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May 12, 2005

Comments

Look for David Brooks (or Tierney) to argue that Newsweek killed the riot victims by reporting the Qur'an flushing.

The thought which crossed my mind when first reading of these riots and their causes was, "History strikes again." Specifically, the Sepoy riots (or India Mutiny or any of several other labels) of 1857. The religious take the tenets of their religion seriously whether its your religion or not, and ignoring that has painful consequences.

upon hearing this, my first thought was identical to Anderson's post.

The Usual Suspects aren't commenting here. Where are the pro-war folks who keep assuring us we're turning corners, things are improving, the tide is turning, and all the rest of that oblivious happytalk?

Maybe it's penetrated even their Cloud Cuckoo Land that nobody in charge, absolutely nobody, has any idea what to do, beyond developing a Vietnam-style emphasis on body counts.

Where are the pro-war folks who keep assuring us we're turning corners, things are improving, the tide is turning, and all the rest of that oblivious happytalk?


At this moment, the US military is engaged in, and defeating Zarqawi's Al Qaeda associated forces in a conventional, pitched battle.

I try to read WindsOfChange every day.

Sad to report however, that women did not win in their bid to win the right to vote in Kuwait, and that the Muslim Brotherhood is leading the political opposition in Egypt. (Dial-up now, can't find links easily.)

And this sweep is different from the sweep of Falluja (2 times), Samarra, Tikrit, or the destruction of the Mahdi Army precisely how?

Gen. Westmoreland was thrilled by the ability of his forces to inflict casualties. Who won that war?

Our grand plan to address the legitimate concerns of the Shiites over their loss of power is . . . ?

The IRA, in its various forms and over the many years, rarely had more than 1,000 hard men at any time from what i've read. Yet they still managed to make an utter mess of northern ireland.

oh, and we have given every firebrand cleric across all muslim lands yet another reason to hate us. great.

The IRA, in its various forms and over the many years, rarely had more than 1,000 hard men at any time from what i've read. Yet they still managed to make an utter mess of northern ireland.

I agree that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorist organizations for a long, long time, and the prospect is not pretty. But the terrorist movement had already started, and when they carried the fight to us, the only good alternative I see is to respond with force. In the 2000 election, Pres Bush vowed not to meddle so much in foreign affairs, but 9/11 happened anyway, so a different approach had to be taken.

Rereading that interview with Gen. van Riper yesterday is the gift that keeps on giving. In response to DaveC's claim that "But the terrorist movement had already started, and when they carried the fight to us, the only good alternative I see is to respond with force.", I note this comment of the general's:

"Let's suppose you were mugged on a street in your neighborhood and you had no idea who the mugger was. You may be suspicious, but you weren't sure. But there was another neighbor you didn't like. You'd had a lot of quarrels with him, and so you decide, "I'm going to solve this problem because I'm going to go burn down that neighbor's house." There's no connection. That's how I equate going after Iraq for what happened on 9/11 or trying to make that case."

the only good alternative I see is to respond with force

force is useless unless directed at the appropriate target, and Iraq wasn't involved with 9/11. that fact might be lost on the American public, but i wouldn't count on it being lost on the Muslim public.

Hilzoy is correct in stating that the "muggers" did not primarily come from Iraq. but from Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

On the other hand, a similar question has been posed about WW2. If America's main enemy was clearly Germany, why then did the US first attack North Africa rather than Germany itself? I am not suggesting that there are plans to eventually conduct military actions against SA and Egypt.

But Dave: if we hadn't planned to get to Germany, and if (to continue your analogy) North Africa had not been held by Germany and Italy, invading it would have made no sense at all. Likewise here.

CaseyL

I think we're turning corners, things are improving and the tide is turning. The death of seven Afghans in a riot is unfortunate. But seven, for example, is fewer than the number of Afghan homosexuals executed by collapsing walls upon by the Taliban. So yes, things have improved in my view. You can certainly say things aren't ideal, but to imply that no progress has been made is to, frankly, be utterly blinded by dislike for the President.

If fewer 'pro-war folks' are responding to you nowadays, it's probably on account of fatigue, not the undeniable righteousness of your position - no matter how hard one tries, there's no hope in trying to get one to see who keeps one's eyes shut tight.

Thought for what it's worth, I agree that desecrating a copy of the Quran, assuming the reports are accurate, was unquestionably needlessly inflamatory and a dumb idea.

Anderson: close, but no cigar: it was everyone's favorite libertarian perfesser.

Kudos to Anderson, I guess. Recalibrating my cynicism as we speak...

If fewer 'pro-war folks' are responding to you nowadays, it's probably on account of fatigue

I couldn't have said it better. One reason I comment here is that Edward_ and hilzoy sincerely want an open discussion about all these issues, and I applaud them for that. But you are totally on the money that guys like me get weary of arguing.

I freely admit that I am a depraved degenerate, a chicken hawk, hetero-preferential, etc., etc., kind of guy. And the fact is that I say things here that I would not say elsewhere, like the Unitarian Church for instance, or even to my own family, because frankly I am an anxious person (since adolesence, a long time ago).

But I do try to be honest, and civil. One not so obvious person that I have noticed really thought abought what I said some times is Catsy, so thanks Catsy.

But the terrorist movement had already started, and when they carried the fight to us, the only good alternative I see is to respond with force.

I see. And desecrating the sacred book of a religion that takes such desecration very seriously is force - how, exactly?

"...and if (to continue your analogy) North Africa had not been held by Germany and Italy, invading it would have made no sense at all."

Just to note for the record: when the U.S. invaded North Africa, it commenced in Morocco and Algeria, and neither was held by either Germany or Italy, but by Vichy France. Ditto Tunisia. People tend to sort of dismiss Vichy France in memory, somehow, if it's not the direct topic they're talking about, but saying that we invaded North Africa because it was held by Germany or Italy simply isn't true. The Germans and Italians were in Egypt and Libya, which are not generally considered part of either the Mahgreb or North Africa. We invaded the French territories of North Africa to, originally, grasp and hold them to go through them to operate against the Germans and Italians in Libya and Eqypt, not because Germany or Italy were in possession of Moroco, Algeria, or Tunisia ("North Africa"). (People may recall circumstances better if a certain most famous Humphrey Bogart movie is mentioned.)

"...invading it would have made no sense at all." But despite the fact that neither Germany nor Italy held North Africa, it did seem to make sense. Which may merely go to show that one need pick one's analogy a tad more carefully (noting that Hilzoy didn't make the analogy in the first place).

Gen. Westmoreland was thrilled by the ability of his forces to inflict casualties. Who won that war?

"It was a TIE!" - Otto, A Fish Called Wanda

While I'm being my usual fussy self, I shouldn't have said "Morocco," above (or typoed it once, but never mind). Its actual name at the time was, (not so) strangely enough, "French Morocco."

Oh, and the region? "French North Africa."

Hmm -- I always thought of Libya as part of North Africa, but (as you rather gently pointed out) North African history is not my long suit. So here's the new, revised metaphor: had we not needed to invade N. Africa in order to get to our real objective, invading it would have made no sense. Invading Iraq is not analogous unless we are trying to get somewhere else, and somewhere that is not so conveniently accessible w/o a base in Iraq. Saudi Arabia wouldn't cut it, since then we might as well invade from all sorts of other places. Maybe if we had plans to invade Azerbaijan through northwestern Iran, for instance.

And Gary: why not go whole hog and call it Maroc?

Nice to see you gary. Your comment made me remember that it was only Roosevelt's direct intervention to override and order that Marshall support the British plan (Marshall considered asking to be transferred to the Pacific theater because of the disagreement) that led to the landings to take place. link Some say that the North African landings were to placate Stalin, but my understanding is that the Americans wanted a Cross Channel invasion sooner rather than later and the Brits were leery of a '42 or '43 invasion and expressed strong reservations to a '44 one.

"...I always thought of Libya as part of North Africa, but (as you rather gently pointed out) North African history is not my long suit."

Ooh, "gently." There's something I don't usually hear about my phrasing. :-) Thank you kindly.

It would be a lot clearer if the name were "West North Africa," but geographic names typically make as little sense as they do much sense.

"So here's the new, revised metaphor: had we not needed to invade N. Africa in order to get to our real objective, invading it would have made no sense."

Fair enough. (Another way to put North Africa in context is to recall the whole collapse of the French Fourth Republic, and why, and the whole Why-DeGaulle-came-to-power thing, and France-giving-up-Algeria, which was part of Metropolitan France, not a "colony," even. "Battle For Algiers"? France conquering Algeria in 1840? (I suppose if one fuzzily remembers that Napolean invaded Egypt, but not much else about France and the region, one might be easily confused -- that's a generic "one," to be clear.) The French went into Morocco in 1830, though the resulting history was rather more complicated, and had as much to do with Spain as with France. Neither Germany nor Italy has much significant modern history in North Africa, though, save until November, 1942, and the Italians were still fairly irrelevant (alas for them, the common lot of the Italian military in recent centuries, save in Ethiopia).

"Invading Iraq is not analogous unless we are trying to get somewhere else, and somewhere that is not so conveniently accessible w/o a base in Iraq."

There's actually a quite distinct argument (several sub-flavors available, really) put forth by some for invading Iraq, however, which I'm hesitant to discuss, because inevitably people would start arguing with me as if I were advocating the argument(s), rather than merely familiar with them. But the people who believe in them generally don't make them because they believe Iraq was responsible for September 11th (although there are an alarming number people who give credence to that claim, although, I expect, no more and no more alarming than those who believe that, say, the U.S. government deliberately caused the events of September 11th).

Oh, and, sorry, Hilzoy, I should have acknowledged that there was significant modern Italian history in Libya, which they swiped from Turkey as a result of WWI. And it is fair to consider Libya part of "North Africa." I shouldn't have left it out; I did in this context because the U.S. didn't invade it, not because it isn't part of North Africa, so you were right about that.

LJ, you're right in everything you say there, save that when you say this:

Some say that the North African landings were to placate Stalin, but my understanding is that the Americans wanted a Cross Channel invasion sooner rather than later and the Brits were leery of a '42 or '43 invasion and expressed strong reservations to a '44 one.
There's no "but" there, but rather an "and." Here is a good potted history (note that Libya is never mentioned). The British were understandably wary about going across the Channel prematurely, particularly given the vast number of casualties and losses they'd suffered through since 1939, and their qualms about Operation Torch were proved well-founded when the Americans got our asses initially kicked by the Germans at Kasserine Pass. (Which led to one George Patton's grand opening performance in the war.) (And before Torch, the British had the warning lesson of Dieppe; well, the Canadians did, actually.)

The most relevant part of all this to the previous discussion, however, is that the entire reason that the Americans took the lead in invading Morocco and Algeria was precisely because they were French territory; given the British history of sinking as much of the French fleet as they could (after the North African French refused to scuttle their ships, let alone hand them over), the Allies were as eager as possible to make Torch as American as possible, in hopes that things would wind up differently between Americans and Vichy/North African French. Alas, the French didn't find it a worthy distinction, and fired on the Americans as willingly as they would have on the British. French planes launched attacks on the Americans. The whole thing was nothing but a fight with French troops initially.

I don't see that it matters that much that Morocco and Algeria were held by Vichy France rather than Germany. Certainly the error of fact should be corrected, but how does it affect the argument, unless someone's claiming that Vichy France was independent of Germany? How was Iraq's relationship to Saudi Arabia (or Egypt, or Afghanistan, or anyone involved in September 11) remotely similar to Vichy France's relationship to Nazi Germany?

DaveC: At this moment, the US military is engaged in, and defeating Zarqawi's Al Qaeda associated forces in a conventional, pitched battle.

I read this account with somewhat less optimism than you did - to my mind, when a guerrilla force is confident enough in its weapons and numbers to try and deny physical strongpoints to the US Army, it is not a cause for optimism, even if we win such a toe-to-toe fight, which of course we will. Under normal circumstances, guerrillas do not try to carve out sovereign zones, but rather are forced by their comparative weakness to utilize more traditional terrorist tactics (car bombs and the like). This report notes that some areas are "surprisingly well fortified," and reports on a "tenfold surge" in reports of insurgent activity (though that number may be good news, representing an increase in civilian cooperation - it's hard to tell from the post). I sure hope the bit about Zarqawi getting wounded is true, however.

What do you think? Am I just looking for reasons to be pessimistic? (I hope not.)

I really do think that the battle means that Zarqawis forces have become more and more isolated from the regular folks there, which is good. As far as being optimistic or pessimistic goes, well back when I was most pessimistic, Ayatollah Sistani came through like a real great leader and pretty much ended the Shia part of the insurgency. I never could have predicted that.

I really do think that the battle means that Zarqawis forces have become more and more isolated from the regular folks there, which is good.

When isolated turns into physically separated, they lose, quickly and completely. I predict, therefore, that they'll through any means possible seek to more deeply insinuate themselves among noncombatants. Unless they're stupid, which I don't think they are. If I'm wrong, the cure for stupidity will be fast in coming.

So, a last stand type situation, rather than a display of confidence? I don't know enough about it, really, but I sure hope you are right. It is certainly rare to have al Quaeda coming out of the woodwork and directly fighting - and, in support of your position, I guess you could say the last time it happened was in Afghanistan, where they lost the support of the local leaders (or the local leaders were killed or deposed by the Northern Alliance or the US), could no longer hide in plain sight, and had to make last stands in various craggy alamos throughout the eastern mountains. So, maybe. I'm a bit suspect, but I'd love to be wrong. No more Fallujahs, please.

Is there any credible polling of the Iraqi population's support for the insurgency? I don't just mean animosity to the US, but actual support for a violent (as opposed to political) solution. Probably not nationwide, but have you seen anything that comes close?

A few comments -

First, about people linking Saddam and 9/11. IIRC, it stands somewhere around 50% of the American people, which (IMHO) is far more than believe that the US government had a hand in 9/11 (in the 'caused it' sense, rather than 'didn'd prevent it').

Second, North Africa. I just finished a book called 'Tank Killers', which was a history of the Tank Destroyer branch during WWII. It has some nice coverage of the North Africa fighting, including just how incompetant American forces were at the beginning of the war. We were up against forces which had a couple of years head start in mobilization and equipment, plus a couple of years of compbat experience. The British were strongly against the initial US plan to invade cross-Channedl in 1943, saying that the US simply wouldn't be ready to fight the core of the German army, and should gain experience on the periphery. The North Africa campaign proved them correct.

The North Africa campaign proved them correct.

I'm not sure it is 'proved' is completely correct. Kasserine Pass could have taken place somewhere in France, and the lessons would have still been the same, and barring a rout all the way to the sea, the US advantage in manufacturing and population would have kicked in. One of the other reasons the Americans were advocating an early Cross Channel invasion was that it was not altogether clear that the Russians would be able to hold out and the Americans were anticipating a potential collapse of the Russian Front.

It is interesting to imagine if a Cross Channel effort had succeeded in establishing an area (I don't want to say a beachhead, because that would be smaller than it would need to be for this scenario) where the Allies could have occupied in late '43 or even '42. Then, much of the airpower would have been tasked with providing closer military support (and the transportation of Americans would go directly to Europe rather than being staged in the UK) Then, perhaps Dresden et al would have been avoided, but France would have been again ground out. Assuming that the end played out in a similar way, the Soviets might have reached further west before meeting the other allies. Another factor would be what Spain, Italy, and Vichy France would have done. Franco was able to avoid getting sucked in, but it is hard to imagine him avoiding it if he hadn't had 3 years to consolidate his position. Also, Italy would have been in an interesting situation as well, given that they seemed to be a reluctant participant, and how Vichy France would have played their hand would also be more meaningful. It is also doubtful that there would have been the degree of resentment at German occupation that existed after 4 years, making every non-German civilian an ally.

Also, had this happened, I wonder if that unique bond between the US and the UK would have been created, in that I think it was generated by the personal contacts of so many US servicemen and the UK population.

Then again, a grinding stalemate in Europe might have led to a decision to deploy the atomic bomb against German cities. Then it would be easy to imagine a Germany that, because it was forced to surrender, was never completely defeated.

This is not to say that you are wrong barry, just to play some historical what-ifs while I wait for a phone call from the states.

One of the advantages of landing in North Africa, as pointed out by others, is that the landing wasn't opposed by the German Army. And it was a very clumsy affair; one of the generals involved commented that it would have failed utterly if it had been seriously opposed. The tank destroyers had a primary role because it took several (many?) days to land any tanks; half-tracks and 3/4 ton trucks were the heaviest stuff available. The units involved were repeatedly attacked by US/British aircraft, and feared them at least as much as German aircraft (which they feared a lot).

Coordination between artillery, tank destroyers and infantry was non-existant, and had to be improvised under fire. Simple things were botched, such as repeatedly ordering dawn attacks when the US forces were facing east.

One general (I forget the name; it was one of the famous ones) gave his opinion that a cross-Channel invasion, facing strong and expert German opposition, would have failed utterly. The US simply had no experience in doing large, modern amphibious operations. The many mistakes they made would have been exploited swiftly and violently by the German Army.

That's our current government. We spend three years trying to build up goodwill amongst the people we're trying to liberate and then blow it by several acts of monstrous brutality (Abu Ghraib) and insults to their religion (Koran desecration). I am so counting down to 2006...

This thread is probably dead......but the anti-American protests continue. Supporters of Bush's policies tend to minimize (and opponents maximize)expressions of anti-American feeling. However, I really do think people who believe our invasion is a bulkhead for promoting democracy should think carefully about incidents like these because there clearly is a lot of hostility toward us out there. How can we be the promoters of anything to people who don't want our influence? The invsion of Iraq has more likely damaged our relationship with the ordinary Middle Eastern Islamic person than anything else, and, in the end, it is up to the ordinary person to determine what kind of government they get. (There is opinion poll data on this which supports my views) If a miracle happened and democracy suddenly broke out all over the Middle East, the new governments would be anti-American and might even be supprtive of terrorism. I'm not opposed to democracies developing, of course. My point is that our bull-in-the-china-shop arrogance is more likely to lead to anti-American democracies which might tolerate terrorism than pro_American democracies that don't.

People in Iraq currently hate Al Qaeda more than they hate the US.

People in Iraq currently hate Al Qaeda more than they hate the US.

I certainly gathered that Bill Roggio, whom you linked to, hopes that to be the case, and has picked out data supporting his belief.

And rephrased: "There are people in Iraq who hate the insurgents" it's undoubtedly, absolutely true. (From the stories linked to, Bill Roggio is sufficiently ignorant about Iraq that he confuses the Iraq resistance to the US occupation with Al Qaeda.)

Of course, it's also true to say - and misleading not to say it - that there are people in Iraq who hate the US occupation.

Which they hate more probably depends on a lot of factors, and without proper polling data, it's impossible to discover whether the insurgency against the occupation, or the occupation, is hated more. However, we do know that when Iraqis were finally permitted to go the polls, without exception, all the parties that they voted for had, as part of their manifesto, getting rid of the US occupation.

A foreign military occupation that slaughters civilians, bombs towns, arrests innocents, is financially corrupt, and commits torture, is inevitably going to be hated, no matter if it claims to be there to "promote democracy". That is the situation with the US occupation of Iraq.

Which they hate more probably depends on a lot of factors, and without proper polling data, it's impossible to discover whether the insurgency against the occupation, or the occupation, is hated more.

Much like responsibility, there's enough hate to go around.

Jesurgislac,

"as part of their manifesto, getting rid of the US occupation."

Guess what? It's part of the U.S. manifesto to end the occupation also.


Guess what? It's part of the U.S. manifesto to end the occupation also.

No, it's part of the US manifesto to render the occupation unnecessary, and hence removeable, which is a subtle but vital distinction.

Tinker: Guess what? It's part of the U.S. manifesto to end the occupation also.

Unfortunately, not a part of the US manifesto that looks terribly convincing, since there are 14 permanent bases being built in Iraq. The Iraqis may want the US troops to go home - understandably, given that they are outperforming Saddam Hussein in killing Iraqis - but the US quite evidently intends to ignore Iraqi wishes - and has the power to do so.

Just a quick note, Jes:

Unfortunately, not a part of the US manifesto that looks terribly convincing, since there are 14 permanent bases being built in Iraq.

That in and of itself doesn't necessarily mean that the US is planning to "occupy" Iraq. We had a number of permanent bases in the Philippines but weren't "occupying" the archipelago in any meaningful way after 1946 (and arguably after 1935, though I don't buy it). I suspect that's the ideal after which these bases are officially modelled, though I'm not sure how seriously to take that.

Anarch: That in and of itself doesn't necessarily mean that the US is planning to "occupy" Iraq.

Indeed: but Iraqis who want the US military occupation to be gone are unlikely to believe that it will happen when it appears the US military have every intention of staying for as long as they feel like. Especially when these bases are being publicly discussed as a replacement for the bases the US intends to withdraw from in Saudi Arabia. (I doubt if it will have escaped anyone's attention that getting the US military to withdraw from Saudi Arabia has always been an al-Qaeda objective.)

True enough, Jes. And hilzoy, mad props for getting the correction into the OP before I could come along and suggest that you make it so :)

Hmmmm. I've read that Newsweek editorial a couple of times now and it doesn't quite say what I thought it said on first glance. Anyone else get the feeling that Mark Whitaker isn't exactly retracting the story so much as lateralling it?

Yeah, as I read it he was saying: my source is not sure he read about this in that report, and other Pentagon sources say that report wouldn't have contained any such thing. Still, until I hear otherwise, I'm retracting, and also thinking: stupid Newsweek, this is the last story on earth you should have screwed up, even laterally.

So, people who have no problem torturing, smearing prisoners with faked menstrual blood, parading women interrogators around these religious people and rubbing up against them in highly suggestive t-shirts (no doubt wet) wouldn't dare to think to flush the Koran (why now the Q, anyway - fashion?) down the toilet?

Who knows if this is really true, but it's quite hard to believe this was a line in the sand. Maybe they didn't think about flushing the Koran, but considering the track record, I have a hard time believing this wasn't one of the first things they did in their little psycho drama.

And I should note that it doesn't have to be really true to actually cause a really nasty uprising. After all, I can't remember the last time a flag was really burned by someone, but it doesn't stop it from being used as a symbolic rallying point every fricking 4 years by republicans.

We had a number of permanent bases in the Philippines but weren't "occupying" the archipelago in any meaningful way after 1946 (and arguably after 1935, though I don't buy it).

The road to that "peaceful" suituation, however, involved massive decimation of local "insurgents", a re-education" program that involved completely replacing the language all local publications were written in -- Spanish -- such that the new generation generally could not speak or read it, along with a US-written version of history, and the entire process took around 30 to 40 years.

Oh, Hilzoy. Oh, Anarch.

So the Pentagon claims that no one ever desecrated a Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and promptly Newsweek takes their word for it and "steps back" from the story. Fine: Newsweek probably can't afford to get burned, and this story is not exactly a popular one.

But given the amount of evidence that yes, US soldiers have desecrated the Korans that were given to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay - why on earth, Hilzoy, are you "stepping back" from the story, and why on earth, Anarch, are you praising her for doing so?

That Newsweek is stepping back from the story is wariness on their part - cowardice you might call it - but it doesn't make the story less true. Bluntly, Hilzoy, you should know by this time that just because the Pentagon has done an internal investigation and found everyone innocent, doesn't mean they are actually innocent.

It just means the US press doesn't have photographs.

Maybe, Jesurgislac, because they ran a story that hadn't been verified? One that turned out to be rather inflammatory? If it turns out to be verifiable, then they'd be justified in running it. But not vindicated, because of the sloppiness.

Newsweek really ought to strive for a bit higher standard than CBS, don't you think?

Let's see, Slarti: the New York Times, the Washington Post, the UK Guardian and Daily Mirror, the Moroccan La Gazette du Maroc, the BBC, and testimony to the Center for Constitutional Rights, all have reported, via testimony from inmates released from Guantanamo Bay, that US soldiers have carried out acts of desecration on the Koran.

Is Newsweek striving for a "higher standard" when it backs down from a story that is "unverified" - that is, Guantanamo Bay inmates say it happened: the Pentagon says it didn't - and we all know how reliable the Pentagon is when reporting on atrocities committed by US soldiers, yes? Always open, reliable, honest, truthful, and did you see a pig flying past your window just now? -

Seriously, Slarti: When Newsweek backs down because a story is "rather inflammatory" and the Pentagon denies it, I don't see that as striving for a high standard of reporting: I see that as the same cowardice in the US media that led to Eason Jordan's resignation for daring to mention (in private) that yes, US soldiers have indeed been shooting reporters and other media workers in Iraq.

"Unfortunately, it seems to have eluded some of our interrogators at Guantanamo."

As usual... it's not our interrogators that seem to be stupid. It's the one's who bought hook line and sinker it to this drivel.

When will so many of you ever learn?

Maybe, we should start a thread on what kind of wackos start riots over a book being flushed down a toilet.

So many of you here always miss the real point. The real story was what kind of freaks go around killing people and starting riots over a story in Newsweek.

But, you guys ignored the real story and bought the lie.

And people say Bush is stupid...

Is Newsweek striving for a "higher standard" when it backs down from a story that is "unverified" - that is, Guantanamo Bay inmates say it happened: the Pentagon says it didn't - and we all know how reliable the Pentagon is when reporting on atrocities committed by US soldiers, yes?

Yes. When Newsweek claimed that an official investigation had verified the Quran-flushing reports, that was what's known as a lie. Well, to put paid to the tendency of the fact-deficient to speculate, not so much a lie because no official investigation had made such a finding, but a lie because Newsweek has no way of knowing whether that's so.

It's important because we should not actually be fighting a war on Islam, but on Islamic terrorists, who bear about the same relation to Islam that people who blow up abortion clinics bear to Christianity.

It's a little late in the thread to point this out, but the number of abortion clinic bombings is nowhere near the number of Islamic terrorist suicide bombings, either in the number of incidents or number of victims. It seems to me that I haven't heard of any abortion clininic bombing in over 6 years.

Everyone remembers when right-wing Christian activists rioted and killed on hearing that PA gunment used Bibles for toilet paper, right?

Right?

DaveC: true. I was just trying to find some group that was related to Christianity as Islamic terrorism is related to Islam (e.g., something that was a horrible perversion of Christianity, which it would be completely unfair to blame Christianity for), and wanted to pick something that was violent, and some of whose members claimed to be Christian. And abortion bombings leapt to mind. But you're right.

Everyone remembers when right-wing Christian activists rioted and killed on hearing that PA gunment used Bibles for toilet paper, right?

Slarti
There are probably a number of people here better versed in this than me, but it seems that you are being more than a bit ethnocentric here. The Koran isn't simply the Islam bible, so these kind of analogies obscure more than they enlighten.

Jes: the question is not whether such incidents occurred, but whether this particular incident occurred as reported. As I said upthread, I'm not convinced Newsweek is exactly retracting the claim; but if they can't source it adequately, well, it should be withdrawn.

slartibart: What Liberal Japonicus said. Pratike pointed me to this explanation:

Why is the tearing or flushing of a copy of Qur'an such grievous offense? For Muslims, Qur'an is not a compilation of reports about God by prophets or disciples, but the exact, direct and inviolable speech of God. Singlevoiced and unidirectional, it is the suprahistorical word of God. The sanctity and sacredness of Qur'an transcends its physicality while at the same time is contained within it. A Muslim dare not even touch it without ritual purity.

sorry!

Latest reports have, from Gitmo's investigation of self, an unconfirmed report of one detainee attempting to clog his toilet with his own Quran. Should we go right to press, and name names?

Slarti
I think you are missing the point and I don't think you read Dutchmarbel's link. It notes that there is a difference between the treatement of the Koran is South Asia and the Middle East.

People treasure things because people treasure things. You may feel that thinking a printed book is the living word of God is a load of hooey, you may feel that it is a sign of mental imbalance and immaturity to hold something dearer than life itself. You may decry the fact that people are dying because of a simple book. Yet I am sure that you get misty-eyed when we talk about people dying for an ideal which, in a perfectly cost-benefit analysis centered around the person dying is equally nutty.

This is not a good example because it implies immaturity, but my daughter has a stuffed doll named usa-hana that she goes to bed with at night. Just before bed one night, she comes to me all teary eyed saying she can't find it. Should I
a)laugh at her attachment to a stuffed toy and tell her to get over it
b)make a reasonable effort to find the doll and respect the fact that it is important to her?

Because I respect my daughter as a person, I respect her likes and dislikes even if I think they are silly. If I think she is getting too attached to her stuffed toy, I don't junk it and then ridicule her for being attached to it. And if I want to change her behavior, I don't pick out her most treasured item and then threaten to destroy it. The whole scenario speaks to the lack of respect that permeates the whole detainee system. You think that it is juvenile and feel this preserves the US's moral standing. I see this as a straw that broke the camel's back. Looking at this and the wording of the retraction, as others have noted, suggests that the whole spin on this is that there has never been any problem, and these brown folks are being juvenile for rioting over a silly book, which might play well in Peoria, but is spin manufactured for domestic consumption. Yet stacking up people in naked pyramids and playing tricks on them (don't fall off the box, Hassan, or you are going to be electrocuted) is not a photoshop trick. The attempt to claim that Newsweek was in the wrong (and therefore this problem would never have happened had they got it right) is simply closing the eyes to what the real problem is. If it hadn't been Newsweek, it would have been some other report, like those western forests when they are in a tinderbox state.

Returning to the first notion, if you would like the people of South Asia to riot against the people of Saudi Arabia, (which I think is what you are suggesting about pointing out that a detainee did this), you are going to have to construct a much longer line of insults. Photoshop SA police sodomizing Pakistani males, develop news reports where SA officials and leaders denigrate Islam along the lines of General Boykin's comments, have the SA equivalent of the Yee case. Then you might get the kind of rioting we have now when you reveal that a SA detainee tried to flush his own Quran down the toilet. But until then, this is the bed that has been made and attempts to deflect that aren't going to change anything.

Slarti: the question is not whether such incidents occurred, but whether this particular incident occurred as reported

That may be, for you, the important issue, and it may be a comfort to you that Newsweek's source now denies that the story happened.

The important issue for anyone who cares about the appearance that the US's "War on Terror" is in fact a war on Islam is whether such incidents, of US soldiers desecrating Korans, in fact occurred. And though the Pentagon may think that energetic denial of US soldiers committing desecration is all that's required, it's not at all clear that simple denial of incidents that have been extensively reported on from many sources is, in fact, sufficient.

Apologies: the above comment should have been directed to Anarch, not Slartibartfast.

After the menstrual blood interrogation techniques I must admit that this sounds more plausible and since the former proved to be true...

In the linked article it is explained that desecration of the Koran in some countries is a capital punishment.

If only we can win over the hearts and minds of people who are willing to go on a murdering rampage after reading Newsweek.

Let's play a game. Let's say its true. Let's say they flushed the Koran right down the toilet. So what?

Menstrual blood rubbing is torture.
Playing loud music is torture.
Putting scarey dogs in their face is torture
Making them stand naked is torture.

I guess if we serverd them cookies and milk and then sent them on their merry jihadi way that would make all you lefties happy.

Next you guys will be recommending the U.S. fight it's next war with water balloons.


And though the Pentagon may think that energetic denial of US soldiers committing desecration is all that's required, it's not at all clear that simple denial of incidents that have been extensively reported on from many sources is, in fact, sufficient.

I don't think it is either. That still doesn't lift the burden from Newsweek to report that which they know and to not report that which they don't know. I'm not about to see a respect -- and, hell, a desire -- for fact be overthrown, whether it's out of sensationalism, carelessness, journalistic ethos or just plain gullibility.

123, in deciding whether or not something is torture, you have to look at context. Is keep someone awake torture? For 10 minutes no, for 10 days yes. Is playing loud music torture? Depends on how loud and how long. Is ritual humiliation torture? Depends on the person, I guess. Putting pages in the Koran wouldn't torture me, but then again I wouldn't be rioting over it.

It's clear that you don't share the government's principal war aim here, which IS the winning of hearts and minds of actual people in the Middle East, not of cartoon characters. Of course it would be easier if they already agreed with us on a whole range of issues, but too bad.


Anarch, I don't disagree that Newsweek looks bad here -- although it's pretty tough luck when a source, under intense pressure backs off on details. The Admin's emphasis on Newsweek, though, smells to me of misdirection. The question is whether or not US armed forces (and civilian contractors) have been abusing the Koran as an interrogation technique. The answer is surely readily ascertainable from the classified records of the interrogations (that is, if you don't already accept that it is readily ascertainable from the testimony of the great many prisoners either already released or still in custody). Yelling about Newsweek just keeps the pressure off the Admin to declassify records that would either prove or refute the allegations.

"It's clear that you don't share the government's principal war aim here, which IS the winning of hearts and minds of actual people in the Middle East,"

Mind reading foul... 10 yard penalty. Add the word "resasonable" people and maybe we could talk then.

"123, in deciding whether or not something is torture, you have to look at context."

Let's practice what you preach, then. Let's provide context for torture. Chopping off a limb. Electrocution of genitals. Killing a family member in front of you. Carving one up with a razor blade. Pushing someone off of a three story building.


Oops. Got carried away. That's not torture. That was just the Hussein's home videos.

I agree context really is important. It's ashame so many others don't see that.

"In the linked article it is explained that desecration of the Koran in some countries is a capital punishment."

For those who weren't already aware, I thought the fatwa against Salman Rushdie had made that point not terribly recently. Did many people not hear about that, or am I missing something?

"I agree context really is important. It's ashame so many others don't see that."

Gosh, you must have immensely superior insight compared to so many others. (See, I can avoid the obvious!)

Anarch: That still doesn't lift the burden from Newsweek to report that which they know and to not report that which they don't know.

I'm really not seeing why this is important, though. Let's run through the story:

1. There are repeated reports, from several different detainees, multiple news sources, about US soldiers desecrating the Koran in Guantanamo Bay.

2. Newsweek runs a story about a specific incident that has been confirmed by a Pentagon source.

3. The Pentagon source then backs down on the story.

4. Newsweek "backs down" from the story.

What's important, on the worldwide scale? Is it 1, 2, 3, or 4?

Finally, the specific incident Newsweek reported on may well be true: if the only evidence is that a Pentagon source first confirmed it then denied it, when is the Pentagon source most likely to be lying - when confirming that an incident took place which strongly resembles many other such incidents that detainees have reported: or when asserting, following considerable pressure, that no such incident occurred?

Maybe, we should start a thread on what kind of wackos start riots over a book being flushed down a toilet

They probably come from the same stock as the kind of people who would assault someone, or threaten to do so, for burning a flag. You really want to go down this road?

You didn't used to post as StanLS, did you? His only rhetorical tool was the tu quoque also. It got boring, fast.

I guess if we serverd them cookies and milk and then sent them on their merry jihadi way that would make all you lefties happy.

Just this weekend they aired a documentary on tv about guatanamo bay. A bunch of volonteers tried out the approved interrogation techniques - as victims. Very educational. Maybe you should try the experience yourself.

We just sent special forces to Afghanistan, in addition to the ISAF peacekeeping forces we've had there for a few years now. The main discussion point between the opposition and the various coalition parties is wether that decision can be approved by the government in view of the prisoner treatment by the US. If we make prisoners and hand them over to the North-Americans, can our soldiers be prosecuted? If the prisoners might be sent off to Guatanamo Bay, does that make us responsable?

And Gary? I ment to say that for some muslims the Koran itself, as a book, should be seen as the word of God (not just the content of the book). I think it is comparable with orthodox Jews who pray with pages with scripture tied to their heads. I thought they also saw those as the literal words of God, not as symbols of (But I am not a religious expert).

Anarch: I'm not about to see a respect -- and, hell, a desire -- for fact be overthrown, whether it's out of sensationalism, carelessness, journalistic ethos or just plain gullibility.

Going back to this point you're making - which is, yes, an important point:

If you really feel this, why do you want Newsweek to back down from a story which is still very likely true, only because the Pentagon have asserted that they've investigated themselves and their investigation has shown themselves to be innocent?

If you genuinely have a respect for/desire for the facts, why accept so willingly that the Pentagon must be telling the truth, and all those inmates must be lying?

Somerby notes that the Newsweek comment says "sources" not "source". This it seems to me is not so much a journalistic error as a lie.

"There are repeated reports, from several different detainees, multiple news sources, about US soldiers desecrating the Koran in Guantanamo Bay."

Perhaps I have something wrong, Jes, but doesn't your summary here (and your standard reaction?) assume that detainees must, in at least some cases, be honest and reliable reporters, but members of the U.S. military must not be?

I'm not saying that in any given case, one is the reliable party, and the other lying. But aren't you assuming it here? And -- again, I welcome correction if I am overlooking statements by you or misunderstanding them -- don't you always assume that the person accusing the U.S. is speaking truthfully, and any rebuttal by official spokespeople is a lie? (I'm thinking offhand of your assertions in the Sgrena case, for example).

"...if the only evidence is that a Pentagon source first confirmed it then denied it...." [...] ... then why did you introduce your point #1?

Dutchmarbel: "I ment to say that for some muslims the Koran itself, as a book, should be seen as the word of God (not just the content of the book)." Yes, although technically not one of the Five Pillars, it's about as elementary a point as Islam has, wouldn't you say? I don't think I've ever read even a couple of paragraphs about the Koran that didn't start out there. And I thought, as I said, that this was made particularly well known to non-Islamic folk in recent times when the fatwas against Rushdie were announced and "explained." But I may indeed be wrong about this.

"I think it is comparable with orthodox Jews who pray with pages with scripture tied to their heads. I thought they also saw those as the literal words of God, not as symbols of (But I am not a religious expert)."

I'm assuming (let me know if I'm wrong) that this is some sort of reference to tefillin, but while I'm extremely far from knowledgeable about this, this is the first I've heard anyone suggest that anyone thinks humans don't write them. Although you may easily be referring to something I lack knowledge of, might you provide a cite of some sort for what the heck you're talking about? (Mind, I'd never deny that Orthodox Judaism is crammed with stuff that makes no sense if you don't simply accept it as God's Word.)

"If you genuinely have a respect for/desire for the facts, why accept so willingly that the Pentagon must be telling the truth, and all those inmates must be lying?"

Y'know, Jes, my inclination is to suspect there's something to the story (although I'm certainly not sure), but why do you accept so willingly that the Pentagon must be telling lying, and all those inmates must be telling the truth?

Is there reason for people at the Pentagon to lie? Obviously. Is there reason for detainees to lie? Say it isn't so!

In the end, why would it be more reasonable to accept rioting and killing people because someone desecrated the Koran, but not to, say, kill a bunch of people because the New or Old Testaments (or Dianetics were desecrated? If, say, a U.S. General declared that it was fine to go kill Muslims at random, because we're in a holy war, and they don't accept Christ as their savior, you wouldn't take no note and speak as if that were simply an expression of religion that need be understood and overlooked, would you?

"The Iraqis may want the US troops to go home - understandably, given that they are outperforming Saddam Hussein in killing Iraqis...."

I missed that earlier. Interesting claim, Jes.

I noticed when looking through this entire thread to spot your comments on what CBS News here just reported a few minutes ago (in the Rocky Mountain time zone) is now 15 dead (although I don't remotely trust figures this soon on this sort of thing, to be sure). You've made no comment whatever on those 15 (or whatever the number is) dead. I can't speak to how important you therefore think they are or are not, of course, but I can observe -- unless you can point out my missing it in this thread -- that you don't appear to think they're even worth mentioning, let alone condemning anyone for.

"The important issue for anyone who cares about the appearance that the US's 'War on Terror' is in fact a war on Islam is whether such incidents, of US soldiers desecrating Korans, in fact occurred."

Yes, that's the only "important" thing. The crucial thing is that if we have an accusation against the U.S., we condemn the U.S. (and certainly it sometimes deserves condemning). If someone commits an anti-U.S. action, or kills people in the name of opposing the U.S., why, it's not even worth mentioning! (Apparently; am I wrong?)

I came back to this thread to post a link to what seemed to me to be an excellent analysis of the Newsweek issue v. the desecration issue, so I'll do that here.

Gary: Perhaps I have something wrong, Jes, but doesn't your summary here (and your standard reaction?) assume that detainees must, in at least some cases, be honest and reliable reporters, but members of the U.S. military must not be?

You do have it wrong, Gary, and it's a very simple thing you have wrong. You are confusing individual members of the US military with the Pentagon.

(Or possibly I am simply misusing the word "Pentagon".)

Individual US soldiers are, I presume, as likely to be honest and reliable reporters as anyone else. Like anyone else, they may well be confused, they may lie because they saw something they think they should have seen, their politics may color their memories, or vice versa, etc, etc, etc. But I see no reason not to give any individual US soldier the benefit of the doubt: I will judge their individual reports as I will judge anyone else's.

But when an organisation declares that it has investigated itself and found itself to be innocent, that I'm skeptical of. I would be skeptical of it if it were the US military (which is what I mean when I say "the Pentagon"), the UK military, the Israeli military: or if it were IBM, Waterstones, US Congress.

The Pentagon declares itself to be innocent: we do not hear the individual US soldiers reporting on the events that they and the detainees at Guantanamo Bay witnessed. We do hear the voices of the inmates at Guantanamo Bay, those who have been released: and when several of them, speaking separately, not apparently presenting a jointly-contrived story (nor is it clear when they would have had the opportunity jointly to contrive a story) all report that they witnessed US soldiers desecrating the Koran - yes, I grant more likelihood that they are reporting what they witnessed, than I do a corporate denial from the organisation accused.

Why do you find this difficult to understand? If it's one voice testifying against a corporation, and the corporation says "It never happened" - we may question both the individual's testimony and the corporation's denial. If the corporation has a known track record of doing illegal things and then issuing a blanket denial (as the Pentagon certainly does), and if there are several people who all testify that the corporation is lying when it denies (and their testimony has proven accurate in the past), then who are you going to find more credible? The corporation, or the individual witnesses?

123, is it a mindreading foul if I'm right? "Add the word 'resasonable' people and maybe we could talk then," a not-unreasonable assertion in my view, is contrary to the Administrations' war aims. We're trying to introduce democracy into the Middle East we have, not the Middle East we wish we had.

That someone has done worse -- whether Hussein, Zarqawi, Stalin, whoever -- doesn't excuse one's own behavior, unless you're five years old. Are you five? Is it a foul of some kind to think you're not?

The goal in the Neverending War is to convert people to a particular view. It wasn't my idea, and I don't think it's particularly winnable, but they're not doing it on my terms anyway. Abusing the Koran, abusing prisoners, denying rights -- these things might, in some cases, yield some kind of short term gain. In the longer haul they are seriously counterproductive to the effort the US is trying to make.

The Admin has played the Newsweek thing very well to domestic audiences. Abroad, though, people are not really convinced that there hasn't been considerable and systematic ritual humiliation -- this sense didn't come only from Newsweek, and isn't dependent on Newsweek. And it's not going to go away just because Newsweek apologizes for thinking a source said more than he actually did.

"Is there reason for detainees to lie?"

If I understand the story, the claim is that multiple detainees kept separated from each other have made this assertion, lending it credibility; and that the Pentagon doesn't deny the abuse in question occurred - and can't credibly deny it without an investigation.

Jes
Let me take the devil's advocate for a bit. There is a paper evidence that steps were ordered to be taken to make sure that the Koran was treated with dignity and respect, so the Pentagon spokesman DiRita has a point when he makes claims that these allegations may be manufactured.

(whew, that hat is tight!)Having said all that, DiRita's florid denunciations seem a bit contrived, like the guy who complains about how tight the cuffs are when he gets arrested for breaking and entering. Also, the accusations of mistreatment of the Koran have been heard before:

He said one unit used force-feeding to end a hunger strike by 70 per cent of the 600 inmates. The strike started after a guard deliberately kicked a copy of the Koran.
link

On preview, Gary writes:
Perhaps I have something wrong, Jes, but doesn't your summary here (and your standard reaction?) assume that detainees must, in at least some cases, be honest and reliable reporters, but members of the U.S. military must not be?

While I can understand where you are coming from, we keep getting told that various things aren't happening, and then come to find out that they are. In fact, we haven't had any members of the US military who are actually _doing_ interrogations come forward and say they aren't doing this, it is simply spokesmen like DiRita and the Army has specifically said that they will not comment on what techniques are used or not used so as not to give information away. Also, given that the revelations of abuse only emerged because people were profoundly disturbed by what was going on (and the passing around of photographic proof), it is hard to imagine that non-believers would be profoundly disturbed enough to report this or that people would be taking pictures of koran desecration, as it probably seems not particularly photographic and simply more "evidence" of why the Muslim mind is not as 'mature' as the Western mind.

This whole thing has led me to plug this into Seb's previous post about how one would avoid torture. It is hard for me to envision a situation where I would hold a physical object so dear, but if I did, and I were innocent, and my interrogator said that he was going to desecrate the object if I didn't come clean about my involvement with terrorism, what would I do?

I'm quite interested in this notion of the sacredness of the word, and I've linked to this article before, but I think it is apropos here. While not excusing the violence associated with the Newsweek story (that is not at all proven, because Gen Myers and others have been reported as saying that the violence is unconnected to this, as noted by Josh Marshall), but I have to think that we don't find it at all infantile to see this kind of devotion to the written word in these cases.

Should have known better.

I fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." But, only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against Gary Farber when he's determined to nitpick not only everything you said, but everything you didn't say.

Here, by the way, is an excerpt from a May 1 NYT story:

"One recently released detainee, interviewed by telephone from Kuwait, said he had witnessed or learned from fellow inmates about many of the abusive practices that have been described in previous reports by nongovernmental groups like the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"But that detainee, Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi, also said in a series of interviews with The New York Times that detainees sometimes prevailed over the authorities after protesting conditions with campwide hunger strikes.

"Mr. al-Mutairi said there were three major hunger strikes in his more than three years of imprisonment at Guantánamo. He said that after one of them, a protest of guards' handling of copies of the Koran, which had been tossed into a pile and stepped on, a senior officer delivered an apology over the camp's loudspeaker system, pledging that such abuses would stop. Interpreters, standing outside each prison block, translated the officer's apology.

"A former interrogator at Guantánamo, in an interview with The Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans."

"If the corporation has a known track record of doing illegal things and then issuing a blanket denial (as the Pentagon certainly does), and if there are several people who all testify that the corporation is lying when it denies (and their testimony has proven accurate in the past), then who are you going to find more credible? The corporation, or the individual witnesses?"

Jes, doesn't this reasoning make it inevitable that you will always assume the U.S. government spokesfolks are lying when they deny wrong-doing? Mind, I'm not suggesting you have never found the U.S. government to be correct when it defended itself, ever. But the question remains. And if the answer is, indeed, "yes," doesn't make your assertions somewhat, well, what are you adding when you inevitably, every single time, publically state that you assume the accusation is true? Should we not just assume that you are, as usual, assuming, until you actually violate your norm?

Please note this isn't an attempt to make any sort of personal attack; I certainly have a great deal more respect for what you do add to conversation here than I have for some other folks who have regularly contributed at times. I'm simply trying to suggest that always assuming one answer is kinda predictable.

"f I understand the story, the claim is that multiple detainees kept separated from each other have made this assertion, lending it credibility...."

In a vacuum, that's a more than entirely reasonable point, rilkefan. And, as I indicated, I'm not going to argue that it never happened, or argue for any particular set of facts -- aside from the impossibility of proving the negative, I don't find the accusation particularly implausible. But in a case of an accusation of this sort, precisely because it is impossible to prove negatively, and seems relatively plausible, I'm not inclined to favor the reasoning that it's excessively implausible for detainees to separately false make the accusation, either. And if the Pentagon were absolutely correct if they asserted that it had never, ever, happened once at Gitmo, I can't see how they could possibly prove it, either. So on the merits, in discussing a hypothesis that isn't falsifiable....

"But, only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against Gary Farber when he's determined to nitpick not only everything you said, but everything you didn't say."

With respect, if you might focus on my points, rather than my personality? (Ad hominem fallacy, after all.)

Obviously, having a policy against desecrating the Koran that is instituted after desecration of the Koran has been widespread is not proof that there was no desecration of the Koran, or that such desecration as was done was contrary to policy.

I'm not sure when Mr. Begg -- and others who witnessed the Koran in the waste bucket -- was in Bagram, but I would hazard a guess that it was well before the Guantanamo hunger strike.

This is one of the problems with the government's approach to Gitmo. Let's suppose that abuse was much worst early in the war -- say Nov01-Dec02 -- but by keeping it secret and the prisoners locked up incommunicado, the thing comes out as a drip, drip, drip. Eventually, by which I mean during the GWB administration or shortly thereafter, at least 400+ of the current 500+ prisoners are going to be released. Each will get a chance to recount his story of abuse which will be both old and new. (Even before they are released, their lawyers will drip, drip, drip their stories, as they manage to get it declassified bit by bit).

I suppose supporters will keep blaming the media, but each story will have undeniable elements, and will put the Americans involved in a worse and worse light. And that's well before the ghost prisoners are released. Who knows what tales they will have to tell . . .

Dutch,

"Maybe you should try the experience yourself."

Yes, and just who is this "THEY" you are talking about. I'm sure "THEY" aren't biased in anyway. I'm sure "THEY" just want to the truth. Maybe "THEY" should just stay home and have a talk about it with Theo. Oh, they can't now can they. He's dead.


Phil,

"They probably come from the same stock as the kind of people who would assault someone, or threaten to do so, for burning a flag."

How absurd? Are you actually trying to claim that people have died for that reason? Your comparison is too weak to really take seriously.

"You didn't used to post as StanLS, did you? His only rhetorical tool was the tu quoque also. It got boring, fast."

Yes, I am sure it did get boring. It probably had nothing to do with the fact that you might post something as off the wall as comparing people against flag burning in the U.S. against rioters that actually kill people.

Charleycap,

I see you really don't care about context. Just the context you are interested in. Thanks for letting me know.


Gary, I seem to have difficulty expression what I mean properly. Rushdie insulted the Koran in their view, with Satanic Verses. He did not do anything fysical to the book. But (as you can see from your link) for most moslims the arabic version as a fysical entity is sacred. I remember the difficulty soldiers had with Iraqi (female) employees who entered the green zome: they searched their handbags and some had arabic korans in them, which than were touched by the soldiers of sniffed at by dogs.

Teffillin is the custom I referred to. As I said, I am not a religious expert and I don't know where I read about it being the word of God. Could be in a Chaim Potok book, could be in another book. Googling lead me to this statement (weirdly enough in a discussion about a Dutch incident and by someone who uses it as an example of non-violent jewish fundamentalists - does coïncidence exist??)

In Judiaism Teffelin is one of the most Holiest items - they are boxes containing holy torah protions. These boxes are suppossed to be bound to the heart and the head (i.e.mind) after G-d's commnadment to Moses You shall bind my commandments to your heart and to your mind. Only Jewish men are permitted to wear teffilin and only during morning prayers.

How absurd?

Is that a question? I'm not sure how to answer it.

Are you actually trying to claim that people have died for that reason?

Um, no. If I had been trying to claim that, I would have written it. Are you trying to claim that people who beat other people up for burning a flag are not "wacko?"

"As I said, I am not a religious expert and I don't know where I read about it being the word of God."

Yes, precisely the same as Torah is or is not (and precisely because they're bits of Torah), but that's -- and I'm not making any value comparisons -- just as different, apparently, from the Islamic interpretation as it is from the fundamentalist Christian interpretation, and as the Christian and Islamic interpretations are from each other. (Last I looked, fundamentalist Christians maintain that the NT is the Word of God, too.) (To make a value judgment, up to a point, I've not heard of anyone justifying killing anyone because of descrating a Torah, although I'm no religious expert, either.) Regardless, you completely lost me with what point you were trying to get at with that seemingly random quotation, I'm afraid. (Just for future reference, no criticism intended, it's "physical," by the way, not "fysical"; as always, your English is infinitely better than my Dutch.) But it's doubtless not worth going down the path of further discussion of this relatively trivial point.

Phil,

I'm sorry but there is nothing relevant to talk about if you want to compare beating someone up with a murdering rampage.

123: here is a description. and here are some video images.

a quote form one of the participants:

Before the shoot I had mixed feelings about the War on Terror; I was, and remain, more hawkish than most of my friends, am considering joining the services when I graduate and thought that Camp X-Ray was a place were a select few were interrogated on matters crucial to safeguarding our way of life. Yet I believed then, as now, that as the 'good guys' we should not merely be fulfilling the requirements of international law, but exceeding them, setting an example in upholding human rights; I worried that Guantanamo undermined our standing in the wider world and thus made us more enemies than we could defeat with the information obtained there. In short, I could see the pros and cons but was content to trust in the expert opinion of our leaders that the right balance had been found.

The fact that Theo van Gogh was killed by an islamimbecile does not mean that everybody can now do whatever they feel like with any muslim they can lay their hands on.

No dutch it doesn't mean that.

And just because some people get wrongly abused doesn't mean they are all being abused and that their being prisoners is a bad thing.

Maybe, channel 4 can do a show about how it feels to watch the WTC fall down. Or jumping from a burning building? Maybe they can do a show about not having water for a week in your home because some idiots flew a plane into a building.

They didn't do that show did they?

Dutchmarbel
Het sop is de kool niet waard.

This is interesting:

Sat May 14, 7:17 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A march in the US capital organized by the Free Muslims Against Terrorism group, whose members seek to promote democracy while rejecting the use of radical Islam, drew only a few dozen supporters.


Let's see.... murder rampage... check. Peaceful march against terrorism... nope too busy.

"And just because some people get wrongly abused doesn't mean they are all being abused and that their being prisoners is a bad thing."

Is there someone on this blog arguing that piece of straw? (Incidentally, what did the U.S. government eventually do about that incredibly dangerous Yaser Hamdi, and why?)

gary: the quote was intended to show where my recollection of 'literal the word of god' possibly came from. That in their religion something that for me would *always* be meant as a manner of speech (carry these holy commands on your head and on your heart) was translated very literal, as 'carry these words in boxes physically on your head'.
Fundamentalistic Christians see the NT also as the word of God (I have an uncle who is from the school that thinks that everything written in their should be taken literally). But they can touch the book itself without preparation and he would be so pleased if I wanted to look into it that he most definately would not ask me, an infidel, to wash my hands before I could touch it. The words in it were holy, but not the paper they were written on or the band that kept those pages together.

For me *all* of this is rather weird, but I don't have much with symbols and holy items anyway. For me the value most Americans put on their flag is weird too. Frankly, the Dutch flag could be used as toiletpaper and I would only think you were crazy to pay for such an expensive piece of cloth if paper is both nicer and cheaper. And I can assure you that I am quite patriottic ;-), it is just that the flag is a piece of cloth that is coloured and you can hang it out when you want to celebrate things, but it holds no emotional value for me. But rationally I know that for a lot of Americans burning their flag is emotionally shocking, I understand that burning that piece of cloth for them is much more emotional than burning the Dutch flag for most Dutch people is.

In that same spirit I can understand that for quite a number of muslims the desacration of their holy book is much more shocking than it would be for most christians if you did that to a bible, because for most christians it is what is written *in* the bible that is important, not the paper it was written on. For Christians there is also no difference between bibles in various languages, they do not have a specifically holy one in Aramees (or whatever language the original is supposed to be written in).

Sorry for the typo's: when I get tired more Dutchisms sneak their way in, and it is 03.00 here - and I will have three lively young boys around in 4 hours time. So I will be sensible and go to bed now ;-)

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