Sunday, August 21, 2016

Team Women Rocks Means Team Men Sucks?

Oh dear, it's Christie Blatchford!  Here is a journalist whom I have long considered the voice of reason among women, one who had her female libido dominandi firmly in check. Well wouldn't you know: somewhere, at some point the FCS (female chauvinist sow) will bubble up even in her.

  To hell with you, Christie! Why does the courageous and successful showing of Canada's women's soccer team have to invite the silly "comparison" with the lack of overall medal production from men?  (Team Women Rocks, Ottawa Sun, 21/8/2016) What is to be gained by that ? It is not even that monumental battle of sexes in tennis in which a top woman professional beat the pants off a male champ, alas, twenty years after his competitive career in which time he turned pudgy and developed a heart condition.  What possible satisfaction can someone derive from the fact that one's women's Olympic team wins close to three out of four medals for the country? It is the greatest female-male disparity among nations of the developed world.  What can women possible gain from the poor showing of their male team-mates?  Another rung on the ladder of pride?

      Before Rio, I never saw Christie write on soccer. From the way she writes about the game, what she focuses on and what exercises her, it seems clear she is out of her depth and does not have a clue of what is going on.  No, the popularity of Marta is not anywhere near that of Neymar in Brazil, even though the two are soccer prodigies. Seasoned soccer fans do not compare compulsively the leading men with women in the sport or, for that matter, whether women are fairly represented among football hooligans. It's like in all other sports: people compare the competitive qualities of players in their own milieu.

       I love watching women's tennis. The idea of comparing Serena Williams with Novak Djokovic does not enter into my mind because I am sane. One heard comparisons between the "quality" of soccer during  women's world championships on US TV networks in the 1990's and the view was that women play soccer better than men. But anyone who knew the style of women's soccer then (and I played it competitively in my youth) would laugh that off.  The women's game was still in its infancy and often resembled unstructured "swarms" such as you would see on a pitch among boys under thirteen. There was no real competition because other than US colleges (under Title IX.) no-one even had a national-level soccer program.  Women's game made enormous leaps since then, and the matches are now great fun to watch even for the connoisseurs. 

    I like the Canadian women's soccer team very much. It has spunk, strong desire to win, and ability to grind out difficult matches. But let's not get carried away: the squad still punches above its weight. In team strategy and tactics, and most players' individual technique, it still has a way to go to catch up with the six top teams in the world.

    As for the men/women disparity in podium production, Christie Blatchford would do us all a great service if she looked seriously into what I suspect are great disparities in funding between the two genders that promote women's sports over men's in Canada. Google searches for sources of funding consistently find number of programs  specifically for women but none for men. I have heard from several sources that many men coaches in Canada now distinctly prefer to train women because that's where the money is and success guarantees more of it. My hunch is (based on watching CBC commercials) that the corporate sponsors also go for the brownie points in shelling more money to women's athletes.  So it looks, a least based on anecdotal evidence that men athletes chez nous are distinctly second class citizens. And one only needs to recall what Simone de Beauvoir said on the lack of women's intellectual achievements: 'The point to be grasped here is that if you are brought up as an inferior, you will become an inferior'.

        

Saturday, May 21, 2016

On Cultural Belonging

Whatever it is that the picture to the left seeks to convey it would leave all people in the world clueless and puzzled, save in one country. Among people who grew up there, four out of five would react to the suggested scene with loud, even convulsive laughter.  Why ? 

It is not easy to explain one's attachment to the place to which one was born, and why a child's picture of the world etched in one's soul  for life cannot be torn from that one place one calls home. It is in everyone of us, regardless where we come from. We instinctively deal with the kaleidoscope of the world at large through a prism that was given to us and to which we belong.  We don't why. It is just the way we humans are and no amount of good-intentioned or hateful preaching will change this.

I saw the picture during my visit to my native Czech Republic in June of last year. I laughed my head off at the ingenious cleverness of its author. But there was distress in that laughter. You will note that the characters to the left are leaving the scene in a hurry.  The village woman runs away from the characters entering from the right in a panic. That much can be read from the picture by anyone, anywhere in the world.  But I will not be able to reproduce that which ignites the neurons in my brain in a way that causes me to go ape momentarily and send spasms to places around my diaphragm. 

I can explain how the collage has been constructed, and I already did that. I can show you the original plate and you will find it to the right of the text here. I can tell you all that you need to know about the original illustrator and I am going to do that. I can also tell you about the fleeing figures in the collage chosen to replace of the cast in the original. All of that I can do and you probably will get an inkling of what was going on in the mischievous mind of the person who modified the picture. But it will not be enough to create the "cultural shock" that your brain will produce if you are a Czech by birth and grew up in the land and if you as a child (and an adult after) learned how to imagine the world painted by the artist.

The artist's name is Josef Lada and he was famous enough in the world to have had an asteroid named after him. Lada was a naivist painter and prolific illustrator of books for children even though he became best known as the illustrator of Jaroslav Hašek's Good Soldier Švejk.





   

Dear Farzana

This is an open letter sent to Farzana Hassan at Easter, taking issue with her apologizing for Islamic terror to Christians:


Dear Farzana Hassan,

               I was touched by your Easter/Passover offer of apology for violent jihadism (Ottawa Sun 25/3) though I think it is a rhetorical exercise which does not does not match the value of the regular contributions of yourself, and the likes of Salim Mansur, Tarek Fatah, Raheel Raza, and others. Actually, I believe it is counter-productive to your (and their) posture, for which I am personally grateful, as your perspective gives hope, that maybe, just maybe, we can stay “civilized” without rivers of blood in the streets. Because, I have this terrible hunch, that this is where we are headed.    

So let me say this: You do not represent the larger Muslim religious community by dint of the fact that you are a believer. You cannot possibly have an intelligent reply to a Toronto imam with islamist connections all over the world, who says that. It is as though a German emigré in 1938 Paris wanted to apologize to Jews on behalf of Germans for Kristallnacht unleashed by the Nazis. The sad fact is that the majority of Muslims today are as much led by their Islamist elites (with the same goals, but different methods of a) trying to achieve them, and b) disguising them) as Germans were led wholesale by Hitler in the thirties.  The problem with you speaking “for the Muslim community at large” is that inevitably some clever islamist propagandist (say ‘Reza Aslan’), will come around and say that the fact Raheel Raza does not wear hijab and that you feel ashamed for what ISIS does in the Levant, is a proof positive that women under Islam are free to do as they please.  You know Ben Affleck’s moral indignation about “stereotyping” Islam and Muslims.  You are simply a proof to him that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, but in fact, peace-loving and friendly folk, so much so, that some misguided sisters are even willing to apologize for the homicidal psychos who misread their Koran, and think that when it says “go and cut the heads of the kuffar” that it means one should buy an airplane ticket to Istanbul and then go by bus to cross to Syria, to do God’s will there by cutting the heads of the kuffar.

You see, I may shock you by saying this, but islamism is only a secondary problem here. The real problem speaks through as the Ben Afflecks, les Belge who lower the threat level forty-eight hours after a jihadi massacre in their capital, and our idiot minister for immigration who sets the limit of refugees to be admitted into Canada in 2016 proportionally to that of Germany’s last year’s million of them, where they overran the social service capacities almost everywhere. John McCallum says we need 300,000 of them this year because our labour force ages.  But we still have over 7% unemployment, and it is 13% among youths. How does mass immigration (at this moment !) help that problem ? What is it that forces that sort of drooling idiocy ?  I am sure it is not pressure from political Islam. 

No, the West’s problems are deeply internal and its response to political islamism, is but a symptom of an underlying disease which openly invites external catalysts for the destruction of its institutions and values.  It is very interesting to observe how this disease manifests itself. It never ceases to amaze me  how certain points of view – and in my mind those that should be ‘common-sense’ among us - do not make it through the mass media outlets, and if they do, they are immediately “owned” by the elitist pseudo-liberal shibboleths.  Or, how the supposed ‘cures’ of the disease are always dumb and not doable. For example, Trump’s vowing to stop immigration of “Muslims,… until we figure out what is going on ?”  But Donald, how can anybody aspire to be the president of the United States and not have figured out what is going on in the Middle East, ahead of his inauguration ? Pray, tell !  Why is it not obvious to the Donald that this is a stupid idea, and that he should have advocated instead “minimal immigration from the Middle East”, until the civilized world cleans the place up and restores a measure of civility there?  Why is it not obvious to Ted Cruz, that “surveillance of Muslims” is an overkill ? He could have simply said that mosques and political organizations  should be monitored for islamist propaganda, and jihadi advocates thrown out of the country. No ? Why would that not be ‘radical’ and ‘anti-establishment’ enough ?  Perhaps, someone should be asking why some American citizens need to organize themselves in an organization which wants to have “relations” with America based on their religion ?  Isn’t the name “Council on American-Islamic Relations” (CAIR)  a self-described misapprehension how a country like the United States operates ?  You are a bloody American citizen: who the hell gives a damn about what you worship, as long as you behave like an American ?  Duh!

But, as I said, the problem runs much deeper than islamism.   Actually, islamism can only thrive with a severely self-damaged democracy, which agrees to replace the idea of citizenry with equal access to the institutions of governance, by “identity politics” which claim that this is impossible and disadvantages by design their particular group, that is discrimniated against and seeks to create special relations with the state to reverse the perceived historical molestations. Under communism, this practice of differential treatment of individuals based on belonging to a certain social group was known as ‘nomenklatura’.  Needless to say, this system, creates a sense of injustice and oppression in groups that do not rank high or are openly despised and excoriated as the “problem”. In time, nomenklatura, destroys people’s loyalty to the social order, and  causes deep disdain for it. This, in the nutshell, is the secret of Donald Trump’s popularity. 

The problem however runs even deeper than that. The global economy has changed everything.  The one unpreceived effect is the decline of the value-add accelerators of the GDP, vis-à-vis services and above all resources. The US dominated the world economically between the world wars and three decades after because of its unmatched industrial base, highly skilled and well-paid labour, and cheap energy and raw materials. This situation has changed drastically in the last thirty years. Manufacturing has moved out of the US, because of labour costs, and raw materials – oil especially – became relatively expensive, or at any rate, allowed the “resource based” economies, and “low-cost labour” economies to surge ahead and dramatically change the relationships among the major players. The US and the West (generally) have become net importers of both manufactured goods and energy. Again, much of the growth of the political clout of Islam is due to the financial clout that the Saudis and Gulf states. They simply have no tradition of a productive industrial economy, (and the social development that goes with it ) or view of manufacturing as the creator of wealth. They are socially backward, but extremely rich, and with the US economy in the boondocks (never mind the Dow Jones Potemkin village) , much of what we observe in the US and Europe as a culturally suicidal policy vis-à-vis the world of Islam, is actually the function of the financial clout of the Sunni Xanadu states, buying political influence in Washington (and through Washington in Brussels). There is no two ways about it.  That the two parties in the US so much resemble each other in foreign policy, may not need explanation other than the king and emirs pay both of them.  Finally, the inequalities in wealth in the US have become simply too great, and resemble more and more the inequality of feudal societies.  This again foists a sense of injustice, distrust and disgust especially among the young, who it seems mostly abandoned the classical dream of American Way of Life. (Note that CAIR is very active in the Social Justice movements, and advertizes Islam as a system with social egalitarian roots – which it hasn’t been since the death of the Prophet.)

So allow me to be skeptical. I am appreciative of your gesture, but it is not from you that one should seek a sense of contrition.  As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that sense helps at all in resolving our problems.  It is not the islamist terrorists that should preoccupy us most. It is my lawyer friend who believes that the problem is a direct consequence of imperialist aggression of the West in the Middle East. When I asked her if she read the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, she had no idea what I was talking about. I told her I was talking about us as a culture which can babble about human rights from dawn to dusk but no longer has any idea what that is, a culture which no longer stands for anything, and a culture which has no idea what is going in the world around it.  Someone should apologize for that but I have no idea who that should be.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Peace With the Ayatollahs in Our Time?


          Times they are a'changin' et plus ça change... Little less than three years ago I blogged in support of Israel and Netanyahu, and affirmed that Iran under the ayatollahs (with Ahmanidejad as prez) were an existential threat for the state of Israel and therefore the West should exert max pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear superpower ambition. 
          In the time intervening, a number of things have happened in the region. The foolish jerk at the helm in Tehran was replaced by a generally more acceptable figure - who though maintaining hostile posture to the sliver of Mediterranean referred to as 'the Zionist entity' among the theocratic elders - nonetheless seems to be doing the ayatollahs' bidding in the matter ex obligo rather than out of deeply-held conviction. It could be, as Bibi says, that Rouhani is superbly crafty in disguising the depth of his homicidal intentions, or it could be that the PM of Israel is exaggerating when he is not talking rubbish.  
          No, the tentative agreement with Rouhani which effectively (on paper at least) stops and rolls back (!) the means to build nuclear bombs is not Munich 1938 simply because the deal signed in Vienna was structured (on paper again) a quid pro quo arrangement, and not a unilateral concession to an aggressor. Hitler did not have to give up anything for getting the Sudetenland. He simply gave a vague promise not to seek any further territorial expansion and consult with Chamberlain when something bothered him. 
         
        There is further issue with the lame comparison.  Iran is expanding its influence in the region, not its territory. That is different from Nazi Germany's aims. Most importantly Iran's gains in prestige came as a direct consequence of the US letting loose its reins in Iraq after it destroyed its political structure without assuring a working administrative model to keep whole the artificial modern entity. Obama acceded to a ham-handed Shia-dominated political elite, without insisting on safeguards for the sizeable Sunnite minority. A little later, the US (and Israel) supported armed and violent international jihad against a relatively stable, even if oppressive, regime of Bashar al-Assad. The strife was against Assad was fueled practically from the start by Islamic sectarianism and terrorism. If Tehran militias showed up to prop up an ally's regime, it is in a very different scenario than Hitler's minions blowing up neutral Austria, and foisting unrest in the German-speaking borderland of Czechoslovakia. For most part, Iran's influence in the region grew in the mirror of  the current US administration's hapless evacuations and dithering.  Iran has been only filling a power vacuum created in the region by Obama's ill-advised anti-imperialist posturing.

    Naturally, with certified fools at the helm of the juggernaut, I would have my doubts about secretary Kerry's ability to negotiate a very good deal with Iran. Maybe a different US administration might have gotten better terms. Except again: the US is not alone in the world with deeply vested interests in nuclear non-proliferation. This was EU3 + 3, or P5 + 1 negotiating team, and the agreement reflects the shift in the world balance of power.  The deal has accomplished what it set out to do: it has very significantly reduced Iran's capacity to weaponize nuclear energy in the foreseeable future. Mohammad Javad Zarif has solemnly signed a document which says in the preamble: "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons."  That is a significant statement. Would there be any plainer way to denounce the country's  ambition to own a nuclear bomb?  It is only words, true, but certainly a pledge worth testing.  So, the smart money would be on monitoring Iran's compliance, not by trying to scuttle the agreement, as Israel's government  and the GOP have set out to do.   
 
   I don't buy the heated rhetoric from Jerusalem and the Republicans. The cries of a catastrophic, cataclysmic miscue of the part of Obama, the EU, Russia and China, are way too ...well, let's say it, 'flakey'.  And if you listen carefully, the complaint is all over the place. Mark Steyn says that the Vienna accord is far worse than Munich because Chamberlain's motives were honourable!  Iran can't be trusted - everybody is supposed to know that. But can US be ?  Susan Rice admitted to Wolf Blitzer that some of the unfrozen funds could be used to support terrorism. Krauthammer wrings hands over the giveaway  in lifting the conventional arms embargo that is years away.   Wake up idiots !  The ayatollahs are not behind the shooting in Chattanooga yesterday.  Yes, there is Iranian terrorism. But the Iranian brand of terrorism also - and for the moment prevalently -  terrorize ISIS (in Syria, Kurdistan and Anbar province of Iraq), and al-Qaeda (in Yemen) from which the US and the rest of the world benefits.  And it appears that the Iranian troopers (beside the Kurdish Peshmerga) are the only credible ground force in the region fighting the real scourge that butchers tens of thousands, enslaves millions and destroys priceless and irreplaceable cultural treasures in the cradle of human civilization. And they will be, at least until the next president of the USA wakes up and realizes that ISIS has to be destroyed immediately, and Iraq needs to be "maintained" pacified by a credible US threat capable of smashing within weeks any sectarian nonsense that bubbles up.  The Armageddon-thumping ayatollahs have become the symbol of American weakness. But they too are mortal. Let us give ourselves a chance to see the next thing that comes out of the great civilization of Persia.      

Friday, July 10, 2015

United by lower Grexpectations


Catching up the last two weeks with the history of the Greek debt, I am left with the strongest hunch that ‘crazy’ is the new mainstream. It appears that if some nonsense overwhelms the body politic, the antidote will almost certainly be product of another politicized form of craziness.

The most informing thing about the €380 billion that Greece owes is that the country does not have the means not just repaying, but servicing it in a meaningful way. All fiscal plans by the Greek government, including the one currently under consideration by the EU, project a magical turn in the country’s economy and the filling of state coffers as a result of minimum additional funds Athens can wrestle from the financiers, in return of promise to implement an effective austerity regime, the very thing that the majority of Greeks have vehemently opposed ever since it was set as a condition of further aid in 2009. The electorate first opposed it covertly, then openly, by voting in a radical Left government which considers the lenders blood-sucking terrorists.  By all appearances, the EU banksters and the Left lunatics have come to an amicable agreement this week, thanks mainly to France’s left liberal cave-in to the Syriza’s implied suggestion that Angela Merkel is a new incarnation of Inspecteur Javert 

In times of reason, premier Tsipras’ dealing hand would be in laughed off and he would be exposed as a hopeless s**t-disturber and demagogue.  But in times of ‘crazy’ he holds the high card. The ace in his hand is Greece-is-a-victim psychobabble.  To be sure, there are some things in his posturing in which I find more than a grain of truth. The financial crisis in Greece has started as toxic private, not public, debt. The fable that the financial collapse originates in Greek civil servants’ retiring en masse with full pension in their mid-fifties, is just another example of counter-crazy. I don’t subscribe to the theory that high unemployment is a contagious outbreak of mass laziness among the drinking classes. I really do feel sorry for the ordinary, below-euro-average Greek sweating hours in the ATM lineups. But all the same: Tsipras’ complaint doesn’t work for the same reason Senator Mike Duffy’s hope for sympathy is vain. As one cannot claim to be manipulated into accepting bribes, one cannot wash one’s hands of money one accepts as loans, by simply arguing that the lender has too much of it.  But for now, it looks Tsipras’ gamble has paid off and his referendum, if not wishing away the debt, means more bailouts and another postponement in paying it.

So, what gives?   Tsipras’ victory may be short-lived.  He made Germany dance to his tune but the anger and frustration with Greece remains. The country is by all accounts bankrupt. Anything, at this point – and under the prevailing rules of engagement – will be but a band-aid and short pause to government IOU’s and the return to drachma.  The retardant of the Greek collapse (or better, the end of masking it) is now the IMF following the crazy policy of the US (and EU) towards Russia.  The illusion of unity seems of paramount importance in trying to wall off Russia from Europe. But reality has a way of asserting itself. Europe is divided, not united.  Greek is bankrupt with minimal prospect of recovery in the continuing charades around its debt. The volatile Middle East and Africa pose the real security danger to Europe, not Russia. So, as always, it is pay me now or pay me later.

'''
ETA (Jul 13):  Tsipras' 'victory' was short-lived indeed.  It appears that Wolfgang Schauble's view of Greece won the day when it came to the nitty-gritty of actual negotiations and Syriza had to back out of the negotiating 'mandate' it claimed was given to it by the referendum. In the end, the Hansa concept of EU prevailed over the Mediterranean bazaar view. Greece - for the time it remains in the Eurozone - will operate as German banking protectorate.  Will Tsipras' politically survive this?  The cynic would say, 'no problem, the Greeks understand the nature of the comedy, in which it does not really matter who leads it.'  The outcome will be the same. 
   

Monday, March 9, 2015

Why Does Putin Kill Kittens ?

    Because of the way MMOs (major media outlets) report on certain realities in the world these days, the question in the headline needs to be grasped first on the merits of its utility. It does not really matter if Vladimir Vladimirovich destroys cuddly domestic pets, or whether such accusation is stupid beyond belief. We have the means to validate whatever beliefs by the wonders of communications technology.  The thing to grasp here is whether it is useful to believe that Putin kills kittens. And the finding would be - I guess - yes it is useful.  It is useful to believe that because it makes available certain options which the US foreign policy would not normally enjoy.

 Now here again I need to pause and digress.  I realize that to say anything about anything in terms of norms in our time is felt by the intellectually destitute squatters occupying main street to be deeply abnormal, as they would no doubt describe efforts to be normal as being patriarchal or heterosexist or dinosaural. So, it is really hard to imagine what normal options in US foreign policy would be to begin with in this particular bubble of here-and-now. Especially, since the women who run (which at this juncture means animate) US foreign policy from Michelle Obama down to Mary Harf are not exactly the blushing types.  But let us just say that in the olden days, say before Reagan's amiable senility set the policy tone, one would not badmouth foreign dignitaries unless one meant business, that is to say, one really meant to kill the sons-of-bitches. But not even then. Churchill omitted Hitler's titles (even the sarcastic Herr) when referring to him only after the war started.  

     Not so in our times. For Hillary Clinton whose demeanor epitomizes the contemporary lack of personal culture, not to say norms of diplomatic protocol, Putin is KGB psycho or Hitler or whatever the brainwave washes up on the spikes of her tongue. She does not mean to kill the son-of-a-bitch when she accuses him (a soulful Russian) of lacking a soul. She just does her politico version of twerking for the evening news. He is smart; he'll figure out it isn't for real - it's only for the masses hungering for some exciting news from a woman who cannot be wrong.  If she says that Putin (Warning : a graphic description ahead may be disturbing to some readers !) skins the poor critters alive it must be so. And if it rings true in the feeble American grasp of the world that,  as Jen Psaki said that the population of Crimea was 'forced to go to the polls facing a false choice' in a 2014, then the claim that the Russian president has vivisectionist tendencies offers tantalizing possibilities in extending NATO to the gates that obsessed the Russian chauvinists since the time immemorial.

So, yes, Putin kills kittens. And we have a proof that ! Well actually, like with the proof of columns of Russian military hardware entering Ukraine, it is more or less in the eye of the beholder. But that does not matter. Let the RT and one of the Rands blow into the wind all they want. The US Senate had a proof of Russian tanks invading Ukraine. We have a proof of Putin killing kittens. It may not be available quite in a consumable packaging but we are all adults and we are sophisticated about the world we live in. And since women rule and the Duchess of Cambridge is into killing kittens as well, the real question is, WTF am I talking about?  Ah, yes, the world where women rule !

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Islamic Quiz for Andrew Coyne

     In my mother tongue, there is a word with a revealing etymology. The adjective "pitomý (-á, -é)" translates as "stupid", "obtuse", "insipid".  In the old Slavonic, the word "pitati" meant "to feed", and gave rise to the Czech adjective whose original meaning was "well-fed" or "sated".  From there it migrated to the modern meaning most likely on the observation that people who have no want tend to become dull-witted by the same token. Interesting.  I tend to agree and believe that statistically this would bear out. I observe that if you live in peace and prosperity your hunger for both diminishes as a function of actually living in a peaceful and prosperous society. After a while, it becomes hard to imagine anything but the reality of your comfort.  This intensifies the dullness in the perception of the world that convinces many of the well-fed that there is no immediate danger to us from some people cutting heads of other people in the Middle East and parts of Africa. There is no danger coming from jihadis at all and they will be nice like us, if only we feed them and then leave them alone. There is no danger of their atrocities materializing here (we are all well fed !) so we will not be intimidated into reducing immigration from the head-cutting regions of the globe. Many in the Western intellectual elite live with the I-am-ok-Jack syndrome and not all them are necessarily overweight like Michael Moore.

    An example of classical pitomost (a noun derived from pitomý) comes in Andrew Coyne's last week's column in National Post (The case for watching our words on Islamism, 21/2/2015), in which he muses over the different take on the Islamic terror by Stephen Harper and Barack Obama. Well, muses probably is not the right verb.  Fiddles, would describe it better.  The foolishness of Coyne's rhetorical exercise makes itself felt almost immediately.  Says he: There are, it would seem, three questions to be answered: what is in fact the relationship, if any, between Islam and terrorism; what do authorities believe is the relationship; and what do they say they believe. The peculiar insistence on the right that politicians insert the word “Islamic” before “terrorism” would appear to stem from a belief that anything else is an abdication from the “truth,” that there is “something about Islam” that explains the proliferation of terrorist groups claiming to act in its name. No, actually there is only one question. If the Obama administration does not think there is any link between terrorism and Islam why did it accord the corpse of Osama bin Laden, the mass murderer of Americans, the right to be buried according to the Islamic tradition ?   It would appear to someone not in the habit to twist truth into ideological pretzels there most definitely is a connection between Islam and terrorism, or Islam and a universalist, supremacist ideology.  I wager that nine out of ten Canadians and Americans would agree with that proposition, even though many in the same breath would repeat the established bromide that most Muslims are not terrorists or approve of terrorist methods. But the problem of course is that many Muslims while not approving of terrorism in fact desire a global Islamic society and support political organizations and social networks whose goals are overtly or covertly to establish a world Islamist rule over Non-muslims. The terrorism of such ambition - as I wrote before - is implied.  Not to see this, or pretending that this ideology does not exist is of course willful blindness borne of what I called here pitomost.

 It is in the lack of discernment that would deny the hulking political ideology of Islamism that makes naifs like Andrew Coyne a truly sad sight of our time.  He expounds the silly deconstructionist argument recently used by Ben Affleck (arguing with Bill Maher) that wishes to assert that Islam, as a religion, is so differentiated that one cannot really say anything that would stick as a label for the whole caboodle.  This argument is as pitomý as pitomý could get.  Imagine, if you will, Coyne or Affleck saying that forty years ago about another ideology manifestly hostile to the West - communism. How could one even begin to conflate the Soviets and Maoist China, the Stalinists and the Trockyists, with the anti-Bolshevik followers of Rosa Luxemburg ?  How could one compare the saintly martyrs like Antonio Gramsci and Karl Liebknecht to vicious genocidal animals of Lavrenti Beria's or Pol Pot's ilk ?  Did not Lenin explicitly condemn the violent red anarchism that became the hallmark later of the Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof gang ? How could one say anything valid about communism that would apply to all communists ?  And yet somehow the brains in the West were able to distill the essence of that ideology and its practical effects and decide that this is not how we want live (and have our women dress).   How could that be ? With all that variety of the communist belief ? But the West did protect its culture and traditions from the red menace and it slowly died (or morphed into something much more benign, as in China).

                So in truth, there is something like modern political Islamism and it sprang from the head of a single 19th century thinker, and contemporary of Karl Marx.  Andrew Coyne does not know his name and by all appearances he knows nothing about his philosophy and the man's career. Andrew Coyne does not know him because he does not find his name anywhere in the tons of dimwitted columns written by, or recited on TV, by people like himself who are completely ignorant of the matters that come to bear on one of the most serious and also sadly, ridiculous, challenges our civilization faces.  Andrew Coyne does not the name of this luminary (and wily mountebank) even though he was a well-known figure at the courts of Europe, and in Persia, a man that saw the potential of the Islamic world well ahead of his time and who passionately defended it in polemics against one of Europe's leading intellectuals of the day, Ernest Renan. He fought the British on the side of the Sepoy in 1857 Indian uprising, and later advised the shah on dealings with the British. His anti-British attitude recommended him to the Tsar, and he was allowed to proselytize Islam in the Russian Central Asia as a bulwark against the encroaching rival imperialism.  So who was he, Andrew?  More clues:  He acquired a pupil who adored him, but in some ways was smarter and better positioned than his teacher, in a replica of what Friedrich Engels was to Karl Marx. The Islamist "modernizing" philosophy of his pupil, who became the Grand Mufti of Egypt created the corner stone of the political movements of the Muslim brothers in Egypt, and its first leaders Hassan Al Bannah, Sayyid Qutb, and reformers like Muhammad Rashid Rida and Abul A'la Maududi who founded the Jamaat e-Islami party in British India.  The belief of the Mufti was that the old, passive religion of Islam must be converted into a modern political movement, one that can challenge and replace the Western model of government. He called it the "cutting head of religion with the sword of religion".  The teacher and his pupil gave the world the term "salafiyya" which became the central piece of the modernizing Islamist philosophy, much like "the dictatorship of the proletariat" was to Marxism-Leninism.

       So who were the two men ?  Andrew Coyne apparently does not know but he knows it is a mistake for Mr Harper to oppose allowing quasi-religious face covering during Canadian citizenship ceremonies. He writes with a truly foolish abandon: "Merely referring to “Islamic extremism” or “jihadism” would be unobjectionable in itself. But when coupled with recent, needless interventions in such volatile debates as whether the niqab may be worn at citizenship ceremonies, it suggests at best a troubling indifference to the importance of symbols and the need for those in power to go out of their way to reassure those in minority groups that they have not been targeted."  No, Andrew, you have it ass backwards ! The niqab was all but extinct two generations ago in the Islamic world, or at any rate, it would be associated with the most retrograde cultural forms of that religion. No educated, urbane Muslim two generations ago would compel his wife to wear this abominable declaration of social inferiority and denial of public identity. No self-respected Muslima, at any rate one exposed to the 20th century idea of civil society would wear one.  If it made an astonishing comeback, it is because it has been tolerated not just as a statement of protest against Western values and traditions, but as a calculated provocative denying of the jurisdiction a modern secular state over Muslims. So, it goes without saying that Muslims who would deplore or berate the Prime Minister for his stance on the niqab during citizenship ceremonies, are not the kinds of Muslims willing to accept the fundamental principles of a modern multicultural society whose existence presupposes a set of common secular values respected by everyone regardless of religious faith. More to the point that I am trying to make here:`to someone who is not pitomý it would be clear as day that people who are hostile to the secular order will not be satisfied by the next concession they claw from spineles politicos via the multitude of media mudheads. To someone who is not pitomý, insisting that our cultural values be observed, including the equal status of women, will not make the Muslim community as a whole more hostile to Canada and deliver more of the peaceful Muslim flock to the terrorist wolf-packs.  Bien au contraire !  Muslims not overtly or secretly favouring the caliphate would support the requirement of ladies showing their faces in public.