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March 23, 2008

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That is staggeringly stupid. These brave people who risk their lives for us deserve a far, far better fate than to be ground up in our bureaucracy, denied a green card by some G-12 who can't even find Mosul on a map.

I wonder if Ahmad has ever read any Orwell. If he has, he can probably better recognize his situation.

Wow.

How convoluted and completely wrong.

more things that make me agree with Michelle Obama and Rev. Wright. ;)

hilzoy, everything you say is absolutely correct, and, once again, if you're not outraged, it means that you're not paying attention.

But I'm sure some DHS clerk rests comfortably this Easter morning because, having handled Mr. Ahmed's paperwork, he has saved the country from one more Muslim terrorist. Heck, it'll probably show up as more evidence in success in the department's next report to Congress. And, of course, there was this story last week where some Bush administration official said that he thought those translators who'd risked their lives helping us should stay in Iraq, because the reconstruction needs more people who love Democracy and want to live in America. A description that, come to think of it, probably applies to the Bush administration official, too.

Damned are the people who did this.

Oh. Am I an anti-white racist to say that?

Matt: I suspect these officials tried to live their lives by the Holy Writ Of Kafka in this instance, perhaps with an assist by Joseph Heller; it's just the rest of the time that they read Orwell as a How-To Guide.

Not related to the post, but in the realm of "government nutsiness," looks like there's more to the Spitzer thing than meets the eye, just like a lot of people originally thought.

Barack Obama should get on this right now.

He should call on George Bush to permit Saman Kareem Ahmad permanent residency. Ahmad would stand next to Obama and translate the latter's remarks into Kurdish.

Further, whether Ahmad stays or not, it is photo op time. I see video of Obama pinning an American flag pin on Ahmad's lapel.

I see, too, a press conference by Obama, in which he muses aloud about whom should take Ahmad's place in the queue for deportation to Iraq.

Let me think ............ there could be a formula ......... divide the Iraqi 15% flat tax rate by the number of times deportation candidates have deducted their travel expenses to anti-tax forums on their US tax forms.

Could be a tie. Let's hope so.

I've got it!

Roger Stone. There needs to be a deportation tax, say, depantsing a few moments before boarding.

No no no, the system work perfectly.

Is Ahmed a muslim? Yes.

Is he allowed to stay in the United States? No.

Case closed.

Spitzer's experience, and the public's subsequent acceptance of it serves to enhance the survellience state's anthem:

If you don't have something to hide, then you have no reason to be concerned about the government's survellience.

Hell, somewhere between 700,000 and 900,000 names are on TSA's Super Sekrit don't-fly list. How many people do you suppose that list matches? How many of those people do you think can even get to the United States, much less gain admission?

All hail Emperor George II's Amerikan Sekurity State and Fortress of Co-Prosperity, in which (contra Kibo) no one is Allowed except the Emperor and his minions and hench and stooges.

Are we enjoying our cake yet?

My guess is that Saman Kareem Ahmad will most likely get his decision turned around shortly, due to this bad publicity, and perhaps even a handful of Iraqis in similar cases might, but that that'll be it, and nothing more will be done in the near future, surely through the end of the Bush administration, about the plight of the rest of the thousands of Iraqi translators, and Iraqis who have worked for the U.S., or, of course, the rest of Iraq.

It would be nice to think Congress would act, but that could require a supermajority in the Senate.

Hah. G-12? G-8 more likely. Oh, whatever.
The inmates are running the asylum.

The Red Whore Queen of Babylon still calling the shots. Doubtless not the unkindest cut but needlessly damnable nonetheless.
Any suggestions on who to e-mail a protest?

Scott Horton’s latest on Spitzer.

Are we enjoying our cake yet?
The cake is crawling with maggots.

@Warren -- you are most certainly correct.

What a nightmare for this man. At least he's still willing to help out the USMC. Maybe that will get his case reopened more quickly, who knows?

yep, it's completely crazy. Use the word terrorism in a law or regulation, & everyone in Washington turns stupid. (Well, almost; a couple of people in Congress are trying to fix this but last time it was voted on it lost by a huge margin.)

There are in fact bad guys out there.

Sometimes even Canada finds em trying to get in.

Some say he's just a politician, and besides it was just a small amount of explosives he was trying to smuggle.

I'd say you can't be too careful.

"Over the years my spirit has been freed from the obscurantism of an ideology that legitimises lies and deception, violent death that leads to homicide and suicide, blind submission to tyranny"
- Magdi Allam

Magdi Allam is one more example of why we cannot confuse Islam with Muslims. Islam is a belief system that is incompatible with the United States Constitution and human rights as the modern left defines them. Muslims are people, many (some, most?) of whom would make a positive contribution to the West.

The government’s position is stupid. Ahmad’s screening process should include a pledge to not support political Islam, not a screen against affiliation with armed militias. That makes no sense.

If I was in charge, we’d only accept Apostates as immigrants, and we would accept them with open arms. But that probably won’t happen for another ten years or so.

Sometimes one find themselves in a situation where bad and worse are fighting - one example would be Hitler vs Stalin or the Chinese communists vs japan. (ok a breach of Godwins law - but you know who else used laws to stop debates...)

Now a foreign power could refuse to get its moral hands dirty an not do anything to support either side - but the results of that could be very bad. Or they could make a call on who is worse and take some action to support the other side - which in itself can have bad consequences. (will they make the other side too string?)

One can decide one way or the other but to suggest it is a simple decision or that inaction is somehow always superior to action is foolish.

Resistance fighters are almost always bad guys - god guys just don't generally rise to the top of organizations fighting in that sort of a way. So you can always support the oppressor or grant citizenship automatically to probably the craziest million odd people in the world.

I'm not talking about automatically granting citizenship to anyone. I'm talking about not automatically refusing a green card to people who have helped our troops and are vouched for by members of our armed forces, because they were part of a group that we supported, fighting against a dictator we abhorred.

There is a difference.

So, former members of Iraqis that listened to W's Dad and took up arms against Saddam Hussein should be deemed terrorists? Should the French Resistance forces that fought Nazi Germany also be denied entry to the US as "former terrorists?" How about Ollie North's buddies - former Contras that fought the Sandinistas? (Oh, yeah, they were "freedom fighters").

Under this absurd theory, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of the Founding Fathers would be on a terrorist watch list - and General Lafayette would have been denied permanent entry to the US because he fought alongside George Washington during the Revolutionary War - a fight against as established government - making him a terrorist supporter.

There is a difference.
Indeed. A whole world’s worth.
Seems that big big blind spots are not limited to bureaucrats. A failure of ‘reason’ to accommodate facts.

One should decide these things on a case-by-case basis. The US definition of which group is or is not a terrorist organization is somewhat arbitrary. The contras attacked civilians, but they wouldn't be on the list. Apparently the KDP was on the list, which surprises me a bit. They do have the sort of morally dubious record you'd expect from any group of gun-toting freedom fighters. Link. The KDP had a temporary alliance with Saddam in an inter-Kurdish civil war in 1996. But that doesn't mean that all or even most members of the KDP did bad things.

We've got a morally inconsistent record on who we let in anyway. It's not like we don't allow mass murderers into this country, so long as they were on the right side. LINK

I see Bill weighs in with his usually irrelevant comment.

Bill, can you give me the name of any religion, that strictly followed, is compatible with THE United States Constitution.

Christianity surely doesn't, not under the terms you referred to. Judaism may be the closest, but even it doesn't totally. Buddhism, unlikely. Shintoism, nah. Hinduism, not really.

To clarify a bit--I've known about that Kurdish civil war in 1996 from when I read the book by two of the Cockburn brothers on Iraq and it seemed a bit odd to me, even given the cynicism that I try to maintain about "freedom fighters", that a group of Kurdish freedom fighters would ally themselves with the man who had killed somewhere between 50,000 and 180,000 Kurds in the previous decade. But there you go--apparently in the all-important attempt to beat the other Kurdish faction in the quest for power, the KDP thought a temporary alliance with Saddam was the way to go. In 2003 the two factions united and joined the US against Saddam.

But that said, individuals should be judged on a case-by-case basis and there doesn't appear to be any reason to prevent Saman
Kareem Ahmad from obtaining a green card. You shouldn't necessarily make a harsh judgment about a person in a war-torn part of the world just because an organization he was part of made some morally dubious choices. Besides, the KDP is the same as the USA in this case, so if anything, this should be a point in his favor.

In this case we aren't letting in 'freedom fighters' who WERE on the right side (generally speaking). Which I agree should be done on a case by case basis - but that is something that one can't really work out without a fairly detailed investigation of the facts.

I also think there should be a Godwin's law relating to George Washington (and maybe 'founding fathers' in general).

Somehow the phrase "premature anti-Saddamism" comes to mind....

john miller: “Bill, can you give me the name of any religion, that strictly followed, is compatible with THE United States Constitution.”

He wasn’t stating what was compatible, but what is ‘incompatible’ with the United States Constitution, by which I assume he means separation of church and state. If that’s what he meant, he’s more right than wrong.

We have 200+ years of proof that Christianity, as practiced by modern men, is fully compatible with the Constitution. Jews have been around in numbers for probably better than a hundred years, so they seem to be OK. Mormons are doing just fine after ~150 years. Hindus seem to assimilate well and those of Oriental faiths seem to outperform Europeans.

The introduction of large numbers of unchecked Muslims will at first result in a call for localized Sharia law. We have the good fortune of being able to observe theory-to-practice in Britain, with a Muslim population of only 3%. There have been no calls for separate legal systems for English Hindus or Jews.

At about 10%; no go zones are established (Netherlands, France). Somewhere after 33%, assassinations begin (the fall of Lebanon, the birth of Pakistan, the birth of Kosovo). After 50% comes the religious cleansing through the burdens of dhimmitude and violence (Turkey, the Persian Empire, North Africa).

Then there is the abandonment of human dignity when Infidels choose to defend their ground (Yugoslavia, Vlad the Impaler, Spain). We want to avoid this.

Some good places to begin a study of the root reasons for the incompatibility of Islam and the West are:

2:10 – 2:99 - 2:104 – 2:171 – 3:28 – 3:48 – 3:73 – 4:64 – 4:89 – 4:101 – 4:144 – 5:51 – 5:57 – 5:59 – 5:60 – 6:106 – 8:55 - 9:5 – 9:29

Or read the writings of Magdi Allam, or John Quincy Adams, or Oriana Fallaci, or Winston Churchill, or Robert Spencer for commentary.

Islam is a completely different animal than:

"render onto Caesar what is Caesar's”.

Both theory and modern practice prove this. Saman Kareem Ahmad most likely wants to leave Iraq because of the consequences of the things mentioned above. We have a duty to him as well as ourselves to preserve the society that he wants to immigrate to.

"It's not like we don't allow mass murderers into this country, so long as they were on the right side."

There are endless examples. This is one of the best known ones.

Or with more war criminals.

These set the precedents for all the later, similar, Pragmatic Decisions.

Though we might also go back to this decision and ally with these guys that might be the real root precedent.

Is there some way to save this blog from Bill's silly racialist fantasizing, where he gets to play some kind of twisted St. Peter at the Statue of Liberty, letting some in, others not?

Look, it is just irritating to hear people talking about which groups they think have been vetted enough to join their imaginary union (Mormons, Jews) and which groups haven't been. It makes my skin crawl.

Bill, you'd have about an eighth of a point if the U.S. generally restricted immigration based on religion on the grounds that Islam was incompatible with the Constitution, but since restricting it in such a way *would* be incompatible with the Constitution, we don't.

Nice try, though.

It certainly sounds stupid, but the Grade 12 DHS adjudicator is merely applying the law the way it is written. For those who wish to actually see what the law says they can go to the Immigration and Nationality Act section covering classes of inadmissable aliens, section 212 and go to section covering terrorists and terrorist activities which is 212(a)(3)(B), and no, I didn't have to look that section up. You can draw your own inferences. But terrorists and terrorists activities are indeed defined so broadly that any member of an insurgency, no matter how justified their struggle, is pretty much inadmissable under the law. But it is worse, much worse than that. If Mr. Ahmad had merely given a meal to Kurdish fighters he would be inadmissable for providing material support. That is the way the law is written. It has been developing that way for more than a decade, starting with the Anti-terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) passed in 1996 and added to ever since -- especially through the PATRIOT Act. There are provisions in the law under which some waivers may be granted, but nobody (and here we are speaking of people way above the Grade 12 level) has the balls to commit themselves to promulgating the regulations needed to apply these waivers. After twelve years of holding on to material support cases, keeping many people in legal limbo, the government is finally working out some provisions for waivers, but mostly for tier III groups (that would be the "undesignated" terrorist groups such as the one that Mr. Ahmad belongs to), but the waivers are only for material support, not for combatants.

Unfortunately, the waiver provisions for terrorist provisions of inadmissability are incredibly convoluted and require agreement by three competing cabinet departments. That is INA 212(d)(3)(B), which reads:


The Secretary of State, after consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Secretary of Homeland Security, after consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, may determine in such Secretary's sole unreviewable discretion that subsection (a)(3)(B) shall not apply with respect to an alien within the scope of that subsection or that subsection (a)(3)(B)(vi)(III) shall not apply to a group within the scope of that subsection, except that no such wa iver may be extended to an alien who is within the scope of subsection (a)(3)(B)(i)(II), no such waiver may be extended to an alien who is a member or representative of, has voluntarily and knowingly engaged in or endorsed or espoused or persuaded others to endorse or espouse or support terrorist activity on behalf of, or has voluntarily and knowingly received military-type training from a terrorist organization that is described in subclause (I) or (II) of subsection (a)(3)(B)(vi), and no such waiver may b e extended to a group that has engaged terrorist activity against the United States or another democratic country or that has purposefully engaged in a pattern or practice of terrorist activity that is directed at civilians. Such a determination shall neither prejudice the ability of the United States Government to commence criminal or civil proceedings involving a beneficiary of such a determination or any other person, nor create any substantive or procedural right or benefit for a beneficiary of such a d etermination or any other person. Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), including section 2241 of title 28, or any other habeas corpus provision, and sections 1361 and 1651 of such title, no court shall have jurisdiction to review such a determination or revocation except in a proceeding for review of a final order of removal pursuant to section 1252 of this title, and review shall be limited to the extent provided in section 1252(a)(2)(D). The Secretary of State may not ex ercise the discretion provided in this clause with respect to an alien at any time during which the alien is the subject of pending removal proceedings under section 1229a of this title.

And so much stuff in 212(a)(3)(B) is still unwaivable that even if you could get all the high-ranking DOJ, DOS, and DHS officials that need to sign off on these things to stick their necks out, it is still doubtful that Mr. Ahmad would qualify.

But if you can get them permission to do it, there are plenty of GS 12 adjudicators our there who would be proud to stick their necks out and give Mr. Ahmad a green card. But first you will have to elect a Congress that will be willing to change this draconian law.

Gary is right -- this is actually stupid enough to get reversed.

If not, I hope the Dems run a commercial: "Because I helped fight against Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush says I'm a terrorist." But they're not that clever, alas.

ara: "Is there some way to save this blog from Bill's silly racialist fantasizing"

Religionist, not racialist.

Is there some way to save this blog from Bill's silly racialist fantasizing, where he gets to play some kind of twisted St. Peter at the Statue of Liberty, letting some in, others not?

Heavens, no.

Let the foolish identify themselves so we know who they are.

They just need to be rewarded properly every so often with the rhetorical thrashing they deserve.

What Donald J. says. The KDP weren't the boy scouts either and didn't have a problem with asking Saddam to help them against the other Kurdisch party either, when *those* turned out to be the de facto Kurdish government.

I agree with the idea that people who spent years helping the US troops and taking riscs for doing so ought to get a green card. I think Ahmad should definately get one.

I don't agree with the whole 'being part of the KDP isn't that bad because the US supported them' argument.

So I guess that someone in another part of the world doesn't get to engage in armed resistance to a regime that has killed his entire family with poison gas, by joining an organization that the US completely supports, without being labelled a terrorist.

What's the most important issue there? The fact that his whole family was killed by the party he fought against? Or the support of the US? The former argument goes for quite some other parties that are labelled terrorists (Palestinia comes to mind) and the latter argument included a lot or regimes that we now consider quite evil.

you can legitimately say that his being part of the KDP is no threat for the US and is outweighted by his actions to help the US troops. I think these cases should be judged on an individual basis to be honest.

But you should be more clear on which terrorist groups are bad enough to have their members disadvantaged by the international community. The fact that the US supported them unfortunately does not mean much in that area, nor does the fact that they fought against a bad guy.

What gwangung said, more or less...though I'm not sure what I'd do if there were 100 Bills posting here. Probably come by a lot less often. Still, there are people whose contributions I ignore sooner than Bill's, if time is short.

Complicated topic, banning.

This stuff about Islam being incompatible with the constitution (which is, I know, a troll and a threadjack)...didn't the exact same thing used to be said about Catholicism? Obviously there were some anti-Catholic bigots who were just outright slimy bigots without any intellectual justification.

But anti-Catholic sentiment was more often premised on the notion that Catholicism was conducive to tyranny and servile submission to authority, that Catholics did the bidding of a foreign prince (the Pope) and were thus untrustworthy. That Catholicism was inherently anti-liberal and backwards, etc. etc. etc.

I would hope that these anti-Muslim ravers can tell us why such fears about Catholicism were false, but the exact same fears about Islam are justified. Islam as practiced today, like Catholicism in the nineteenth century (although perhaps, given the much greater centralization of Catholicism, to a lesser extent), can have a difficult and complicated relationship to western secular liberal democracy. The idea that these kind of problems are inherent in the religion has been pretty well disproven by the history of the Catholic experience in America, I think.

I would hope that these anti-Muslim ravers can tell us why such fears about Catholicism were false, but the exact same fears about Islam are justified.

Well, you're making rather large assumptions that these ravers a) know about the past and b) are motivated enough to go look at them.

Same thing going with the immigration debate. Too many folks are focussed locked on the here and now and not willing to consider this in context.

one more example of why we cannot confuse Islam with Muslims.

Okay, maybe he shouldn't be banned for being a bigot, despite the fact that he is one, but could he at least be severely ridiculed for not making sense?

Okay, maybe he shouldn't be banned for being a bigot, despite the fact that he is one, but could he at least be severely ridiculed for not making sense?

Oh, that's fair game all the time.

Homeland Security Czar, indeed. Draconian, Procrustean, all that. Perfectly of a piece with the Department of Justice Denied.

Dutch: I don't think that either of the Kurdish parties are angels. I do not think that membership in either should be an automatic bar to entry to the US on the grounds that they are terrorist organizations.

Dutchmarbel made the points I was trying to make more clearly than I did. Membership in a guerilla group now considered a US ally is, by itself, neither a dealbreaker nor a reason to let him in, but in this case, for other reasons, he should be let in.

Majun reminds me of someone il.

Utterly OT treasure. Horton on Mahler w/video of Rattle and gang being grand

Resistance fighters are almost always bad guys - god guys just don't generally rise to the top of organizations fighting in that sort of a way.

It's true that de Gaulle could be kind of a jerk.

It would help if he converted to Christianity.

It would help if he converted to Christianity.

When I saw this, I was also outraged. BUT, in this case at least, the story was posted as a lead article in the Washington Post. Someone had to have the connection to get the attention of the editors, and have it publicized. And I would be surprised it this decision is not reversed. So I was less concerned for this one individual -- as I strongly suspect we will shortly read a follow-up article on how this stupid decision has been fixed.

The real problem is the dozens (hundreds? thousands?) who do not have connections to get their story publicized. And they are the ones who the bureaucrats ought to be serving, in our (we the people's) name. And for them I am outraged, though I don't know their story.

Just so that you're aware, this article has been picked up by Fark.

And I couldn't agree with you more, Hilzoy. This is ridiculous.

But anti-Catholic sentiment was more often premised on the notion that Catholicism was conducive to tyranny and servile submission to authority, that Catholics did the bidding of a foreign prince (the Pope) and were thus untrustworthy. That Catholicism was inherently anti-liberal and backwards, etc. etc. etc.

Two other points are worth making here. (1) The official position of the Catholic Church at the time was, indeed, opposition to the separation of church and state and insistence on Catholicism as the state-sponsored religion. (2) Nonetheless, American Catholics were the strongest supporters of separation of church and state at the time. Of course, they did not act out of civil libertarian principle. They acted because they knew Catholicism was a minority religion and would lose out in the absence of strict separation. The Pope refused to acknowledge their difficulty and kept insisting that the US become a Catholic theocracy.

Of course, we know the end. The Catholic Church did ultimately make peace with religious pluralism, a position it was dead-set against for centuries. If the Catholic Church can make peace with the modern world, why not Islam? The US offers the perfect model of how it is done.

"Resistance fighters are almost always bad guys - god guys just don't generally rise to the top of organizations fighting in that sort of a way."

"It's true that de Gaulle could be kind of a jerk."

I'm a fan of snark, sometimes, but it ought to have a point. Your example of de Gaulle is presumably supposed to show that not all resistance leaders are jerks. I wouldn't know about de Gaulle, but supposing he was a counterexample it wouldn't have disproven the original point.

Also, de Gaulle was a "jerk", if by that you mean a heartless man who didn't care that tens of thousands of Algerian allies of France were to be butchered, though I don't know if he did anything like that as a resistance leader.

Harki

Following the logic of this clever fellow begs the question: What does this then make us??????

Enlightened Layperson: “If the Catholic Church can make peace with the modern world, why not Islam?”

Oh, good, the Catholic Church has made peace with the modern world – does that mean they no longer have objections to birth control, and are allowing lady priests? And since it only took them 350 years to modernized their opinion of Galileo’s theories, and only 150 years to soften their criticisms of Darwinian evolution, maybe we can expect some progress into democratic modernity from Islam, say in the next hundred years?

In some parts of the Islamic world -- e.g., Turkey -- democracy is doing quite nicely. Unlike Catholicism, most sects of Islam don't have a hierarchical leadership of the kind that could make some sort of official pronouncement, so it's unlikely you'll see it announced. But keep watching the countries.

I think Pakistan seems to be moving in the right direction, though it's always dodgy. And the Muslims in India seem to get along with democracy just fine.

Hey, everybody, what's the largest Muslim country in the world that somehow tends to hardly get mentioned?

That's right, Indonesia.

More.

More.

And plenty more where that came from.

March 5th:

[...] The discussion Tuesday also found Islam and democracy had proven their compatibility in the republic, where they said multiculturalism was well preserved.

Speakers at the discussion said democracy in Indonesia was supported by the fact it constitutionally upheld freedom of religion.

Eighty per cent of Indonesia's population is Muslim.

Franz Magnis-Suseno, a reputed scholar from the Driyarkara School of Philosophy said, "Unlike Malaysia, Muslims (here) are legally allowed to embrace a new faith".

"We are seeing unprecedented relations between Muslim organizations and those of other faiths, and it shows democracy survives in a land of Muslims."

This notion was shared by Azyumardi Azra, a professor at the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, who said multi-culturalism in Indonesia was viewed as a strong virtue.

He said the difference between Islam in Indonesia and in other countries was that Muslim organizations here were civil society groups.

"Unlike those in the Middle East, they contribute to the development of a civic society here that is very crucial for democracy," he said.

Azyumardi also cited the victory of nationalist parties in elections as an example of democratic Muslims here, despite the birth of various Islam-oriented parties.

"Above that, Muslims here also practice the same Islamic obligations like those in the Middle East.

"That's why I reject claims that say Islam in Indonesia is more peripheral compared to that in the Middle East," he said.

Indonesia:
Population:
234,693,997 (July 2007 est.)

[...]

Religions:
Definition Field Listing
Muslim 86.1%, Protestant 5.7%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 1.8%, other or unspecified 3.4% (2000 census)

Incidentally, religous Jews have been using religious law as family law with the blessings the secular law systems of the U.S., Canada, and Australia, for a very long time, among other mixings of religious law and U.S.

Naturally, this proves that we Jews are still out to control the world, and that we still do, bwahahaha.

But, hey, equal time for Muslims. Better yet to rule and oppress you Christians together, and as brothers, we shall eat your babies, and drink your milkshakes, with your Christian baby blood! We will drink it up!

hilzoy: "In some parts of the Islamic world -- e.g., Turkey -- democracy is doing quite nicely."

Turkey, an atypical exception to the rule, is the ONLY secular Islamic nation. And that's because it has long established roots in western culture. As far back as the Ottoman Empire Turkey was moving toward secularism, and after WWI, like India, Western values had a profound influence on the nation. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey adopted methods and forms of European jurisprudence to construct its constitution and legal system. In other words, Turkey is governmentally a westernized nation, but it has taken almost a century to get where it is, and is still struggling to maintain its secular freedoms: recently there's been a lot of internal religious turmoil from factions who want Islam to play a larger role in the nation's political life, and Turkey's future as a secular democracy is uncertain...

But you're right, it's doing ok, for now... let's hope the forces of intolerant Islam don't overwhelm the liberal westernized moderate Islamic majority

it ought to have a point.

Do you think that giving de Gaulle a green card would have represented a danger to the American nation? What about the leaders of the resistance in Norway or the Netherlands (whose names I don't know)? Or Simon Bolivar?

Turkey, an atypical exception to the rule, is the ONLY secular Islamic nation.

Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan,
Malaysia, Pakistan among others all fit some definition of secular.

> Do you think that giving de Gaulle a green card would have represented a danger to the American nation?

Mike,
now you seem to want to lower the standard of immigration to "does this person represent a danger to the American nation?". Which probably means you would allow everyone in.

But I'm willing to accept that de Gaulle might be one of those not particularly nice people that it would not matter if they came to the USA. And like Dutch and Donald, same goes for Ahmad.

I can however see why if one was to give a short list of reasons why people might be excluded/included from a list of potential immigrants, being a terrorist might be a reasonable one to add on the excluded side.

Maybe the government just doesn't trust there is not corruption in its own system so it doesn't want to give carte blanch to its immigration officers to let anyone in on the balance of facts.

Western colonization of the Arab-Islamic world since 1800 would be one major factor. It is in the final analysis dreadfully ironic that such colonization took place under the arrogant banner of Western Enlightenment, an enlightenment which itself owed so much to the rediscovery of Aristotle and the tradition of rationalist Islam.

From“DEFENDERS OF REASON IN ISLAM –
THE CASE OF AVERROES (1126-1198 AD)”link

I think this decision has actually clarified for me what the US term "unlawful combatant/terrorist" actually means. I used to think it meant "Someone who fights for their country against the US" but now it appears it means "Someone who fights for their country without American funding".

The solution would appear to be for the US to divide its military budget among all the countries of the world. If everyone in the world takes the US dollar to fight, nobody can be a terrorist. Cool.

"it ought to have a point." Me

Do you think that giving de Gaulle a green card would have represented a danger to the American nation? What about the leaders of the resistance in Norway or the Netherlands (whose names I don't know)? Or Simon Bolivar?--Mike


Actually, Mike, as I've already implied without quite saying it in so many words, there are all sorts of people involved in guerilla activities that I'd be willing to give a green card, after some sort of investigation to determine if they posed a danger to US citizens. De Gaulle would presumably pass--he was only a danger (AFAIK) to Algerian Muslims who had worked for France and were then abandoned.

But I'd probably also give a green card to (some of) the people our government considers enemies because of who they fought. Sometimes our official allies are much worse than our official enemies. And more to the point, it should come down to a case-by-case examination anyway.

Let me correct what I just said--people who posed no threat to US citizens who were none the less war criminals shouldn't receive a green card. I'm not sure whether what De Gaulle did to the harkis fits that category, but it was ugly. Probably I'd keep him out. Though the advantage of letting a war criminal (whether or not De Gaulle was one) into the country is that they can occasionally be brought to justice in an American court.

Uhm, Gary, your last link shows a woman kneeling in a public square about to be hit by a Grand Inquisitor type guy while hundreds of males are watching. The caption reads:

In Banda Aceh, women are caned under local Islamic law.

So could we agree maybe, that, while they are not necessarily mutually exclusive, Islam's track record in this regard is kinda mixed, that there are inherent problems with Islam and democracy, that it's far from clear how and if these conflicts will be resolved?

And lest somebody might think that I'm some anti-Islam bigot, far from it, I just happen to believe rather strictly in the idea of laïcité, any meddling of religion in the public realm makes me cringe and I'll criticize any religion overreaching in this regard.

novakant: Islam's track record in this regard is kinda mixed

Last year, 70 000 women around the world died because Christian fundamentalists in the US and elsewhere decided that their religion required women of all faiths and none to risk death rather be permitted to access safe legal abortion.

My point in raising this is not to start another argument about whether or not women ought to be allowed to decide for ourselves when, if, and how many children to have (I give notice I'll respond to no such arguments) but to point out that Christianity, like Islam, like (as far as I know) every major religion with the possible exception of Zen Buddhism, has a mixed track record with regard to human rights and democracy.

It is far from clear how these conflicts will ever be resolved, for whatever religion, because the problem is unjustified use of power, which uses religion as an excuse - whether that's pro-life terrorists attacking health clinics, or politicians like James Dobson who create a religious constituency in order to wield unelected power.

To blame one specific religion for being liable to this is just plain wrong.

@Hilzoy: Dutch: I don't think that either of the Kurdish parties are angels. I do not think that membership in either should be an automatic bar to entry to the US on the grounds that they are terrorist organizations.

As I said: I think that these cases should be decided per individual, which clashes with the idea of an automatic bar. But does this mean that you think membership of terrorist organisations *in itself* never warrants an automatic ban (as I do)? Or do you think that some terrorist organisations are less 'banworthy' than others?

liberal japonicus: "Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan among others all fit some definition of secular."

What definition is that?

Egypt: a 1980 amendment of the Constitution made Islamic Law (Sharia) the principal source of legislative rules, and the number of non Muslims (mostly Christians) allowed to run for public office is severely restricted.

Algeria: Islam is the state religion.

Bangladesh: Islam is the state religion.

Malaysia: Islam is the state religion.

Jordan: Islam is the state religion. Its Constitution stipulates that the king and his successors must be Muslims and sons of Muslim parents.

Pakistan: An Islamic republic, Islam is the state religion, the Constitution requires laws be consistent with Islam, and freedom of speech is constitutionally "subject to ANY reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam." It's a nation where secularists are regularly murdered, and atheists have to remain in the closet.

Some non-Muslim countries with state religions :

Christian countries

The following states recognize some form of Christianity as their state or official religion (by denomination):

Roman Catholic

Jurisdictions which recognize Roman Catholicism as their state or official religion:

* Argentina
* Bolivia
* Costa Rica
* El Salvador
* Liechtenstein
* Malta
* Monaco
* Some cantons of Switzerland (state religion):
o Appenzell Innerrhoden (declared "religion of the people of Appenzell Innerrhoden")
o Aargau
o Basel-Country
o Berne
o Glarus
o Graubünden
o Nidwalden
o Schwyz
o Thurgau
o Uri
* Vatican City (official religion)

Eastern Orthodox

Jurisdictions which recognize one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches as their state religion:

* Cyprus (Cypriot Orthodox Church)
* Republic of Moldova (Orthodox Church)[citation needed]
* Greece (Church of Greece)
* Finland: Finnish Orthodox Church has a special relationship with the Finnish state. The internal structure of the church is described in the Orthodox Church Act. The church has a power to tax its members and corporations, the majority of which is owned by them. The church does not consider itself a state church, as the state does not have the authority to affect its internal workings or theology.
* Russian Federation: Russian Orthodox Church, one of the four state religions of Russia alongside Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.

Lutheran

Jurisdictions which recognize a Lutheran church as their state religion:

* Denmark (Church of Denmark)
* Iceland (Church of Iceland)
* Norway (Church of Norway)
* Finland: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has a special relationship with the Finnish state, its internal structure being described in a special law, the Church Act. The Church Act can be amended only by a decision of the Synod of the Evengelical Lutheran Church and subsequent ratification by the parliament. The church has a power to tax its members and all corporations, except those the majority of which is owned by members of the Finnish Orthodox Church. The state collects these taxes for the church, for a fee. On the other hand, the church is required to give a burial place for everyone in its graveyards.[3] The Finnish president also decides the themes for the intercession days. The church does not consider itsself a state church, as the Finnish state does not have the power to influence its internal workings or its theology, although it has a veto in those changes of the internal structure which require changing the Church Act. Neither does the Finnish state accord any precedence to Lutherans or the Lutheran faith in its own acts.

Anglican

Jurisdictions that recognise an Anglican church as their state religion:

* England (Church of England)

Reformed

Jurisdictions which recognize a Reformed church as their state religion:

* Some cantons of Switzerland (Swiss Reformed Church):
o Aargau
o Basel-Country
o Berne
o Glarus
o Graubünden
o Schwyz
o Thurgau
o Uri
o Zurich
* Scotland – the Church of Scotland is the national church, but is not a "state church" and has complete independence from the state in spiritual matters, thus being both established and free.[4]p.161

Old Catholic

Jurisdictions which recognize an Old Catholic church as their state religion:

* Some cantons of Switzerland (Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland):
o Aargau
o Basel-Country
o Berne

[...]

Buddhism as state religion

Governments which recognize Buddhism, either a specific form of, or the whole, as their official religion:

* Bhutan (Drukpa Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism)[6]
* Cambodia (Theravada Buddhism)[7]
* Kalmykia, a republic within the Russian Federation (Tibetan Buddhism - sole Buddhist entity in Europe)
* Sri Lanka (Theravada Buddhism - The constitution accords Buddhism the "foremost place," but Buddhism is not recognized as the state religion.[8]
* Thailand (Theravada Buddhism)
* Tibet Government in Exile (Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism)

Formerly.

HTH.

Gary- Dude you need to take your lithium or otherwise up your dose of mood stabilizers. You are manic. I don't think you would have found the christian baby's blood bit funny in your usual frame of mind, or at least not enough so to make it worthwhile.

Frank: if you are, in fact, concerned about Gary's mental state, there are better and more tactful ways of expressing it. (Private email, for one thing. Or a comment on Gary's own blog.)

If, on the other hand, you're just insulting him, please stop.

"Dude you need to take your lithium or otherwise up your dose of mood stabilizers. You are manic."

Thanks for your unsolicited critique, Frank.

Jews have been around in numbers for probably better than a hundred years, so they seem to be OK.

Late to the party, but I just wanted to comment that, IMO, Bill has achieved a kind of personal best with this comment.

Jewish communities in this country date back at least to the 17th Century. And, yes, they seem to have been OK the whole time.

The folks who've been here in numbers, and seeming to be OK, for a bit better than 100 years are the Muslims of Dearborn MI. Don't know if it's still true, but for a very long time they were the largest Muslim community outside of the Middle East.

Thanks -

I was just trying to help. I don't have Gary's email and I know from comments here that he often doesn't check it for days.

As far as commenting on Gary's blog goes I tried that a couple of times. He expressed surprise that my comments weren't appearing on his blog and suggested I try again. I still wasn't able to comment there. I'm not going to change my software so I can comment on a blog I don't read.

Have another look at Gary's March 24 12:47am comment. Here is the offending paragraph: "But, hey, equal time for Muslims. Better yet to rule and oppress you Christians together, and as brothers, we shall eat your babies, and drink your milkshakes, with your Christian baby blood! We will drink it up!"

Now I pretty much have to conclude that Gary in his right mind thinks its ok to talk about drinking the blood of Christian babies in milkshakes.

I was imagining that I knew where that was
coming from, that it was dark humor about anti-semitism. It is still offensive. I want to return the favor so you'd get it, but I would (rightly) be banned.

I don't see how you can think a movie reference makes that ok.

Dude you need to take your lithium or otherwise up your dose of mood stabilizers. You are manic.

Frank, please comply with the posting rules. You've been around long enough to know better.

Yeah, but isn't Gary violating one or more of the prohibitions in the posting rules against satire, parody, sarcasm or facetiousness?

Try as I can, I don't see that in the posting rules, anywhere. I do see the following that might apply:

Small cut n'pastes are fine; entire articles are not: when in doubt, it's too long.

But I think hilzoy had spammers in mind.

Oh. I see what you did, there. BAD hsh.

Ok, Frank, setting aside your amateur psychiatric practice -- and it's ever so thoughtful of you to offer me the benefit of your expertise in such considerate fashion, since in fact, I have no medical history of being bipolar, but now that's all changed, thanks to your extraordinary diagnostic insights -- and I regret that all of Blogger is in a conspiracy against you that you find too impossibly complicated to overcome -- my sympathies -- but, actually, I'm curious, Frank: what exactly is it you find so offensive about my making a passing satiric comment on the historic antisemitic Christian practice of accusing Jews of drinking Christian baby blood?

Feel free to elaborate on the nature of the offense, by all means. Is it the Christian history of the blood libel you feel it is unfair and offensive of me to mention, or is it the mocking of that antisemitic history that's offensive to you? Or did I just frighten you with my alarming threat? Or what?

Do elaborate, by all means.

But, hey, equal time for Aryans. Better yet to rule and oppress you Jews together, and as brothers, we shall eat your babies, and drink your milkshakes, with your Jewish baby blood! We will drink it up!

BAD hsh.

I kid because I love.

Aryans...weren't they the fellows that invaded India?

Well, one set of fellows, anyway. I don't recall that they were particularly anti-Semitic.

"But, hey, equal time for Aryans. Better yet to rule and oppress you Jews together, and as brothers, we shall eat your babies, and drink your milkshakes, with your Jewish baby blood! We will drink it up!"

It's slightly amusing, but the second part doesn't make much sense, since there's no actual history of Jews claiming Christians drink the blood of Jewish babies, Frank.

It turns out that making antisemitic threats, as you do above, for effect, and not making them, aren't equally offensive.

It turns out that making fun of real history is different than making fun of something that doesn't exist and never happened.

It turns out that, in fact, Jews did not perennially slaughter Christians in large numbers for more than a millenium, so jokes based on that premise don't, in fact, make the slightest sense.

Similarly, Africans didn't enslave millions of Europeans or North American immigrants, so jokes based on "reversing" that premise, or elaborations on it, don't make any sense, either.

Similarly, it turns out that "reversing" completely unequal things doesn't result in a parallel at all!

Because -- and here's the astonishing part -- it turns out unequal things aren't equal!

You might want to look into this, but my guess would be you won't.

But, hey, surprise me.

Alternatively, do explain, as I invited you, which is it you find offensive: making reference to specifics of historic Christian antisemitism, or making fun of it? Which is the objectionable part we Jews shouldn't engage in, Frank?

And why?

You test my charity Gary. I don't know why I thought you were kidding when you spoke about drinking the blood of Christian babies. I assumed it on the basis of no evidence. You've never made me laugh, so I guess I shouldn't claim to know when you are joking.

Its true that the history of different groups is duh different. Still the best way I could quickly come up with to show you how some people of a different background might feel in response to your words is to quote them with minor changes.

Its true that an dead group is not equvalent to an imaginary group. But I've already spent way too much time on this.

If you don't get why someone might in a friendly way, suggest that maybe thats not something you want to say then I'm sorry I said anything.

Please continue to talk about your desire to drink the blood of Christian babies, and why you are justified in doing so. That idea couldn't possibly ever fail.

"If you don't get why someone might in a friendly way, suggest that maybe thats not something you want to say then I'm sorry I said anything."

I was entirely certain that your conclusion would be precisely to say that I didn't "get" it, and provide no substantive answer to my question, so thanks for making me feel clever.

But I'm ever so glad your comments have all been so "friendly," in your concern for my mental well-being, with your charitable and friendly advice for me "to take your lithium or otherwise up your dose of mood stabilizers. You are manic," because, after all you are "just trying to help" me by declaring that my comment was "offending, that "It is still offensive," that you feel an equivalent should result in "banning," and that you "[n]ow I pretty much have to conclude that Gary in his right mind thinks its ok to talk about drinking the blood of Christian babies in milkshakes."

Which I do. You've yet to state the nature of the offense.

It's a minor point, but it's generally not regarded as unreasonable to ask an offended person to say why they are offended.

Please do, Frank, old buddy, oh so interested in helping me out, in the spirit of your great friendship and charity: which is it you find offensive: making reference to specifics of historic Christian antisemitism, or making fun of it? Which is the objectionable part we Jews shouldn't engage in, Frank?

And why?

Or, hey, everybody else, is Frank right that "thats not something you want to say," and I was in violation of the posting rules, or otherwise shouldn't say such horribly things in mixed company, and I just don't get it?

Certainly if my judgment is off, I'd like to know. Satiric references to historic antisemitism: beyond the pale? Anyone?

"I don't know why I thought you were kidding when you spoke about drinking the blood of Christian babies. I assumed it on the basis of no evidence."

So your conclusion, Frank, is that I wasn't kidding?

"You've never made me laugh"

Oh noes!

I guess you like me so much because of my keen analytical skills, and my clarifying prose, then, rather for my hilarious wit.

It must be something about me that makes you feel so warm and huggly and friendly and interested in helping me out, after all. It's my big warm eyes, isn't it?

But, Frank, since we are such pals, and you're so concerned about my well-being, and all, I'll confide just this once in you -- please don't tell anyone, okay? -- that it comes out even, because you make me laugh all the time. You're such a funny guy, Frank.

HTH! HAND!

Certainly if my judgment is off, I'd like to know. Satiric references to historic antisemitism: beyond the pale? Anyone?

I thought you ware satiric, so I don't think it was beyond the pale. But when I say something snarky and it is not understood I do tend to say sorry because I don't want to unwillingly insult or hurt. That might be because people often don't get my jokes though ;)

"But when I say something snarky and it is not understood I do tend to say sorry because I don't want to unwillingly insult or hurt."

So do I in most circumstances.

But as it is, I'm having to deal with my guilt over perhaps not responding sufficiently to Frank's request that I "talk about your desire to drink the blood of Christian babies," which is just ever so tempting, given how much I think about that (remember, Frank, I'm not kidding!), so I'm just trying to strike a balance here.

Can I just point out that there is no such thing as a Christian baby. I find it deeply hard to believe than any pre-teen child has actually considered the pros and cons of a religion and made an independent decision on the truth of the claims. I guess a child of Christian parents would make more sense as something to say, albeit longer to write.

Jason:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism>Baptism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation>Confirmation
For better or, mostly, worse.

We're obviously way off-topic, but that's probably to be expected given the indefensible stupidity of the policy Hilzoy eviscerates in this post.

Are you kidding CMatt? I'm pretty sure dunking a baby in some water and saying some words in a ritual doesn't really make someone a Christian. I mean that should be uncontroversial. To have a belief system, you have to at least be capable of belief. And shall we just ignore you declaring the stupidity of this piece, the same way you decided to ignore the basic decency of elaborating/explaining your claims a little?

Jason W: 'm pretty sure dunking a baby in some water and saying some words in a ritual doesn't really make someone a Christian. I mean that should be uncontroversial.

Er... well, no. Some Christian sects would say that you're right, an infant can't become a Christian: that must wait till the "age of reason", however that's defined: some Christian sects would say no, a splash of water on a baby's forehead and a few words said does make the infant a Christian. It's not just controversial, it's heretical.

Jes, I'll repeat (although this is all very off topic). Christianity is a belief system. Babies cannot hold belief systems. Babies cannot be Christians. I don't doubt that some sects would claim a baptism makes a baby a Christian. They're just wrong, the same way that someone who claims atheists hate god (or anything like that) is wrong. Just stating something doesn't make it true; arguments are necessary. A Christian must have decided that Jesus was the son of god. To think an infant could make this decision is almost humorous to me.

Jason, I have no opinion one way or the other, and furthermore, I do not greatly care. My point was merely that so far from this being "uncontroversial", this is a big honking elephant of a controversy.

@Jason: sects like Roman Catholism.

In the Catholic Church today, baptism is most commonly administered to infants. While some other Christians strenuously object to infant baptism, believing that baptism requires assent on the part of the person being baptized, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and other mainline Protestants also practice infant baptism, and there is evidence that it was practiced from the earliest days of the Church.

Since baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment due to Original Sin, delaying baptism until a child can understand the sacrament may put the child's salvation in danger, should he die unbaptized.


I don't think that Baptism makes one Christian; faith makes on Christian. Babies aren't developed enough to even hold faith as an idea, ergo: they're not Christian. One can be baptised without being Christian, obviously. Obviously. And vice versa.

Baptism is more of an introduction. And, well, because Jesus advocated it.

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