Friday, August 27, 2010

Understanding Islam: What "Bridge Building" Means

When Imam Rauf says the goal of the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero is meant to build bridges, we may naively assume he means inter faith dialogue. But he has stated to Arabic speaking audiences that he disdains interfaith dialogue. As reported at Former Muslims United, in an article titled “I do not believe in religious dialogue” Rauf wrote:
And regarding religious dialogue Abdul-Rauf stated “this phrase is
inaccurate. Religious dialogue as customary understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing. Religions do not dialogue and dialogue is not present in the attitudes of the followers regardless of being Muslim or Christian. The image of Muslims in the West is complex which needs to be remedied.”

On May 25th Rauf wrote an op/ed in the New York Daily News that included this:
My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric. Our purpose is to interweave America's Muslim population into the mainstream society.

So to English speaking Americans he says he wants to "interweave America's Muslim population into the mainstream society", but to Arabic speakers he claims he "does not believe in religious dialogue". Is there a contradiction going on here?

Well, Rauf's father was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood andFrank Gaffney at Big Peace provides this quote to help us understand what the Muslim Brotherhood means by the phrase "bridge building".:
For example, Team Obama fails to recognize that when Rauf talks about “bridge-building,” he means it the same way as did Seyyid Qutb, one the Brotherhood’s most important ideologues. In his seminal book, Milestones, Qutb makes clear that this term does not translate into a quest for interfaith and cross-cultural harmony. Rather, it is meant to achieve the infidels’ submission: “The chasm between Islam and Jahiliyyah (unbelievers – the land of gross ignorance and disbelief) is great, and a bridge is not to be built across it so that the two sides may mix with each other, but only so that the people of Jahiliyyah may come over to Islam.”

This attitude makes sense when we accept that Muslims view Islam as the last and superior prophesy, and that conversion from Islam is viewed so unfavorably that it is punished by death.

Which reminds of another quote from Imam Rauf's NY Daily News op/ed:
Freedom of religion is something we hold dear. It is the core of what America is all about, and it is what people worldwide respect about our country. The Koran itself says compulsion in religion is wrong.

But Rauf refuses to sign Former Muslims United's Freedom Pledge:
I renounce, repudiate and oppose any physical intimidation, or worldly and corporal punishment, of apostates from Islam, in whatever way that punishment may be determined or carried out by myself or any other Muslim including the family of the apostate, community, Mosque leaders, Shariah court or judge, and Muslim government or regime.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Courage and the Ground Zero Mosque Debate

I I have been thinking that it takes no courage to advocate for the Ground Zero Mosque. No one is going to violently attack the politicians and media celebs who support the building. But there may be a real danger of violent attack against those who are exercising their constitutional 1st Amendment right of free speech to oppose the mosque. Have the mainstream media and so many politicians taken up the Muslim Brotherhood talking points and sought to silence this debate because that is the safe thing to do in the short run?

It is the elephant in the living room. No one is talking about it. But the symbolism of Ground Zero to me is that we are vulnerable to attack by people who hate us. The attack on the World Trade Towers was the midpoint of a more than twenty year era of fear of radical Islam.

I pulled out Christopher Hitchens piece about the twenty year anniversary of the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Hitchens says the violent threats have done there job and there is now a pervasive climate of self-censorship in the media. We know these are not just threats, the violence is real, as we saw in the Danish cartoon controversy. And he says that we use the "guise of good manners and multiculturalism" to hide that we are actually caving in to the threat of violence and failing to support the true moderate Muslims.

Sometimes this fear—and this blackmail—comes dressed up in the guise of good manners and multiculturalism. One must not wound the religious feelings of others, many of whom are poor immigrants in our own societies. To this I would respond by pointing to a book published in 1994. It is entitled For Rushdie: Essays by Arab and Muslim Writers in Defense of Free Speech. Among its contributors is almost every writer worthy of the name in the Arab and Muslim world, ranging from the Syrian poet Adonis to the Syrian-Kurdish author Salim Barakat, to the late national bard of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Darwish, to the celebrated Turkish writers Murat Belge and Orhan Pamuk. Especially impressive and courageous was the list of 127 Iranian writers, artists, and intellectuals who, from the prison house that is the Islamic Republic, signed their names to a letter which said: “We underline the intolerable character of the decree of death that the Fatwah is, and we insist on the fact that aesthetic criteria are the only proper ones for judging works of art.… To the extent that the systematic denial of the rights of man in Iran is tolerated, this can only further encourage the export outside the Islamic Republic of its terroristic methods which destroy freedom.” In other words, the situation is the exact reverse of what the condescending multiculturalists say it is. To indulge the idea of religious censorship by the threat of violence is to insult and undermine precisely those in the Muslim world who are its intellectual cream, and who want to testify for their own liberty—and for ours. It is also to make the patronizing assumption that the leaders of mobs and the inciters of goons are the authentic representatives of Muslim opinion. What could be more “offensive” than that?

Andrew McCarthy has a piece in National Review Online today that discusses the difference between the fake moderate Muslims supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas versus the true moderate Muslims that are threatened by the the Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas who will use violence to impose their will.

It doesn't take courage to kowtow to those who threaten violence. It does take courage to speak up against them. McCarthy says Imam Rauf and the Ground Zero Mosque are on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Why doesn't the MSM research this it? Or do they know but are to afraid to say?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Rauf a moderate Muslim when it comes to Sharia Law?

Imam Feisal Rauf, the Muslim leader planning to build an Islamic cultural center with mosque two blocks from the site of the destruction of the World Trade Center by Islamic militants, also heads the Shariah Index Project, an ongoing evaluate the Sharia compliance of the nations. Rauf has said to US audiences that the USA is a Sharia compliant state.

And another muslim was recently quoted in the New York Times saying that Sharia is compatible with the US Constitution:
Camie Ayash, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, lamented that people were listening to what she called “total disinformation” on Islam.

She said her group was stunned when what began as one person raising zoning questions about the new mosque evolved into mass protests with marchers waving signs about Shariah.

“A lot of Muslims came to the U.S. because they respect the Constitution,” she said. “There’s no conflict with the U.S. Constitution in Shariah law. If there were, Muslims wouldn’t be living here.”

When I read that, I wondered if this was a Muslim "Talking Point" now and how the reporter could print it without asking some basic questions about obvious conflicts between the U.S. Constitution and Sharia Law.

Let's look at Rauf's presentation of Sharia Law at a meeting of the Shariah Index Project in Malaysia to see how the two are irreconcilable. As the reporter summarized Rauf's presentation:
The pillars of Shariah are based on five – some say six sacrosanct rights and principles. Breaching any of them is considered a major sin that requires punishment.

The most important is the protection and furthering of life.

Then there is the protection of religion – which includes all three Abrahamic faiths and, through most of Islamic history, other religions as well. It was this principle that the Muslim world evoked during the controversy over cartoons lampooning the Prophet that were published in a Danish newspaper. The same principle prohibits Muslims from satirising elements of any religion.

In the video, Rauf said that Sharia provides the "right to freedom of religion". That's not the same as "protection of religion". It is in direct conflict with the US Constitution's 1st Amendment protect of speech and of the press. We have seen how Muslims have silenced free speech in our own country through threats of violence as the country has begun to self-censor.
Another pillar is the protection of dignity and honour, which can be used as a basis for punishing slander, which recently became a crime in the UAE under the country’s new media law. The same principle is behind UAE cases where drivers have been prosecuted for making rude gestures at other road users, who took it as an insult to their dignity. Similarly, a woman can sue a man, even a stranger, for a lewd or inappropriate comment that “undermines her honour”.

What he doesn't say is how this is used to punish those who are raped and seeking help. If the rape charge cannot be proved, then the one making the accusation is punished for slander. And it is very hard to prove rape when the Quran requires four witnesses. Here is an example I posted a while ago about a student in Saudi Arabia who said his school principal raped him.
Protection of lineage, another pillar of Shariah, is the basis for criminalising adultery and, as was decided by muftis in Dubai last year, for banning IVF.

And remember, the Quran provides for the death penalty for adultery.
Protection of the mind or intellect includes the protection of sobriety, the basis for prohibiting Muslims from drinking alcohol or using any mind-altering substance, except under a doctor’s orders.

The final pillar of Shariah is the protection of property, an element that many scholars say contributed to the economic growth of early Muslim states.

Rauf says in the video that Sharia is the "fulfillment of five fundamental rights: "the right to life, the right to freedom of religion, the right to family, the right to property and the right to mental well being." But as the punishments from the Quran are applied in Sharia Law:

The right to freedom of religion means the death penalty for criticism of religion.
The right to family means the death penalty for adultery.
(I'm not seeing the right to life in this.)
The right to property means cutting off the hands of thieves.
The right to mental wellbeing means lashing those who drink alcohol.

What is a moderate Muslim when it comes to Sharia Law? Isn't Rauf just talking up a good game for us when he knows the Quran requires these punishments? It reminds me of the story of the Muslim man who convinced a Jewish alcoholic to convert to Islam.

And what good is the US Constitution's 8th Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment when this is the usual punishment and Allah is merciful? (So if you are going to be lashed for drinking alcohol and even question the punishment as cruel, are you insulting religion and insulting Allah, so now you get the death penalty?)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

8% of US Babies Born to Illegal Immigrants

The Wall Street Journal has a front page article on the new report from the Pew Hispanic Center on the children of illegal immigrants:
One in 12 babies born in the U.S. in 2008 were offspring of illegal immigrants, according to a new study, an estimate that could inflame the debate over birthright citizenship.

Undocumented immigrants make up slightly more than 4% of the U.S. adult population. However, their babies represented twice that share, or 8%, of all births on U.S. soil in 2008, according to the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center's report.

This is a large number and will certainly figure into the public discussion of the 14th Amendment and "anchor babies". The report does note that over 80% of the mothers had been in the US over a year. So, that makes about 20% of the 8% first time "anchor babies". I calculate that as over 1% of US births in 2008 were clearly "anchor baby" phenomena.

I noticed the Wall Street Journal article and the Pew report, Unauthorized Immigrants and Their US-Born Children, assume the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the US and that a revision to the constitution is necessary to deny birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens. But I thought that was an open question since the 14th Amendment includes the language "subject to the jurisdiction thereof".

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Should judge have recused himself in Prop 8 case?

There is an interesting argument presented in today's San Francisco Chronicle that the federal judge, Vaughn Walker, should have recused himself in the the Prop 8 (California same-sex marriage) case. John C. Eastman, a law professor and former dean of Chapman University School of Law argues that the fact that Walker is gay is not reason enough for him to recuse himself, However, it has been reported that Walker is in a same-sex relationship and that would put Walker in the position of materially benefiting from his own ruling. Eastman concludes:
If the relationship does not create such a conflict, it nevertheless creates the circumstance "in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned." That ground for disqualification can be waived by the parties, but the judge must "disclose on the record the basis of the disqualification" and then only continue after the parties have agreed in writing to his continued involvement. No such disclosure and agreement occurred in this case.

Judge Walker's failure to disqualify himself or at least to disclose his potentially disqualifying relationship to the parties requires that the opinion in the case be vacated and a new trial conducted before a different judge. In Liljeberg vs. Health Services Acquisition Corp., the Supreme Court held that the original judgment had to be set aside even when the disqualifying relationship only became known to the parties 10 months after the judgment entered in the case had been upheld on appeal. Where an objective observer would have questioned the judge's impartiality, recusal is required, and the appropriate remedy is to annul the judgment because of the risk of injustice to the parties and of undermining the public's confidence in the judicial process.

The Huffington Post has listed two other cases in which Walker ruled against religious objections to the promotion of gay sexual behavior:
In 1999, he rejected arguments from the parents of a San Leandro boy who claimed their religious rights were violated by pro-gay comments their son's teacher had made in the classroom.

In the other case, he dismissed a free speech claim by two Oakland city employees whose managers had confiscated a bulletin board flier for a religious group that promoted "natural family, marriage and family values." The city had "significant interests in restricting discriminatory speech about homosexuals," Walker wrote in his 2005 ruling.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Matthew J. Franck on the Prop 8 Ruling

I think Matthew J. Franck has a helpful analysis of Judge Walker's legal reasoning in the California same-sex marriage case. He explains how Walker took the movement towards the equality of the sexes in marriage to mean that gender no longer mattered:

By the same token, says Judge Walker, the doctrine of coverture, in the common law, in which a wife's legal identity was subsumed by that of her husband as the superior partner in the marriage-that too has been abandoned by a more modern understanding of the sexes as equal partners. Thus, concludes the judge, there has been a "movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles." And this has not been an essential change in the "core" of the marriage institution, but merely a shedding of an extraneous characteristic, thanks to "an evolution in the understanding of gender."

And now watch carefully, for here the fallacious reasoning enters the equation. When "the genders" are no longer "seen as having distinct roles," it is revealed that at marriage's "core" there is ample space for same-sex couples too. Since "gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage," indeed since it never really did, "plaintiffs' relationships are consistent with the core of the history, tradition and practice of marriage in the United States." There, you see? There is something eminently conservative about the admission of same-sex couples to the marital bond. What could we have been thinking, denying them this right for all these centuries?

Judge Walker seems to have committed the fallacy of composition-taking something true of a part and concluding that it is also true of the whole of which it is a part. If it is true that "gender" no longer matters as it once did in the relation of husband and wife, he reasons, therefore it no longer matters whether the relation is one of husband and wife; it may as well be a relation of husband and husband or of wife and wife, since we now know that marriage is not, at its "core," a "gendered institution." But restated in this way, it is quite plain that the judge's conclusion doesn't follow from his premises. To say that the status of men and women in marriage is one of equal partners is not to say that men and women are the same, such that it does not matter what sex their partners are. The equalization of status is not the obliteration of difference, as much as Judge Walker would like to pretend it is.

Read it all here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The problem with relying on speech writers and teleprompters

Whoever wrote the speech for the White House Correspondents Dinner knew who Snooki was.

Is the problem relying on speech writers and teleprompters or is trying to go with out them on The View?