SINCE 1759

Free alert to Candide's Notebooks
Your email:


Candide’s Latest
Daily Journal: Monday, January 29, 2007

Quick Links

L’Infâme: Hizb ut-Tahrir
Banning Unpleasant Muslims

Islam's Universal Studios

The United States doesn’t ban neo-Nazi parties anymore than it bans the Ku Klux Klan or—the bigoted fashion of the moment—anti-immigration groups like the Minuteman Project and its equally turdishly scented copycats. Nor should it. Groups that thrive on hate and bigotry are necessary mirrors of what lurks among us. Banning them won’t eliminate them. It’ll just drive them underground where, out of the sunshine and like vermin, they’re likelier to thrive and multiply than stay where they can be checked (and where they can serve as reminders of the regressions that require eternal vigilance). To be banned in the United States, a group has to be elevated to the status of a terrorist organization.—a political enough designation since today’s terrorist can be yesterday’s media darling and vice versa: the Bush administration pours hundreds of millions (if not a few billion) dollars on “allies” and friends who have very little to distinguish them from so-called terrorists: Northern Alliance fanatics who are often the spitting image of the Taliban, the Pakistani military and internal police, who have been enabling al-Qaeda’s survival, Saudi Arabia House of Saud, the chief financial officer of all things Islamic and extreme, and so on. And we haven’t yet touched on Israeli and Palestinian aid, which defies all attempts at consistency. But what about Hizb ut-Tahrir? It’s a self-styled pan-Islamic organization, a non-terrorist al-Qaeda whose aim is a Muslim caliphate where Islamic law (Sharia) reigns supreme. Like all fundamentalist organizations fanaticism is the motherboard, but it’s not as if the party’s premises are necessarily wrong: It considers Mideastern governments corrupt and tyrannical, and the West expressly anti-Muslim. Nothing new there. It calls for the overthrow of governments, although it condemns terrorist acts—meaning violent acts that target civilians, including the Sept. 11 attacks. In that sense, Hizb ut-Tahrir is consistently fundamentalist: It abides by the Quran’s edicts against doing violence to the innocent even as it calls for jihad for the establishment of universal Islamic law. The group is banned in three dozen countries, including Germany and most Arab countries, but not Lebanon or Britain. The debate over Hizb ut-Tahrir’s fate has reached Australia. From the Sydney Morning herald:

An unlikely alliance of radical Muslims and the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, has rejected Morris Iemma's call to ban the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. The call, which included a claim by the Premier that Hizb ut-Tahrir was declaring war on Australia, came as the group held a conference on how to established a pan-national Islamic state under sharia law. Speakers at the conference yesterday warned there would be a call to arms to establish and defend a caliphate but they made it clear they did not see Australia as part of their fundamentalist society. The distinction was lost on Mr Iemma, the MP for Lakemba where the conference was held, and where he is facing a challenge by Muslim candidates in the state election. "This is an organisation that is basically saying that it wants to declare war on Australia, our values and our people," the Premier said. "That's the big difference and that's why I believe that they are just beyond the pale. Enough is enough, and it's time for the Commonwealth to review this organisation's status and take the lead from other countries and ban them."

So there it is: a politician is facing a touch challenge from Muslim candidates. How best to defeat them if not by banning the organization that supports them. Hizb ut-Tahrir, as often as not, is a scapegoat.

Mr Ruddock said Hizb ut-Tahrir had been closely monitored by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation but had been found to have done nothing in Australia to warrant it being banned. He said the NSW Government should stop playing politics and if it had any evidence helpful to the security agencies, it should give it to them. Concerns about terrorism, violent crime and integration have prompted a bidding war between NSW Labor and the Opposition about who can sound tougher on Muslims, a theme that is expected to continue until poll day on March 24.

As if we needed more proof that Muslims are the Soviets of the day, and the war on Islam the 21 st century’s Cold War, with one significant distinction: it ain’t so cold in some places. It doesn’t help that Islam’s fanatics, Hizb ut-Tahrir among them, have as little to recommend them as their fanatical critics.

| permalink  


Holocaust Memorial Day
Genocide’s Bigoted Hijackers

Auschwitz, January 27, 2007

Monday’s main piece on this site briefly referred to Saturday’s Holocaust Memorial Day, commemorated primarily in Britain and other European nations. The reference wouldn’t be complete if it weren’t for the absurdities the Memorial Day inevitably provokes among anti-Semites who, not quite satisfied to bask in the Holocaust’s consequences, continue to use it as stepping-gravestone to their variously blinkered agendas. A few years ago it was the Muslim Council of Britain—still regarded as the legitimate, establishment representative of whatever goes for the “Muslim community” in Britain—declaring that it would boycott Holocaust Memorial Day. Its reason: It’s too focused on the murder of Jews (so much for the council’s “Working for the Common Good” motto). This year’s winner of the Holocaust Memorial Day bigotry award goes to Susana León Gordillo, mayor of Ciempozuelos, near Madrid, and a member of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). She decided to hold a “commemoration of the Palestinian genocide” on Holocaust Memorial Day, a decision the Anti-Defamation League called, justly enough, “deplorable.” The ADL is right on two counts: First, to hold a “genocide” memorial as a purposeful counterpoint to the World War II Holocaust is a purposeful attempt to publicize one agenda at the degrading expense of the Holocaust (since it would be less attention grabbing to hold such a “memorial” on most other days of the year). No one is claiming that commemorations of genocides shouldn’t take place. They probably should, every day of the year, but free of the bigotries that turn those “memorials” into something entirely other than what they purport to be. Second, as the ADL wrote in a letter to the mayor, “Your attempt to equate the industrialized mass murder of six million Jewish women, men and children, as well as millions of others, with the situation of the Palestinian people is shameful.” Say what you will about the repression and murder of Palestinians at Israeli hands—and there’s plenty to say about it every day—it isn’t genocide, and it’s demeaning, both to the Palestinian cause and to the Holocaust, to term call it so.

| permalink  


The End of Tennis
Federer Yawns at Australian Open

If boredom was a slam

I don’t know what it is. I used to love watching tennis almost as much as I loved playing it. My first true exposure to the game was an entire day at Rolland-Garros in May 1979, when I got to see Jimmy Connors grunt his way to a victory over someone no one remembers, Chris Evert do the same (minus the grunts), and Eddie Dibbs, that Lebanese-Brooklynite whose last name means molasses in Arabic, beat up on Wojciech Fibak, the great Pole. I grew up on the bratty artistry of John McEnroe and the sheer Arctic beauty of Bjorn Borg. There was beauty to behold too in the Boris Becker years and, diminishingly, in the baldness-over-substance years of Andre Agassi. But something happened when Pete Sampras became the king of the game and the Williams sisters its fashionista whiners (until the drive-by killing of their older sister briefly shook them down and out of the game: Serena won the Australian this year). The game lost its style. Playing it felt, on occasion, slightly presumptuous, like driving a Hummer. Watching it felt pointless, like watching golf (unless you’re a golf player munching off the telecast for pointers, which is what ninety-nine percent of golf’s audience does; it’s not for the love of the sport so much as to answer one’s fixation on golf-self-improvement). How much worse things have gotten in the ultra-modern age of tennis as an exchange of gunnery. Roger Federer, I hear, won the Australian open over the weekend (it’s never too clear when, considering the time difference). “Tennis,” The Australian reports, “is no longer a competition between Roger Federer and the rest. As the men’s game stands, it is Federer against the ghosts of history.” I don’t know if the writer was trying to be coy about the obvious: a one-man competition is no competition. He tries at any rate to make Federer sound interesting by linking him to the greats of the past. But it’s a feeble try, and it just doesn’t rate:

Before last night, Bjorn Borg was the last man to win a Grand Slam without dropping a set - at Roland Garros 27 years ago. Yet anyone who has seen Federer play these past two weeks, or indeed these past three years, will hardly give pause to the notion Federer has done what John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi could not do. When Federer next heads to Paris for this year's French Open, he will try to become the first man since Rod Laver to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the one time. Much of this will depend on Rafael Nadal, who has three months to rediscover the form that has made him unbeatable on clay. But if Federer completes the Swiss Slam, few others will be surprised. Whether he wins or loses at Roland Garros, Federer will turn his sights on Borg again, and a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title to equal the great Swede's fabled run at the All England Club.

He’ll most certainly get his crowns, his records, his “place in history,” and undo what so many American commentators loved to say for as long as Pete Sampras was breaking the records—that no one in the modern age will come close again, that it’s too difficult, too challenging, too much competition., It looks like the reverse is true, not because today’s sportsmen are so much better. They’re that, to some extent. But because conditioning and equipment have turned certain sports into shadows of the sport itself, into strange new hybrids, perversions of the sport in tennis’ case. John McEnroe is right. Bring back the wooden racket, or something like it, if it’s tennis as style you’re interested in. To me sports without style is like the works of James Michener or Stephen King. Good stories, if that’s all you’re looking for. But what, without style, is worth anything in the end?

| permalink  


Hypocrisy on the Road
What Environmentalists Drive

Can't see the forest for the Hummers

Gail Binkly in High Country News: “I’ll always remember the evening a candidate for local political office, an environmentally minded and intelligent citizen whom I liked and admired, passed me on the highway between Cortez , Colo. , and Mancos. I was traveling somewhere between 60 and 65 mph, my usual cruising speed. He blew by me -- passing over a double yellow line -- as if I were a slug crawling along the asphalt. When I mentioned the incident to him later, he said, "I was tired and I wanted to get home." Not long ago, I listened to a woman active in a conservation group bragging about how many times she’d been stopped for speeding and laughing about how often she’d been able to talk her way out of a ticket. Every time I encounter someone like this, someone ostensibly "green" who takes great pride in driving like a crazed fugitive in an action movie, I have to smother the impulse to club him or her over the head with a rolled-up newspaper from my recycling bin. "You’re hurting the movement," I want to say. "You’re hurting the earth. What are you thinking?" A vehicle’s most efficient speed varies a little according to what type of vehicle it is, of course, but everyone agrees that the further the needle on your dashboard leans past 60, the faster your fuel consumption rises, largely because of wind resistance.Driving 75 instead of 55 mph can cause you to burn as much as 45 percent more gasoline, depending on what you’re driving, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that fuel efficiency drops 7 percent, on average, for each 5 mph by which you exceed 65.No matter the exact figure, it’s clear that greater speed burns more gasoline and produces more climate-warming emissions. It also contributes to more car crashes and increases the severity of those crashes ‘ not to mention that it causes us to mow down more birds, butterflies, prairie dogs and any other form of wildlife that might step into our path. There are many forms of environmental hypocrisy, of course, and we’re all guilty of a few. Maybe we take long, hot baths sometimes when we could get by with brief showers. Or we occasionally buy a bottle of water instead of remembering to carry some in a reusable container. Nobody’s perfect, or even consistent. But our driving habits are one of the simplest, easiest, most obvious things we could change in order to help the planet ‘ yet most of us simply won’t do it.” Read the full Writer on the Range column...

| permalink  


Get This Girl a Show
The Truth About Bill O'Reilly
Courtesy, it seems, of The Bastard Fairies


| permalink  


Latuff's Latest
Surge Quotas


| permalink  


Crumbs & Quickies

In the Blogosphere

| permalink  

Bookmark and Share

Read Pierre’s Latest

The Latest Comments

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Rojo   Add to My AOL Subscribe in FeedLounge Add to netvibes Subscribe in Bloglines Add to The Free Dictionary