Friday, February 24, 2006

Ports in a Storm

There has been a lot of bluster in the world of American politics since the bureaucratic approval of the sale of British-owned Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation to Dubai Ports World, which suddenly became the only bidder for the British port management firm when a Singapore based firm dropped out of contention.

Suddenly, the Democrats, the party of multicultural tolerance, have discovered the value of racial profiling, the party of the 9/10/2001 balance between civil liberties and national security, have discovered an issue on which to get tough with the Islamic world.

And, not so suddenly, President Bush has again exhibited the political tin ear that gave us both his nomination of Harriet Myers, and his defense of that nomination. He may indeed have good reason to threaten a veto of legislation to block the sale, but given the prima facia cogency of arguments against the deal to the mind of the American public, a veto threat on this issue, without first laying out the facts in support of the deal, was perhaps the most politically inept move of his administration thus far. More so when issued with President’s staggeringly maladroit assertion that he saw no reason why a Middle Eastern country should be held to a different standard than a European country. Ann Coulter observed that she could think of 3000.

Nor is anyone holding Middle Eastern countries qua Middle Eastern countries to a different standard. Nobody except CAIR would be upset if an Israeli firm had won the bidding war and gotten regulatory approval for the deal, and at least a fair selection of those opposed would feel the same way if it were a state-owned firm from Pakistan, Brunei, or Indonesia that were involved.
The fact that our enemies in the current war are all Muslim, are infiltrated into Muslim states and minority Muslim subcultures world-wide, and that Islam provides blessing to the deception of non-Muslims are adequate reasons to hold Muslim countries and Muslim-owned corporations to a different standard.

The arguments against the deal have been rehearsed at length: two 9/11 hijackers were UAE nationals, the UAE was not helpful in tracking down al Qaeda finances in the days following 9/11, Freedom House lists the UAE as ‘not free,”. . . . And while the hysterical notion that the sale of a port operations company would put the corporate owners ‘in charge of security at our ports’ is silly (British bobbies aren’t currently in charge of security, American police and customs officials are), the fact is that the deal would produce a lot more travel to the US from the UAE, and with it more potential for al Qaeda infiltration.

On the other side, one has Gen. Tommy Franks, who praised not just Dubai’s permission to use their port facilities in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, but their running of those facilities, and the fact that Dubai in particular, whatever Freedom House’s assessment of the UAE may be, is, on the religious front, a bastion of relative freedom among the Gulf States.

The last time Dubai came into a news item I attended to, was the announcement last fall that the government of Dubai was footing the bill for the construction of a church for us Rum (as Eastern Orthodox Christians are called in the Middle East), which is expected to be completed by Holy Pascha. The UAE already had over a dozen churches, a few Latin, a few protestant of various stripes (including Baptist(!)), and about half a dozen monophysite of various sorts (Syrian Jacobite or Malabar), as well as a Hindu yogic meditation center.

The singularly good treatment received by Christians in Dubai (which even hosted a conference of evangelical protestants recently) stands in sharp contrast to both the neighboring Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where even transit passengers have their Bibles shredded and non-Islamic religious establishments are illegal, and to conditions for Christians in newly democratized Muslim areas, be it Iraq, where Ba’athism, for all its vile human rights violations and social repression, afforded Rum, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians alike more freedom of worship than the current situation, or the areas under control of the Palestinian Authority, where Bethlehem is under continued pressure to Islamize.

Get the facts on this one before you form an opinion--something our President didn’t do when he shot from the hip with a veto threat, something the the ‘putting Arabs in charge of security’ hysterics didn’t do. If Congress could be trusted to hold actual fact-finding hearings without the Democrat half of the committee turning into a lynch-Bush-mob, I’d suggest hearings. As it is, I hope our legislators individually study the matter carefully before forming their own opinions one way or the other.

Of course, one compromise would be to approve the sale, and then screen any Muslim employees of Dubai Ports World applying for admission to the US so rigorously that the company will decide either to hire only Americans for its U.S. operations, or to send us only Christians and Hindus from the UAE. But that won’t happen. It would require policymakers and politicians on both sides of the aisle to admit that the present conflict is what it is, and what our enemies know it to be: a war of religion.

Mohammed Smileys

It seems that some Sunni imam or other has issued a fatwa declaring that even emoticons violate the Islamic prohibition on images.

So here, for the amusement of my fellow infidels are some ways to tweak the Mohammedans, mostly courtesy of billorites at



Mohammed playing Little Orphan Annie


Mohammed as a pirate


Mohammed on a bad turban day


Mohammed with sand in his eye


Mohammed wearing sunglasses


Mohammed giving the raspberry.


A clean-cut American giving Mohammed the raspberry.


An Orthodox monk in giving Mohammed the raspberry.


Mohammed with a bomb in his turban


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Muslims are hypocrites! NOT!

It seems fitting to start a blog that will most likely deal a lot with religion and politics with a topic that spans both.

One comment one reads and hears a lot in right-wing commentary on 'the Cartoon Wars' are 'Muslims are such hypocrites!'

I'd like to take exception.

Devout Muslims, like devout Jews or devout Christians of any confession, take seriously their belief that their religion is true, a reflection of the one, existing God and grounded in His decisive self-revelation, the Qu'ran. I, too, believe that my religion--Orthodox Christianity--is true and grounded in God's decisive self-revelation, His Incarnation in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, even as Jews believe their religion is true and grounded in God's decisive self-revelation, the Torah.

The alleged hypocrisy of Muslims: that they happily produce and print really vile cartoons mocking Jews, visual presentations of the blood-libel and the like, while they explode into violence when Danish cartoonists, whose work is mild by the standards of American political charicature, hint at an arguable connection between their prophet and violence, is not hypocrisy. Rather, it is a colossal arrogance which stems from their self-assurance in their faith, and their religion's lack of regard for persons.

Muslims still believe that "error has no rights." Any other religion, being 'in error' according to their lights, is a proper target for mockery and vilification, while their faith, being 'true', must be defended against blasphemy at all costs--even, apparently, death and destruction of property of those whose only connection with the alleged blasphemers is being citizens of the same country, or even merely being other non-Muslims.

Westerners, of whatever religious tradition, secularists included, are inheritors of the anthropology of the Greeks, "Man is the measure of all things," of the Hebrews, "Come let Us make Man in Our image and likeness," and of Christ, "In as much as ye do it to the least of these, ye do it unto Me." The exalted status of the human person, whether conceived in pagan, Jewish or Christian terms, has no analog in Islam: submission to the will of Allah, the text of the Qu'ran is all. There is no symmetry between persons, no status worthy of regard, simply on the basis of their humanity: the Muslim is superior to the non-Muslim, period.

This is no hypocrisy: it is inhuman arrogance.

Alas, even guided by the commandment of Christ, "Love your enemies, and pray for those that persecute you," and His example of self-sacrifice, it took the horrible 'Wars of Religion' in the wake of the Western reformation before Christians generally came to agree with the words of the Surah Al-Baqara: “Let there be no compulsion in religion."

We must pray that a yet more horrible war will not be needed to overturn the centuries of triumphalist Qu'ranic interpretation by which the warlike Medinan surahs with verses like "When you meet the infidels, smite their necks," are used as the basis for creating compulsion in religion: compulsion which gave the Hindu Kush its name, compulsion which created the Jannisary corps, compulsion now being applied in hope of obliging Christians and secularists alike to abide by Muslim pieties regarding depictions of Mohammed.