Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Intellectuals vs. Islamists

From the Summer 2006 issue of Middle East Quarterly:

On October 22, 2005, the France 2 television talk show Tout le Monde en Parle aired an interview with writer Salman Rushdie and French actor and Islamist Sami Nacéri. Left on the cutting room floor was an ugly incident during taping when Nacéri accused Rushdie of debasing Islam. If an imam asked him to kill Rushdie, Nacéri went on, he would himself shoot the bullet into Rushdie's head. He then pantomimed firing a gun at Rushdie.

Philippe Val, editor of the French left-wing weekly Charlie Hebdo, described the omitted segment in the November 2 issue of the magazine. French reaction was minimal. While some journalists debated whether celebrities made appropriate commentators, there was little discussion of France 2's decision to delete the offending segment.

On February 28, 2006, in response to Nacéri's threat, France 2's censorship, and the decision of several newspapers not to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, twelve prominent Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals issued a manifesto first published on the French website The translation, replicated below, was later published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. The willingness of prominent thinkers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to stand together suggests that intellectuals recognize the totalitarian nature of Islamism and are determined not to cede terms of the societal debates to Islamists.

(emphasis added-DD)

The text of the manifesto makes clear the extent of the Islamist threat to intellectual freedom, and the necessity of opposing it. The following passage in particular lays out the stakes:

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity, and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilizations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

It would be nice if more people in the library profession, both in the US and internationally, could come to this realization.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Raleigh Spy Conference

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending the 4th annual Raleigh Spy Conference. This was the second year in a row I had the opportunity to go to this event, and both times it has been excellent. As one of the foremost events dealing with the history of intelligence operations, it is not just interesting but relevant to both my civilian and military jobs.

By either sheer good fortune or incredible vision, the topic for this year's event was Castro's Cuba. You can see a list of the speakers here, but suffice it to say that they provided some fascinating revelations and analysis. While I haven't had the chance to read the various works of this year's presenters in detail, here are some of the main insights:

-Contrary to what many Castro apologists claim, Cuba was anything but an impoverished backwater in the 1950's. Before the Maximum Leader took power, Cuba was one of the wealthiest nations in Latin America, with an average per capita income higher than many European nations and a large, prosperous middle class. As for Castro's vaunted health care and literacy programs, Cuba already had one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America and a solid public school system before Fidel turned the country into East Germany with palm trees. In the 1950's, Cuba had the world's 13th lowest infant mortality rate. Today, it is 38th.

-Castro's driving force, beyond megalomania, is a pathological anti-Americanism inherited from his father, just about the only thing they agreed on. This is what led Fidel to seek out the Soviets, and made the idea that he could ever have been an American ally extremely unlikely.

-Far from being the jovial peasant who visited Disneyland, Nikita Khrushchev was a bellicose believer in the spread of Marxism-Leninism, to the point where he was willing to risk nuclear war to do it. The Soviet decision to deploy nuclear missiles to Cuba in 1962 had nothing to do with defending Cuba from the U.S. Rather, it was part of a plan to erase the USSR's strategic nuclear disadvantage and force the U.S. to abandon West Berlin among other concessions. Ironically, the more the Kennedy Administration called Khrushchev's bluffs, the more aggressive he became. This is worth keeping in mind when dealing with a soon to be nuclear armed, expansionist Iranian regime.

-While much is made of the CIA's often ridiculous, often tragic covert campaign against the Castro regime, few people know that Cuban intelligence has been intimately involved in the terrorist activities of Puerto Rican separatists right here in the United States.

-In the opinion of Brian Latell, former CIA Cuba analyst and author of After Fidel, Fidel's brother and heir Raul Castro is likely to seek some sort of rapprochement with the U.S. In Latell's view, Raul will pursue a Chinese style campaign of economic liberalization while preserving the one party dictatorship. I hope Latell is correct, because even this would be better than the present totalitarian dead end that Cuba faces.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Jihadist Ideology Watch

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Abu Bakar Bashir, leader of the Indonesian al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah, leaves no room for ambiguity as to why jihadists wage war:

The only model to follow is pure Islam. Because Islam in its original form was tough and hard, not weak and pliable. Islam is fixed, stable, ordered and disciplined, and so are Muslims.

If we return to the real practice of true Islam we would be much stronger and that is when the kafirs will fear us. That is why we need to uphold the Shariah and return to real Islam. But the West is trying to weaken Islam from outside and inside. They attack our people and invade our countries from outside, and they weaken us from within with ideas like secularism, liberalism and democracy. This is all designed to contaminate our pure Islam.

Why do we Muslims have to learn from them? Islam is perfect, there is nothing to be added or changed. We have shown that Islam can rule the world perfectly for 14 centuries, and during this time of Muslim power we did not borrow ideas like democracy from others, so why do we need to learn democracy from them now? As long as Muslims were confident they could not be defeated, but now we are just puppets.

This is why we are calling for the upholding of the Shariah here in Indonesia. We demand an Islamic state, and not some form of Islamisation of society. We want the state to be Islamic, with Islamic leaders who have the courage and will to implement the Shariah in total. There is no other way.

(link via Tim Blair)

Those who believe that Islamist hatred of US and Western policies is based on anything like rational political analysis should read this enlightening piece from Der Spiegel. Keep in mind that these are Muslims living in Germany, not the Sunni Triangle or remote Waziristan:

This just in: The Lebanese men suspected of having deposited bombs on German trains last month were hired hands -- in the employ of the German government itself.

That, at least, is what one 27-year-old from Saudi Arabia believes. "It's all a Protestant crusade," the man explains. "All of northern Germany is Protestant, isn't it? And so is President Bush." Then the man launches into a melange of confusing arguments and historical facts. The bubonic plague, Martin Luther and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl all make a cameo. It's all connected somehow, the man is sure of it.

The young Saudi Arabian's views may make little sense from a Western point of view, but you can meet him and talk to him at a street corner in the middle of Hamburg, right by the central station. Foreigners from all over the world live in this neighborhood, called St. Georg, and a large number of them are Muslim. Several mosques have been built in the neighborhood. Many nearby stores carry no alcohol -- but they do have electronic memory aides for Koran students on offer.

(link via LGF)

Finally, Mike Palmer notes the disturbing content of a web site for young Muslims in Canada:

Imagine if in the midst of the Second World War an organization of German students had a website with a section on the works of German “revival” writers, including Schiller, Goethe, Kant, Hitler, Goebbels, and Julius Striker? Would it be unreasonable to suspect that some of the students were Nazis?

If it seems like I blog repeatedly about the jihadist worldview, it's because the evidence of the true nature of that ideology is overwhelming, yet all too many choose to ignore it or wish it away. The jihadists seek our eventual destruction, and we ignore them at our peril.

Speaking of Cuba

The next time the Dixie Chicks or other millionaire celebrities whine about the horrible oppression they've been subjected to in George Bush's America, they might stop and ask Martha Beatriz Roque what it really feels like to be persecuted:

The former political prisoner, who has opposed Fidel Castro for 17 years, says she can no longer endure the threats and insults by government supporters, who yell at her when she walks down the street and slip menacing notes under her door. Last weekend, they banged a pistol against her window in the middle of the night.

"This life has become just about impossible," Roque, one of Cuba's most high-profile dissidents, told The Associated Press in her small Havana apartment Tuesday. "I would rather be behind bars than dealing with this constant harassment."

Roque, an economist, was the lone woman among 75 people imprisoned in the spring of 2003 under a government crackdown on dissent. Given a 20-year sentence, she was released on parole for health reasons in July 2004.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

IFLA Caves to Castro

The resolution condemning Cuba's repression of independent librarians was never even brought to a vote. To add insult to injury, IFLA even decided to give an award to one of Castro's official librarians. Freadom has the depressing details.

Greg McClay summed up today's developments with admirable clarity:

Castro Wins, Librarians Lose

9/11 Denial: A Case Study

Mark Tooley has written an informative piece for the Weekly Standard web site on a recently published work of 9/11 denial. The article provides some interesting if scary insights into the worldview of 9/11 deniers:

DID THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION covertly blow-up the World Trade Center, ignite the Pentagon, and shoot down United Flight 93 to pave the way for a new American empire? The answer is "yes," according to a new book printed by the official publishing house of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and written by a theologian at a United Methodist seminary.

Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11, published by Westminster John Knox Press, is fairly succinct in its conspiracy theory. In fact, only the first half of the book is devoted to dissecting the conspiracy, the facts being so obvious that elaboration is hardly required. The second half is focused on the theological implications of America as empire, and why Christians should stand against it.

David Ray Griffin, professor emeritus of philosophy and theology at Claremont School of Theology in California, is the author of what is now his third book on 9/11. "If we believe that our political and military leaders are acting on the basis of policies that are diametrically opposed to divine purposes, it is incumbent upon us to say so," he explains in the preface. A "process" theologian who believes that God is constantly evolving, Griffin is a member of "Scholars for 9/11 Truth," a non-partisan group that is "dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths behind 9/11."

The Truth Behind 9/11

IFLA Updates

Freadom has an undercover operative at the IFLA conference in South Korea. Read his latest update here.

Meanwhile, ALA has posted a summary of IFLA 2006 to date. Most of it is typical boilerplate, but the following passage is less than encouraging:

IFLA’s Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression sponsored a debate over the publication last year in a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that offended many Muslims around the world. FAIFE chair Paul Sturges of the United Kingdom maintained the middle ground, as librarians from around the world, including several Arab nations, rang in on where to draw the line on “offensive” materials, while President Byrne wrapped up the debate with the old admonition that freedom of speech does not permit yelling “Fire!” at will in a crowded theater. “We live in a crowded theater,” he observed.

“We live in a crowded theater,” Good to know that IFLA President Alex Byrne is taking such a forthright stand against the Islamist war on free expression. One musn't offend the neighbors in that crowded theater, especially when they might saw your head off for doing it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

9/11 Denial Comes to Campus

The 9/11 denial movement is built around the proposition that the September 11th atrocities were either deliberately allowed to happen or actually carried out by the US government. Among the more idiotic yet popular conspiracy theories are the belief that the World Trade Center was actually brought down by a controlled demolition, and that the Pentagon was really hit by a cruise missile, not by American Airlines Flight 77.

The utter absurdity of the 9/11 deniers' infantile theories has been proven repeatedly, by web sites such as and Debunking 9/, and by magazines such as Popular Mechanics. The latter publication has even published a new book, Debunking 9/11 Myths, that does a superb job of demolishing the half-baked claims of the conspiracy theorists. In short, the truth of what happened on 9/11, and the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the 9/11 deniers, should be abundantly clear to anyone with a brain and the willingness to use it.

One would think that these theories would be permanently relegated to the fevered swamp where they belong. Sadly, this is not the case. According to a recent poll:

Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."


The poll also found that 16 percent of Americans speculate that secretly planted explosives, not burning passenger jets, were the real reason the massive twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed.


Twelve percent suspect the Pentagon was struck by a military cruise missile in 2001 rather than by an airliner captured by terrorists.

The 9/11 denial movement has even spread to our nation's campuses, in the guise of an organization calling itself "9/11 Scholars for Truth". To quote an August 7th piece from the Associated Press:

The organization says publicity over Mr. Barrett's case has helped boost membership to about 75 academics. They are a tiny minority of the 1 million part- and full-time faculty nationwide, and some have no university affiliation. Most aren't scholars in relevant fields. But some are well-educated, with degrees from elite universities such as Princeton and Stanford, and jobs at schools including Rice, Indiana and the University of Texas.

"Things are happening," said co-founder James Fetzer, a retired philosophy professor at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, who maintains, among other claims, that some of the hijackers are still alive. "We're going to continue to do this. Our role is to establish what really happened on 9/11."

The Mr. Barrett referenced above is one Kevin Barrett, an instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He recently became the object of controversy after word of his views reached a statewide audience. However, as this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows, Mr. Barrett has his supporters in Madison:

Mir Babar Basir, a recent graduate of UW-Madison who served as president of the Muslim Students Association, said he knew Barrett and agreed with his take on the attacks. He said Griffin drew hundreds of supportive observers when he spoke at the university.

"This is not just Kevin Barrett's idea," Basir said. "It's legitimate to think that the U.S. government was involved."

"When David Ray Griffin spoke, it was packed," Basir added. "Madison is fairly liberal. It's not surprising that a lot of people agreed with him."

Sadly, it's not surprising that 9/11 denial would strike a chord in the People's Republic of Madison. Neither is it surprising that someone affiliated with the pro-Islamist Muslim Students' Association would embrace such ridiculous conspiracy theories.

The best overview of the 9/11 denial movement in academia is this June 23rd article by John Gravois from the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is an entertaining yet chilling look at how supposedly well educated individuals can come to believe the most ridiculous of theories. The peddlers of 9/11 denial have a breathtaking ability to embrace utter absurdities while dismissing the mountain of evidence to the contrary. Witness the example of James Fetzer, a retired professor from the University of Minnesota-Duluth:

Mr. Fetzer, a voluble, impassioned man who often speaks in long paragraphs, is no stranger to conspiracy theory. Before September 11, he had a side career investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But the issues surrounding the Scholars for 9/11 Truth are far more acute, he thinks. In Mr. Fetzer's mind, the country is in a state of dire emergency.

Hence, it does not much bother Mr. Fetzer that outside scientists have largely refrained from tackling the group's arguments. "I don't think it's a problem," he says, "because we have so much competence and expertise among ourselves.", a Web site run by a software developer in England, is one of the few venues that offers a running scrutiny of the various claims and arguments coming out of the 9/11 Truth movement. Mr. Fetzer has heard of 911myths .com, but he has never visited the site.

"I have been dealing with disinformation and phony stories about the death of JFK for all these years. There's a huge amount of phoniness out there," he says. "You have to be very selective in how you approach these things."

"I can assure you the things I'm telling you about 9/11 have objective scientific status," he says., he says, "is going to be built on either fabricated evidence, or disregard of the real evidence, or violations of the principles of scientific reasoning."

"They cannot be right," he says.

(emphasis added-DD)

What's truly frightening, beyond the fact that this man inhabits an entirely different universe from most of the rest of us, is that Mr. Fetzer apparently taught classes on critical thinking at UM-D.

As Gravois notes, the 9/11 deniers have gained a small but growing foothold in academia. Even Howard Zinn, the dean of radical left historians, has provided a positive blurb for one of the major pieces of 9/11 conspiracy literature. One of the main reasons why is that legitimate scholars and scientists have proven reluctant to engage the deniers and their outlandish claims. Most experts see the arguments of the conspiracy theorists as so ridiculous that rebuttal is unnecessary. It has been left to those such as the editors of Popular Mechanics and independent web authors to point out the absurdity of these claims.

Unfortunately, the reluctance of genuine experts to debunk the 9/11 deniers has allowed their infantile theories to gain traction. In addition to horrible pieces of pseudo-scholarship like The New Pearl Harbor, homemade agitprop such as Loose Change has allowed the conspiracy theorists to spread their ideas among the public. That over one third of Americans have come to accept those ideas as plausible is truly frightening.

The danger posed by 9/11 denial goes well beyond its ability to drag public perceptions and discourse into an X-Files fevered swamp where everything is a government conspiracy. The 9/11 atrocities showed for all to see that we are at war with a global jihadist movement that seeks our eventual destruction. This movement is not a figment of CIA propaganda: the literature documenting its existence is voluminous. Similarly, the statements of its leaders and ideologues are readily available to anyone who cares to look. By denying this reality, whether out of malice or sheer stupidity, the 9/11 deniers have simply become useful idiots on behalf of the jihadists.

As with Holocaust denial, the solution to 9/11 denial is not to ban it. The 9/11 conspiracy theorists must be free to peddle their ideas, no matter how ridiculous and offensive. The solution is for legitimate experts and informed citizens to debunk and refute their theories at every available opportunity. Only by engaging and exposing the utter absurdity of 9/11 denial can it be relegated back to the fringe where it belongs.

(Link updated-DD, 8-24-06)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cuban Libraries and IFLA

Friends of Cuban Libraries reports that an independent library patron was recently harassed by the secret police:

One of the patrons who visits the Gastón Baquero Independent Library, located in the city of Banes, was intercepted by the police on August 5, according to the library director, Martha Díaz Rondón.

The officials asked the patron for his identity card and made a note of it; they told the library visitor that this information would be sent to the chief of his zone of residence, so that an official warning would be issued, and that he would be prosecuted for the crime of "social dangerousness" if he continues visiting the library.

The Gastón Baquero Library is well-established in the community, and a large number of people visit it to find reliable and uncensored information, but the secret police send agents to harass people visiting the library.

(emphasis added-DD)

Sadly, this incident is just one example of the Cuban dictatorship's extensive campaign against intellectual freedom. The excellent Freadom web site has done a terrific job of documenting the Castro regime's long and disgraceful record of book burning and censorship. Their blog recently posted an overview from Amnesty International on the human rights situation in Cuba. A number of independent librarians are among the prisoners of conscience currently imprisoned by the regime:

As of May 2006 there were still 72 Prisoners of Conscience (POCs) in Cuba, according to Amnesty International. Sixty of them were detained as part of a March 2003 crackdown, which has been called the biggest crackdown on political descent in Cuba in a decade. At that time, at least five dozen people from different provinces across the country were detained in a major police operation to silence those engaged in non-violent freedom of expression and association. Within days of their detention the new prisoners were tried on vague charges in a process that did not meet fair trial standards, and most were given sentences as long as 20 years.

Today, IFLA began its annual convention in Seoul, South Korea. On August 24th, IFLA's Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) will discuss resolutions proposed (PDF) by the Latvian and Lithuanian library associations. Both resolutions forthrightly condemn the Cuban dictatorship's thoroughgoing censorship and call for the release of the imprisoned librarians. A number of American librarians have called upon ALA to support the adoption of these resolutions. While I doubt my voice carries much weight with the association, I hereby join these colleagues in asking ALA to take a stand against Cuba's suppression of intellectual freedom.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Meet Sayyid Qutb

If radical Islamism has an equivalent to Karl Marx, that figure would be Sayyid Qutb. An Egyptian, Qutb was hanged by his own government in 1966 after spending a number of years in prison. Mike Palmer has a great post describing Qutb and his ideas, and quoting from his most influential work, Milestones. Anyone who still doubts that radical Islamists harbor a pathological hatred of "infidel" western society would be well advised to read Mike's post.

Most chillingly, Mike found Qutb described as a "Great Muslim" on a British-based Muslim website. As he sums it up:

The “Young Muslims of the United Kingdom” clearly consider Qutb, often dubbed “The Godfather of the Jihadists,” a “Great Muslim of the Twentieth Century.” In fact, he is the only person so ranked under the topic. So why should anyone be surprised that some Muslim students are willing to do whatever it takes to destroy a form of government that stands in the way of the application of Shari’ah in the UK? Why should anyone be surprised that some Muslim students do not accept the fundamental principles upon which British constitutional government is based? Qutb instructs them to challenge “all kinds and forms of systems which are based on the concept of the sovereignty of man.” The concept that sovereignty rests with the people is, of course, the fundamental ideal of Enlightenment—western—political philosophy. We need to understand that some Muslims reject this ideal and intend to destroy that system, by force if necessary.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fidel Worship Watch

The Freadom blog notes that former CPUSA archivist Mark Rosenzweig has reassured his fellow "progressive" librarians that their favorite aging Communist despot is doing much better now:

"On his 80th birthday, President Fidel Castro has sent out an encouraging message on his state of health, which has
considerably improved. He confirms that the country is
running perfectly well. "I promise everyone who
has wished me good health that I will fight for it."

In today's Times of London, Stephen Pollard addressed this phenomenon of Fidel worship among western leftists, of whom so-called "progressive" librarians are merely a small subset:

Such hero worship of so brutal a tyrant would seem beyond rational explanation. As Amnesty International puts it in its 2006 report on Cuba: "There was increasing international concern about Cuba's failure to improve civil and political rights . . . Restrictions on freedom of expression, association and movement continued to cause great concern. Nearly 70 prisoners of conscience remained in prison."”

Cuban prisoners are detained under the catch-all peligrosidad predelictiva, defined as "“a person'’s special proclivity to commit offences as demonstrated by conduct that is manifestly contrary to the norms of socialist morality"”. Castro also operates a pretty basic form of censorship: he imprisons journalists to whom he objects. Twenty-four journalists were in prison at the end of 2005. And no Cuban is allowed to travel abroad without permission.

Rationally, those who describe themselves as "progressive"” ought to be campaigning for Castro'’s departure. Instead, when he does die, his image is likely to outsell even that of Che Guevara on the ubiquitous T-shirts. But rational explanation is the wrong place to start. Ever since Robespierre, the original left-wing tyrant, large sections of the Left have allied themselves with oppressors. Even when the evidence of Stalin's butchery was known, for example, George Bernard Shaw continued to praise him, condoning Stalin'’s purges by arguing that he was merely getting rid of those who weren't up to their jobs, and that "they often have to be pushed off the ladder with a rope around their necks".

(Link courtesy of Norm Geras)

At first glance it seems odd that anyone who belongs to a profession that is supposed to defend intellectual freedom would champion the cause of a book burning dictator. However, the goal of the radical left fringe in this profession is to make librarianship into a tool for their own ideology. Intellectual freedom, in their view, is merely a weapon to be used against "The System", not a principle to be defended regardless of circumstances.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Irony in Iran

In a fascinating testament to the perceived power of the Internet, Iran's fanatical Islamist president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, has taken up blogging. The site does appear to be genuine, though according to some reports it tries to infect the machines of visitors coming from Israel. Anyway, click here if you want to take a look at Ahmadinejad's blog for yourself.

The irony, of course, is that Iran's Islamist dictatorship has been at the forefront of censoring free expression on the Internet, especially blogs. This recent AP article makes clear the extent of the repression:

Iranian authorities are stepping up arrests and pressure on popular bloggers as part of a wider Internet clampdown launched after hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president last year, ending years of freewheeling Web access that once made Iran among the most vibrant online locales in the Middle East.

The Internet censors are busy. Their targets include sexual content, international politics, local grumbling, chat rooms and anything else that makes the Islamic leadership uneasy. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer, estimates at least 50 bloggers have been detained since last year.

It is a telling comment on the Ahmadinejad regime that it imprisons people merely for doing what its own president has now done. Sadly, this crackdown on blogs and web sites is merely part of a broader campaign against any and all forms of dissent. This campaign has manifested itself in ways ranging from the ridiculous to the tragic.

Of course, not all forms of free expression are prohibited in Iran, as shown by this current exhibit of cartoons mocking the Holocaust. The fact that anti-Semitism is one of the few remaining forms of protected speech left in Iran should tell us plenty about the nature of the Iranian regime and its ultimate intentions.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The "Root Cause" of the Airline Plot

In the wake of last week's discovery of the UK airline bombing plot, once again the same questions are being asked. Just as after the July 2005 London subway attacks, many are asking how young, seemingly well adjusted British born Muslim males could have been willing to murder their fellow citizens while killing themselves in the process?

Of course, some argue that young Muslim males are inspired to turn to terrorism by British foreign policy, specifically by the UK's steadfast support for the US campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's undoubtedly true that anger over specific actions does help inspire some young Muslims to become terrorists. However, there's one problem with this thesis. As Mike Palmer points out, Muslims aren't the only ones who hate the West or Western policies, yet they are the only ones producing anti-Western suicide terrorism:

This brings us to the question that we do need to ask: “Why is it that of all the people in the world who hold grievances against the West or the United States, only (some) Muslims believe that they are justified in killing western civilians? It is this question that brings us to a critically important point: the fact that many hate us, but only (some) Muslims kill us, suggests that there is something peculiar about Islam. We need to ask: “Why do (some) Muslims believe that it is legitimate for them to kill non-Muslim civilians?

The problem for Muslims and many westerners is that such questions lead you away from western actions as a cause, and toward Islam as the legitimizing agent. There are plenty of people who do not want you to go down that road. But, like it or not, that’s the only interpretation that makes sense. If western or American policies were the cause of terrorism, where are the Chinese 9/11s? Where are the Hindu 9/11s? Where are the Mexican 9/11s?

The difference is that young Muslims in Europe and elsewhere are being seduced by the totalitarian ideology of Salafist-jihadism. Followers of Salafist-jihadism, according to PBS Frontline, "see life as being divided between the world of Islam (dar al-Islam) and the land of conflict or war (dar al-harb). Through jihad, they wish to extend the Muslim world so that all of humankind can live under its umbrella." Of course Salafists hate the foreign policies of Western states, since such policies are seen as manifestations of those countries' "infidel" nature.

As Douglas Farah points out, even in Western Europe young Muslim males are being indoctrinated in Salafist-jihadism through a network of radical mosques:

What is taught in these mosques, to young people already feeling aggrieved, is not new. They are told that assimilation is wrong and that the more alienated one feels, the closer one is to Allah. Western civilization is degenerate, filthy and full of sin. Rejection of the non-Muslim society in which one lives is a duty, and alienation and hatred a sign of favor from Allah.

Those who are open to this teaching are often then offered special classes and other teaching and opportunities to expand on this concept.

Much of the social isolation surrounding those in these mosques, particularly the UK and the Netherlands, is self imposed. Why integrate or seek to accomodate yourself to the world you live in when alienation is a mark of piety and devotion? How far of a step is it from that to the next logical conclusion? True piety is demonstrated by attacking the oppressive infidel who persecutes Muslims worldwide.

Unfortunately, it appears that this globalization of radical Islamism is bearing fruit. A recent poll reveals that 22% of British Muslims approve of the July 2005 bombings, including 31% of young Muslims. Europe, and the UK in particular, has become a major source of both Salafist-jihadist ideology and the terror attacks that it inspires.

In short, then, those Muslims in Britain and other Western countries who have become involved in jihadist terrorism have done so not because of specific Western policies, but because they have been indoctrinated to see those policies as proof of the evil nature of our "infidel" societies. When someone is taught to hate you, he or she will have no problem finding reasons to justify that hatred. It is not our policies, but the totalitarian ideology of Salafist-jihadism that is the "root cause" of radical Islamist terrorism.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Google Controversy

Today's Washington Post has a good article on the Google digitization project, and the copyright controversy in particular:

If it is really true that Google is going to digitize the roughly 9 million books in the libraries of Stanford University, then you can be sure that the folks who brought you the world's most ambitious search engine will come, in due time, for call number E169 D3.

Google workers will pull Lillian Dean's 1950 travelogue "This Is Our Land" -- the story of one family's "pleasant and soul-satisfying auto journey across our continent" -- from a shelf in the second-floor stacks of the Cecil H. Green Library. They will place the slim blue volume on a book cart, wheel it into a Google truck backed up to the library's loading dock and whisk it a few miles southeast to the Googleplex, the $100 billion-plus company's sprawling, campuslike headquarters in Mountain View. There, at an undisclosed location, it will be scanned and added to the ever-expanding universe of digitally searchable knowledge.

Why undisclosed?

Because for one thing, in their race to assemble the greatest digital library the world has ever seen, Google's engineers have developed sophisticated technology they'd prefer their competitors not see.

And for another, perhaps -- though Google executives don't say so directly -- the library scanning program already has generated a little too much heat.

Search Me?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Airline Terror Plot

Today brought a stark and chilling reminder of the commitment of radical Islamists to defeat and ultimately destroy Western civilization. Thankfully, the excellent work of British, US and other agencies prevented the jihadists' murderous plot to bomb up to 10 transatlantic airliners in flight from being brought to fruition. According to what's been reported so far, this may well have been Al Qaeda's attempt to outdo the atrocity of 9/11. Regardless, the airline bombing plot shows that, contrary to what ALA's favorite filmmaker has said, there is indeed a terrorist threat.

Today's Fun Fact

Is brought to you courtesy of Norm Geras: There are now 50 million blogs in the world.

ALA and Cuban Libraries

I'll be posting more about the Cuban libraries issue later this week. In the meantime, Greg McClay has written a must-read open letter to new ALA President Leslie Burger. Please give it a look.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blogging the Real War

I'm pleased to announce that Mike Palmer, an excellent history professor here at ECU, is now blogging. His site "The Real War" is a terrific place to go for scholarly analysis of the radical Islamist assault on the West.

In addition, Mike has a book coming out on the historical and ideological origins of the war with radical Islamism, titled The Last Crusade. I'm definitely looking forward to reading it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Back to the Library

Yesterday I officially graduated the US Army Intelligence School as a 96B (Intelligence Analyst). I would like to thank everyone in C Co, 305th MI BN, for all their support and encouragement. In particular, my drill sergeants and civilian instructors were incredibly helpful. To my fellow IET graduates, it's been my pleasure and I wish you continued success.

Having completed my Initial Entry Training, I now head back to North Carolina to my job at ECU and to take up my post with the 30th Brigade Combat Team, NC National Guard. I will be back in Greenville and at work next week. Look for something like regular posting to resume then.

My apologies to my regular readers for the break from posting. A number of people have sent me encouragement either through comments or via e-mail. I appreciate the support and apologize for not being able to respond. Thank you all for your patience.