Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Christopher Hitchens review: Occidentalism

Those who are eager to die are expressing a hatred for the everyday, banal achievements of human society... The ideas of liberal pluralism are newer in "the West" than we suppose, and could in fact use some ruthless warriors of their own.

--Christopher Hitchens


In Buruma's view, the Islamist militant war against the West has less to do with imperialism or global injustice/ inequality than it does with hatred for pluralism and global modernization. We are to assume Islamic radicals are following in the footsteps of 20th-century European fascists and Japanese militants who simply hated Americanism and universalism. I think we have to keep an open mind as to where this somewhat overly-idealistic version of Anglo-American society is coming from. We should never forget the consequence of actual history. A careful and realistic study of both English and American history might cast an entirely different light on this view. Let me preface this next line by saying I am not a Marxist (because I can just hear the trolls singing now). The U.S. and England have backed any efforts in the Islamic world to smash their Marxist parties. There is no doubt a strong hatred of imperialist exploitation in Arabic and Islamic lands today.

The New York Review of Books January 17, 2002 Occidentalism
By Avishai Margalit, Ian Buruma

Chronicle Review-The Origins of Occidentalism

The book at Amazon.com

OK, so he didn't have them. But did he want them?

What's next? Maybe: OK, so he didn't want them, but did the thought ever cross his mind......at all....even once?
David Brooks is doing damage-control for someone....

David Brooks (who I'm sure is being paid very well by his employer) is posing as a non-partisan who is wounded by the damage the Richard Clarke-circus has done to precious American politics. (I'll cry tomorrow.) Brooks clearly begrudges Clarke for the attention (and money) he's amassed by telling his own truths about his 9-11 experience. David Brooks accuses Clarke of being like a "Power Ranger"...in Brooks own words:
See Dick Clarke courageously take control of the government in the middle of the terror attacks! See him heroically lead a teleconference! Behold his White House conversations! Everything he says is farsighted and brave! Everything the Bushies say is incorrect. And he remembers it all perfectly!
Why do you suppose David Brooks is riled to the point of reducing Clarke to a Power Ranger? These tasks Clarke performed on 9-11 may sound mundane in stark contrast with the heroic terms Brooks uses to describe them. Yet, I ask you to think about it for a moment. Do you remember when you first heard about those planes hitting the towers? Are there experiences from that day that are forever etched in YOUR memory? IF you wrote about them in a journal, would that make you a Power Ranger? A partisan? A liar? Of course not. Now, imagine you were working for the White House on 9-11. How soon would you forget all you'd done and how you felt?

Brooks can't seem to accept the fact that Clarke is assigning responsibility and accountability to this White House. He calls him a "shrill partisan". He says Clarke wrote "shrill passages" about Bush's stupidity. Brooks imagines American politics are damaged by these types of activity. He may be right. But what exactly do POLITICS have to do with TRUTH, anyhow? Who gives a damn how "politics" are damaged? The object, after what this nation experienced on 9-11, is the TRUTH. Clarke, as far as I can see, is telling HIS side of the truth. It's politically incorrect and David Brooks can't seem to handle that. I submit that he's every bit as partisan as Clarke might be. Politics has little to do with what is TRUE..I cannot stress that enough! Let politics take the biggest beating of its life over this. It's time we got to the core of what truly matters. Too many innocent Americans died on 9-11 to worry about the fragile state of politicians' overbloated egoes. David Brooks is doing damage control for someone....I wonder who?
Don't miss Bohemian Mama's Haiku

To Richard Clarke:

Profound good shines through
When great men defend the truth;
Thank goodness for you

Costa Rica tosses Ortega

No more political asylum for the Venezuelan "troublemaker"...Venezuelan union leader Carlos Ortega. Mr Ortega was facing charges of treason and rebellion when he walked into the Costa Rican embassy to request asylum on March 14. Apparently, he's turned out to be too controversial for the good of Costa Rican foreign diplomacy. Ortega says he'll go back to Venezuela to clandestinely plot to overthrow Hugo Chavez. Clandestinely? Not anymore, I guess. He spilled his own beans. It's no secret,anyhow. The sad part is that neither Kerry nor Bush will support real democratic order in Venezuela. Chavez was democratically elected. The mobs are trying to rule with loud protests. There were mobs protesting the Iraq war in February, 2003 and Bush dismissed them as a "focus group". What makes these Venezuelan mobs any more than a "focus group"?

President Chavez wants the U.S. to "get its hands off" his country. What if a powerful nation was trying to determine and force the issue of who OUR chosen leaders would be? You'd tell them the same...to get the hell out of our affairs. Would you not?

"In the name of truth, I have to ask the Washington government to get its hands off Venezuela. Bush's government is financing this mad opposition."
--Hugo Chavez

*The US government has persistently denied such accusations*

Even if these Venezuelan mob-elites were to succeed in their desire for referendum, it would not insure an end to Chavez rule by a long shot. The BBC reports:
.....let's suppose for the moment that the CNE - under pressure from the US, the Organisation of American States and the European Union - decides there are enough signatures for a referendum. What then?

First of all, if it takes place after mid-August, there will be no new presidential elections.

Instead, and in accordance with Venezuela's Constitution, the country's vice-president would take control (remote control by President Chavez, the opposition fears) till the end of Mr Chavez's term.

If the referendum takes place before August, there there's no guarantee the opposition would win either this, or any subsequent presidential elections.

The only force uniting the opposition here is hatred of Hugo Chavez. And once he's out of office, his opponents could fall foul to their own internal divisions.
About these mobs, one Venezuelan Chavez-supporter has stated:
"They have economic power. We have power of conviction."
Do conviction-based ideals mean anything to our leaders anymore? They certainly meant everything to our own Founding Fathers.

In fairness, read these tips on getting to know Venezuelan politics from one of those mob-elites. Gustavo Coronel is a 28- year oil industry veteran. He says he is against the current government. He says his opposition is "not about the details, but about the essentials". He thinks the Chavez government is not a real government but a "dictatorship of the inept".

The question is...how do Bush and/or Kerry support democracy and support the convictions of the majority of Venezuelan citizens at the same time without blatantly compromising all that democracy truly means?

Senator Kerry's recent statement included these thoughts:
Too often in the past, this [Bush] Administration has sent mixed signals by supporting undemocratic processes in our own hemisphere -- including in Venezuela, where they acquiesced to a failed coup attempt against President Chavez. Having just allowed the democratically elected leader to be cast aside in Haiti, they should make a strong statement now by leading the effort to preserve the fragile democracy in Venezuela.
Supporting the referendum is well and good, but all it may well result in is "remote-control" by Chavez, anyway. Or it may result in having to wait until the next election..an election Chavez may win, anyway. What will Kerry do if Venezuelan mobs turn to more vandalism and violence? He cannot amend Venezuela's Constitution from a seat in the Oval Office. Would a President Kerry resort to backing an attempted coup when the elite do not get their way? (As the Bush administration has been accused of doing?)

We all know this is about our American interests. We understand this. Yet, it goes against the grain of all the rational logic we are asked to accept about our own democracy and what it means to us.
We got what we wanted!
I'm glad to know Condi will publically testify

Placing myself in a state of empathy with the 9-11 families, I'm sure they're happy to hear Condi Rice will testify before the 9-11 Commission. It's about time. Let's get this done and make positive changes for the future safety of our people. With all the Bush administration's complaints about the abuse of our legal system by trial lawyers, a piss-poor example of abusing the law has been set by an administration that hides behind every Executive loophole it can find to remain non-transparent.

Senator Chuck Schumer(NY) said, "The administration's reversal shows that it was using executive privilege as an excuse to keep Dr. Rice from testifying. ... The dedication and bull's eye integrity of the commission has succeeded and now hopefully we will be a lot closer to the truth.''

Politically, the Bush administration has caved in to the intense pressure. In the NYT, Siegesmund Von Ilsemann says:
Richard Clark has now thoroughly reshaped this image of the level-headed leader. Should his accusations, printed in a bestseller and publicly repeated under oath, convince the general public, the son will likely follow in his father's footsteps in losing his bid for a second term.
Even if the long-awaited and hoped-for agreement for Rice to tesify was forced by political pressures, it's two-headed. It is a forced onus to strongly reply to Richard Clarke's Commission accusations (for history's sake) as well as a political need for Rice to try to restore the faith of many Americans who previously supported Bush, but have had recent doubts.

For whatever reason Rice is testifying, we must remember they work for us. This isn't a gift from the Bush administration. It's something the majority of Americans feel are rightfully due the public under the unusually weighty circumstances of 9-11 attacks. It's high time we got some good faith from the Bush administration. Condi's a great start. Now, if we can just get to the crux of who outed Valerie Plame and who Cheney met with in secrecy to formulate OUR energy policy....

Speaking of transparency, Senate minority leader Tom Daschle said today: "The commission should declassify Mr. Clarke's earlier testimony -- all of it, not just the parts the White House wants ---"

For the sake of truth, it had best be all...or nothing.
Faith interpretation can mean the difference between terror and peace

The symbolic meanings of the (Islamic) Seal of the Children and the (Christian) Rapture, which will signal an end to the emergence of man are much like the prophesied Imam Mahdi.

About Mahdi:

The Muslim holy prophet Muhammad has prophesied about several events that will occur just before the advent of the day of judgment. Among these, Rasulullah has foretold the advent of one of his descendants, Al Mahdi (the guided one), which will materialize when the believers are severely oppressed in every corner of the world. Muslims believe He will fight the oppressors, unite the Muslims, bring peace and justice to the world, rule over the Arabs, and lead a prayer in Mecca at which Isa(Jesus) will be present.

Muslims are called upon to remember that the prophecy about Mahdi is one that will come to pass. This prophecy, however, does not absolve the Muslim community from its duty to strive in the cause of Allah, oppose injustice, and seek peace and betterment of human condition. Centuries have passed from the time of the holy Prophet and there is a good possibility that many more will expire before the advent of Al Mahdi. Muslims who are negligent in their duty hoping for a savior are committing a grave mistake and are not following the divine decrees ordained in Quran or taught by Rasulullah.


We do not know whether man's potential is fixed, with some kind of defined limit or some kind of expected end. We do not know if man's reign is open-ended. It's a matter of faith. The tendency of liberal faith interpretations, in general, is toward an open-ended existence of mankind along with expansion into evolving forms of expression. Thos who interpret their faith liberally, whether in the case of Islam or Christianity, believe Man is made in the image of God, that God is Infinite, the single.....ultimately unknowable.

At the other end of the faith-interpretation spectrum, you can see more conservative/fundamentalist interpretations of these end-signs. For instance, the Left Behind series of books cannot be doing wonders for promoting understanding, intra-faith cooperation, and peace right here on terra firma.

Ref: Glorious Appearing in bookstores


"That is not to say that we are "martyrdom-seekers" but it is to say that we are prepared for that.."


In World Net Daily, there is an article stating that "Jihadists are in a global frenzy over coming of prophesied 'Mahdi'.

At World Net Daily, I find the kind of journalists who show tendency to be every bit as fundamentalist as their "frenzied Jihadist" counterparts. For your consideration, I submit this information in hopes you will see how a liberal interpretation of faith and finding commonality between people of all/any faith is far more important to a peaceful and democratic society than promoting fear about our different beliefs.

Then again, perhaps the decided Christian-right journalists at World Net Daily are doing a bit of a good service in their fear and mistrust of other faiths by showing us how their Islamic counterparts are abusing their own sacred text to suit their own political desires.

A real joy is experienced in seeing just one person reaching out in the dark over the expansive fault-line that exists within their own faith family...

My hope is that we could all teach our children as well as that one person....


Did you know....

Some individuals, faith groups, public opinion pollsters, government census offices, etc. define a Christian as anyone who believes that they are following the teachings of Jesus Christ. This definition would include about 76% of adults in the U.S. and a similar number in Canada. It would embrace members of Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Protestant churches, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox churches, Anglican churches, mainline and liberal Protestant denominations, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and many persons who are not members of a specific faith group.

But within Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Protestant faith groups, the term "Christian" is generally restricted to those persons who are born-again or "saved." i.e. an individual who has repented their sins and trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. They might total about 30% of adults in the U.S., and 10% in Canada.