The Rants of Issachar

Monday, February 27, 2006

I'll be gone for a week...

Ugh... It's been a lousy couple of days. I finally succumbed to the cold that's been making the rounds. Perfect timing too. I feel it hitting Saturday morning, and I've got to leave for New York via Seattle on Tuesday. I'm still feeling crappy. Ugh...

So I'll be back in a week. I won't be commenting or posting until then. (At least).

Everyone have a nice week!

:: posted by issachar, 6:57 PM | Permalink | 6 comments | Links to this post

Friday, February 24, 2006

Majority of Canadians oppose our mission in Afghanistan...

I wrote most of this yesterday before work, but I ran out of time.

The Globe and Mail is reporting their poll which shows that 62% of Canadians are against sending troops to Afghanistan. Of the mere 27% who were in favour of sending our troops, a full 31% of those said that their position would change if they knew that sending troops would result in significant casulties.

While reasonable people can and do disagree about the wisdom of invading Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is an entirely separate issue.

The Taliban which ruled Afghanistan directly supported and sheltered al-Qaeda on their soil and were thus partners in the attack on the World Trade Cente and the Pentagon as well as in the failed attack on the the US Capitol building. The United States is our ally in NATO and an attack on one ally is an attack on all of us. (See Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty). If we were attacked by a foreign power we would rightfully expect all of our NATO allies to come to our aid. It was our duty to come to the aid of the United States in the counter-attack, (see Operation APOLLO), on Afghanistan, and it is our duty to see the mission completed. I fail to see how one can legitimately oppose sending troops to Afghanistan. (Absolute pacifists excluded).

The Taliban regime has been successfully toppled. We have successfully removed the government that was a partner in the attack on us, but the enemy forces are not entirely vanquished. They continue to attack both Afghans and NATO country forces in Aghanistan. That means we have a continuing duty to stand with our allies militarily in Afghanistan.

Do we not also have an ethical obligation to the Afghans themselves? While it was entirely legitimate to topple the Taliban, the new (democratically elected) government is under attack. Ordinary afghans are being murdered. What sort of people are we if we topple an unjust government, but aren't prepared to restore order? Nearly two out of every three Canadians favours exactly that. What does it say when nearly a third of those who say we should send troops will walk away when we incur casulties?

It's not good...

:: posted by issachar, 8:29 AM | Permalink | 7 comments | Links to this post

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Commenting on the comments...

I finally got around to answering Lisa's comment about Christianity being under attack by the state. Surprise, surprise, I disagree with someone's comments on my blog. I guess I'm a contrarian person. :)

Or maybe I just don't bother trying to rephrase things people say that I agree with because they're already said so well. Who knows... :P

:: posted by issachar, 3:46 PM | Permalink | 10 comments | Links to this post

The cartoon controversy...

There's really nothing more to be said. It's still going on, but nothing useful is being added to the discussion.

Here's a summary as I see it. Please comment if I've left something out.
Reasonable people can disagree about this issue and whether or not one should republish those cartoons. But that's what a free press is for. Some choose to publish, some choose not to. That's the beauty of freedom of speech. If you don't like what someone else is saying (or not saying), add your own voice.

What more is there to be said? Muslims needs to come to terms with the fact that the modern world will not provide special consideration or a special place for Islam. For their own sake, Muslim moderates, (for lack of a better word), need to establish their preeminence in Islam.

Until there's something new to comment about, I'm going to content myself with discussing this on other people's blogs. If you see me around, I always post as issachar, and I leave a link back to here whenever I can...

:: posted by issachar, 9:05 AM | Permalink | 5 comments | Links to this post

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cartoon controversy goes local... (Sort of)

Ezra Levant of the Western Standard announced today that the Standard would be publishing the now infamous Mohammed cartoons. I've already been discussing this on Mike Todd's site so I'm not going to repeat myself. Check out Mike Todd's Waving or Drowning if you're interested.

:: posted by issachar, 6:39 PM | Permalink | 7 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, February 11, 2006

You learn something new every day...

Stephen Schwartz has some interesting comments on ancient Islamic depictions of Mohammed. (via Damian Penny) I'd been told that all Muslims regarded depictions of Mohammed as blasphemous. I'd assumed that the use of such images was forbidden somewhere in the Qur'an, but apparently not. They're in the Hadith and are the interpretation of those parts of the Hadith are not universally agreed upon.

Also interesting...
The Saudis are currently engaged in extensive vandalism of ancient Islamic architecture on their own territory; recently they demolished five ancient mosques in Medina, including one built by Fatima, the prophet's daughter.
I wish he'd put in a foot to let us known which Mosques were being vandalized.

Also interesting...
Although more sinister, the aim of intimidating Westerners into silence about any aspect of Islam by this outbreak of fanaticism and brutality is actually secondary. The third and worst piece of the puzzle is an obvious effort to maintain control over the most backward and marginal elements of the Islamic community, especially those living in the West, so that the benighted outlook of Saudi-financed Wahhabism will go unchallenged among those who represent the greatest threat to Islamic extremism: moderate Muslims.

:: posted by issachar, 1:03 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Friday, February 10, 2006

Egyptian newspaper printed the Mohammed cartoons in October...

Interesting. It seems that an Egyptian newspaper printed at least one of the cartoons back on October 17th, (during Ramadan), and on the front page. No protests, riots, or killings.

Buy Danish.

Update: February 11th.
Carla pointed out that I forgot the link to my source. Here it is.

:: posted by issachar, 1:10 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Once more on the Mohammed cartoons...

The riots continue...

So there are riots happening over these cartoons and Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star says that bloggers like me who posted the cartoons are motivated by hate. Uh... No I'm not. If you think I am, then you don't know me. I don't hate Muslims. I don't hate Islam. It saddens me.

Carla says that "both *societies* are requesting the same thing - that the other respect them and their beliefs". To an extent that's true, but I think the "request" of secular society is more important and more legitimate. The modern/free speech/secular request does not favour any religious belief. The Islamist request, (I am deliberately not calling it an Islamic one), demands that Islamic beliefs be given special consideration.

That simply won't work in the modern world. It might work if the whole world was part of Dar al-Islam, but that is unacceptable to most people.

Mr. Zerbisias is wrong. I am not motivated by hate.

:: posted by issachar, 11:03 AM | Permalink | 9 comments | Links to this post

What Stephen Harper *should* say about David Emerson...

So Carla figures I'm going to regurgitate Mr. Harper's talking points about Mr. Emerson. Well no I won't but I'll give you one he should be using.

I can't claim to own this idea. It's an amalgam from the schooling I got at dinner last night for being more concerned about optics than talent.
The softwood lumber dispute is the largest trade dispute in the world. It is doing serious damage to the Canadian economy and costing us too many jobs. I (Stephen Harper) looked at the new Conservative caucus and I couldn't find anyone who was up to the task of handling that file. I had many good MP's, but they were all out of their depth on this issue. The lumber industry provides too many jobs to Canadians to leave in the hands of very good, but unfortunately underqualified people. Mr. Emerson has described himself as a "small c liberal" in the past and is able to work within the Conservative party to solve this trade dispute. He is the most qualified person in Canada to work on this file, so I offered him the job.

I understand that many voters in Vancouver-Hastings are upset but British Columbia depends on the forest industry and there are too many jobs at stake in BC and throughout Canada. Mr. Emerson will have to stand for re-election in the next election and I believe that at that time Canadians will understand why it was so important to have Mr. Emerson as the Minister for International Trade.
That's what Mr. Harper should be saying. Telling us this is about having someone from Vancouver in cabinet is just foolish.

Update: Yes I'm still upset with Stephen Harper. It seems like he's not even trying to make things any better.

:: posted by issachar, 10:19 AM | Permalink | 3 comments | Links to this post

Monday, February 06, 2006

David Emerson jumps ship...

So David Emerson has switched parties and joined the Conservatives. And Prime Minister Harper has given him a cabinet position.

Initial reaction: Serious disappointment.

This stinks. The parallels to Belinda Stronach's supposedly "principled" defection to the Liberals to save their backsides in a confidence motion are obvious. David Emerson ran as a Liberal only two weeks ago. Now he's suddenly a Conservative. Right... This has the stench of opportunity politics, and one of the major reasons why I supported the Reform, then the Canadian Alliance and now the Conservatives was to get rid of this sort of thing in Ottawa.

There's a few differences.
All in all though I'm disappointed in Mr. Harper. I voted Conservative and I want to see a difference in Ottawa. I realize that we want to have the most qualified people in cabinet and I personally care a lot about the softwood lumber file, but rewarding a floor crosser with cabinet posting this soon after the election should leave a very bad taste in your mouth.

I'm going to edit this post after work. Lunch time is over.

Edit: Friday. I'm going to do another post. One small edit added above.

:: posted by issachar, 12:43 PM | Permalink | 11 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rex Murphy, the mainstream media and the Mohammed cartoons...

Ibn Warraq, a best-selling author and Muslim dissident has written in support of freedom of the press and argues that we must defend the Danish cartoonists from the totalitarian attacks coming out of the Muslim world.
Freedom of expression is our western heritage and we must defend it or it will die from totalitarian attacks. It is also much needed in the Islamic world.
Good for him. More Muslims need to publicly join him in this.
They also need to defend Muslims being arrested and attacked for standing up for freedom. Jordan has arrested two news editors for insulting Islam. (Jihad Momani and Hisham Khalidi).

Rex Murphy has weighed in on the subject as well. The full text of his article isn't freely available, but Damian Penny has some selections.
...Whole swathes - not all, be it noted - of the Muslim world believe that if their religious sensibilities are offended, they have both the right and the duty to threaten violence and death to the offenders...
Frankly it's good to see someone in the mainstream media say this. So far a disturbing number of western news sources have decided not to broadcast or print the cartoons saying that they want to be sensitive to Muslims. I don't buy it. Those same news sources have no qualms about broadcasting or publishing material that offends other religious people. I tend to agree with Michelle Malkin when she says that the media aren't motivated by respect for Islam, but rather by fear.

I find myself coming back to the same point. The bulk of the Muslim world has yet to adapt to a non-negotiable feature of the modern world: the temporal equality of beliefs. The modern world will not accept Dhimmi satus. If you're not familiar with that term, read the Wikipedia article. Like everything in Wikipedia, it's not perfect but it's a good introduction.

Free nations cannot have a special place for Islam.

:: posted by issachar, 1:14 PM | Permalink | 5 comments | Links to this post

Friday, February 03, 2006

Cartoon controversy continues...

I'm posting the cartoons below to make a point. I didn't earlier because I wasn't sure about copyright. At this point, they're all over the internet, so I'm guessing the copyright isn't being enforced. If you don't want to see them, change your browser settings so images aren't loaded.

The controversy over the cartoons depicting Mohammed continues to smoulder. Bucking the trend in the Muslim world, the Jordanian tabloid Al Shihan published three of the twelve cartoons and an editorial that stated "Muslims of the world, be reasonable". It's publishing company responded by pulling all copies from the newsstands and fired Jihad Momani the tabloid's editor in chief. A spokesman for the Jordian government Nasser Jawdeh demanded "an immediate apology from the newspaper for this serious error" and said that the tabloid could face sanctions. (According to Jordan's Petra news agency).

Haroon Siddiqui writing in the Toronto Star implies that the publication of the photos was motivated by the European's press' "
tendency to exploit anti-immigrant, particularly anti-Muslim, bigotry". She also implies that westerners would never publish cartoons that malign Christianity or Judaism.

First of all, that's not the point. No one's saying that Muslims have to publish the cartoons. We're saying that they have to defend other people's right to do so.

Second of all, Siddiqui is wrong. Westerners do publish cartoons mocking Christianity and Judaism. Check out the one implying that Jesus molested children. I'd say Ms. Siddiqui is obviously incorrect. I don't like that cartoon, but I'm not trying to shut up the person publishing it. (And if I did, my fellow westerners wouldn't listen to me).

It doesn't matter if "anti-Islamic provocateurs" are "baiting Muslims, repeatedly, knowing full well the depth of Muslim feelings about their most cherished beliefs" as Ms Siddiqui says. Accepting the right of "provocateurs" to provoke is part of being in the modern world.

As Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: "We are talking about an issue with fundamental significance to how democracies work." Exactly right. Free speech is essential to a working democracy. Forbidding statements for being offensive to Islam and/or Muslims is not compatible with a real democracy and free nations.

Free nations do not include a special place for Islam. Muslims need to come to terms with.

:: posted by issachar, 1:06 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cartoons of Mohammed offensive to Muslims

If you haven't heard, Jyllands-Posten, a Danish broadsheet that has been described as "right of centre" published twelve drawings of Mohammed back in September. (They've also been posted on As Islam forbids any and all visual depictions of Mohammed, the general Muslim view was not a happy one and there have been several anti-Danish protests including some violent ones. The cartoons have since been reprinted six European newspapers under the headline "We have the right to caricature God". The France Soir reprinting included a new cartoon responding to the complaints about the first twelve.

Jyllands-Posten has since apologized for offending Muslims but categorically not apologized for printing the cartoons, saying that doing so would be letting Middle Eastern dictatorships control what they print.

Back in July, I made a couple of posts about Islam and what Muslims needed to accept in order to be accepted in Western world. The second one brought up the issue of deliberate insults to Islam. (With comparisons to Andres Serrano's Piss Christ).

This is exactly what I was talking about. Given how Muslims feel about any drawings of Mohammed, these cartoons may have been impolite, but anyone is within their right to make and to publish such cartoons in the Western world. Insulting Islam cannot and should not be a crime. This is the time for prominent and influential Muslims to stand up and say "I am appalled that you printed those cartoons, but I defend your right to do so without threat of reprisal".

So, is anyone willing to stand up and say that? (Update: Apparently someone is...)

Update: Later tonight...

There's campaign to "Buy Danish". Also Andrew Sullivan has some interesting comments. Unfortunately, his comments are spread through several posts. He also mentions that some people are trying to get the almighty Wikipedia to censor itself.

Update: February 2nd 2005

Thank you to Larsen in Denmark for his comment about Al-Jazeera and it's stated code of ethics.

France Soir has fired it's Managing Editor. The owner of the paper, Mr. Raymond Lakah, said: "We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication."
Thank you to Damian Penny for the information.

:: posted by issachar, 9:08 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post