Time magazine reported an interesting survey of Americans:

Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President — a slightly higher percentage than the 24% who mistakenly believe the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim.

So one in four surveyed believe that President Obama is a Muslim, and their belief is labeled by Time as being mistaken. But based on Islamic teachings, President Obama is a Muslim because his father was himself a Muslim. And because Islam defines someone born to a Muslim father as a Muslim, I have titled this article, “Our Muslim President.” He has certainly demonstrated that he has sympathies towards Islam and Muslims, and I’m sure that is due to his upbringing. No, I don’t consider him a Muslim. President Obama has stated clearly that he is a Christian, and I will accept his word on that.

But If you listen to any of his speeches, they are loaded with his view of himself and filled with “I,” “me,” and similar language more than I recall any other politician doing. So based on his actions and words, I see that President Obama believes in Barack Hussein Obama above and beyond any personal belief in Christianity or Islam he may have.

Let’s face it — President Obama is our Narcissist in Chief.

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

There has been much written and said about Islam in the last several years, but how much do you really know about Islam? Can you name the five pillars of Islam? Have you read the Qur’an? I must confess that I haven’t read it all either. So how can we learn more about Islam? There are non-Islamic sites that point out the fallacies and errors of Islam, but I am distrustful of each one I have seen, and I won’t link to any of them. I have seen too many anti-Mormon sites use the same ham-fisted bashing tactics that I find on most anti-Islam sites. For example, several sites that purport to tell the truth of Islam claim that everything is carefully researched and documented, but then they proceed to let the accusations fly without any documentation to back up their claims. And I have noticed several sites that have said they would not engage in any ad hominem attacks, but it doesn’t take long before the comments descend into bashing and snarky asides.

So assuming you want to do so, where do you go to learn about Islam? I suggest you go to the source and spend your time on the sites written by Muslims themselves, rather than by their detractors. Only after you gain an understanding of what Muslims believe as expressed by Muslims, then you can spend your time with the detractors.

I did a quick search and turned up three sites about Islam to start off with, but these are by no means the only or best sites. They are merely the first few that caught my eye.

Again, these sites aren’t the best, merely the first I turned up in some admittedly quick searches. And while they are written by Muslims, I don’t think they are the most effective Islamic apologist arguments when I can easily refute them. For example, one under the title “Islam: A Religion of Terror?” asks whether we should judge Islam by the actions of some of its followers:

One of the many short comings which has arisen in the West, is judging Islam by the conduct of a minority of its people. By doing this, segments of Western society have deliberately played off the desperate actions of many Muslims, and have given it the name of Islam. Such behaviour is clearly not objective and seeks to distort the reality of Islam. For if such a thing was done – judge a religion by the conduct of its people – then we too could say that all Christianity is about is child molesting and homosexuality [1] whilst Hinduism was all about looting and breaking up mosques [2].

The two numbers refer to the following footnotes:

[1] By using the many cases of child abuse and homosexuality by priests, Such a generalisation about Christianity could be made
[2] By using the incident of the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodya, India in December 1992 by Hindu zealots, such generalisations could be made about Hinduism

Were the “many cases of child abuse and homosexuality by priests” perpetrated in the name of Christianity while the priests chanted “God is great”, or were they the acts of individual sinful men? And if one act of Hindu destruction is sufficient example to typify an entire religion, then the 8,500+ acts of violence committed by Muslims since 9/11/2001 are 8500 times more damning of Islam.

There are many examples of Muslims committing violence and murder in the name of Islam, and often they chant “God is great” while doing so. Clearly they are committing these acts as a form of religious devotion, but is all of Islam to blame for the despicable acts of a few? No, the person who holds the bloody knife is to blame for the death. And what about the people who stand by and chant “Allahu Akbar”? It is clear that they are willing accomplices to the murder. What about an imam who does nothing violent himself, but who preaches bloody jihad in England? Does he share in some responsibility for the violence caused by those who were inspired by his hatred? And what culpability do Muslims have when they stand by quietly and say nothing to condemn the murders committed by their coreligionists? In Latin, “qui tacet consentire videtur” means “he who is silent is taken to agree”; by their silence, are they not consenting to the violence? Frankly, I wouldn’t go that far. It’s very possible that Muslim silence comes from fear of being the next victim, not from tacit consent. After all, the Ummah has shown a remarkably low flash point for anger and violence. Pope Benedict XVI quotes someone from centuries earlier questioning the justice and virtue of Islam, and Muslims around the world blow up and call for his head — literally. Personally, I cannot accept that Islam is the “Religion of Peace” as some people say. It has proven by the actions of many of its followers that it cannot claim that title.

But don’t take my word for it. Go take a look for yourself at what Islam preaches and what it practices, and come up with your own informed opinion. After all, isn’t it high time you learned about Islam?

I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I am a Mormon, here or anywhere else. But I do my best not to be pushy with that information. Nor do I demand that other people espouse my particular religious beliefs, although I invite those who are interested to investigate and join my church. Notice, though, that I said “invite” and not “force.” My religion doesn’t allow me to force others to convert:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. (Article of Faith 11)

Abstinence from alcohol is a fairly well-known tenet of my faith, but the fact that I and other Mormons are forbidden from drinking doesn’t mean that non-Mormons are likewise forbidden. Alcohol abstinence is required for practicing Mormons, but not for non-Mormons — just as eating kosher is required for observant Jews, but not for non-Jews. From my quick searches, it appears that Muslims, too, are required to abstain from certain substances:

“He has forbidden you only carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and that over which name of other than God is invoked; yet whoso is constrained, not revolting nor exceeding limits, no sin is upon him; God is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Surah 2:173) [emphasis mine - ed]

If I understand this passage correctly, Muslims are forbidden to eat pork, but that constraint is directed specifically at believers, i.e. Muslims. The Qu’ran doesn’t seem to have any injunctions against non-believers who choose to eat pork. And interestingly enough, the commandment to abstain from pork doesn’t appear to be absolute. Sura 5:3 reiterates the forbidden status of pork (among other items), but ends with the following: “However, if any is constrained by hunger, without willfully inclining to sin, then God is Forgiving, Merciful.” So in times of hunger, Allah even allows Muslims to eat pork — as long as they don’t do it along the lines of, “Boy, I sure am hungry. Make mine a bacon cheeseburger with extra bacon.”

While I do not drink alcohol, there is no prohibition against my selling alcohol to others. For instance, I could be a waiter in a restaurant and pour wine for patrons without compromising my faith. I could even be a liquor store attendant or a bartender, although I personally wouldn’t choose these last two careers because I consider them incompatible with my espoused beliefs. How could I recommend a cocktail if I don’t drink? Likewise, in my admittedly quick search of the Qu’ran for information regarding “swine,” I did not come across a verse that forbids contact with pigs or pork products. But it appears that some Muslims in Minnesota have a problem with touching pork and transporting alcohol, to the point that it is affecting their ability to do their jobs.

To summarize the two links above, Muslim taxi drivers at the Minnesota airport have refused to transport people carrying alcohol or using guide dogs (dogs, like pigs, are considered unclean by Muslims), and in some Minnesota supermarkets, Muslim checkers refuse to swipe pork products like bacon. Either the customer must swipe the offending item past the bar-code readers, or another checker is called over to do the job. I have to wonder why Muslims have chosen these jobs if they see a fundamental conflict between carrying out their duties and obeying the tenets of their faith. As pointed out above, you’re not going to find too many Mormon bartenders because most Mormons would see philosophical conflicts between their beliefs and the job requirements. A cab driver’s job is to drive passengers from place to place, be safe and courteous, and collect a fare. If he believes his religion forbids him from picking up certain people even if they can pay the fare, why is he even in that business? Likewise, a cashier’s job is to ring up customers’ purchases. If she cannot or will not handle certain purchases because of religious constraints, why did she choose to take that job? If I’m hired to dig ditches, but I can’t perform the job requirements, why am I in that business? To quote Frank Waturi from Joe Versus the Volcano, “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?” That’s pretty much the question every employer has to ask about a possible new hire. And if the answer is, “He can’t do the whole job because his religion forbids him from doing it,” why is that person even trying for the job?

If these Minnesota Muslim cabbies and checkers were refusing to serve because of some universal Muslim tenet of faith, I could better understand their commitment. However, based on the articles being written, these incidents appear to be happening only in Minnesota. Muslim cabbies and cashiers who live elsewhere seem to have no problem with transporting customers carrying alcohol or swiping pork-based items at the checkout stand. So what exactly is going on? I suspect it has something to do with the social practices of Muslim groups in Minnesota. Remember the “flying imams” who were kicked off their flight because of their peculiar behavior? That was in the Minnesota airport. The imams in question had just attended a gathering in Minneapolis, and I suspect their unusual actions in the airport were triggered by something that took place in that meeting.

This makes three separate incidents in the past few months where Muslims in Minnesota have kicked up a public fuss due to their religious beliefs. I can no longer believe they are merely coincidental. But the next obvious question is: why are they behaving this way? What is the purpose of demonstrating zero-tolerance, in-your-face Islam to non-Muslims? I’m not sure I have a definitive answer, but I do wonder whether we are seeing the first attempt to prepare the United States to accept Shari’a law. If so, the Muslims are taking actions that seem more coercive than persuasive.

UPDATE (4/17/2007 9:34:10 AM): Action is being taken in Minnesota to make sure taxi drivers actually do their job. Based on this report, the Metropolitan Airports Commission has voted for newer and stronger penalties for taxi drivers who refuse to take a fare. They are looking at a 30 day suspension for the first violation and two years for the second violation. Now comes the expected whine of violated rights.

“We see this as a penalty against a group of Americans only for practicing their faith,” said Hassan Mohamud, an imam and an adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law.

But Professor, if doing the job right is a violation of their faith, then why are they even taking the job?

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.

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.

Little Green Footballs pointed to a survey filled out by 307 American Muslims at the Islamic Society of North America’s convention held in Chicago at the beginning of September. In their own words, here is the purpose and the scope of this survey:

The purpose of the survey was to better understand the views of American Muslims on issues relating to Islam, Muslims, and American national security. It is important to let Muslims articulate their varied opinions on these issues in order to encourage dialogue within the Muslim community and with the rest of American society.

However, this was NOT a scientific survey, because ISNA Convention attendees who visited the Muslims For A Safe America booth are not necessarily representative of the American Muslim community as a whole.

So we can’t take the results of this survey as being true for every Muslim in the United States, whether a citizen or not, nor can we apply these results to non-U.S. citizens, whether here or abroad. But even with all those caveats, there is some interesting data from the survey. You can read the entire survey response at their website, but here are some that piqued my interest.

3. Is the American government at war with the religion of Islam?
YES 208
NO 79
UNDECIDED 20

Which is why there are are no mosques left standing in the United States now, and all Muslims have been rounded up and shipped out of the country. Wait, I guess we haven’t done that, have we. If the U.S. government is at war with the religion of Islam, we sure haven’t done much to fight that war. But this survey is not about reality; it is a look at the mind-set of the 307 participants of the survey.

5. Did Muslims hijack planes and fly them into buildings on 9/11?
YES 117
NO 139
UNDECIDED 51

6. Did the U.S. government have advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, and allow the attacks to occur?
YES 200

NO 70
UNDECIDED 37

7. Did the U.S. government organize the 9/11 attacks?
YES 106
NO 151
UNDECIDED 50

Thank you, moonbat left and crazy professors, for making many of these American Muslims believe that the U.S. knew and/or caused the 9/11 attacks.

12. Is Al Qaeda a real organization, operated by Muslims who are trying to attack America?
YES 149

NO 109
UNDECIDED 49

13. Is Al Qaeda attacking America because Al Qaeda hates American freedoms?
YES 17
NO 269
UNDECIDED 21

14. Is Al Qaeda attacking America because Al Qaeda hates American involvement in the Muslim world?
YES 228

NO 54
UNDECIDED 25

If only 149 of the participants answered #12 as Yes, Al Qaeda exists and is run by Muslims who are trying to attack America, then how did 228 answer Yes to #14, that Al Qaeda is attacking the U.S. because they hate our involvement in the Muslim world? The two answers can’t both be accurate because they contradict each other.

24. Should American troops leave Iraq immediately, or stay there until the Iraqi government and Iraqi military are stronger?
LEAVE NOW 199
LEAVE LATER 86

UNDECIDED 22

If the U.S. and allied forces were to pull out of Iraq immediately, the way the majority of these participants want, the result would be a horrific blood-bath among the Iraqi people as different factions there and in neighboring countries would compete to fill the power vacuum. How compassionate are these people if they are willing to see fellow Muslims die in the thousands and possible hundreds of thousands just so they can have the pleasure of seeing American soldiers run away from the fighting in Iraq?

26. Is violence by Muslims against American civilians acceptable, in retaliation for the American government’s actions in the Muslim world?
YES 23
NO 274

UNDECIDED 10

Those 23 people scare me, but they should scare the other 284 Muslims more. Do they really want to see an American war against the religion of Islam? If so, they need to do nothing while their co-religionists kill fellow Americans.

30. If you learned about a plot by Muslims to attack targets inside America, would you tell law enforcement authorities?
YES 234
NO 39

UNDECIDED 34

And this is another scary number. 39 of the people who answered the survey would not tell the police if they learned of a plot to kill people and break things. And if the 23 people who answered No to the earlier question were among the 39 who answered Yes to this one, I can see why they might not want to say anything.

2. Do you consider yourself to be a Muslim first, an American first, or both equally?
MUSLIM FIRST 214
AMERICAN FIRST 4

BOTH EQUALLY 86
UNDECIDED 3

Initially, I was shocked by the answers to this question, but after I thought about it, I had to agree with the 214 people who said they were Muslims first. If my country and my religion were in conflict, I would also choose my faith first. I just don’t see much of a conflict now between my faith and my country, but that hasn’t always been the case. After being driven out of Missouri and Illinois, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints moved westward out of the United States into the territory that is now Utah and the surrounding states. Shortly after the Mormons moved west, the U.S. annexed the land they were living in from Mexico. So I can see how my country and my faith could be at odds, but historically when it has happened, the opposition from my faith has been peaceful.

That’s probably why you don’t often hear of Mormon suicide bombers screaming “BYU rocks!” before exploding in crowded surroundings.

Charles Krauthammer wrote an excellent article in The Washington Post about the Muslim ire over Pope Benedict’s quoting of a 14th century emperor about Islam. It’s a short read, but here’s the beginning to tantalize you.

Religious fanatics, regardless of what name they give their jealous god, invariably have one thing in common: no sense of humor. Particularly about themselves. It’s hard to imagine Torquemada taking a joke well.

Today’s Islamists seem to have not even a sense of irony. They fail to see the richness of the following sequence. The pope makes a reference to a 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s remark about Islam imposing itself by the sword, and to protest this linking of Islam and violence:

* In the West Bank and Gaza, Muslims attack seven churches.

* In London, the ever-dependable radical Anjem Choudary tells demonstrators at Westminster Cathedral that the pope is now condemned to death.

* In Mogadishu, Somali religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin calls on Muslims to “hunt down” the pope. The pope not being quite at hand, they do the next best thing: shoot dead, execution-style, an Italian nun who worked in a children’s hospital.

“How dare you say Islam is a violent religion? I’ll kill you for it” is not exactly the best way to go about refuting the charge. But of course, refuting is not the point here. The point is intimidation.

First Salman Rushdie. Then the false Newsweek report about Koran-flushing at Guantanamo Bay. Then the Danish cartoons. And now a line from a scholarly disquisition on rationalism and faith given in German at a German university by the pope.

And the intimidation succeeds: politicians bowing and scraping to the mob over the cartoons; Saturday’s craven New York Times editorial telling the pope to apologize; the plague of self-censorship about anything remotely controversial about Islam — this in a culture in which a half-naked pop star blithely stages a mock crucifixion as the highlight of her latest concert tour.

Back in the later 80s a common BBS tagline I used when talking religion was “Believe in a loving god, infidel, or die!” This has left the realm of humor and has become a statement of fact, thanks to the knee-jerk reaction by Muslims.

I believe in the power of forgiveness. It is a blessing for the person who forgives as it is for the person who is forgiven. True forgiveness requires an apology, and admission of guilt and remorse. If you are married, you should apologize to your loved one for every bone-headed thing you do. As Lazarus Long says, “In a family argument, if it turns out that you are right — apologize at once!”

But there are people to whom you should never apologize at all — the ranks of the perpetually pissed-off people. Never apologize to one of these pissed-off people, even if you are in the wrong! That may sound harsh and unlike any advice you have ever heard before, but admitting your guilt to the perpetually pissed-off seems to be the same, to them, as admitting weakness. It grants them license to accuse you of every slight and misdoing from then on. You have caved to them. They won’t accept it as a token of your sincerity and commend you for it. Instead, the perpetually pissed-off people will see your apology as an opening to demand restitution, and they will demand it forever.

The so-called “Reverend” Jesse Jackson is an expert at using his own state of perpetual pissed-offedness to get money from companies for his own group and people. A formal complaint was filed against Jackson, accusing him of extorting money from corporations, including the sale of an Anheuser-Busch distributorship to Jackson’s sons.

Don’t apologize to whiney liberals, cry-baby environmentalists, or aggrieved minority groups. Consider what happened when Congress, back in 1993, issued an Apology Resolution for the actions taken a century before in overthrowing the Kingdom of Hawaii. The aggrieved group known as the Reinstated Hawaiian Kingdom is using the 1993 apology as its basis to challenge U.S. sovereignty on the islands. They are not content to accept the apology in the spirit it was given — they want, and must have, more!

As a group, Muslims around the world are a notable part of the perpetually pissed-off. Someone claims falsely that a Koran was flushed at Gitmo — riots! Cartoonists draw pictures about Islam and Mohammed — riots! Most recently, Pope Benedict XVI quotes someone centuries dead — riots! Get the picture? Since there may be a few people who haven’t heard what has caused Muslims around the world to get their collective panties in a bunch, I’ll print it again. Steel yourselves for the unparalleled horror of what he said:

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Meh. I’m still waiting to see a Muslim prove the Pope’s quote was wrong. Their actions have so far confirmed exactly what was said. Technically, Pope Benedict was quoting Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologos, but I doubt your average rampaging Muslim on the street knows it — or has even read the entire set of remarks by the Pope.

And what is their response? Riots and death threats. How is this supposed to negate the substance of the quote by the Pontiff?

Don’t apologize to perpetually pissed-off people. Tell them to pull their thumbs out of their mouths, stop crying like babies, and get on with their lives.

While I’m not a Catholic, I like how Pope Benedict XVI has decided to treat Muslims. From an article at National Catholic Reporter, John L. Allen, Jr. writes the following:

In his March 23 session with cardinals, much conversation turned on Islam, and there was general agreement with Benedict’s policy of a more muscular challenge on what Catholics call “reciprocity.” In essence, it means that if Muslim immigrants can claim the benefit of religious liberty in the West, then Christian minorities ought to get the same treatment in majority Muslim nations.

To take the most notorious example, if the Saudis can spend $65 million to build the largest mosque in Europe in Rome, in the shadows of the Vatican, then Christians ought to be able to build churches in Saudi Arabia. Or, if that’s not possible, Christians should at least be able to import Bibles, and the Capuchin priests who serve the Arabian peninsula ought to be able to set foot off the oil industry compounds or embassy grounds in Saudi Arabia without fear of harassment by the mutawa, the religious police. The bishop in charge of the Catholic church in that part of the world recently described the situation in Saudi Arabia as “reminiscent of the catacombs.”

I like the idea of reciprocity. I like the idea of telling Mexico that we will treat Mexican nationals in our country as well as Mexico treats foreign nationals in its own country. Or how about patroling our southern border the same way Mexico patrols its own southern border? And then we can let the terrorists know that we will treat their prisoners the same way they treat ours.