This is an article in the series A Look Into Islam.

There is a facet of Islam that isn’t discussed or understood in the West nearly as much as it should be — the religious practice of deception, or taqiyya. Since they were often a tiny minority in the larger Sunni population, Shi’a Muslims would use taqiyya to deceive others around them, concealing the nature of their true beliefs in order to survive. While it could be argued that the practice of taqiyya began with Shi’a Muslims, it is now widely accepted throughout all of Islam. And since Sharia law recognizes no difference between church and state in Islam, the practice of taqiyya has come to be used in all aspects of Muslim life, both religious and political. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that his country is doing nuclear research for purely peaceful applications, he is practicing taqiyya upon the world. When confronted with evidence of plutonium, he will likely continue practicing taqiyya. “What plutonium? Oh, you mean this plutonium. Gosh, how did that get there?”

In an earlier article, I referred to a news report of Sunnis being dragged into the streets and set afire by Shi’as. There is now some real doubt that this story really happened. The news services are all quoting Capt. Jamil Hussein in Iraq, but is this single source credible? It is quite possible that this story is yet another example of taqiyya being used to spread anti-Shi’a hatred — not that Iraq needs any more of that right now. And do you remember the infamous faked-up Reuters photo? Is it just an example of shoddy journalism, or is it taqiyya in action? What about the much-ballyhooed story of the Lebanese ambulance supposedly hit by Israeli munitions? Was this an example of faking the news just for the thrill of it, or was it taqiyya again?

This brings me to a classic example of taqiyya: Palestinian news reports. The people at Second Draft have done a great job of showing two examples of intentional deception in the news. Next time you hear about some atrocity committed by Israeli forces on innocent Palestinian bystanders, you should consider the level of taqiyya used in that area to produce “news.” Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are two videos produced by Second Draft about Palestinian taqiyya. If these YouTube links stop working, you can access the movies directly from the Second Draft site.

Pallywood

Birth of an Icon

All this begs the question: how do you deal with a religious culture that sanctions lying and deception?

This is an article in the series A Look Into Islam.

We are getting some very cheery news out of Iraq these days:

Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near an Iraqi army post. The soldiers did not intervene, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

The savage revenge attack for Thursday’s slaughter of 215 people in the Shiite Sadr City slum occurred as members of the Mahdi Army militia burned four mosques, and several homes while killing an unknown number of Sunni residents in the once-mixed Hurriyah neighborhood.

Shiites killing Sunnis — Sunnis killing Shiites. It’s a nice cycle of violence that stretches back for centuries, and this long cycle is part of the violence we see in Iraq. So how critical is knowing the differences between Shi’a and Sunni forms of Islam to understanding the situation in the Middle East? Some people think it is important, as you can tell from this “Bush is a moron” post on Daily Kos: “Bush didn’t know there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims as late as January 2003.” I can still feel the “yuk yuk – what a moron” vibes almost a year after it was first posted. But the KosKids aren’t the only ones using the meme that we need to understand the differences between Shi’as and Sunnis. Jeff Stein of the New York Times recently published an opinion piece about knowing the differences.

FOR the past several months, I’ve been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: “Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?”

A “gotcha” question? Perhaps. But if knowing your enemy is the most basic rule of war, I don’t think it’s out of bounds. And as I quickly explain to my subjects, I’m not looking for theological explanations, just the basics: Who’s on what side today, and what does each want?

After all, wouldn’t British counterterrorism officials responsible for Northern Ireland know the difference between Catholics and Protestants? In a remotely similar but far more lethal vein, the 1,400-year Sunni-Shiite rivalry is playing out in the streets of Baghdad, raising the specter of a breakup of Iraq into antagonistic states, one backed by Shiite Iran and the other by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states.

Unfortunately, Mr. Stein lost the power of his analogy when he brought up the Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland. How much do you really need to know about the differences between Catholic and Protestant versions of Christianity to understand the decades-long conflict there? And what do these differences have to do with the current situation? Do you think the IRA set up bombs to protest Martin Luther’s nailing up 95 theses to the church doors in Wittenberg? Were Sinn Féin shootings accompanied by leaflets demanding that Protestants accept the supremacy of the Papacy? Or did the conflict have more to do with whether the northern counties of Ireland would be governed by Dublin or London?

Likewise, do the religious differences between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims have much to do with the current conflict in Iraq and the Middle East? When Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, was in power, he was able to give the minority Sunni population more power than they normally would have had in the majority Shi’a population of Iraq. Now that Saddam’s out and the Sunni power with him, it’s not surprising that there are Shi’a wanting to get some payback. And just as the conflict in Northern Ireland is less about religion than about political struggles, Iraq is likewise a struggle for political control. The religious differences just point up the opposite camps.

So just what are the differences between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims? From my Christian point of view, there’s not much of a difference between the two, but the main point of departure seems to be how the two groups view the succession of leadership after the death of Mohammed in the 7th century. Sunnis, comprising about 85% of the Muslim populace, believe that the first four caliphs to come after Mohammed were Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. Shi’as, comprising about 10-15% of the Muslim population, believe that the true successor of Mohammed was his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the fourth Caliph to Sunnis. That’s your main difference, folks. Yes, there are minor differences associated with how the two groups pray and other aspects of their belief, but what is the practical use of knowing that Sunnis pray touching their heads to prayer rugs, while Shi’as pray touching their foreheads to hardened clay from Karbala? Do you think the Shi’as shouted, “Use Karbala clay when you salat, you Sunni heretics!” when they set Sunnis on fire this week?

Jeff Stein finished his article with the following paragraph:

Some agency officials and members of Congress have easily handled my “gotcha” question. But as I keep asking it around Capitol Hill and the agencies, I get more and more blank stares. Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just don’t care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy we’re fighting. And that’s enough to keep anybody up at night.

If you ever have someone give you the “gotcha” question about the differences between Sunnis and Shi’as, here’s how you can answer: “Yes, I know the differences. Can you explain to me what particular aspect of those differences is causing them to kill each other?”

But there is one major difference between the two groups that is well worth understanding, and that is knowing which nation or group belongs to which camp. The map below shows the areas of Sunni Muslims in light green, while Shi’a areas are dark green.

Muslim distribution

This is important because of the three nations that have Shi’a populations: Iraq and Iran with their majority Shi’a populations, and Syria’s minority. Syria and Iraq had political ties through their common Sunni Ba’ath parties. Iraq and Iran have religious ties with their majority Shi’a populations. With the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Sunni controlled Ba’ath party in Iraq, their is a Shi’a non-Ba’ath nation between Iran and Syria. While there are religious differences, the main question now regards which group will rule and exert political control.

So how easy is it to tell the difference between a Sunni and a Shi’a? It can be difficult. Here are three pictures. Can you tell the religion of these people?

Who am I?Who am I?

So, who are these people? Have you guessed right? Drag your mouse over the text below to see the answers:

Left image: Shi’a. Specifically, this is Ayatollah Khomeini.
Right image: Sunni.

How did you do? OK, one last test. Can you identify the religion of these people?

Who am I?

Answer: These people are Sikh, not Muslim at all. The name of the religion is properly pronounced “Sick,” not “Seek” as the Western media often do.

For more information, you can watch this interesting video. And speaking of videos, I’ll close off this way-too-serious post with a humorous video from the British comedy show “Goodness Gracious Me” about three Eastern religions.

UPDATE (11/28/2006 10:56:33 AM): Yep, I completely flip-flopped Sunnis and Shi’as in Iraq. Now fixed.

This is an article in the series A Look Into Islam.

If you haven’t considered it already, it is well worth looking at how Islam promotes the treatment of women. There is a theme of modesty that runs through Islam, and you can see it in the way Muslim women dress. There is nothing wrong with the concept of modesty, and I’m a believer in modesty for both men and women, but there is a darker aspect of female modesty as it is practiced in Islam that is not often explained. Here is something recently spoken by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali in Australia:

But in the event of adultery, the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time with women. Why? Because the woman possesses the weapon of seduction. She is the one who takes her clothes off, cuts them short, acts flirtatious, puts on make-up and powder, and goes on the streets dallying. She is the one wearing a short dress, lifting it up, lowering it down, then a look, then a smile, then a word, then a greeting, then a chat, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay Jail, then comes a merciless judge who gives you 65 years.

But the whole disaster, who started it? The Al-Rafihi scholar says in one of his literary works, he says: If I come across a crime of rape – kidnap and violation of honour – I would discipline the man and teach him a lesson in morals, and I would order the woman be arrested and jailed for life.

Why, Rafihi? He says, because if she hadn’t left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn’t have snatched it. If you take a kilo of meat, and you don’t put it in the fridge, or in the pot, or in the kitchen, but you put in on a plate and placed it outside in the yard. Then you have a fight with the neighbour because his cats ate the meat. Then (inaudible). Right or not?

If one puts uncovered meat out in the street, or on the footpath, or in the garden, or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, then the cats come and eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem! If it was covered the cat wouldn’t have. It would have circled around it and circled around it, then given up and gone.

If she was in her room, in her house, wearing her hijab, being chaste, the disasters wouldn’t have happened. The woman possesses the weapon of seduction and temptation. That’s why Satan says about the woman, “You are half a soldier. You are my messenger to achieve my needs. You are the last weapon I would use to smash the head of the finest of men. There are a few men that I use a lot of things with, but they never heed me. But you? Oh, you are my best weapon.”

I’ve heard of the dating scene referred as “the meat market,” but I’ve never before heard anyone seriously compare women to meat. This attitude about women as expressed by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali is offensive to women because it demeans them as so much meat and as Satan’s servants just because they have female bodies, and it is offensive to men because it assumes that we are impulse-driven animals with no control.

I am of the opinion that a woman’s dress or undress does not grant permission to the cats men around to rape her, no more than leaving your keys in your car gives people permission to steal it. Both acts may put ideas into people’s heads, but rape and theft are wrong. Period. I don’t accept the excuse of “she asked for it by the way she was dressed.” That only applies if people have no self-control. If men are merely cats or other dumb animals, then we can expect mindless instinct, and we put animals like that on leashes or in cages. But I am not a mindless beast with undisciplined appetites, and I resent that anyone would view me that way.

What happens when the “uncovered meat” is pounced on by the “cats” in Islam? Why, it’s time to punish the meat. (Hat tip, Captain Ed) After all, as al-Hilali said, she’s 90% responsible:

A Saudi court has sentenced a gang rape victim to 90 lashes of the whip because she was alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married.

The sentence was passed at the end of a trial in which the al- Qateef high criminal court convicted four Saudis convicted of the rape, sentencing them to prison terms and a total of 2,230 lashes.

The four, all married, were sentenced respectively to five years and 1,000 lashes, four years and 800 lashes, four years and 350 lashes, and one year and 80 lashes.

Notice that one of the rapists only gets 80 lashes for his act, while she gets 90 for the crime of being alone in a car with someone to whom she’s not married. Oh, and that guy gets 90 lashes for the crime of sitting in the car with her. There is nothing she could do that would have justified the gang rape by the others, even if they saw her give a naked lap lambada to the other guy in the car.

The end of the article talks about the woman’s husband and family appealing the punishments. I fear for her life because of the common practice of “honor killings” in Islam. Honor killing typically is when a male relative kills a woman or girl for bringing shame to the family. This can happen if the female is raped, dates someone the family doesn’t like, or marries outside of the faith. Here are a few reported instances of honor killing as posted on Little Green Footballs: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7].

Rape is difficult to prove in Sharia law since it requires multiple witnesses, and a woman’s testimony is worth only half of a man’s testimony. And the idea that a woman is not equal to a man carries over in inheritance laws as well. If a man dies childless, his sister inherits only half of his estate. But if she dies childless, then the brother inherits all of her estate. And in the case of siblings, a son’s share is equal to that of two daughters’. [Qur'an, 4:11]

I guess it sucks to be a Muslim woman. Legally, you are half a man. Financially, you inherit less than a man. And morally, you are a tool of Satan, and rape is 90% your fault just for being female. But at least you can expect to find love in marriage.

Well, maybe.

A Muslim man may be married to four wives at the same time. But the fun doesn’t stop there. The Ornithophobe catalogued some other acceptable forms of marriage in Islam. I quote from her article:

Nikah Misyar, the Traveller’s Marriage, is an option practiced under Sharia law in Muslim countries. In this arrangement, a man and woman are legally ‘married’ but the man has no responsibilities to this wife. He may visit her, in her parents’ home, at any time he wishes. But he owes her no financial responsibility, no home of her own. He may contract such a marriage irrespective of other, traditional marriages he has made. The first, second, third, and fourth wives do not have to approve of the Misyar bride; they do not even have to be informed that the misyar marriage has occurred.

My search of the web has turned up numerous people looking to contract such ‘marriages’ all over the globe. It has also turned up something more interesting: the opinions of Muslims the world over. It seems that ‘no respectable woman would consent to such a marriage.’ Most often, Misyar marriages are a last, desperate hope for widows, spinsters, and girls living in abject poverty. Often they are hoping the misyar marriage will somehow become a real one.

But wait! It gets better!

Nikah Mut’ah is a temporary marriage! In this arrangement, a couple agrees to marry, but with a fixed termination point. The husband has no obligations to provide for the wife, or live with her. A maximum of four temporary wives can be taken, in addition to the maximum four true wives under Islamic law.

The apparent purpose of both these forms of “marriage” is to allow men to copulate with women, without responsibility (beyond the financial support of offspring, that is) and without the sin of Zina, fornication.

All in all, why would women remain in Islam when they are treated as they are? Oh, that’s right — leaving Islam is punishable by death.

It sucks to be treated like a slab of meat, uncovered or not.

This is an article in the series A Look Into Islam.

There is a common thread to all the violence happening around the world: in almost every instance, one side of the conflict is dominated by Muslims. Since Muslim terrorists are active, we need to identify them, so what name or phrase can we use? We can’t just refer to these terrorists by the simple name of “Muslims,” “followers of Islam,” or the like because there are many Muslims who don’t chop off heads of the kafirs they meet. I have worked with many Muslims, and I’m still OK. So how can we identify the group? People have tried a multitude of names: Islamic radicals, Islamists, and Muslim fundamentalists, to name a few. I like my own term of “Islamic nutjobs,” but none of these terms have really commonly used by people to describe the terrorists.

But there is a term that works to identify these people: fascists, specifically Islamofascists. The term “Islamofascism” has been used by many different people, but it is one that I like. And it is a term used by President Bush. Here he uses the phrase in a discussion back in October 2005:

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it’s called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus — and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.

I’m not all that concerned about the name we use; I’m more concerned that we actually have a common term to label these terrorists. I refuse to accept the commonly held belief that one man’s terrorist is another man’s “freedom fighter.” As far as I’m concerned, if you stoop to blowing up and beheading non-combatants, you are automatically disqualified from ever claiming the status of “freedom fighter.”

But of all the articles I have read both for and against the term of “Islamofascist,” the best I have read thus far was written by Victor Davis Hanson. I very rarely do this, but I will quote the article in its entirety here. It is well worth reading.

Islamic Fascism 101
On all they’ve done to earn the name.

By Victor Davis Hanson

Make no apologies for the use of “Islamic fascism.” It is the perfect nomenclature for the agenda of radical Islam, for a variety of historical and scholarly reasons. That such usage also causes extreme embarrassment to both the Islamists themselves and their leftist “anti-fascist” appeasers in the West is just too bad.

First, the general idea of “fascism” – the creation of a centralized authoritarian state to enforce blanket obedience to a reactionary, all-encompassing ideology – fits well the aims of contemporary Islamism that openly demands implementation of sharia law and the return to a Pan-Islamic and theocratic caliphate.

In addition, Islamists, as is true of all fascists, privilege their own particular creed of true believers by harkening back to a lost, pristine past, in which the devout were once uncorrupted by modernism.

True, bin Laden’s mythical Volk don’t bath in the clear icy waters of the Rhine untouched by the filth of the Tiber; but rather they ride horses and slice the wind with their scimitars in service of a soon to be reborn majestic world of caliphs and mullahs. Osama bin Laden sashaying in his flowing robes is not all that different from the obese Herman Goering in reindeer horns plodding around his Karinhall castle with suspenders and alpine shorts.

Because fascism is born out of insecurity and the sense of failure, hatred for Jews is de rigueur. To read al Qaeda’s texts is to re-enter the world of Mein Kampf (naturally now known as Jihadi in the Arab world). The crackpot minister of its ideology, Dr. Zawahiri, is simply a Dr. Alfred Rosenberg come alive – a similar quarter-educated buffoon, who has just enough of a vocabulary to dress up fascist venom in a potpourri of historical misreadings and pseudo-learning.

Envy and false grievance, as in the past with Italian, German, or Japanese whining, are always imprinted deeply within the fascist mind. After all, it can never quite figure out why the morally pure, the politically zealous, the ever more obedient are losing out to corrupt and decadent democracies – where “mixing,” either in the racial or religious sense, should instead have enervated the people.

The “will” of the German people, like the “Banzai” spirit of the Japanese, should always trump the cowardly and debased material superiority of decadent Western democracies. So al Qaeda boasts that in Somalia and Afghanistan the unshakeable creed of Islam overcame the richer and better equipped Americans and Russians. To read bin Laden’s communiques is to be reminded of old Admiral Yamamato assuring his creepy peers that his years in the United States in the 1920s taught him that Roaring Twenties America, despite its fancy cars and skyscrapers, simply could not match the courage of the chosen Japanese.

Second, fascism thrives best in a once proud, recently humbled, but now ascendant people. They are ripe to be deluded into thinking contemporary setbacks were caused by others and are soon to be erased through ever more zealotry. What Versailles and reparations were to Hitler’s new Germany, what Western colonialism and patronizing in the Pacific were to the rising sun of the Japanese, what the embarrassing image of the perennial sick man of Europe was to Mussolini’s new Rome, so too Israel, modernism, and America’s ubiquitous pop culture are to the Islamists, confident of a renaissance via vast petro-wealth.

Such reactionary fascism is complex because it marries the present’s unhappiness with moping about a regal past – with glimpses of an even more regal future. Fascism is not quite the narcotic of the hopeless, but rather the opiate of the recently failed now on the supposed rebound who welcome the cheap fix of blaming others and bragging about their own iron will.

Third, while there is generic fascism, its variants naturally weave pre-existing threads familiar to a culture at large. Hitler’s brand cribbed together notions of German will, Aryanism, and the cult of the Ubermensch from Hegel, Nietzsche, and Spengler, with ample Nordic folk romance found from Wagner to Tacitus’ Germania. Japanese militarism’s racist creed, fanaticism, and sense of historical destiny were a motley synthesis of Bushido, Zen and Shinto Buddhism, emperor worship, and past samurai legends. Mussolini’s fasces, and the idea of an indomitable Caesarian Duce (or Roman Dux), were a pathetic attempt to resurrect imperial Rome. So too Islamic fascism draws on the Koran, the career of Saladin, and the tracts of Nasserites, Baathists, and Muslim Brotherhood pamphleteers.

Fourth, just as it was idle in the middle of World War II to speculate how many Germans, Japanese, or Italians really accepted the silly hatred of Hitler, Mussolini, or Tojo, so too it is a vain enterprise to worry over how many Muslims follow or support al Qaeda, or, in contrast, how many in the Middle East actively resist Islamists.

Most people have no ideology, but simply accommodate themselves to the prevailing sense of an agenda’s success or failure. Just as there weren’t more than a dozen vocal critics of Hitler after the Wehrmacht finished off France in six weeks in June of 1940, so too there wasn’t a Nazi to be found in June 1945 when Berlin lay in rubble.

It doesn’t matter whether Middle Easterners actually accept the tenets of bin Laden’s worldview – not if they think he is on the ascendancy, can bring them a sense of restored pride, and humiliate the Jews and the West on the cheap. Bin Laden is no more eccentric or impotent than Hitler was in the late 1920s.Yet if he can claim that his martyrs forced the United States out of Afghanistan and Iraq, toppled a petrol sheikdom or two, and acquired its wealth and influence – or if he got his hands on nuclear weapons and lorded it over appeasing Westerners – then he too, like the Fuhrer in the 1930s, will become untouchable. The same is true of Iran’s president Ahmadinejad.

Fifth, fascism springs from untruth and embraces lying. Hitler had contempt for those who believed him after Czechoslovakia. He broke every agreement from Munich to the Soviet non-aggression pact. So did the Japanese, who were sending their fleet to Pearl Harbor even as they talked of a new diplomatic breakthrough.

Al-Zawahiri in his writings spends an inordinate amount of effort excusing al Qaeda’s lies by referring to the Koranic notions of tactical dissimulation. We remember Arafat saying one thing in English and another in Arabic, and bin Laden denying responsibility for September 11 and then later boasting of it. Nothing a fascist says can be trusted, since all means are relegated to the ends of seeing their ideology reified. So too Islamic fascists, by any means necessary, will fib and hedge for the cause of Islamism. Keep that in mind when considering Iran’s protestations about its “peaceful” nuclear aims.

We can argue whether the present-day Islamic fascists have the military means comparable to what was had in the past by Nazis, Fascists, and militarists – I think a dirty bomb is worth the entire Luftwaffe, one nuclear missile all the striking power of the Japanese Imperial Navy – but there should be no argument over who they are and what they want. They are fascists of an Islamic sort, pure and simple.

And the least we can do is to call them that: after all, they earned it.

The Left, who have apparently never met a dictator they haven’t liked, are upset over the guilty verdict in Saddam Hussein’s trial. Specifically, Human Rights Watch is announcing that Saddam’s trial is “indefensible.”

The U.S.-based rights group said the court had shortcomings in the timely disclosure of incriminating evidence, that the defendants were not allowed to properly confront witnesses, and that the judges at times did not maintain an impartial demeanor.

“The court’s conduct, as documented in this report, reflects a basic lack of understanding of fundamental fair trial principles, and how to uphold them in the conduct of a relatively complex trial,” the report said. “The result is a trial that did not meet key fair trial standards. Under such circumstances, the soundness of the verdict is questionable.”

If this trial had been held in the United States and were subject to our laws and judges, Human Rights Watch might have a case. But the trial was held in Iraq, under their set of laws and as a purely internal matter, so the group’s whining about it not being up to international standards sounds a little hollow. And I immediately discounted Human Rights Watch’s analysis of the case when I read the following paragraph:

The group, which is against the death penalty in general, also said the death sentence against Saddam is “an inherently cruel and inhumane punishment,” and “in the wake of an unfair trial is indefensible.”

[These guys have a great future on the comedy circuit if watching human rights doesn't pan out. Saddam fed people into wood chippers, maintained rape rooms, and gassed Kurds by the hundreds, and they're worrying about "cruel and inhumane punishment" for the thug? It is to laugh. --TPK]

That position–that any death penalty is indefensible–is what drives this announcement from Human Rights Watch. Any verdict that would call for Saddam’s death would automatically be seen as questionable to them. But if we believe that Iraq is a sovereign nation, then the Iraqis can run their own courts by their own standards. And American buttinskies should butt out.

One of the dangers of working in a coal mine is the presence of methane gas. It’s odorless and colorless, making it very hard to detect. In the old days, when miners used candles or lanterns to light their way, they could easily explode the gas. Or if the gas didn’t explode, it could replace the oxygen in an enclosed mine shaft and lead to asphyxiation. Miners were understandably concerned over either occurrence. But how do you detect an invisible, odorless gas? You could put an uncovered flame on a long pole and hold it out in front of you, but intentionally triggering an explosion in a confined underground area is not a good idea.

To combat this threat, many miners would take a cage with some common canaries in it down the mine shaft with them to act as an early warning system. The birds, smaller and with a much faster metabolism, would react to the presence of methane long before the miners did. If the canaries started to wobble on their perches or fell off, the miners would know methane was present and had enough time to clear out.

For many years, canaries served as an early warning system for miners. And today, the Jewish people serve much the same role as an early warning system for Western nations. Adolf Hitler was quite clear about his hatred of Jews in Mein Kampf, but people didn’t recognize the threat he would become to Europe. When he rose to power and started making life difficult for Jews in Germany, people again failed to see how he would come to menace Europe and the world. Had Hitler been stopped as soon as his anti-Semitic goals were known, all of Europe would have been spared much destruction and death. The Jews in Germany provided an early-warning system to show the danger of Hitler’s goals, but the nations of the world ignored the signs.

And Jews serve much the same function as an early-warning system today. There exist people who hate Jews with a passion and fervor that drives them to murder and destruction. We can sit back and pretend we have nothing to worry about because it’s all just some old land squabble in Asia. Or we could convince ourselves that we aren’t in any danger when many millions of people chant “Death to Israel” on Fridays. Besides, why should we care if people on the other side of the world want to kill Jews and are actively engaged in killing them? It’s not like their violence will spill over to other people.

Who are these people who willingly carry out death and destruction on the Jews and others? They are the followers of Islam. Does this mean that every follower of Islam is building bombs in his basement and plotting how to do the most damage in a crowded area? Of course not. But there is a common thread going through every link in the above paragraph. Hint: the perpetrators are all Muslims.

Don’t believe me? Well, you didn’t look at the above links, I guess. How about this interesting editorial coming out of Iran?

Iranian newspapers Kehyan and and Resalat have urged Muslims around the world to prepare for a ‘great war’ to destroy the State of Israel.

The newspapers published the editorials, translated from Persian by MEMRI , the Middle East translation service, to mark ‘Quds’ day on October 20, an Iranian ‘holiday’ calling for the “liberation” of Jerusalem and war against Israel.

“Hizbullah destroyed at least half of Israel in the Lebanon war… Now only half the path (to its destruction) remains,” an editorial in the conservative Keyhan newspaper declared.

“It was proven that, by means of an offensive operation that need not be equal to Israel’s moves, it is possible to neutralize the Zionist navy,” the article said triumphantly.

It continued: “Just as in one 33-day war more than 50 percent of Israel was destroyed, and the hope of its supporters for the continued life of this regime was broken, it is likely that in the next battle, the second half will also collapse.”

“On that day… Jordan will not be able to prevent the Jordanian Islamists from operating through the long Jordan-Palestine border, and the millions of Egyptian Islamists… will not let the Sinai-Israel border remain quiet, and the Syrian Golan Heights will not remain as a (mere) observer of the battle. That day is not so far off.”

By choosing to focus on Islam, I know I have lost some readers as they have gone elsewhere. Some of these are probably Muslim readers who visit infrequently from the Middle East, and some are no doubt those people who refuse to accept or even see the things I’m pointing out. But ignoring the world around us is not a recipe for success or safety.

For the rest of you who have read all the way to this point, I invite you to carefully read the next few articles as I explore more into the nature of Islam and the terrorist threat confronting us. Some of what you will read may be familiar to you, depending on the ways you gather news and follow current events and history. But I’m sure at least some of what I’ll be posting will be new to you.

For the next 5-6 days, I’ll be taking a closer look at Islam and its followers. I’m not doing this because I hate Muslims, but because we all deserve to know the truth. And if things don’t change, there is a real chance of death and destruction, both in the West and in the Middle East.

Clicking on A Look Into Islam will bring up a listing of all these posts after they are written.

There is an old joke that has been told about many different people. It basically goes: “How can you tell if [person] is lying? His lips are moving.” Earlier this year Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told us that Iran was pursuing nuclear technology for purely peaceful reasons. Notice Ahmadinejad’s lips moving? Yep. Lies. And here is the proof from the “see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil, have no clue” IAEA organization.

New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium — potential material for atomic warheads — have been found in a nuclear waste facility in Iran, a revelation that came Tuesday as the Iranian president boasted his country’s nuclear fuel program will soon be completed.

If the IAEA can find plutonium in Iran, and they can’t find their own butts using both hands, a map, and three Sherpas, then what does this tell us about Iran’s intentions? This discovery is interesting since the only peaceful uses for plutonium are in outmoded pacemakers or in deep space probes like Cassini and Galileo. And we all know that Iran leads the world in the manufacture of old pacemakers and probes for outer space.

So if Iran isn’t using plutonium for those two peaceful uses, then what is the only use left? Weapons of mass destruction. The discovery of plutonium in Iran gives me a nice warm fuzzy. He tells us he wants peace. He tells us that the Iranian nuclear program is only for peace. And he tells us that he has no territorial claims to make in Europe. Wait. That last one was a statement by Adolph Hitler in the run-up to World War II. But there’s no similarity between Hitler and Ahmadinejad. None whatsoever. Well, other than their desire to rule the world and kill Jews, but those are just coincidences. Really. Ahmadinejad is a man of peace, and he would never lead a rally chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”

And if we believe Ahmadinejad is telling us the truth, then the joke is on us.

Yes, the school of hard knocks may teach you much about the world and yourself, but there is something to be said about learning a lesson from the painful experience of others. From the British paper, The Sun, here is a lovely story about sex, lies, and videotape:

THE BRITNEY SPEARS and KEVIN FEDERLINE divorce has turned nasty after it was revealed he is touting a Paris Hilton-style video of the couple romping.

According to our sister paper The News Of The World, dumped husband K-Fed has already been offered £26million for the FOUR hour tape, shot in the early stages of the couple’s relationship.

Britney fears the raunchy footage will destroy her wholesome image [Hah! Too late for that! - CM], unless she caves in to his demands for a £16million payoff and custody of their children Sean Preston, one, and Jayden James, eight weeks.

What is the lesson we should learn from this, class? The obvious lesson is to not marry a backup dancer and wannabe rapper who’s already got two kids from a previous girlfriend, but there is a not-so-obvious lesson that too many people have failed to learn:

If you don’t want sexy videos of you and your [fill in the blank] being made public, don’t make them in the first place.

Next time you are thinking about doing something, you might consider the worst case scenario: could someone use your actions to blackmail or embarrass you later? If the answer is yes, then you’d be better served by refraining from that action, don’t you think? But if you like being thumped as you work on your bachelor degree at the School of Hard Knocks, then proceed full steam ahead.

Knowing that my piratical wife has her own dangerous cutlass, I think I’ll do everything I can to stay on her good side. When I think of a worse case scenario, it’s not blackmail or embarrassment that I worry about. I’m much more worried about dismemberment.

Here’s some news that was posted on the Drudge Report today:

Sir Elton said: “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.

“But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion. From my point of view I would ban religion completely.

“Organised religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”

As I see it, Elton John is up in arms against religion because it is his personal ox being gored. And I’m sure that when he talks about religion, he’s really talking about Christianity since that is the majority religion of England, Elton John’s native country.

So religious people are actually hateful and not really compassionate, because that’s the main focus of religion, don’t you know. All this stuff and nonsense of “love thy neighbor” is just camouflage for a seething cauldron of hatred and intolerance. Elton John’s life must be a real nightmare, what with the daily pogroms against him and his partner. He talks about the horrors of his life in the same interview:

“I never get those problems. I don’t know what it is with me, people treat me very reverently.

Referring to his “wedding” to long-term partner David Furnish, he said: “It was the same when Dave and I had our civil union – I was expecting the odd flour bomb and there wasn’t.

The horror! The constant humiliation and abuse! How can he stand it? Uh. Wait. He’s not suffering at all. I thought he said that religion promotes hatred and spite against gay people like himself. Curious. Could it just be that he’s ranting over nothing?

Nah. I’m sure he’s onto something here. The common phrase of “hate the sin, but love the sinner” can’t possibly be the statement of love and compassion that it seems. It must mask the feeling of “hate the sin, and drive a stake in the heart of the sinner” that religious people must really feel.

After all, Elton John tells us that we religious types are just so full of hate.

Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) said the following about the prospect of confirming John Bolton as U.N. ambassador permanently:

The American people have spoken out against the president’s agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy. And at this late stage in my term, I’m not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against.

Sen. Chafee just lost his Senate seat to a Democrat challenger, so I could see his reluctance to confirm Bolton as sour grapes at losing. But while that is a possible motivation, I am more convinced that Sen. Chafee is just being Sen. Chafee. He failed to support Bolton earlier, “citing concerns at one point about Bolton’s tie to a government investigation into faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq.” The Fox News report continues to say that Sen. Chafee promised to block Bolton’s nomination “until the administration answered questions about its policy in the Middle East, which in effect delayed any vote until after the elections.” With Republicans like him, who needs Democrats?

While I don’t relish the thought (or reality) of a Democrat-controlled Senate, the knowledge that a RINO (Republican In Name Only) like Sen. Chafee has lost his Senate seat makes me feel better. Voters in Rhode Island have a better chance of electing a real Republican the next time around. Hopefully they will do so in 2012.

But did you notice how quick Sen. Chafee was to to bow to the Democrats’ “mandate” and use that as the excuse not to confirm Bolton? I find it interesting that he was so very quick to accept their mandate, but the press and the Democrats claim President Bush and the Republicans didn’t have a mandate despite being elected the previous three times in 2000, 2002, and 2004. Sen. Chafee has talked about leaving the Republicans before, and he’s not ruled it out even now. He should go ahead and make the official change to the Democrats, just to reflect what his real party affiliation has been for years.

Personally, I’m having a hard time deciding whether Sen. Chafee is more of a giant douche or a turd sandwich.