Devotional Islam Has Come to the Fork in the Road

I think people of good conscience try to make the distinction between Islamism and Islam, between political Islam and devotional Islam. The expectation, however, is that devotional Islam must declare itself on the side of peace and toleration as well as assuming responsibility for rejection of radicalized elements within its community. If this is not done, soon there will be no patience for distinguishing between the two. Islam itself, in whatever form, will be heaped into one bundle as the West coalesces into a front against it.

For 25 years or so since the first attack on the World Trade Center the West has tried to give the benefit of the doubt. With options narrowing and devotional Islam’s silence, the struggle will soon shift to be against Islam itself. The West does not have infinite patience and doors will start closing to all Muslims. You can feel this in the air as the West is increasingly pushed beyond its financial, personnel, and cultural resources. It is coming to the exhaustion point. Devotional Islam must befriend the West and become a faithful ally in liberal democracy. If it chooses not to do so, it will become a religion without a place, as has happened to the Jews through their history. It will have earned the distrust of Westerners and certainly the distrust of Middle Eastern theocratic regimes.
The experiment with integration into the West is nearing its end and choices are increasingly stark and clear. Integrate and assimilate or hear windows shut and doors slammed. This is Islam’s choice. The West has kept its part of the bargain. We can no longer do what Islam must do for itself.

April 1 Munk Debate Focuses on Syrian Refugees

I always view the Munk Debates. They are immediately relevant, feature first rate intellects and capable debaters, and give full exposure to the reasons for both pros and cons.

Today we have “the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. Over 300,000 dead in Syria. One and a half million injured or disabled. Four and a half million people fleeing the country as refugees. And Syria is just one of a growing number of failed or failing states in the Middle East and North Africa. How should developed nations respond to human suffering on this mass scale? Do the prosperous societies of the West, including Canada and the U.S., have a moral imperative to assist as many refugees as they reasonably and responsibly can? Or, is this a time for vigilance and restraint in the face a wave of mass migration that risks upending Western nations’ openness, tolerance and ultimately their very way of life? To engage with the geopolitical debate of the moment, the Spring 2016 Munk Debate will move the motion: ‘be it resolved, give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…'”

Here is the info on the debate.


Tristan & Isolde, A Medieval Favorite Read

Today I watched the movie Tristan & Isolde. A good one. I came across the legend of Tristan & Isolde when dipping more into the Middle Ages, one of its most popular stories.

From roots in Celtic myth, it passed into written form in Britain a century after the Norman Conquest (1066 AD) and almost immediately spread throughout northern Europe. It tells of a Cornish knight and an Irish queen, Tristan and Iseult (spellings differ), who accidentally drink a love potion, at the same time, on the same boat, travelling to Cornwall. She is due to marry Tristan’s king, Mark. Tristan and Iseult seemed ideally matched and their love was heroic, but could that excuse their adultery in the minds of medieval listeners, particularly when the Church was so clear they were wrong?

Here is a BBC program, In Our Time, that gives some of the significance of this romantic medieval tale.

A Perspective on the Chicago “Protests”

From Pat Buchanan on the recent Chicago “protests” – When the urban riots broke out in the ’60s, Hubert Humphrey declared that, if he lived in a ghetto, “I could lead a pretty good riot myself.” At his 1968 convention in Chicago, radicals baited and provoked the cops in the front of the Conrad Hilton, and as this writer watched, their patience exhausted after days of abuse, Chicago’s finest tore into the mob and delivered some street justice.

“Richard Nixon,” wrote Hunter S. Thompson, “is living in the White House today because of what happened that night in Chicago.”

Hunter got that one right.

That fall, Humphrey was daily assailed by the kinds of haters now disrupting Trump rallies. Everywhere he went, they chanted, “Dump the Hump!” At times, Humphrey came close to tears.

That fall, Humphrey realized the monster he helped nurture.

My tormentors, he said, are “not just hecklers, but highly disciplined, well-organized agitators … some of them are anarchists, and some of these groups are destroying the Democratic Party and destroying this country.”

Prediction. Given their “victory” in Chicago, and its allied nasties will try to replicate it, again and again. And as Americans came to despise the ’60s radicals, they will come to despise them.

And, as in the 1960s, the country will take a turn — to the right.

Winsome Words 3/15/2016

Devotion is neither more nor less than a prompt, fervent, loving service to God. And the difference between an ordinarily good man and one that is devout lies herein, that the first
observes God’s commands without any special fervour or promptitude; whereas the latter not only keeps them, but does it willingly, earnestly, and resolutely.
… Francois de Sales

Chicago and Trump On My Mind

After  Chicago happenings in the Trump campaign, my mind went back to the 60s. I remember thinking, as everybody was, that our country was simply going to melt. The assasinations of the Kennedys, Medgar Evers and MLK, the deaths in Vietnam and massive, continual protests, the rise of groups like the Weathermen and the Black Panthers, George Wallace running for President, riots and fires in Watts, Detroit and other urban areas, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Watergate, not to mention the feelings of anarchy on campuses along with the burgeoning drug culture. Accompanying this were movies like Dirty Harry, Death Wish, etc. Soon there was the gas crisis and the malaise of the Carter presidency which lost control of basic leadership functions. It was all a tough episode.
And then all of a sudden it was over, like the turning of a page. Students were back to majoring in business and carrying their brief cases, and the political wheels were turning to the time Ronald Reagan would be elected President. For those of you too young to remember, this is not seldom the American cycle. Democracy is not neat and tidy. It unleashes terrible forces even as it shines a bright light. Our hope has been that the light is brighter than the darkness. We do know what is worse – tyranny and the rise of the Great Leader. Immerse yourself in democracy, which will take courage, fortitude and constant vigilance. If you want an easy way out of turbulence, this would be a mistake. The easy way soon turns to the dark way.
BTW, one of the signs that the clouds are darkening for a time is the number of times Dirty Harry and Death Wish play on TV. It is my impression that they are being shown more and more. The frustration over lawlessness and the indolence of law enforcement to keep order spills over into vigilantism.