaticism!).

And so, Rahman was spirited away to Italy for his safety, since after being released from jail, Islamic clerics threatened that they would incite the people to "pull him into pieces" if they could.

From an AP story, reproduced by the Washington Post at the time:

Senior Muslim clerics demanded Thursday that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to "pull him into pieces."

That AP story also has this precious quote and information on one of those clerics:

"Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001.

Also note this MSNBC report at the time:

Senior clerics condemned Rahman as an apostate.

Rahman had “committed the greatest sin” by converting to Christianity and deserved to be killed, cleric Abdul Raoulf said in a sermon Friday at Herati Mosque.

“God’s way is the right way, and this man whose name is Abdul Rahman is an apostate,” he told about 150 worshippers.

Another cleric, Ayatullah Asife Muhseni, told a gathering of preachers and intellectuals at a Kabul hotel that the Afghan president had no right to overturn the punishment of an apostate.

He also demanded that clerics be able to question Rahman in jail to discover why he had converted to Christianity. He suggested it could have been the result of a conspiracy by Western nations or Jews.

At a fruit market in Kabul, many ordinary Afghans said they supported the death penalty, but some wanted more investigation before meting out the punishment. [well, how discerning of them!]

Really, you need to brush up on your Islam. There's no excuse for this Islamo-illiteracy in the year 2011.


By the way, according to this Pew survey, 99% of Afghanistan Muslims believe in making Sharia the law of the land, and 79% of that overwhelming majority favor the death penalty for apostasy (leaving Islam).  (Incidentally, the copious data that Pew survey reveals about the dangerous fanaticism rife in many other Muslim societies around the world should startle, alarm and appall any reasonable individual who bothers to take a careful look at it).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Albert Camus, Elegaic Swansong

Many years ago I picked up a collection of essays Albert Camus (1913-1960) had published in 1954 under the title L'Été (Summer).  All are good and worth reading, but the only ones that really grabbed me by the nous were two:  Retour à Tipasa (Return to Tipasa), recounting his reminiscences on visiting the ruins of Tipasa in his homeland, French Algeria in "White Africa" (l'Afrique Blanche)—i.e., in one of the parts of Africa which the white West had taken great pains, labor and love (though not always optimal intelligence) to try to help and heal from the ravages of Islamic conquest and occupation and from innate cultural backwardness—and  La mer au plus près (The Sea Up Close).

It was this latter one that struck me at the time as an extraordinary meditation.  On rereading it recently, it still strikes me that way.  Much of the essay seems to transition unexpectedly yet organically into a rambling prose-poem tenuously connected to its theme—whatever that theme is supposed to be, exactly; and one long moment past midway seems to lurch into a strange rant about his aversion to the new global transportation of his era, the jet plane.  Even in this unexpected digression, Camus treats the reader to an evocation oddly and acutely apt as he seems to recount perhaps a prior trip by air (over the South American continent) as a barbaric contrast to his divine transport in the ongoing present asea of his narrative:

... aux fleuves noirs du Venezuela, atterrissait, hurlait encore, tremblait de convoitise devant de nouveaux espaces vides à dévorer et avec tout cela ne cessait jamais de ne pas avancer ou du moins de ne le faire qu'avec une lenteur convulsée, obstinée, une énergie hagarde et fixe, intoxiquée. Je mourais alors dans ma cellule métallique, je rêvais de carnages, d'orgies. Sans espace, point d'innocence ni de liberté ! La prison pour qui ne peut respirer est mort ou folie ; qu'y faire sinon tuer et posséder ? Aujourd'hui, au contraire, je suis gorgé de souffles, toutes nos ailes claquent dans l'air bleu, je vais crier de vitesse, nous jetons à l'eau nos sextants et nos boussoles.

"... over the black rivers of Venezuela, the plane terrorizes the terrain, relentlessly hurling through the air, trembles in avarice, determined, gripped with a haggard and obsessive energy, intoxicated.  I died then in my little metallic cell in the air, dreaming of carnages, of orgies.  No space, no innocence, nor freedom!  A prison where you can't breathe is death or folly; what can be done there except to kill and seize?  But today, on the contrary, I am suffused with breezes, all our wings flap in the blue air, where I cry out with life, and so let us jettison our sextants and compasses to the waves."

Between the lines there, and in keeping with the rest of this marvel of a tale that may or may not be a report, one is permitted the license to venture, and to say he refers to the contrast between the rigidly lifeless directionality of the plane, which tries to master the earth, on the one hand, and the wide open compasslessness of the sea conducive, alternately rocking gently and careening dangerously, to that deeper destination, the famous "circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere".

And speaking of rocking and rolling amidship, and the apposition of sea and sky, Camus at one point executes a wonderful reversal of orientation one could say channels Archimedes and Copernicus, by way of Nicolas of Cusa, when he describes one night on the open sea:

La curieuse lune australe, un peu rognée, nous accompagne plusieurs nuits, puis glisse rapidement du ciel jusque dans l'eau qui l'avale. Il reste la croix du sud, les étoiles rares, l'air poreux. Au même moment, le vent tombe tout à fait. Le ciel roule et tangue au-dessus de nos mâts immobiles. Moteur coupé, voilure en panne, nous sifflons dans la nuit chaude pendant que l'eau cogne amicalement nos flancs...

"The curious southern moon, somewhat waning, follows us many nights, then glides swiftly from the heaven down to the water which swallows it, leaving the Southern Cross, the rarified stars, the porous air.  At that moment, the wind died down suddenly.  The sky tipped and rolled above our immobile masts.  The motor cut, the sails spread out, we respired the humid night while the waters lapped our sides amicably..."

From there, as the reader tries to relax into the unaccustomed rhythms of the text, it dawns on him that one has to settle in for the trip:  a deeper exploration and broader sublimation of matters more philosophical, mythopoetic and, ultimately, mystical.

The ostensible theme is some kind of sea voyage, apparently global, with some sort of lodestone centered in South America.  One almost gets the sense of a periplus from ocean to ocean—from the Pacific to the Atlantic (or is it the other way around?), with the Americas just a stop along the way, and no real earthly destination.  Nor does the journey begin anywhere discernible; though elusive mention is made of the ancient mariner's bourn of Gibraltar:

Nous passons les portes d'Hercule, la pointe où mourut Antée. Au delà, l'Océan est partout...

"Let us pass the Pillars of Hercules, the spot where Antaeus died.  Beyond that, the ocean is everywhere..."

But the sentence immediately debouches and flows out to a vastly indeterminate (and lovely) ocean of figuration clearly indicating that Camus is waxing on a different plane than the one the customary prosaic essayist may prepare his reader for:

... nous doublons d'un seul bord Horn et Bonne Espérance, les méridiens épousent les latitudes, le Pacifique boit l'Atlantique. Aussitôt le cap sur Vancouver, nous fonçons lentement vers les mers du Sud. À quelques encablures, Pâques, la Désolation et les Hébrides défilent en convoi devant nous. 

"... let us round in a single bound Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, the meridians push back the latitudes, the Pacific swallows the Atlantic.  Suddenly, there's the cape of Vancouver, and now let us sink down slowly to the waters of the South.  After some nautical miles, the Eastern Islands, the Desolation of the Hebrides unravel in a series before us."

In a way, the reader almost feels as though it begins in the middle—precisely the point, as Dante's amazing journey to Hell and Heaven in order to gain better bearings of his place on Earth, began in the middle of his life, in the middle of a wild wood.  And, as philosopher Eric Voegelin reminded us, writing at the end of his life in his last work (published posthumously, and much of it dictated from his deathbed), In Search of Order, chapter one, "The Beginning of the Beginning", part one ("Where Does the Beginning Begin?"):

... the story has no beginning before it has come to its end.  What then comes first: the beginning or the end?

Neither the end nor the beginning comes first.

And yet, as T.S. Eliot wrote in his poem Four Quartets:

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

. . .

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.

As the circumnavigation Camus is recounting—strangely, elliptically, with flashes and splashes of vividly evocative yet elusive poetry—draws to its narrative close, it seems he has crossed the Atlantic eastward, apparently back to where he started from, the Gibraltar Straits where the great Hercules wrested and bested the giant Antaeus, the mouth of the Mother of all Seas, the Mediterranean, raped and despoiled by centuries of Islamic raids, conquests, and piracy, the mouth or motherly opening whence he first began his journey out to the wide world.

Earlier I noted that this Camusian voyage had "no earthly destination", and one may almost mean that literally, in that the deeper destination, or destiny, he is sounding here is not earth, but the sea itself, whose mystical quality he rhapsodizes in terms mythic and, as an open-minded atheist, open to the divine as translucently maritime.

Voegelin had great respect for Camus, and noted from a study of his journal or notebooks—the Carnets—that Camus was blessed with what Henri Bergson called l'âme ouverte (i.e., an open mind), enough to see theophanies in the sea, the sky, and sun, particularly of his homeland (or homesea), the Mediterranean.  Underpinning this was a predisposition moving Camus to something beyond the limitations imposed by both the theism and the atheism of the 20th century.  In his collection of essays titled Anamnesis, Voegelin wrote of Camus and his recovery of reality amid the deformity of modernity:

The "madness" of the time is no home for man; he must choose the home in which he, living, will again create a home in time.  Camus chooses the myth: "The world where I feel most at ease: the Greek myth."

Voegelin goes on at length to palpate the significance of this:

The vision of healing: Rebellion has attained its meridian of thought men refuse to be gods and thus relinquish the unlimited power to inflict death. The new rule of ethics, the sole “original rule of life today”: “to learn to live and to die and, in order to be a man, to refuse to be a god.” 

In other words, the murder of God, the preoccupation of the European intellectual from the Marquis de Sade to Hegel and Nietzsche, and which logically led to the murder of man, is reversed. 

A contemporary note in the Carnets makes clear that Camus’s self-analysis had already gone beyond the formulations of The Rebel: “Not morality but fulfillment. And there is no fulfillment other than that of love, meaning the renunciation of self and dying to the world. Going on to the end. Disappear. To dissolve oneself in love. It will be the power of love which then creates, rather than myself. To lose oneself. To dismember oneself. To deny oneself in the fulfillment and the passion of truth.” 

It seems to have been more difficult, although understandable for everyone who knows the milieu of intellectual terror, to have courage for the theoretical consequences of the new insight from love. I quote a touching remark from The Rebel: 

“The analysis of rebellion leads at least to a suspicion that there is a human nature, as the Greeks thought, and contrary to the postulates of modern thought.” 

If one does not take “human nature” in this sentence to mean that kind of information that textbooks on philosophy always offer, but rather take it to mean active life, ordered by the loving tension of existence to the divine ground, in which tension the autonomous self dissolves itself, one would not miss the direction of the progressus. It is remarkable how young people understand Camus, taking him as model and guide in the analysis of existence that today is the burden of everybody who, resisting the time, seeks to regain his reality as man. At more than one American university, I could observe that the imitation of Camus’s meditation has become, for numerous students, the method of catharsis. In this way they rid themselves of the intellectual pressure of either the leftist ideologues or the neo-Thomists or existentialist theologians, according to their respective milieu. The great effect of Camus’s work seems to stem from his inexorability in the endeavor for purity as he divests himself of ersatz realities.

The sea in this meditation Camus wrote seemed to offer a mercy beyond the limits of this world, yet fully of this world—a tension Voegelin would not disapprove of:

L'espace et le silence pèsent d'un seul poids sur le coeur. Un brusque amour, une grande oeuvre, un acte décisif, une pensée qui transfigure, à certains moments donnent la même intolérable anxiété, doublée d'un attrait irrésistible. Délicieuse angoisse d'être, proximité exquise d'un danger dont nous ne connaissons pas le nom, vivre, alors, est-ce courir à sa perte? À nouveau, sans répit, courons à notre perte.

"The space and silence press with one weight upon the heart. A harsh love, a great labor, a decisive act, a thought which transfigures, at certain moments evoke the same unbearable anxiety, bound up with an irresistible attraction. Delicious anguish of being, exquisite danger up close whose name we do not know, to live, then, is this to run to our ruin?  Anew, without hesitation, let us run to our ruin."

But this home was no fixed home on land; the Ground of Being is not the matter of natural terra firma, nor the patria of a political homeland—though the nostalgic memory of his childhood Algeria, in the ruins of Tipasa where he heard the ghosts of the ancients the night he revisited them later in life, may be a beacon indicating the way to a higher, deeper allegiance beyond this world. This home was out on the deep, where in the uncertain fluidity of the swells and tides, Camus had the epiphany of a kind of transcendent security amid no certain solidity... where his openness to the gods of myth, through the experience and symbolization of the theophanic presence in oceanic being, led him to a place of confluence between the pagan Socratic "practice of dying" (Plato's definition of philosophy) and the transcendent Life through death in the Basileia that is not of this world (Jesus).

Whether or not Camus explicitly knew how early Graeco-Roman Christians in the Patristic era typologized Christ's saving crucifixion as a kind of Homer's Odysseus tied to the crossbeams of his ship's mast as he weathered one end of the Middle Sea to the other, Mediator between Greek and Roman, then Roman and Christian; he knew this in a deeper sense, and enacted it in this essay.

Whose last sentence sings an elegaic swansong that may take some of the bitter sting out of his untimely death in a speeding sports car in 1960, to render it bittersweet and tangy with saltspray:

J'ai toujours eu l'impression de vivre en haute mer, menacé, au coeur d'un bonheur royal.

"I have always had the sense of living on the high seas, menaced, yet at the heart of a royal blessedness."

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