Standing in Line

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we recall all the millions of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis, some of whom stood in line for the gas chambers at Auschwitz and Treblinka, at Chełmno, Belzec, and Sobibor. It is something unthinkable for me: why stand peacefully in line? Why not fight? Of course it would be in vain, but why not resist? Of course in the early days, they might not have realized what was happening, for the Nazis went to great measures to hid the fact that they were about to die. Still, rumors spread as the Holocaust continued, as people escaped from camps and told their stories, and many knew what was about to happen. Still, they stood in line for showers that many of them knew were not actual showers. Perhaps they did not want to panic their children. Perhaps they wanted their last moments to be as peaceful as possible. Whatever the reason, many of them waited in line.

Women and children waiting in a small wooded area near Crematorium IV at Auschwitz.

Tonight, I was waiting in line at Barnes and Nobles when I saw the cover of this month’s Atlantic. The cover story is an article by Jeffrey Goldberg entitled, “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?” It is an article that details the stunning rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. Goldberg writes that “France’s 475,000 Jews represent less than 1 percent of the country’s population. Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews.”

While the article dealt with, for example, the highly nationalistic, ultra-right Nation Front of France and Greece’s openly anti-Semitic Golden Dawn, Goldberg also spends a great deal of time discussing the rise of Islamic anti-Semitism.

Finkielkraut[, a French Jew,] sees himself as an alienated man of the left. He says he loathes both radical Islamism and its most ferocious French critic, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s extreme right-wing–and once openly anti-Semitic–National Front party. But he has lately come to find radical Islamism to be a more immediate, even existential, threat to France than the National Front. “I don’t trust Le Pen. I think there is real violence in her,” he told me. “But she is so successful because there actually is a problem of Islam in France, and until now she has been the only one to dare say it.”

Goldberg goes on to give numbers: “Violence against Jews in Western Europe today, according to those who track it, appears to come mainly from Muslims, who in France, the epicenter of Europe’s Jewish crisis, outnumber Jews 10 to 1.”

Yet for secular, left-leaning Western Europe, there is a problem: Muslims are seen as victims just as much as Jews. Scratch that: more so: “’People don’t defend the Jews as we expected to be defended,’ [Finkielkraut] said. ‘It would be easier for the left to defend the Jews if the attackers were white and rightists.'” Even Goldberg seems to see the problem with Islamic anti-Semitism as a question of social injustice rather than a theological component of Islam itself when he explains that the “failure of Europe to integrate Muslim immigrants has contributed to their exploitation by anti-Semitic propagandists and by recruiters for such radical projects as the Islamic State, or ISIS.” One only has to look at imams’ comments coming out of the Middle East to see the prevailing contemporary view of Jews in the Islamic world.

As I stood in line, though, not having read the article, I was initially taken aback: I thought for a moment it might be an extreme leftist anti-Zionist diatribe, and not just one that skates close to anti-Semitism but that openly embraces it. I decided I must read it when I got home, though. I looked down at the book I was purchasing, ironically about Auschwitz, then glanced around the shop. A covered Muslim woman was approaching with her uncovered husband and son. I glanced at the book in my hand, glanced at the Muslim family, glanced at the magazine cover, and wondered at the irony of the moment.

Drowning in a Bathtub

It’s been an interesting day on the personal responsibility front at the Beeb.

First, the coverage of the Koran burning protest protests:

President Hamid Karzai said the stunt had been an insult to Islam, while Indonesia’s president said it threatened world peace.

Who’s doing the violence? Who’s threatening world peace? The protesting Muslims. Sure, it’s provocative, but anyone protesting and turning to violence made a choice to do so. Since when are we all robots? Since when are we all victims?

Many of Friday’s protests in Afghanistan were held after worshippers emerged from mosques, following Eid prayers marking the end of Ramadan.

Demonstrators burned a US flag and chanted “Death to Christians”.

They want to kill all Christians because some are burning Korans (or rather, were going to burn them)? Who exactly is being extremist and provocative?

In an Eid message, President Karzai said: “We have heard that in the US, a pastor has decided to insult Korans. Now although we have heard that they are not doing this, we tell them they should not even think of it.

“By burning the Koran, they cannot harm it. The Koran is in the hearts and minds of one-and-a-half billion people. Insulting the Koran is an insult to nations.”

The president of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, warned in a nationally televised address on Friday that Mr Jones’s plan threatened world peace.

In a speech marking the end of Ramadan, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: “I’m of course aware of the reported cancellation of the deplorable act by Terry Jones. However, none of us can be complacent until such a despicable idea is totally extinguished.”

They shouldn’t even think of it? The idea is problematic? In other words, we’re talking about thought-crime here. Even to consider it is evil.

Now compare this to the reaction of to the Manhattan mosque proposal. Do we have masses protesting and suggesting all Muslims should be killed? Are protesters suggesting that such thinking should be “extinguish”?

And just how are we going to extinguish these thoughts? The most radical way would be to extinguish the thinkers. Surely that’s not what these protesters are thinking. Islam is a religion of peace. They don’t make threats.

In a related story, American Muslims talk of being warned by imams to keep their Eid celebrations low key.

Members throughout the area are being advised to keep their celebrations low-key and private.

Keep a low profile. Don’t offend anyone. With America in the midst of a debate about the literal and figurative place of Islam in society, this seems to be a time for caution.

But not everyone is happy about that.

But with rows over where and when it’s acceptable to build a mosque, and with a pastor threatening to burn the Koran in Florida, some of the worshippers here sound frustrated.

“It’s none of their business.”

“I think they should understand that just like they celebrate Christmas every year, we celebrate our Eid after fasting for a month and praying,” says 15-year-old Mim Sharna.

I think that’s good advice for those suggesting violence in return for the Koran burning protest. America is a free country; it’s none of their business, silly and even offensive as it may be.

Yet lest anyone think I’m suggesting that this “oh, it’s not our fault; they made us do it!” mentality resides only in the Muslim community at the moment, the last quote, also from BBC:

An ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will resign from a top party post after suggesting that Poland may have been as responsible as Hitler for the outbreak of World War II.

Erika Steinbach said Poland had mobilised its troops months before the Nazis invaded in September 1939.

Poland was massing troops, see? We were afraid we were about to be attacked, see? We were worried our panzer divisions would be overrun by the Polish mounted cavalry, see? We weren’t totally responsible…

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L.A. Protest

At approximately 4:30 into the video, watch for the gentleman shouting Hitler’s praises, and calling for Jews to be sent to ovens.

The irony: if Hitler had killed all the Jews, he’d have turned to someone else next, and after that, yet another race — eventually, Arabs.

Protest in Florida

Muslims in America generally are considered to be integrated and not suffering the same issues as European Muslims allegedly suffer (discrimination, bigotry, etc.). You aren’t supposed to see calls from American Muslims to wipe Israel off the map.

I guess “generally” “aren’t supposed to” are the key terms.

Calling All Pakistanis – NYT

On Feb. 6, 2006, three Pakistanis died in Peshawar and Lahore during violent street protests against Danish cartoons that had satirized the Prophet Muhammad. More such mass protests followed weeks later. When Pakistanis and other Muslims are willing to take to the streets, even suffer death, to protest an insulting cartoon published in Denmark, is it fair to ask: Who in the Muslim world, who in Pakistan, is ready to take to the streets to protest the mass murders of real people, not cartoon characters, right next door in Mumbai?

NYT

Woman Fired For Eating ‘Unclean’ Meat

Has anyone heard about this? It happened back in 2004.

A Central Florida woman was fired from her job after eating “unclean” meat and violating a reported company policy that pork and pork products are not permissible on company premises, according to Local 6 News.

Lina Morales was hired as an administrative assistant at Rising Star — a Central Florida telecommunications company with strong Muslim ties, Local 6 News reported.

Woman Fired For Eating ‘Unclean’ Meat – Money News Story – WKMG Orlando.

Why Hijab Is Oppressive

Many Muslim women have claimed that the wearing of the hijab — head-covering scarf — is not oppressive and that they do it voluntarily.

Could it be worn voluntarily and still be oppressive?

The answer lies in why it is commanded. Verses 30 and 31 surah 24 (The Light) read:

Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful.

The list of who might see an uncovered woman can be distilled thusly:

  • husbands
  • fathers
  • fathers of their husbands
  • sons
  • sons of their husbands
  • brothers
  • brothers’ sons
  • sisters’ sons
  • women
  • those whom their right hands possess
  • male servants not having need (of women)
  • children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women

There are two things that immediately stand out.

  1. Almost everyone mentioned here is a man.
  2. The only men who can see a woman are family members.

Additionally, notice that the instructions given to the men are much less demanding than those given the women. Men are to cast their eyes down and to protect their private parts; women get a whole shopping list of requirements.

The Koran also addresses hijab in Sura 33 (The Clans), verse 59:

O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

It all tends to smack of women being the possession of men, doesn’t it?

Yet it’s also a bit demeaning to men: it suggests that men have no self control, that men will automatically turn any and all women in to sexual objects, and that the only way men can notice a woman’s mind is if the women are covered.

Caveats

Caveat one: The New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 11, commands women to cover their heads when in prayer. A couple of caveats to this caveat: first, this is only in limited circumstances, specifically in prayer and when prophesying. Secondly, most Christians have philosophized that away.

Caveat two: Not all Muslim women wear headscarfs. There is a caveat to this, though: to do so in many Muslim countries is to risk condemnation or worse.

Notice: it’s a woman delivering the correctives, but a male police officer is close at hand, showing who the real authority is. Notice also that when the woman is discussing a poor stranger’s clothes, discussing her “sarafan,” a man walks by in a tight-fitting Western shirt, looking must un-Islamic. Nothing is said to him.

Caveat three: Nuns cover themselves. This is, however, an unequal comparison. Becoming a nun is a voluntary addition (or modification) to being a Christian. One can move into and out of a position that requires the head covering. Muslim women cannot do this.

“Archbishop sparks Sharia law row”

From the BBC:

Leading politicians have distanced themselves from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s belief that some Sharia law in the UK seems “unavoidable”.

Gordon Brown’s spokesman said the prime minister “believes that British laws should be based on British values”.

The Tories called the archbishop’s remarks “unhelpful” and the Lib Dems said all must abide by the rule of law.

Dr Rowan Williams said the UK had to “face up to the fact” some citizens do not relate to the British legal system. (Archbishop sparks Sharia law row)

I’m going to sound like a right-winger for this, but I’ll say it: it seems to me that if you have problems relating to the legal system of your country of residence, perhaps you should consider changing your country of residence; if you desire Sharia law, perhaps you should go to one of the countries where it is enforced — Iran and Saudi Arabia come to mind.