Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bloggers Take Down Radical Cleveland Imam

See this great blog: Central Ohioans Against Terrorism

Here is a sample of the fine Imam's sermons:

Dear brothers and sisters, the talk about the Day of Judgment is long and full of things that will confuse the human mind and put fear in the hearts of the faithful. Every day that comes is much more Worse than the day before it as we get closer to the hour. Among the signs of the approach of Day of Judgment is what the messenger of Allah PBUH said: “The hour of judgment shall not happen until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Muslims shall kill the Jews to the point that the Jew shall hide behind a big rock or a tree and the rock or tree shall call on the Muslim saying: hey, O Muslim there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him, except the Gharqad tree which will not say, for it is the tree of Jews.” Agreed upon. This is seemed to be very soon and close now. We ask Allah SWT not to test us so hardly if we live till this horrible moment insha’allah.

In case you don't remember, this Imam was hired to replace a guy who was deported for funding terrorists.

Dr. Jamal Badawi Lecture Tommorrow at 7:00, Grainger 1100

Jamal Badawi is coming to town tomorrow as an invited guest of the Muslim Student Association. Badawi is an Egyptian born, Canadian professor who has risen to become a prolific North American writer, lecturer, and activist on Islamic issues. He's also an active leader in groups such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and is the founder/chairman of the Islamic Information Foundation.

Badawi preaches a peaceful, non-violent form of Islam that we all wish was the mainstream. Unfortunately, Badawi seems more successful in convincing non-Muslims that Islam is the religion of peace than he does convincing Muslims. I would contend that more than two decades of Badawi's lectures have distracted Westerners as to the true nature of the radical Islamic threat more than it has improved their understanding of Islam.

I think that most non-Muslims familiar with Badawi would count him among the moderates or even liberal Muslims on the North American lecture circuit. He has never been one to openly call for Sharia or destruction of Israel, at least not that I know of. His thoughts on Apostasy are quite progressive, see here. Still, he has said and published some things that I do find controversial and perhaps it is useful to examine them while keeping in mind that these are the statements of a Moderate Muslim.

For example, Badawi's publications on gender (in)equity in Islam are ubiquitous in academic discussions of women in Islam. In his 1995 book, Gender Equity in Islam, Badawi tries to explain away the controversial passage of the Quran (4:34) where Allah calls on Muslim men to beat their wives:

In the event of a family dispute, the Qur'an exhorts the husband to treat his wife kindly and not overlook her POSITIVE ASPECTS (see Qur'an 4:19). If the problem relates to the wife's behavior, her husband may exhort her and appeal for reason. In most cases, this measure is likely to be sufficient. In cases where the problem continues, the husband may express his displeasure in another peaceful manner, by sleeping in a separate bed from hers.

There are cases, however, in which a wife persists in deliberate mistreatment and
expresses contempt of her husband and disregard for her marital obligations. Instead of divorce, the husband may resort to another measure that may save the marriage, at least in some cases. Such a measure is more accurately described as a gentle tap on the body, but NEVER ON THE FACE, making it more of a symbolic measure then a punitive one. Following is the related Qur'anic text:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women. because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) do not share their beds, (and last) beat (tap) them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance): for Allah is Most High, Great (above you all). (4:34)

This may appear to be a reasonable approach to the awkward an often embarrassing passage in the Quran. After all, Badawi is interpretation sounds generous – don't beat your wives, just tap them lightly "symbolically." Notice, however, that the words "tap" and "lightly" are his additions to the Quranic text, not Allah's. His arguments may sugarcoat this passage for western ears but they do little to assist the Yemeni woman who's husband reads a Quran lacking in Badawi's parenthetical insertions.

Moreover, if one really thinks about what Badawi is saying – that is not just alright, but actually required behavior for men to "tap" there wives to punish them, to physically touch their wives when they are angry… shouldn't that set off some bells for feminists. I for one grew up in a school system and culture that emphatically emphasizes the fact that it is NEVER, EVER acceptable for a man to place a hand on a woman. It's even codified in our legal system. I would argue that Badawi's "tap" is 4th degree physical assault but I digress.

The point I am trying so miserably to make is that here we have a Moderate Muslim, a favorite among American academics, who is justifying and defending the duty of Muslim men, as set forth in the Quran, to lay hands on their wives for disobedience. Why is this not an issue for feminists?

I have one more thing to say about Badawi's "tap" before I move on. Leftist Western Islamic Scholars like Badawi or Karen Armstrong often translate the Arabic word Idrib in this section of the Quran to mean something like "tap." Idrib is used repeatedly in the Quran. In nearly every use of the word it clearly comes across as meaning to beat, scourge, or strike (hard), as in, “strike (Idrib) off their heads, strike (Idrib) off the very tips of their fingers!” – Quran (8:12)

I would like Badawi to explain how one would go about “tapping” off the head of some poor 8th century Jewish tribesman. How exactly would a good Muslim warrior “tap” off the tips of some Quraysh goat herder's fingers?

The solution to gender inequity in Islam is not to deny its existence by sugarcoating text in the Quran. It is not to transform "strike" into "tap," although I wish it was that easy. A more plausible solution is to take a step back as Muslims like Irshad Manji have and say hey, that was then this is now. In the 21st Century, particularly if you're living in a western society, it is just not acceptable behavior to tap on your wives – no matter what the Quran requires.

At any rate, Badawi should inspire an interesting and informative discussion of various Islamic issues. I will be attending the lecture, tomorrow night at 7:00 pm in Grainger 1100 and encourage you to as well.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On David Horowitz and Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week

Not being a student or faculty member at the UW these days I was forced to sneak into the David Horowitz lecture Monday night. After a few moments of cloak and dagger I found a seat dead center amongst the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) activists.

Most of the folks seated around me were wearing green to show their solidarity against Islamo-Fascism Awareness week. After I started getting high from permanent marker fumes I realized that most also had posters with friendly hippie slogans on them. I spent a few minutes listening to the CAN kids discuss their plans to disrupt the lecture but that conversation came to a halt when the communications director for the UW College Democrats, Gerald Cox, joined them.

For whatever reason unkown to me Cox seemed to have the respect of a number of the CAN kids, people who generally have very little respect for anything. At many points during the lecture Mr. Cox and other CD officers would play a large roll at maintaining decorum amongst the CAN kids. I see a bright political future for that young man.

After saying the pledge, to which only a handful of CAN kids vocally objected, Sara Mikolajczak of the College Republicans welcomed the audience. At this point, my count put the 9 out of 10 members of the audience squarely in the court of Mr. Horowitz's detractors. Eric West of the Dane County GOP followed up with a brief introduction and then David Horowitz arrived on the scene while a couple of CRs donned posters of an Afghan woman being shot on a soccer field by the Taliban.

The CAN kids began coughing and clearing their throats but the CMs miraculously kept them from elevating the level of disruption further. Already I was disappointed.

Several years ago I attended two lectures in the same theater dealing with slavery reparations. Mr. Horowitz was the speaker at the second lecture. I fondly recall several liberal students at that lecture attempting to shout down Mr. Horowitz. They failed but then turned their back on him while slipping on Noam Chomsky masks. The entire episode was quite theatrical and very entertaining. At the same lecture, Mr. Horowitz was organized and poignant. Unfortunately, the Islamo-Fascist lecture would be neither entertaining, save the brief Kevin Barrett episode that I will get to later, nor was it organized or well done.

Uncle Jimbo over at Black Five said that Horowitz sucked Hoover. He wasn't far off the mark.

Horowitz began by quoting a couple of shockingly true statistics about women and gays in the Muslim world, namely:

• 138 million Muslim women have been the victims of clitorectamies
• 4,000 Muslim homosexuals have been brutally murdered by the Iranian regime
• 52,000 Muslim women have been victims of honor killings

The effect of these statistics was, as intended, to calm and silence Mr. Horowitz's retractors. His plan worked well but no sooner had he actually gotten the dirty hippies to start listening then he started to go off on tangents.

Then Barrett showed up. Upon the first mention of 9/11, Barrett was on the scene ranting and raving. The CDs and CRs, in near unison began to ask him to sit down and wait for the question and answer period.

A CAN kid seated immediately behind me asked, "Who is that guy?"

Another responded, "Only the most controversial professor ever to teach on this campus."

The first responded, "Lets applaud him," to which several dozen CAN kids began clapping and cheering the man who defines the term "Ass-hat," Kevin Barrett.

Much to my amazement, not a moment passed before both the communications director and the chair of the CDs were both berating the CAN kids with lines like, "You do not applaud THAT man!" The CDs really treated the CAN kids like children and the CAN kids responded in kind, quickly quieting down.

About this time a few guys in the front rows of stage left started the Asshole chant. It quickly spread until about a fifth of the audience was participating in the UW tradition. Even a few Libs were joining in. It was a riot of a good time.

Then Kevin Barrett left and after one of his cronies attempted to follow his example, Horowitz got back to the business of defining Islamo-Fascism. He did a fine job explaining that Islamo-Fascism is the merger of a church with a totalitarian state, i.e., Iran. He had the audience's attention once again but being David Horowitz he set about offending them with ultra-right wing drivel about the connection between 1930s Nazism and historical and modern Islamo-Fascists.

I am fully aware of the historical connections between Hitler and the Muslim Brotherhood and 1930s Palestinian leaders. I know that the founders of the Syrian and Iraqi Baathist parties were admirers of Hitler and that they based their regimes in many respects on Nazi Germany. I accept that. Still, something in my core does not appreciate when people use comparison or links to Nazis to get their point across and Mr. Horowitz's leaps between a few historical facts and some pretty serious conclusions the modern Islamic world set of my bullshit-o-meter. If it affected me in such a way, imagine how liberal responded?

To make matters worse, Mr. Horowitz began getting his historical facts all wrong. The Otoman Empire was not founded in 1552 Dave. For crying out loud, they conquered Constantinople a century earlier and the Battle of Kosovo, an event paramount to any discussion on the Balkans, an area that Mr. Horowitz writes about frequently happened in the 14 th century. Misstating facts like this, a consequence of Mr. Horowitz's ill prepared and disorganized style, destroyed his credibility with an already skeptical audience. To make matters worse, during the question and answer portion of the evening, Mr. Horowitz attacked a student who attempted to correct his Ottoman mistake, more-or-less calling him a moron.

Note to speakers: When you have no credibility with an audience, don't bother trying to explain the Arab-Israeli conflict. Not only will you fail but you will reinforce your opponents beliefs. Discussion on the history of that conflict is as touchy a topic as they come. Nearly all people are under informed about it yet just as many feel completely secure and confident about the few facts they do know, no matter how questionable those facts are.

Horowitz rambled on for another 30 minutes or so. Occasionally he received applause and occasionally a dirty hippie in the audience would shout out an obscenity or call him a fascist but for the most part things were calm. His lecture was followed by a question and answer that went like this:

Questioner # 1: Mr. Horowitz, I am a Muslim professor and I regretfully must agree with many of the things you say about the Muslim world, however, I feel that your tone and choice of language insults many moderate Muslims and give cannon fodder to the radicals. How do you respond?

David Horowitz: You sir are a moron. Shut up and sit down. (10 minutes of ranting and raving with arms flailing) Again, you're an idiot.

Questioner # 2: …A dirty white male hippie stands up and spouts off a lot of bullshit before asking, how do you as a white man know anything about Afghan women?

David Horowitz: You are a Nazi and supported Hitler during WWII. (10 minutes of ranting and raving) Again, you are a Nazi, please keep your questions shorter next time.

This went on and on until I started to fall asleep and had to get up and walk around for a while. Over the course of the next half hour or so, Horowitz made the following points:
• I am a genius.
• You are all idiots.
• Fuck you, I'm going home.

Now I realize that I make some radical statements on this blog and in my life and I know that my arguments aren't always that well put together but sheesh! David Horowitz writes 200,000 words plus a year, his own claim, and most of them are on this and similar subjects. The man should be able to put together a cohesive argument on this stuff. He utterly failed.

Still, at the end of the evening I walked away feeling good for three reasons:
1. Most people think that Kevin Barrett is an Ass Hole.
2. There are some young Democrats out there who still respect free speech and public discourse. Kudos to the UW College Dems and for that matter, the MSA, for behaving like dignified adults. I've even got to give props to CAN for not being too disruptive.
3. I was on my way to a cold pint of Lake Louie at the Harmony bar.

Final Thought: Horowitz appears to perform best under fire. He seemed disappointed that he wasn't shouted down. I can't say why for certain. Perhaps he was disappointed that he wouldn't get a chance to rip the UW on O'Reilly like he did last time he came and was shouted down or maybe he just likes a good old fashioned fight. Looking through the lens of history I tend to think that he is a man who has changed far less from his days as a white black panther radical in the 60s than most think. Horowitz is still a radical and he still loves the attention that a good controversy brings. Watching his body language during the question and answer session, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to the way Barrett had acted...

Other comments on this event can be found at Althouse and on the College Democrats' blog .

The Badger Herald Muckrakers have some humorous video up including a clip of Barrett.
  • While Europe Slept