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January 04, 2007

Smacking Around the Bigots, the Jeffersonian Way

Just briefly: U.S. Representative Keith Ellison taking the oath of office and swearing to uphold the Constitution on a Koran previously owned by Thomas Jefferson? That's genius, man. That's like stuffing Dennis Prager and Virgil Goode into a trash can, and then rolling the trash can down a steep hill, and then when poor dizzy Dennis and Virgil crawl out, covered in each others' bile, there's Thomas Jefferson, laughing and pointing at them. Some days, I just love my country.

Posted by john at January 4, 2007 08:11 AM

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Comments

Bryans | January 4, 2007 08:39 AM

Big deal over nothing. The oath of office is taken en mass, the Congress as a whole who just hold up the right hand and repeat after me...the hand on Book is a photo op taken after later in the day...

John Scalzi | January 4, 2007 08:48 AM

Yeah, that's the other part of it, too.

Tim Morris | January 4, 2007 08:50 AM

"Some days, I just love my country."

Huh. Personally, I love my county everyday. Some days I want to grab it by the scruff of the neck and shake the Hell out of it, but in a loving way.

John Scalzi | January 4, 2007 08:52 AM

Perhaps that should read, some days I love my country more than others.

Chris | January 4, 2007 08:55 AM

Be very interesting to see the comment of the naysayers on this turn. Ellison's actions basically take the winds out of ANYTHING that they could say.

Wakboth | January 4, 2007 09:19 AM

"Be very interesting to see the comment of the naysayers on this turn. Ellison's actions basically take the winds out of ANYTHING that they could say."

I assume they will call Jefferson a terrorist-sympathizing, traitorous atheist.

Cassie | January 4, 2007 09:22 AM

That's utter brilliance.

How did he get a hold of Jefferson's Koran is what I want to know.

Andrew | January 4, 2007 09:24 AM

Oh, Chris, if only that were true. Now they're attacking Jefferson.

If I may be so self-serving as to point you to a post of mine on this very subject:

http://www.kantor.com/2007/01/03/conservatives-lose-their-minds/

[deep sigh]

Rob Thornton | January 4, 2007 09:24 AM

Well someone from the National Review has a rather wingnutty response here.

Bill | January 4, 2007 09:41 AM

Cassie - Jefferson's Koran is part of the Library of Congress. The article I had read said they would walk it over for the ceremony.

http://www.startribune.com/587/story/913909.html

Dan | January 4, 2007 09:55 AM

I love it.

The thing I don't like is how a Representative's religion has become this relevant in our political process. It's perhaps the one thing about America that I find truly disappointing. In a free nation, this shouldn't even be a freaking issue.

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 10:17 AM

The thing I don't like is how a Representative's religion has become this relevant in our political process.

It's not the Representative's religion that is at issue; it's the Representative's ties to CAIR that are at issue.

John Scalzi | January 4, 2007 10:20 AM

Actually, CoolBlue, that's an entirely separate issue to the one that Prager and Goode were blathering on about. Their bugaboo was Ellison swearing in on a Koran. Let's not conflate issues what not need be conflated.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 10:28 AM

Ah, but no, once we are defeated on an specific point we will need to bring up other non-issues and conflate them all th etime saying that this was the real issue all along. It's all about the struggle. It's all about slinging everything we can at the wall and see what is sticking, one piece at a time.

And then on the other side of the issue, (smirk) (giggle) pufaw ha ha ha ha.

Evan | January 4, 2007 10:31 AM

When I read that article yesterday, I swooned a bit for Ellison. Then my next thought was, "Wingnuts are gonna bring up teh slavery in three... two... one..."

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 10:32 AM

Prager and Goode were blathering on about

Prager and Goode are morons.

And their concerns are not my concerns nor are they most people's concerns from what I can tell.

John Scalzi | January 4, 2007 10:32 AM

Evan:

Yes, as as all know, no one who ever owned a Bible ever had slaves here in the US.

Coolblue:

I certainly do agree that Prager and Goode are morons, on this subject at the very least.

Dan | January 4, 2007 10:50 AM

Man... Pseudo-Christian hypocrisy is always so damned funny. They're actually encouraging someone to blaspheme their religion so as to "protect" their religion. Silly, monkeys.

Simon Owens | January 4, 2007 11:32 AM

Would you believe that after it came out that he was using Jefferson's Koran, several right wing blogs (The Corner being one of them) went to work trying to prove that Jefferson supported terrorism in his day?

That sounds like something from the fake news site The Onion or the daily show, but it's true.

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 12:04 PM

trying to prove that Jefferson supported terrorism in his day?

In actuality, Jefferson waged this countries first war against Islamic extremeists.

And it was during this time that the famous lines "From the Halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli" originate

racyli | January 4, 2007 12:07 PM

Haha! Ellison rocks. If ever runs for a national office, he'll have my vote.

Michael Martine | January 4, 2007 12:16 PM

Good move.

Todd Stull | January 4, 2007 12:22 PM

Coolblue:

I must admit I have great difficulty taking your comments seriously, because they seem rife with logical fallacies.

1) In response to Dan's comment, you seemed to employ an ad hoc argument, arguing that the representatives ties to CAIR, and not religion were the issue. It seems like a modification of what the thread was about. John called you on it, as a conflation.

2) In your next response, you employed an ad hominem attack on Prager and Goode, and then seemed to employ an ad populum argument to the majority.

I am no logician, nor do I have a great grasp of all the rhetorical devices one can employ. It's just that almost every time I read your comments, they don't seem to follow logic. Response?

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 12:24 PM

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Jefferson

It just depends on how you wish to define "terrorist."

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 12:25 PM

It's just that almost every time I read your comments, they don't seem to follow logic. Response?

I wasn't making an argument. I was stating an opinion.

You want me to make an argument?

Todd Stull | January 4, 2007 12:29 PM

CoolBlue:

In so far as you were stating an opinion, and it seemed like you wanted other people to agree with said opinion, by, for example, directing people to your blog, it seems like you were trying to make an argument for your opinion.

And yes, I would like to argue your positions, without the logical fallacies.

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 12:34 PM

In so far as you were stating an opinion, and it seemed like you wanted other people to agree with said opinion

Well, sure.

by, for example, directing people to your blog

Which was pointing to an entry about a completely different subject, and an historical fact.

And yes, I would like to argue your positions, without the logical fallacies.

Your place or mine?

Watchman | January 4, 2007 12:43 PM

Well I'm a fundamentalist Christian, and I have no problem with Ellison using the Koran, Jefferson's or otherwise. If freedom of religion means anything for me, it has to mean the same for him. Now as to the idiots who elected this Nation of Islam flunky to office...well, that's their right too. If we start imposing religious tests (more than already exist), we're heading toward religious wars. And given what we've seen of those around the world, I'd rather not.

Todd Stull | January 4, 2007 12:49 PM

CoolBlue:

John's place. I don't have a good blog, and John's is more neutral than anything put up by you or I.

So I was right about you making an argument? Good to know.

I am not convinced that Jefferson waged America's first war against Islamic extremists. To do that, I will need to read your referenced book, and then compare that author's opinions and interpretations to other sources of information. By you naming it fact, does not simply make it so. You may very well be right, but I'll have to get back to you on that.

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 01:04 PM

Todd Stull

John's place.

That's a bit presumptive, don't you think? I mean how do we know John would like to host such an event?

I am not convinced that Jefferson waged America's first war against Islamic extremists....You may very well be right, but I'll have to get back to you on that.

OK. Let me know. You can get a lot of good information by using the search words "Barbary Pirate" and throw in "Jefferson" for the information relevent to my post.

Dan | January 4, 2007 01:06 PM

Don't forget to look up the Treaty of Tripoli.

Ariel | January 4, 2007 01:21 PM

Forgive me for possible ignorance, but from the British perspective, weren't all of the Founding Fathers considered to be terrorists and guerilla fighters?

Remember, History is written by the winners.

Bryans | January 4, 2007 01:31 PM

PS: LOVED Old Man's War!!!!

Ian Randal Strock | January 4, 2007 01:32 PM

Ah, and once again, we see the wisdom of "separation of church and state," and how, the greater the separation, the greater the good. Was Rep. Goode a moron for his complaint? Sure. But was the whole to-do really something that should part of our government? Absolutely not. And how much less would the arguments be if we really did maintain that separation? No bibles, no Korans, no holy books: incoming government officials swear to uphold the Constitution, that's it. And really, how many of them would rather die than dishonor the holy book upon which their hand is lying?

It seems a whole big flap over absolutely nothing of any import. Why anyone bothered to make an issue out of it in the first place is (according to the cynic in me) simply another attempt to garner some publicity when you're one of 435 people getting sworn into Congress.

Scott Mactavish | January 4, 2007 01:57 PM

Oh, boy.. Here we go.

The First Amendment says nothing about keeping religion and government separate. It says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

You can have faith in politics, you just can't have a Government that endorses one over the other. And regarding those kooks who use religion for political gain: They should be given atomic wedgies on the Capitol steps. That goes for all faiths, not just the one you're thinking about now.

I'm a moderate Methodist and actually own a house down in Goode's district, just a few miles from Monticello. When I'm there, I try to keep up with the politics and up until recently, found Goode to be a decent guy.

Now, he comes off like the Michael Richards of southern Republicans and an embarrasment to the people of Virginia.

I think it's great that Jefferson's Koran was used, and hope that our government becomes more diverse, rather than less. With the exception of Scientologists. I'd rather not see one swear-in with his/her hand on a copy of 'Dianetics.'

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 02:05 PM

Ariel

Forgive me for possible ignorance, but from the British perspective, weren't all of the Founding Fathers considered to be terrorists and guerilla fighters?

Actually, not really. During the Revolutionary war, the "colonists" wore uniforms, such as they could afford and fought as an army; in formations consistent with the times and with a command structure.

They also fought the British Army, not civilians, though as in all wars there were civilian casualties but in the majority of cases the tagets were not civilians and battles were set-pieces: one army against another.

That's not to say there were no guerilla or "insurgent" attacks, there were, just as there were "partisans" in WWII (the French Resistance for instance). But the Revolutionary War was pretty much a war in the traditional sense.

CJ-in-Weld | January 4, 2007 02:11 PM

I think Ellison's choice is a reassuring one.

If people want to raise a flap about what book a newly elected rep is sworn in on, they are morons. And if Ellison wanted to use his own Koran, or a brand new one from Barnes and Noble, or none at all, that's his business. But what he actually chose is to symbolically align himself with what might be called American mythology, which has its religion-like aspects, in addition to whatever overt religions he practices.

So Ellison scores some political points—good for him, he deserved to win this fight. But if he also felt some pressure to "Americanize" the whole ritual, that's good too! It's as if he's saying, yeah, I'm a Muslim, but like the rest of you I hold to this American ideal. As long as people hold to the American ideal, a lot of the rest won't matter.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 02:14 PM

CoolBlue,

Uh, you may want to read Gen. Washington's notes about those "uniforms" as sometimes it consisted of an insignia or ribbon.

And the Tea Parties (plural) weren't exactly committeed by regulars.

I think a lot of Torries, the original conservatives, would argue about "not targeting civilians" having lost lives, famillies, and property. Also the use of Indians and Hessians as "harrasers" would violate your "set-piece" thoughts.

And while the northern campaigns consisted mostly of set-piece battles , the southern war was a whole different ball of wax.

Sam | January 4, 2007 02:34 PM

CoolBlue,

Having tought the subject, I'm pretty sure many of the Brits would have considered those rebellious colonists as terrorists, whether they wore uniforms or not.

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 02:44 PM

Sam

Having tought the subject, I'm pretty sure many of the Brits would have considered those rebellious colonists as terrorists, whether they wore uniforms or not.

Perhaps. But that just begs the question: what do you mean by terrorism?

Sam | January 4, 2007 02:49 PM

Hard to define to be honest one man's terrorist is another man's Freedom fighter.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 03:01 PM

CoolBlue,

Ariel said, "but from the British perspective..."

Then you said, "Actually, not really."

Then Sam said, "Having tought the subject, I'm pretty sure many of the Brits would have considered those rebellious colonists as terrorists."

I think the question you really want to ask, instead of a definition of terrorism, is does it matter which side of the argument you are on if someone is a terrorist?

Todd Stull | January 4, 2007 03:09 PM

Steve,

Can you clarify your last comment? This is an interesting conversation. I did not quite understand your last sentence about what question should be asked.

Sam | January 4, 2007 03:13 PM

Steve Buchheit,

Fair enough, but how do you define the word terrorist? Obviously that's retorical since 19 or so guys reemed a plane headed to California into the Twin Towers.

Now if you look at the early colonists they rebelled because they didnt want to pay taxes, taxes might I add that the British Empire needed in order to defend the colonist from wars the colonists themselves would start. Anyone ever hear of the French and Indian Wars...its funny to know that George Washington actually help to start that.

So as I said before one man's terrorist is another man's Freedom fighter. I'm not condoning what those hijacking idiots did. Its just that the word terrorist and terrorism is sometimes iffy. Its interesting to see how those words are used in different contexts. Because no one ever thinks of the war of Independence as a war waged by Christian fundamentalist terrorists. But I'm pretty positive the Brits were pissed at us.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 03:17 PM

Todd,
CoolBlue said it depends on how you define "terrorism."

I think that's a different argument than what is being stated here. Instead of defining the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" to include this and exclude that, considering the comments by Ariel, Sam and myself, I'm thinking that there is a different question here. Can being a "terrorist", or committing "terrorism", change depending on which side of the conflict you're on or support?

Lis Carey | January 4, 2007 03:23 PM

Anyone ever hear of the French and Indian Wars...its funny to know that George Washington actually help to start that.

Well, no, France and Britain didn't go to war because of the clumsiness of a very junior officer on the fringes of the empire. There were one or two more significant irritants at work, for both countries.

But note CoolBlue's successful misdirection. Goode and Prager are borderline-insane bigots, seriously arguing that the mere fact of being a Muslim makes Keith Ellison--an American whose family has been here for several centuries--a foreign terrorist who's undermining American civilization by the simple act of exercising the freedom of religion enshrined in the Constitution, and yet somehow the real issue is the Barbary Pirate War. *yawn*

Todd Stull | January 4, 2007 03:37 PM

Thanks for the clarification Steve. I gotcha now. I think that point is right on. More on that later, when I have a free moment.

Also Lis, I'm glad you noted CoolBlue's aside. That was part of the reason I was noting his use of logical fallacies. It's hard to focus on the meat of an argument when the subject keeps dodging and weaving.

Sam | January 4, 2007 03:37 PM

Liz,

Can't argue with that. Although George Washington did spark the war, I never said he caused it. But on the rest of your argument I agree.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 03:40 PM

Lis, that very junior officer signed a peace treaty stating he had, with forethought and malace, killed a French Ambassador, giving the French casus belli.

And, yes, CoolBlue is very adapt and misdirection and rhetorical flashes.

CJ's comment about having Ellison "forced to Americanize" the argument has also gone unchallenged, as if Ellison wans't American enough already and had to respond this way because he was dragged in that direction or chad to change a direction or thought.

Sam, I could say a "terrorist" is someone who uses the "terrorism", ring the bell and run. But I need to give you a better answer by defining "terrorism." Which I hope to do in a bit.

Sam | January 4, 2007 03:44 PM

Steve,

People have been trying to define the word Terrorism and who is a terrorist for years and the only logical conclusion is that much like the word "history" its written and defined by those who have won the battle to enscribe it into the books. So had the "Americans" not won the war of Independence the Brits would have simply called them a "rabble of malcontent terrorists."

Jon H | January 4, 2007 03:59 PM

CoolBlue, Jefferson would have sent the Marines after the Barbary pirates if they were Christian. Their religion was irrelevant, it was the piracy.

ERN | January 4, 2007 04:00 PM

All this fussing over the word "terrorism" is rather ludicrous. "Terrorism" has a specific meaning, and any disagreement over it is based in ideology, not reality. Terrorism, in international relations, is understood to mean violence directed at civilians by irregular (ie., non-uniformed) combatants, usually asymetrically (ie., for psychological impact rather than for concrete military goals).

All this "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter" is ideological claptrap. "Freedom Fighters" or, alternately, "Partisans", do not target innocent civilians. In occupied areas, for instance, such "freedom fighters" would not have enemy civilians to target.

In reality, the borders between such activities can be soft, but for the most part groups are either one or the other. In fact, one of the chief reasons for the frequent splintering of such groups into various groups is disagreement over radicalizing tactics.

But this is all secondary to the post. This was a tempest in a teapot, with the Koran. Neither the Bible nor the Koran will actually be used. Prager and Goode were surely wrong to complain as they did. But let me also note that most of the comments on conservative blogs (including The Corner) have said the same. The idea that a lot of conservatives came to Prager's and Goode's defense is simply mistaken. Most Christians I know (most of them conservative) would have opposed a Muslim taking the oath on a Bible anyway--since it doesn't mean anything to Ellison. They didn't have a problem with him using a Koran. So, what's the big deal here? Two guys being idiots. Hardly seems like news, given politicians in general.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 04:02 PM

Sam,

The military (used to have) has a good definition.

Terrorism is a tactic whose goal is political change (rebellion and revolution). The immediate actions (the "terrorist acts") are chosen to provoke a fear response from the target population (civilians) AND a response from the targeted political body (government).

Why and how these responses work to the benefit of the terrorist is a very long explanation (too long to write from work), but both the fear of the populace and how the government responds all work toward the terrorist goals. The targeted government's best option is to bring the terrorists to justice, within current laws (at the time of the attack), as quick as possible. This is now derided as "the police force option." All other paths give too much to the terrorists.

A better option is to stop terrorism before the first attack.

CoolBlue | January 4, 2007 04:06 PM

Steve Buchheit

Uh, you may want to read Gen. Washington's notes about those "uniforms" as sometimes it consisted of an insignia or ribbon.

You are correct there and that was certainly the case in the early years of the war. It got better as time went on and French money started coming.

But the point is, the Revolutionaries tried to distinquish themselves from the civilian population which is a major distinction in my mind between a "Freedom Fighter" and a terrorist. At least in today's vernacular.

And the Tea Parties (plural) weren't exactly committeed by regulars.

No they weren't, but these can be seen as acts of civil disobedience and did not have as their intent the killing of civilians. And if my recollection is correct, no civilians were harmed.

I think a lot of Torries, the original conservatives, would argue about "not targeting civilians" having lost lives, famillies, and property.

But there is a difference none the less.

Also the use of Indians and Hessians as "harrasers" would violate your "set-piece" thoughts.

Um, weren't Hessians mercinaries for the British side? And to my knowledge, they didn't dress as civilians, they were in military uniform. And I must admit, I am ignorant of the use of Indians by the Revolutionaries.

Its just that the word terrorist and terrorism is sometimes iffy.

I don't think so. But one of the problems is we are trying to analyze the past through our current cultural milieu. But...

I think the distinquishing things about "terrorism" is that it attempts to use mass casualty incidents, whose primary target is civilians, in order to circumvent the political process.

So in it's purist form, terrorism is what the SDS did back in the 60s. Or what Italy's Red Brigade was all about.

Today, we have something different, I think. With the Islamists we have guerilla fighters using terrorist tactics. And that's different because they are not just trying to affect the political process. They are attempting to wage a guerilla war and are following the classic game plan first codified by Mao Tse Tung.

Which means that at some point they have to switch to conventional warfare to accomplish their goals, which is the establishment of first a "local" (Middle East/North African) caliphate and then a global one. You can not accomplish that goal by terrorism alone.

But ultimately you are correct in that they are fighting for what they believe in and they are serious as a heart attack.

By this line of reasoning, and using these definitions of terms, I don't think you can call the Revolutionaries "terrorists" but you may be able to make an argument that the used the guerilla warfare model to achieve their goal. But unlike the Islamists of today, they didn't employ terrorist tactics.

no one ever thinks of the war of Independence as a war waged by Christian fundamentalist terrorists.

That's because it wasn't. Many, if not most, of the Founders were Deists, for sure, but few were fundamentalist Christians. George Washington, for one, was a Deist, and only nominally a Christian (he was a Mason, after all).

Now the rank and file, I'm sure some were "fundamentalist" but most were just regular folks who went to church on Sunday.

Can being a "terrorist", or committing "terrorism", change depending on which side of the conflict you're on or support?

Yeah, if words don't mean anything, sure. Certainly the Islamists would like you to believe "hey, we're all terrorists on this block" but I don't think it's true.

But again, to my mind, the Islamists are more dangerous than terrorists and simply calling them terrorists is to not respect them as an enemy.

And that would be dangerous.

But I'm pretty positive the Brits were pissed at us.

Well yeah. They invested a bunch in us and they were just starting to get a return on their investment when we decided to quit.

Plus, given the logistical infrastructure of the time, it was a very expensive war for Britain to wage.

But, as everyone knows, The American Revolution was really war between France and Britain with the Americans as the French proxy army.

And the French have regretted "their" win ever since...

Jon H | January 4, 2007 04:07 PM

The weakest argument being used by the wingnuts is that, since Jefferson's Koran is a translation, it somehow doesn't count as a real Koran.

As if that's relevant for something playing a purely symbolic role, which your hand is placed on. What's important is what the object stands for.

The Bibles the other congressmen swear on could be *blank* inside for all they care. I bet some of them have never been cracked open. They could even use a fake Bible, just leather wrapped around gilded balsa wood, with BIBLE on the spine,
to save wear and tear on a real Bible.

The choice of the Jefferson Koran is great, though. The only thing that would have been better (and would have been gasoline on the wingnut fires) would be if he swore on a stack of bios of Iraq War dead.

Sam | January 4, 2007 04:12 PM

ERN,

Your one of those its either black or white type of guys, no gray imbetween. I'm not knocking. But since ideology often will spill into reality its not so ludicrous.

"Freedom Fighters" or, alternately, "Partisans", do not target innocent civilians. In occupied areas, for instance, such "freedom fighters" would not have enemy civilians to target.

Since these international terrorists see all Americans as combatants to them we are fair game. Clearly they are crazy and demented, but that isnt stopping them from doing it. From their point of view they can't go toe to toe so to make their point across there no longer is any more "civilians," and since we Americans elect the government and the government is a represenation of Americans as a collective we then are all soldiers (as dumb as that sounds). But I have heard those arguments.

Personally I say we create hydrogen cars or whatever and get the hell of out Saudi Arabia and Iraq and let them kill themselves. I would rather talk about Britney Spears and her break up and have shallow conversations about Hollywood Stars then worry about some idiot who blames America for why he can't toilet paper to wipe his own rear.

ERN | January 4, 2007 04:13 PM

Traditional Muslims do believe that translations of the Koran are not "real" Korans. I'm not sure the conservatives are making the argument you think they are. For some Muslims, it *does* matter symbolically, just as it being Jefferson's Koran matters symbolically for so many posting on this board.

But then the idea of swearing on the Koran doesn't sit well with many Muslims, either. It's not something Muslims do. Let's also note that swearing on the Bible is not something all Christians believe in, and some vehemently object to it.

Which is why this whole argument over the Koran seems like foolishness to me. They don't actually take the oath on anything at all. They just give their word.

Which, even when they do use a Bible, doesn't seem to count for much either, does it?

Jon H | January 4, 2007 04:14 PM

ERN writes: "In occupied areas, for instance, such "freedom fighters" would not have enemy civilians to target."

Not true. For example, Tibet is inarguably occupied by China, and China has been encouraging ethnic Chinese to move there. There are lots of them there now. If someone were able to raise, train, and arm a Tibetan resistance, there'd be plenty of civilians to attack in lieu of harder targets.

Do you really think that, if China occupied Alaska, and for some reason the US let them have it, that Alaskans wouldn't attack Chinese civilians if necessary? Especially if outgunned by the Chinese troops?

ERN | January 4, 2007 04:19 PM

I'm not being black and white. I acknowledged that in reality the borders between such groups can be soft. But the whole "one man's terrorist" argument is precisely the argument used by "historical winners" to impose their version of events. In reality, though, these groups generally fall into one group or the other. Mostly its because members of these groups have a tendency to be "black and white" types of people themselves, and are extremely committed to their respective causes.

And again, just because some Islamic extremists see you and me as not being civilians doesn't make it so. By international law, we both are (unless you're a soldier, I really wouldn't know). Again, the problem with defining terrorism only comes when you look at the situation from one perspective or the other. But there is a perspective from outside both, in international law. Those are the standards by which we judge such groups, not by their own self-understanding. That is when people get confused--surely al Qaeda doesn't consider themselves terrorists, but that doesn't mean they're right. By standards of international law, they are, just as surely by international law I am a civilian. They don't get to make their own rules.

Adam Rakunas | January 4, 2007 04:23 PM

And, just to add to the classiness, after he was sworn in, Keith Ellison went over to Virgil Goode to offer his hand. Video here.

Man, I would love to know what they said to each other.

Sam | January 4, 2007 04:25 PM

You can only fall back on international law when everyone agrees to it. Clearly groups such as al Quada could care less about international law or the Geneva convention. Just because you say that they are not supposed to kill me because its written down somewhere that international law forbides the killing of civilians, doesn't make it so.

If that were the case then NATO and the UN would have more power than God.

But the whole "one man's terrorist" argument is precisely the argument used by "historical winners" to impose their version of events.

But unfortunately that is the reality of history. That's why we have Columbus day off (most poeple) despite the fact that he wasn't that great of a guy. History is built on hipocracy, personally I can live with that.

ERN | January 4, 2007 04:25 PM

John H:

You give a hypothetical situation that is pretty rare. Usually what happens is that an occupying force moves in, and the enemy consists almost exclusively as military. Only over long periods of time is the area resettled by new civilians.

In the situation you pose, civilians would be in the area. But again, a distinction exists. It would still be terrorism to target the new citizens, rather than military targets. The distinction between freedom fighters and terrorists is that freedom fighters make the extra effort of discriminating between civilian and military targets. Terrorists, on the other hand, usually make the inverse judgment. They will hit civilian targets even if they are more difficult (though, usually, they are not) for the effect. At best, terrorists are merely opportunistic, and hit whatever they can get away with. So the distinction stands.

There are always outliers. There are always situations that raise new questions, but nearly always the standard definition remains legitimate.

ERN | January 4, 2007 04:36 PM

Sam:

I can see I'm going to have to make some of the arguments I glossed over.

International law: it only matters from our perspective. It doesn't matter to us whether or not al Qaeda gives a crap about Geneva or any other international law. It only matters that *we* do. It governs our actions, how we respond to their actions, and how others judge us for our own actions. We're up-front about what we will do when violence occurs. We've laid out the rules, the guidelines, the exceptions, everything. That is what the law is for. We've given our playbook, and that's all we're responsible for.

Think of it as a basketball game. You get all the kids together and play. One of the neighboring kids decides he doesn't like the game and starts throwing rocks. What do you do? Both teams stop, tackle the kid together, and stop him so the game can keep going. The kid throwing rocks didn't agree to the rules, but that doesn't mean he can disrupt the game.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 04:40 PM

Well, and "partisans" and "freedom fighters" often kill "collaborators."

CoolBlue, I didn't make all those statements you quoted, just want to make sure you knew that. The Indians worked both sides (or were worked by both sides) although they mostly fought for the British. The Hessians also fought for the British as uniformed mercenaries until Trenton. Then only 30% returned to Germany, the rest remained, fighting for the British as both un-uniformed skermishers (military targets) and harrassers (civilian targets) and in the British dragoon regiments in the South. I was making a point with this by showing that the Revolutionary War wasn't all a "set-piece" action, as you claimed.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 04:44 PM

I forgot to mention that both uniformed and non-uniformed military of the Revolution would drag torries from their homes and hang them, and possibly burn their property for good measure. There is actually a lawsuit still pending agains the US by relocated Torries in Canada (well, their decendents) for compensation owed (and promised) to them for confiscation of lands.

Sam | January 4, 2007 04:46 PM

ERN,

Your assuming the kid wanted to go to the game. What we are talking about is different, al Quada's major arguments are two fold

1)we get out of Saudi Arabia (and Iraq)
2)we stop supporting Israel.

From a Muslim fundamentalist point of view, Saudi Arabia is holy to them, god knows why its a dirt pool. And it doesnt do any good to have infadels there. I agree we should leave.

On the second one clearly American policy has been to support Israel I don't want to get into it since that would take yrs to solve. And I'm not advocating that we leave Israel to their own devices.

As long as we do either of those two things we are in for a fight. So its either we kill every single Muslim male between the ages of 16-35 or we figure out how to solve those two issues. The first one is easy as long as we find an alternative fuel source the second one not so much.

PixelFish | January 4, 2007 05:42 PM

The argument about Korans in English not being REAL Korans can't be serious, can it? Not from the Muslim point of view--I understand that arguement, sorta--but from the hardcore Christian nutbars? Sheesh. It's not like English is the Bible's native language.

I was quite pleased to see Jefferson's Koran making a public appearance. Teh Awesome.

Steve Buchheit | January 4, 2007 06:20 PM

PixelFish, "It's not like English is the Bible's native language"

You're right. According to my great-grand uncles and aunts, God no longer heard our prayers because we didn't speak German in church.

Scott Mactavish | January 4, 2007 06:32 PM

The argument about Korans in English not being REAL Korans can't be serious, can it? Not from the Muslim point of view--I understand that arguement, sorta--but from the hardcore Christian nutbars? Sheesh.

Before this turns into a frontal assault on Christians, let's keep in mind that most of that particular criticism comes from fellow Muslims, and that quite a few Christian politicians enthusiastically welcomed the use of the Koran. Including (Catholic) Nancy Pelosi, who held the Koran for him.

Hube | January 4, 2007 08:01 PM

It will be interesting what people (especially lefties) have to say about Mitt Romney's religion, and how THAT isn't (or is) a big deal, when the 2008 presidential run begins in earnest.

I surely agree that Prager et. al. were complete morons for making an issue of Ellison. It's a sorry joke. We'll see who's consistent when it comes to Romney, though, won't we?

Todd Stull | January 4, 2007 09:27 PM

Sam said:

"al Quada's major arguments are two fold

1)we get out of Saudi Arabia (and Iraq)
2)we stop supporting Israel."

Sam, I believe that is an incomplete understanding of their position. The leaders of al-Qaeda were inspired by Sayyid Qutb, who in turn was inspired by Islamic extremists called takfiri. In short, takfiri label other Muslims who disagree with them as apostates, and thus worthy of destruction. The rest of us non-believers are marked for destruction as well.

While I agree that al-Qaeda wants us to get out of Saudi Arabia, and leave Israel high and dry, their stated goal is restoration of the caliphate and establishment of an Islamic country governed by their understanding of Sharia. Once they have a country, they want to continue the struggle started during the Crusades, and wipe Christianity off the Earth.

Sam also said:

"So its either we kill every single Muslim male between the ages of 16-35 or we figure out how to solve those two issues. The first one is easy as long as we find an alternative fuel source the second one not so much."

Again Sam, I think that is way too simple of an answer. To start, many Muslims do not believe that violence is acceptable against other Muslims or nonbelievers. I assume the majority of Muslims feel this way, or we would actually be fighting something like the Crusades.

Secondly, even if we left the Middle East completely, Osama and his minions will continue their assault. Disengagement with the region will embolden their efforts, as it will fit into their propaganda techniques.

I agree that we need to find an alternative fuel source - it would be nice if we invested in solar power to increase its efficiency and make it competitive with fossil fuels. Since the sun is a giant reactor that will keep going for some billions of years, smart money is on solar power lasting longer than fossil fuels. Also, it is relatively clean, and if harnessed, might supply all of our energy needs.

Here's some ideas to start on how America can deal with Islamic terrorism:

1) Do not invade any more countries. Train more and move more special forces into Iraq and Afghanistan and reduce our conventional forces. Fight the insurgent elements that refuse consensus building when offered a piece of the government pie, by advising Iraqi troops. Split Iraq into provinces so that the stable north and south areas can focus on keeping their areas stable.

2) Fund moderate Islamic schools around the world instead of building more tanks and nuclear subs. Education is held in high esteem by the Quran, and opportunities for rational discussion of American policies with uneducated Muslims will help many realize we are not devils.

3) Vote out the American leaders that are most in bed with the military and agricultural industrial complexes, and who are therefore resistance to ideas around peace and sustainability.

CaseyL | January 4, 2007 09:33 PM

Hube, the difference is really very easy to figure out.

A candidate who is devout in their own faith, but doesn't insist that everyone else live by that faith's decrees and therefore doesn't try to enact laws which violate the First Amendment, is fine with us "lefties."

A candidate who is devout in their faith AND insists that everyone else live by that faith's decrees is not fine with us "lefties."

Ellison shows no signs of wanting to bring Sharia to the US.

Romney was apparently once aware of the fact that not all Americans were fundamentalist Christians, and that we had an inalienable right not to be forced to live by fundamentalist Christianity decree. But he now seems to be backpedaling in order to appeal to the GOP's "Base."

Considering how Mormonism is anathema to so many RW fundamentalist Christians (for theological, not ideological reasons), and considering that RW fundamentalist Christians now want to take over the bits of the GOP they don't already have, it's distinctly possible we "lefties" won't have to make an issue of Romney's religion even if we were so inclined. The RW fundamentalist Christians in the GOP might make an issue of it first.

Aboud | January 4, 2007 09:57 PM

Sam wrote: "From a Muslim fundamentalist point of view, Saudi Arabia is holy to them, god knows why its a dirt pool."

Let me enlighten you. There's nothing holy about Saudi Arabia. What's holy to Muslims (and not just fundamentalists) are the cities of Mecca and Medinah, which are located in the Western region of the country. Riyadh isnt holy. Neither are Dammam, Qasem, Taif,etc etc. And btw, there hasnt been a US military presence in Saudi Arabia for several years now.

"So its either we kill every single Muslim male between the ages of 16-35 or we figure out how to solve those two issues"

Thanks for assuming that every single 16-35 Muslim male agrees with Al-Qaeda. While it's a sad truth that, due to the reckless behaviour of George W, alot more of them do now than six years ago, the vast majority of Muslims dont want to live under Sharia law or in a Caliphate. We'd very much like Muslim women to be able to continue driving cars. Can you imagine having to drive your wife, daughters or sisters everywhere? *shudder*


Greg | January 4, 2007 10:13 PM

I did a bit of research on Keith Ellison, and it seems that he is a U.S.-born Muslim convert, not a Muslim from a predominantly "Muslim" country. He apparently also has ties to Louis Farrakan, so we should all be able to brush up on our anti-Semitic humor while Mr. Ellison in office.

Given the U.S. separation of Church and State, a case could be made that no religious objects should be used in state ceremonies. (In my opinion, mixing politics and religion corrupts the former and cheapens the latter.)

One thing that needs to be remembered is that Islam is a political philosophy as well as a religion. Inviting Muslim politicians into public life also means inviting Muslim political ideas into the public arena. This means: death to adulterers, apostates, and in some cases, homosexuals. (Don't count on Mr. Ellison supporting any gay marriage measures.)

I know what you will say, "But it's *intolerant Muslims* who do those things. I would agree that what we have in the U.S. is largely a diluted, PC-version of Islam---just as we had diluted, PC-versions of communism in the 1930s. (We also had a PC-version of Nazism, called the Bunds in the late 1930s.)

Mr. Ellison's election is surely a sign that our system of free speech works. It is analogous to allowing Klansmen to demonstrate in the public square.

However, given the pain that Muslims visit on their neighbors in Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Russia (remember the school massacre?), India, and elsewhere, this is not a moment for celebration. In every place that Muslims exist in large numbers---from Europe to the Middle East--they are in conflict with their neighbors.

Let's tolerate Islam--if we must--but let's not encourage it. It runs contrary to the values that our democratic nation holds dear---especially those of us who are liberal or libertarian in our political beliefs.

Michelle K | January 4, 2007 10:38 PM

Greg said:

"Inviting Muslim politicians into public life also means inviting Muslim political ideas into the public arena..."

You really didn't mean that they way it came out, did you?

Let me put what you said a different way:

Just like inviting Catholic politicians into public life also means inviting Catholic political ideas into the public arena. This means no abortion, no divorce, no death penalty, and the pope controlling the US political agenda.

Aboud | January 4, 2007 10:38 PM

Greg wrote: "It runs contrary to the values that our democratic nation holds dear---especially those of us who are liberal or libertarian in our political beliefs. "

Several predominantly Islamic countries have had women heads of state. Ever since the election all I've heard on CNN is how Nancy Pellosi is the first women speaker of the house. Why did it take so long?

"Mr. Ellison's election is surely a sign that our system of free speech works. It is analogous to allowing Klansmen to demonstrate in the public square. "

So you compare Kieth Ellison to a KKK member? There are certain right winger members of the House and Senate who'd better fit the profile. Ellison so far behaved with nothing but dignity and class. Alot of his colleagues would do well to learn from his example. As would some Internet posters.

"In every place that Muslims exist in large numbers---from Europe to the Middle East--they are in conflict with their neighbors."

I find it astonishing that anyone would blame the Bosnians for the war and suffering forced on them by their more powerful neighbours.

Eric | January 4, 2007 10:41 PM

ERN, of the definitions of "terrorism" available on dictionary.com, only two cite civilian targets as part of the definition. (See: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=terrorism). To the extent that individual nations or international treaties may otherwise define the word, those definitions are invariably politicized at some level.

Some "freedom fighters" or partisans have been known to target civilians, directly or inadvertently. As far as I know, in the American Revolution (a case that has been mentioned several times in this thread), there were occurrences where American patriots targeted Tory properties for damage or indeed targeted Tories themselves for tarring and feathering or worse. (One might look at the first illustration on this webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_and_feather -- "The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man," and the note article's note about the temperatures at which hot tar can cause third-degree burns.)

What earlier posters alluded to wasn't "ideological claptrap." Nor do I believe it was meant to be an endorsement of terrorist activities or a justification based on some kind of parity between "terrorists" and, say, the American founders. It should also be obvious to any rational person that even if some kind of equal line were drawn between "freedom fighters" and "terrorists," it wouldn't automatically validate the latter. One might say (and I think probably should say) something like, "The men who founded the United States Of America did, said and thought a lot of things that were wonderful and should be revered, but they also did, said and thought some things that were ignoble and we can be proud of their accomplishments without always being proud of some of their ideals and methods." To say "members of a terrorist group consider themselves freedom fighters, and American freedom fighters sometimes lynched their civilian enemies" does not make assaulting anyone (civilian or otherwise) heroic or justified. It takes far more than that to make a deed justifiable. (Or even rational: one might also reasonably take the view that attacks like the ones on 9/11 don't even make much sense if you try to imagine yourself in the hijackers' shoes--the murder of thousands was stupid, pointless, almost guaranteed to have no effect or the opposite effect of what must have been intended, and can only be understood if one imputes to the planners a truly wretched ignorance about American culture, economics, politics, and history.)

But back to the point: I think it is perfectly fair to say that the British considered our founding heroes criminals. Had the British won, any American patriots they could have gotten their hands on would have been imprisoned and/or tried, hanged, and their bodies displayed as a stern warning of the fate of traitors. The actions of our founders had names: treason, seditious libel, assault, murder, arson, larceny, robbery, trespass injury to chattels and real property among others. Several of those were capital offenses (actually, at least two of those still are). It's worth mentioning that the founders knew this and alluded to it directly (Franklin's famous statement, "We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.") or indirectly (the Bill Of Rights effectively insulates would-be insurgents by protecting their homes from search for seditious pamphlets, allowing them to muster arms to shoot soldiers with, guaranteeing that they can't be hanged for treason without a trial, and so on--it has been said that the Constitution protects the innocent at the incidental benefit of criminals, but since the founders were--from the British standpoint--criminals, I think it's far more accurate to say that the Constitution specifically protects criminals at the incidental benefit of Tories).

John Scalzi | January 4, 2007 10:56 PM

Greg:

"Inviting Muslim politicians into public life also means inviting Muslim political ideas into the public arena. This means: death to adulterers, apostates, and in some cases, homosexuals. (Don't count on Mr. Ellison supporting any gay marriage measures.)"

This is, of course, why Keith Ellison got an endorsement from Outfront Minnesota when he was running for Congress:

"In recent years, one of our community's strongest and most respected allies in the Minnesota Legislature has been State Representative Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis). He is an attorney in his second term representing North Minneapolis.

"Ellison has not allowed the prospect of controversy to get in the way of his outspoken opposition to a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would outlaw any form of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

"As a member of the House Civil Law and Elections Committee, Ellison was one of 12 committee members participating in a hearing in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on March 18 to consider the proposal.

"Conservative religious leaders within the African-American community say that achieving marriage equality is not a civil-rights issue, and deny any comparison to previous bans against interracial marriages.

"Ellison, who is African American, challenged this notion directly. By framing the issue in terms of its place within the long struggle for equality in our country, he gets our recognition nod."

Greg, before you decide you know how some representative is going to vote based on his or her religion, you would do well to see if you can find out his or her actual positions. It was trivial for me to find this information; it would be equally trivial for you to do the same.

Chris | January 4, 2007 11:22 PM

Greg,

I am afraid I am going to have to disagree with your position and state that ALL religions can be political philosophies as well if that is the will of a particular group of people. Confucian-Ideals feed into Juche, the self-destructive ideology of the North Koreans. The apartheid-era leaders of South Africa were heavily influenced by the Afrikaaners Church, and I lived through the Balkans in the late '90s in my professional capacity and I can unequivocally relate to you the Orthodox Nationalist tripe that the Serbians were spouting. I am saying the potential for religion to be used as political philosophy is not unique to only Islam. Many accuse many Republican Politicians of exactly that in this country. As for the comment of large populations of Muslims means strife, in most of the places that you mentioned, I believe that you oversimplify. There are myriad of reasons beyond Islam while there are fights in all the places you mention and be delighted to discuss individual cases ad nasuem.

I am not giving the faith or the Islamic population a free ride. Having served in Islamic countries in my professional capacity, I could go on about issues I have seen. I just think you are making unrealistic generalizations.

Chris

Todd Stull | January 4, 2007 11:32 PM

Egads Greg! You showed an astounding ignorance of Keith Ellison, what he represents, and the teachings of Islam. Why not do some study of the issues before lumping all the schools of Islamic thought together? The Islam of Saudia Arabia (Wahhabism or more accurately Salafism) has little to do with a mystical school called Sufism.

This kind of ignorance is part of what is perpetuating stupid policy decisions on the part of America. If we want peace, we will need to have a firm grasp of the complexities of the issues.

Djscman | January 5, 2007 01:29 AM

Watchman at 12:43pm wrote:
"Now as to the idiots who elected this Nation of Islam flunky to office...well, that's their right too."

And Greg at 10:13pm wrote:
"He apparently also has ties to Louis Farrakan, so we should all be able to brush up on our anti-Semitic humor while Mr. Ellison in office."

Well, this particular idiot did a little bit of homework before electing him. I found that, yup, he's a black guy, and he's a Muslim. But--some opposition reports to the contrary...because they were inaccurate, slanted, et cetera--he wasn't in the Nation of Islam. He helped Minnesotans get to the Million Man March; that was his tie to Farrakhan. Has that been over a decade ago already? Also, he was way better than the other guy, and a little better than the other woman running for the seat. (But she was an independent, and who wants to throw their vote away?)

Not many people can show poise and class on their first day on the job. He did, and so far I think my Congressional district is nicely represented in the House. Honestly, who gets worked up over a freshman Representative, no matter how skillfully he avoids aggressive conflict? Even if he gets mired in corruption, we should get the first crack at him!

Steve Buchheit | January 5, 2007 07:51 AM

Djscman, "Honestly, who gets worked up over a freshman Representative, no matter how skillfully he avoids aggressive conflict? "

It's because we must be carefully taught.

ern | January 5, 2007 08:21 AM

Pixelfish:

That is precisely what Muslims believe about the Koran. Translations are considered "interpretations" of the Koran--only the Koran in Arabic is considered a true Koran, because that was the language in which it was dictated to Mohammed by Allah.

With Christians it is obviously different--mostly because Christians don't believe the Bible was "dictated" by God to them, but "inspired" by the Holy Spirit, which is a very different and more complicated thing than we can really go into here.

ern | January 5, 2007 08:28 AM

Sam:

It doesn't matter if the kid wanted to go to the game at all. He saw the game going on, didn't like it, and decided to crash it violently.

As for your interpretation of al Qaeda's goals, I think you are mistaken. If you look at what al Qaeda leaders have actually said, you'll realize that they have wider grievances than recent American foreign policy decisions. In other words, they'd still attack the West, even if we left Saudi Arabia and stopped supporting Israel. These groups want to impose a new Caliphate, including sharia, on the West. That's what they want. Not all Muslims want this, obviously, so the idea that we'd have to kill all Muslim men is ridiculous. This is a relatively narrow group of Muslims. Others support them tacitly, but the primary issue is a narrow, politically driven perversion of Islam.

ern | January 5, 2007 08:36 AM

Eric says: ERN, of the definitions of "terrorism" available on dictionary.com, only two cite civilian targets as part of the definition.

And regular dictionaries are not of particular use on this issue, just as they are not much use in other technical areas. As I said, international relations has a very specific definition of "terrorism" and "terrorist" that works, and should be used for clarification in foreign policy. That definition is used in most of the literature dealing with terrorism.

So, again, when you say "Some 'freedom fighters' or partisans have been known to target civilians, directly or inadvertently." you are making a category mistake. If they target civilians directly, they forfeit the title "freedom fighter" and become "terrorists." Also, as I said, the borders are often soft, here, and some groups waver. Another complication is the "inadvertent" killing of civilians. Just war theory makes moral distinctions between the "inadvertent" and "deliberate" killing of civilians, distinctions which make their way into international law. So, a "freedom fighter" or "partisan" who inadvertently kills civilians might not necessarily be a "terrorist."

Let me point out (yet again) that these distinctions only matter from an external point of view. From the point of view of the state occupier, neither "freedom fighting" or "terrorism" is strictly legal. But it does matter from the point of view of international law, and (I think more importantly) a moral point of view.

ern | January 5, 2007 08:44 AM

Well, I don't want to keep pontificating on this, because its a difficult forum in which to do it.

Let me just go back, one last time, to the issue of Ellison and him being Muslim. I'm a moderate libertarian, and a traditionalist Christian, and I have no issue with Ellison being in Congress, or taking the oath on a Koran (a "real" one or otherwise). I know and work with a lot of conservatives, Christian and otherwise, and none of *them* have an issue with it either.

So, rather than read a lot into this story (as some here obviously have), I would just say that I think this isn't really a big story. Well, it's a big story in that Ellison is Muslim, but the Koran bit is really a side-show. It's a non-issue, even for conservatives. And many conservatives were critical of Prager's foolishness.

I'm just tired of seeing these things blown out of proportion, only to have them used as battering rams against ideological opponents. It's all symbol and no substance. The discussion of "terrorism" was far more substantive and interesting.

Anonymous | January 5, 2007 10:16 AM

"In every place that Muslims exist in large numbers---from Europe to the Middle East--they are in conflict with their neighbors."

Anyway, couldn't one say the same about Christians? The land borders of Christendom are, very roughly, in sub-Saharan Africa (Congo, Sudan, Horn of Africa), in the Levant, and in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In all of these places there are conflicts that have Christians on one side and non-Christians on the other.

Or Jews? Though it's a small sample (size: 1).

Or Hindus? India's borders are far from peaceful, and Bali also has problems.

Or Buddhists? China/Central Asia, Nepal, southern Thailand...

Lis Carey | January 5, 2007 10:20 AM

Hube said:
It will be interesting what people (especially lefties) have to say about Mitt Romney's religion, and how THAT isn't (or is) a big deal, when the 2008 presidential run begins in earnest.

I surely agree that Prager et. al. were complete morons for making an issue of Ellison. It's a sorry joke. We'll see who's consistent when it comes to Romney, though, won't we?

Mitt Romney was governor here in liberal & predominantly Catholic Massachusetts for four years. Prior to that, he ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, and gave Kennedy the first actual competition he's had in many years. Back when he first announced for the Senate, there was a brief flurry of concern over his religion, which quickly resolved into a consensus that Mormons were no odder than anyone else. When he ran for governor, it never came up.

No one here in liberal Massachusetts cares that he's a Mormon.

In Red America, though, he'll have to cope with fundies who think Mormons are not Christians, and that not being Christian is a disqualification for public office.

Todd Stull | January 5, 2007 11:59 AM

"In every place that Muslims exist in large numbers---from Europe to the Middle East--they are in conflict with their neighbors."

Anyway, couldn't one say the same about Christians? The land borders of Christendom are, very roughly, in sub-Saharan Africa (Congo, Sudan, Horn of Africa), in the Levant, and in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In all of these places there are conflicts that have Christians on one side and non-Christians on the other.

Or Jews? Though it's a small sample (size: 1).

Or Hindus? India's borders are far from peaceful, and Bali also has problems.

Or Buddhists? China/Central Asia, Nepal, southern Thailand..."

Anonymous (if that is really your name!): You could say that, although it would miss a critical piece.

Not all religions have leaders that state their goal to be violent overthrow of countries, or political parties, or other leaders. For example, I am not aware of the Dalai Lama calling for violence against the Chinese.

I think what irks many people is the perception that Muslims, on the whole, are bloodthirsty and/or aggressive. I think that is an incorrect perception that needs to be challenged directly, rather than through equivocation.

Eric | January 5, 2007 12:47 PM

Except, ERN, "international law" isn't a bedrock or immutable thing. What we refer to as "international law" is actually a jumbled pile of treaties, protocols, agreements, habits, conventions, and traditions between various individual nations that may or may not actually be binding on any of those nations except insofar as they are willing to agree to be bound or can force others to be bound by employing military or economic pressure.

This makes "international law," to the extent it isn't a chimera, a subjective matter left to the interpretations (or distortions) of the states that respect or are able to enforce/impose those interpretations. Furthermore, in the case of something as subject to broad definitions as "terrorism," those definitions are likely to have been established for political purposes in the first place (as opposed to formulating an objective definition).

Looking back over your posts, I see that you did write that:

International law: it only matters from our perspective. It doesn't matter to us whether or not al Qaeda gives a crap about Geneva or any other international law. It only matters that *we* do. It governs our actions, how we respond to their actions, and how others judge us for our own actions....

I think you are correct, but I don't think it's consistent with the position you appear to take in other posts, specifically the characterization of nuanced views as "idological claptrap." Yes, a nuanced view that an act's label as "terrorism" or "freedom fighting" depends on who is labeling can be perverted into some kind of rationalization. On the other hand, it may merely be a comment on the way an individual's (or culture's) subjective viewpoint informs word choice when one is describing an occurrence, leading to a choice of "loaded" phrases intended to influence the listener into perceiving the act in a certain way. As an example, I can characterize the same act as "a symbolic display by the city's patriots drawing attention to the unfairness of having to pay taxes despite having no effective or official voice in national government" or I can characterize it as "a wanton act of disguised criminals who trespassed onto private property so they could seize the poor owner's wares, a potential source of income he had invested money and time in, which they spitefully and completely destroyed in order to anger and terrify citizens and government with the threat of further harm." Both statements are more-or-less accurate, but neither reveals much more than an author's slant one way or the other--on the other hand, taken together, they do offer perspective on the ways in which the same event might have been interpreted by different observers; that, at least, might be useful for offering some insight or wisdom to go along with a bald statement of fact.
__________

Now that I'm back at the office and have Lexis/Nexis and my copy of Black's Law Dictionary handy, I will say that your definition is at least partly accurate with regards to how the United States defines terrorism: 18 USC 2331 includes the following language with regards to domestic and international terrorism:

acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended--
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping

Two points of note with regard to the comments I was responding to: (1)while coercion of a civilian population is mentioned, it is mentioned in the disjunctive and (2)the prohibited activity is that which seeks to influence civilians or their governments--the targets of terrorism under American law might be anything, including military targets, and is not limited to acts involving threats to humans (under the statutory definition, blowing up an empty military barracks could be considered an act of terrorism).

Jackie M. | January 5, 2007 12:52 PM

That's like stuffing Dennis Prager and Virgil Goode into a trash can, and then rolling the trash can down a steep hill, and then when poor dizzy Dennis and Virgil crawl out, covered in each others' bile, there's Thomas Jefferson, laughing and pointing at them. Some days, I just love my country.

That's only the half of it, man.

Eric | January 5, 2007 12:54 PM

A clarification: I commented that the target of terrorism under US Code did not have to be human. That may seem inconsistent with the Code's statement "acts dangerous to human life," but it's not. Blowing up an empty building would almost certainly be construed as act dangerous to human life, even if no humans were within 100 miles in point of fact. The law tends, with the occasional odd exception, to view acts dangerous to human life in terms of the potential harm, not the actual harm.

Racy Li | January 5, 2007 01:24 PM

With all the talk about terrorism and freedom fighters and some comparisons of China, Tibet and the Dalai Lama, I'd like to draw your attention to an old NY Times article about the radicalization of Tibetan youth.

The most peaceful people, when hopeless and feel that they have no other options, will resort to terrorism.

duchess | January 5, 2007 01:30 PM

Regarding claims that Ellison is a member of the Nation of Islam: Read Newsweek's Q&A with Ellison. He states plainly, "I am a Sunni Muslim."

He also explains his supposed "ties" to NOI.

Josh Jasper | January 5, 2007 03:34 PM

Greg I did a bit of research on Keith Ellison, and it seems that he is a U.S.-born Muslim convert, not a Muslim from a predominantly "Muslim" country. He apparently also has ties to Louis Farrakan, so we should all be able to brush up on our anti-Semitic humor while Mr. Ellison in office.

And I can show you a nice picture of the former Sec Def shaking Saddam Hussein's hand. Perhaps you should quit being an anti-islamic bigot.

PixelFish | January 5, 2007 03:36 PM

ERN: Thanks for the clarification on the Koran. I was vaguely aware of it before. I had received the impression in the comments above that certain nutty hardcore Christians (note: not ALL Christians) were using the English language thing as an excuse for their own bigotry. It seems that was not the case, and it was primarily Muslims making that point. (All that aside, I guess as somebody upthread points out, the provenence of the book, however cool, still isn't the core issue.) :)

Josh Jasper | January 5, 2007 03:45 PM

And seriously. All of y'all who're "warning" us about the dangers of Islam, or trying to smear Ellison because he's a Muslim - I recognize your rhetoric. A very similar sort of thinking was responsible for my family out of Europe for being Jewish.

Simon Owens | January 5, 2007 03:55 PM

Though I disagree with many of Greg's generalizations, I do agree with his main premise, that it's almost impossible to completely separate a person's religious views from his political ones, considering they both deal largely with moral outlooks. It's quite hard to have a religious view on something that it's right and a political view that it's wrong, very often they correlate.

There are exceptions, of course. I don't necessarily think going to a prostitute is a good thing, but at the same time it's a victimless crime so I have no problem with it.

CoolBlue | January 5, 2007 05:55 PM

duchess

Regarding claims that Ellison is a member of the Nation of Islam: Read Newsweek's Q&A with Ellison. He states plainly, "I am a Sunni Muslim."

I am not really concerned about Ellison's connection to NOI: it's tenuous at best. I am also not concerned about him being a Muslim or "swearing" in on a Quran.

What I am concerned about is his connections to the terrorist enabling group CAIR. And specifically his close connection with Nihad Awad, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR is an organization founded by supporters of Hamas.

Nihad Awad was an officer with the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP) an organization that raised fund in the US to support terrorist attacks targeting Israel.

This linkage between the IAP and Hamas was decisively established in 2004, when a federal judge in Chicago found it partially liable for $156 million in damages for its role in aiding and abetting Hamas in the murder of David Boim, a 17-year-old American citizen.

Journalist Joel Mowbray of TownHall.com wrote “Mr. Awad headlined a fundraiser last month that the campaign estimates netted $15,000 to $20,000, and in July, and it appears that CAIR’s co-founder bundled contributions totaling just over $10,000. (The campaign issued a terse denial on the latter point, though it refused to explain away overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)”

Senator Barbara Boxer recently withdrew her support of CAIR "After directing her staff to look into CAIR, Boxer “expressed concern” about some past statements and actions by the group, as well as assertions by some law enforcement officials that it “gives aid to international terrorist groups,” according to Natalie Ravitz, the senator’s press spokeswoman."

"Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has declared that CAIR “is unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its association with groups that are suspect.”"

Now it may be that Ellison is clean on this. And it's certainly true that this didn't dissuade voters in his district from voting for him.

So maybe he's OK. We'll see.

Tim Keating | January 5, 2007 06:23 PM

I am utterly disgusted.

As we all know, it's not really the word of Allah unless it is in Arabic. Ergo, it's not really even a Koran. He's taking the oath of his office on a sham! A fake! A humbug!

(I thought, you know, since that other thing people complain about was just stupid, here's something they could really sink their teeth into.)

TK

Greg | January 5, 2007 07:20 PM

Josh Jasper writes:
"And seriously. All of y'all who're "warning" us about the dangers of Islam, or trying to smear Ellison because he's a Muslim - I recognize your rhetoric. A very similar sort of thinking was responsible for my family out of Europe for being Jewish."

A few differences: In the 1930s, your relatives weren't killing women for the crime of fornication, bombing subways and planes in Europe, and murdering filmmakers.


Michelle K writes:

"Just like inviting Catholic politicians into public life also means inviting Catholic political ideas into the public arena. This means no abortion, no divorce, no death penalty, and the pope controlling the US political agenda."

Funny. I can't remember the last time the Pope called a fatwa against a divorce attorney. The Catholic Church has its faults (plenty of them); but to compare it to the international bloodbath that Islam has become---well, this is a stretch at best.

John:

I stand corrected (with the qualification noted below) on Ellison's position regarding gay marriage. (I noticed, however, that you left the Farrakan issue alone.)

As I noted, the American version of Islam is PC in places--just like the American versions of Nazism and Communism were. Moreover, Ellison is a politician trying to get elected.

I wonder, though, how he, as a "Muslim" politician, is going to square his position on gay marriage with the bulk of the international Islamic community, which frequently kills both men and women for consensual sexual crimes. (I wonder if Mr. Ellison really understands the religion he professes to belong to?)

Todd Stull | January 5, 2007 11:43 PM

Greg:

Hey Greg. The bigger question is: Do you understand the religion that you obviously do not profess to? Clearly not.

At what point did the bulk of the international Muslim community start killing men and women? Can you understand that the narrow minded interpretation of Sharia law by a few does not represent the bulk of Islam? Why do you lump all Muslims together with the tiny minority of extremists?

CJ-in-Weld | January 6, 2007 01:39 AM

"tiny minority of extremists"

How much is that tiny minority? I have no idea. But even one-tenth of one percent of Muslims equals about a million people. Spread over the world, maybe no big deal. With a sufficiently sophisticated international organizing force, that's a substantial pool of terror-labor.

Then I suppose there is an even-tinier minority who are actual, sure-as-shootin' terrorists right now. A hundred thousand? Ten thousand? That many people trying even stupid suicidal schemes are bound to get some licks in. So does the pool from the "tiny minority" get exhausted or is it sufficiently large to sustain the actual numbers of operatives?

Maybe more important: what size is the tiny-but-surely-larger minority of Muslims who aren't inclined to commit terrorist acts, but who approve of the terrorists' goals, will look the other way from terrorist operations, and will refuse to cooperate with investigations? Who will help terrorists funnel money and resources in support of the Caliphate or against the Great Satan or whatever, if they're not likely to get caught?

That's probably the key number indicating the strength of an Islamist threat. Without that population to camouflage itself, the "tiny minority of extremists" could be reduced to a non-threat level by police or military action, or even by lawsuits, just as, say, the Klan has been.

Of course, that leaves a majority of Muslims who are citizens such as we think of them—they go to work, pay their bills, raise their families, and eschew honor-killings and ordnance.

And of course, people won't divide that neatly—the margins between the groups in this spectrum are fuzzy. But still, these four groupings do cover (I think) the four main approaches of individuals to terrorism.

So how do people think the relative numbers of the above groups compare between Muslims and non-Muslims? If I had to bet, I'd say the size of the "tiny minority of extremists" is larger among Muslims worldwide than among non-Muslims, at this point in history. But—as Scalzi pointed out in an earlier thread—probably not so much in the United States itself. In general, the U.S. probably has the "best" Muslims in that respect, by process of self-selection for typically American pursuits (among immigrants) and by being brought up to such (among native-raised).

But I think that will be true only as long as Islam is pressed and poked and cajoled (as Christianity has been) to conform itself to American behavioral and philosophical expectations.

Lis Carey | January 6, 2007 05:56 AM

"tiny minority of extremists"

How much is that tiny minority? I have no idea. But even one-tenth of one percent of Muslims equals about a million people. Spread over the world, maybe no big deal. With a sufficiently sophisticated international organizing force, that's a substantial pool of terror-labor.

(etc.)

Thus neatly demonstrating that it was a horrible mistake, in the 1970s and 1980s, not to ban all immigration to the US by Irish Catholics, and incredibly risky to allow those deeply-suspect Irish Americans (including Ronald Reagan, who although Protestant himself, was ethnically Irish Catholic) any prominent role in politics.

And in the early years of the 20th century, it was obviously wise and necessary to pass the Immigration Act of 1924, in order to severely limit, in fact very nearly ban, immigration by more people like my very dangerous (or at least highly suspect) grandparents. They were from Sicily, you see. Home of the very real and very dangerous Mafia. And they were Catholics, and as everyone knew, the Catholic Church was anti-democracy and wanted to impose their oppressive religious rule on us. And the convents were stockpiling guns! Stop them before so many have infiltrated that our government and way of life will fall at the Pope's word!

Or, maybe, y'know, it was all hysteria, and there was a serious problem with failure to distinguish the part (the IRA and its supporters and sympathizers, the Mafia, Pio Nono's political views, Muslim extremists of various flavors) from the whole (Irish Catholics, Italians, Muslims). And a further failure to grasp the notion that people might leave Ireland during the Troubles, southern Italy at a time when there was often no law but the Mafia, the Middle East now and in recent decades with its near-constant terrorist violence, because they don't like living in those conditions.

And before you protest that Ted Kennedy never supported the IRA bomb-throwers, allow me to point out that to this day many Brits hate him and all his clan, not for the usual American reasons for doing so, but because Ted Kennedy and Tip O'Neill talked to Gerry Adams before the British government gave him the seal of approval. They regard this as proof that Ted and Tip and other Irish-American pols really did support the bomb-throwers. That in correctly identifying Adams as someone whose goals were political (i.e. he wasn't into bomb-throwing because he liked killing people or enjoyed the exposions), and convincing him that he could achieve those goals politically, they helped end the violence, is irrelevant. That they worked hard to convince other Irish Americans that the NORAID was funding the bomb-throwers, not helping widows & orphans or the economically oppressed average Irish Catholic in N.I., they simply flatly disbelieve. They know Ted Kennedy is guilty, and that's the end of the matter.

And I'm hearing the same bigoted idiocy about Keith Ellison. He's Muslim, and so everything about him is suspect, and if one specific allegation is refuted, well, there's always another reason for remaining suspicious. Can't be too careful, after all!

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 07:56 AM

We must be carefully taught.

Greg | January 6, 2007 08:10 AM

Todd Stull writes:

"Hey Greg. The bigger question is: Do you understand the religion that you obviously do not profess to? Clearly not....At what point did the bulk of the international Muslim community start killing men and women? Can you understand that the narrow minded interpretation of Sharia law by a few does not represent the bulk of Islam? Why do you lump all Muslims together with the tiny minority of extremists?"

Answer: Am I a Koranic scholar? No. But I have acquainted myself with the fundamentals of Islam--the history of the Umayyad and Abbassid dynasties, and the more recent history of the faith. I have read about 2/3 of the Koran, and I know, for example, the different schools of Sharia. Could a Muslim stump me on a question about Islam? Sure. But that's not the point.

The point is that "the proof is in the pudding." Islam brings violence everywhere it goes, because it a.) contains violence as a key part of its scripture b.) is based on military/political conquest (Mohammed became a military dictator in his own time), and b.) is hostile to other religions--and to those with no religion. (Read about the status of dhimmitude under the original Muslim empires.)

You claim that Muslim violence in Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan, Thailand, China, Russia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Israel, Spain, the United States, Canada, etc. is the work of "a few extremists."

My question is: how many more bodies do you need before you see Islam for what it is? How many murdered women does it take? How many hijackings and terrorist bombings? When does it become enough for you to change your mind?

Or are you so committed to political correctness that nothing will convince you to contrary?

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 09:49 AM

Greg, I shall take the mote from my own eye, when you remove the plank from your own.

This isn't a question of religion this is question of culture and politics. I can give examples of all that you've questioned ("My question is: how many more bodies do you need before you see Islam for what it is? How many murdered women does it take? How many hijackings and terrorist bombings? When does it become enough for you to change your mind?") and apply it to almost all "religions" and regions (the only exception being "hijackings and bombings" as that's a recent - 50's and forward - phenomenon, although I can give historical equivalents).

Or stated another way, simply because someone states their motivation for action as being "religious" doesn't mean it's true.

CJ-in-Weld | January 6, 2007 12:22 PM

Lis:

Geez. Did you read my comment past your own truncating "etc."? Or did you figure you had me scoped out by that point and quit? What I actually wrote would support the idea that American-style Islam (such as Ellison's, I imagine; I don't know him) is not a principle source of terrorist threat.

That said, I'll respond briefly to what you wrote as if you responded to something I actually said, because I agree knee-jerk nativism is a possible unfortunate reaction to a foreign threat. However, in our current chapter in history, the terrorist threat to our nation's interests consists almost entirely of Muslim actors. That's a fact that Muslims and non-Muslims must confront.

Muslims need to clean their own house, and we should reward by social approval (at least) those individual Muslims who take steps to do so.

Leaders of target nations, Muslim or otherwise, must take reasonable steps to guard against a terrorist threat. At this point, that probably means heightened scrutiny of Muslim males from Saudi Arabia, for starters. If the goal is to nab terrorists bent on harming the United States, and if resources don't permit a full check into every immigrant or visitor to these shores, then the cost-effective thing to do is to focus on that minority of Muslims instead of using purely random spot checks. If al qaeda develops a reach and sophistication sufficient to employ non-Muslim American natives as its agents (like the KGB of yesteryear), that analysis would have to change.

I think it is possible for adults to admit this, and to structure a flexible program that is administered in a civil and fair way, notwithstanding past overreactions. When there really is an extremist jihadist group out to deal death, a country has to take that into account.

I'm hopeful fair-minded Muslims agree with this. They are more likely to do so if we develop the capacity for swift background checks, remain polite and respectful, and punish or disapprove actual bigotry when it rears its head. Also, any such program must be subject to constant review and questioning of basic assumptions, so that it may be ended as soon as the facts indicate.

Since Lis offered up some weak historical analogies, I'll offer up a weak situational analogy: if there is a good description of a robbery suspect as a six-foot-tall red-headed male, there is little reason to stop and frisk an elderly Japanese man.

Or another: when I was in the sixth grade, the principal trooped all us fifth- and sixth-grade boys with access to the boys' restroom on that wing to see the wads of wet toilet paper stuck to the ceiling, and he lectured us all that if the desecration didn't stop, Steps Would Be Taken Now Go Back To Class. I was resentful that I got the lecture notwithstanding my innocence, but it never occurred that fairness required that the girls get the same lecture....

Now, you might have said some actual interesting things about what I wrote, such as:

If that "tiny-but-surely-larger minority of Muslims who aren't inclined to commit terrorist acts, but who approve of the terrorists' goals, etc." is what truly enables the actual death-merchants to act, doesn't that imply our strategy should be a rapprochement with that population?

And don't our current half-assed measures (in Iraq at least—who knows what's going on in the shadows elsewhere) seem almost designed to be forceful enough to broaden this group, while not being forceful enough to have any real effect against the actual terrorists?

John Scalzi | January 6, 2007 01:00 PM

Greg:

"I stand corrected (with the qualification noted below) on Ellison's position regarding gay marriage. (I noticed, however, that you left the Farrakan issue alone.)"

Greg, if you're that wildly wrong on one thing, it pretty much casts doubt on the rest. Also, as it happens, someone else addressed the Farrakan thing in the thread, and there's no point replicating efforts. As for Mr. Ellison understanding his own religion, I suspect he understands it perfectly well, just as Christian legislators may understand their religion perfectly well and may choose to vote their own conscience or according to the desires of their constituents.

I find the horror of the possibly of Muslim legislators fundamentally silly and more than a little bigoted. Mr. Ellison's constituents voted him in. It's done. If more Muslims have political positions that voters in their districts approve of, they'll be voted in. Simple. One they're in, if they act and vote in a manner their constituents disapprove of, they'll be voted out. Also simple.


Greg | January 6, 2007 01:03 PM

Steve Buchheit writes:

"This isn't a question of religion this is question of culture and politics."

How then, would you explain the violent Muslim actions in so many different places, which have little or no cultural/political similarities? Are Indonesian Muslims beheading Christian schoolgirls because they are upset about Palestine? Are Muslims in Europe killing filmmakers because the U.S. invaded Iraq?

If we were only talking about the actions of displaced Palestinian Muslims, I would tend to agree with you. But widespread Muslim violence exists on every continent where Muslims live in signficant numbers: Africa, Europe, North America, and Asia.

You also state that the examples of Muslim terror are duplicated across other religions. Sorry, but I can't remember the last time that a group of Mormons or Baptists beheaded someone for apostasy. To find comparable examples of slaughter on such a global scale committed by the adherents of any other faith, you will have to go back at least a few hundred years.

To paraphrase a recent statement by an Israeli politician: "It may not be true to say that all Muslims are terrorists, but it is true to say that [nearly] all terrorists today are Muslims."

You seem committed to defending Islam despite the empirical evidence put before you.

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 01:51 PM

Greg, "How then, would you explain the violent Muslim actions in so many different places, which have little or no cultural/political similarities?"

Because we are all human. And cultural undertones span the globe, and politics is the same the world over.

"Are Indonesian Muslims beheading Christian schoolgirls because they are upset about Palestine?"

No, they're doing it because their patriarchal worldview is being challenged. Same as they beat and kill Muslim schoolgirls in Afghanistan (still), in Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Or they use Islam to continue their "honor killings" in the eastern Med, or cite Koranic versus to continue "female circumcision" in Africa. It's patriarchal issues, not the religion. It's about "controllin' those uppity wymin." And Christianity wouldn't have a problem with that, would they.

"Are Muslims in Europe killing filmmakers because the U.S. invaded Iraq?"

No, they are doing it become someone challenged what they held as holy. Their preconceptions and what they thought was the "base of their being" was challenged, and they found an easy target. They would have killed somebody else is need be.

"Sorry, but I can't remember the last time that a group of Mormons or Baptists beheaded someone for apostasy."

Lets, see, they didn't behead them but the Mormons went west because they were being persecuted, beaten, economic restrictions, and political hostility. While much of Christian on Christian violence is done quietly, it still is there. You just aren't seeing it because it is cloaked in other terms, such as hostility toward gays. And if you wish to talk about "minority of population painting the whole" as some of your above arguments have demonstrated, I only need to roll out the anger "Christian" fundamentalists have shown toward Pagans, Jews (although this has abated in recent year because of millennial fervor), Muslims, and Hindis. This includes bombing of mosques, synagogues, temples and individual hate crimes.

"You seem committed to defending Islam despite the empirical evidence put before you. "

I'm not defending Islam. I'm trying to show you how your prejudice has blinded you (with help of the current administration and popular culture) against what the enemy is and where they are. You also haven't given any empirical evidence, or anecdotal incidents and cultural artifacts.

Terrorism is not religious. Terrorism and terrorists are political. That they are wrapping themselves in religious terms (salafists, whahabi, etc). You're accepting that argument. It's BS. This is a political struggle, not a religious one.

Northern Ireland wasn't Catholic vs Protestant. It was Imperial Land grab versus "native" population.

Israel isn't Jew vs Muslim. It's about land, who has it, and who controls the water.

Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups fighting Israel, can't stand each other. The only thing they have in common is they want the land and water back. It's taken them 30 years to even share intelligence, and only for one operation (the capture of Israeli soldiers). They are Shi'ia and Sunni, and as Iraq shows, they don't get along.

It's about politics, not religion. Most people confuse the two, but they aren't the same thing. If you continue to focus on "Muslims" you're going to miss the next attackers.

Terrorism is a political tool and military tactic. But it is always for the political goal.

"Israeli politician: 'It may not be true to say that all Muslims are terrorists, but it is true to say that [nearly] all terrorists today are Muslims.'"

And it's that idiocy that will continue the terrorist attacks because they aren't addressing the real issues. And, gee, the speaker wouldn't have a particular axe to grind, would he?

Greg | January 6, 2007 02:12 PM

Steve Buchheit writes:

"It's about politics, not religion. Most people confuse the two, but they aren't the same thing."

Unless you are a Muslim. As I stated above, politics and religion are closely linked in Islam. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this earth." Mohammed said, "Oppose the unbelievers with the sword." Islam is fundamentally a religion of action. (And in fact, this is one of its "selling points" among the Muslim faithful.)

I would agree that in most areas in which Muslim violence is widespread, there are outside political issues which, on the surface at least, seem to have nothing to do with Islam. However, I think that we could have a spirited debate about whether Islam has contributed to the solution of these problems or made them worse.

In Indonesia, for example, I would argue that the "patriarchal worldview" is bolstered and justified by Islamic doctrine. Islamic countries (from Asia to the Middle East) have a habit of remaining backward and hostile to women's rights. You can call this religion, you can call it culture---but Islamic ideology is a pattern that runs through both.

As for the statement: "While much of Christian on Christian violence is done quietly, it still is there. You just aren't seeing it because it is cloaked in other terms, such as hostility toward gays."

I also get frustrated with Christians who want to impose their personal interpretation of scripture on the rest of us. However, you simply can't compare the Evangelical opposition to gay marriage, for example, to the murders of Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia by Muslim groups. These two offenses take place on entirely different scales.


CJ-in-Weld | January 6, 2007 02:22 PM

Steve Buchheit writes: "Terrorism is not religious. Terrorism and terrorists are political."

Steve, why are you so certain this is true? I'm not knowledgeable enough to dispute it, and it seems like a doctoral-level topic anyway.

So here are my questions: is it possible that politics and religion are sufficiently intertwined that to separate them as strictly as you do is distorting? Do religious and philosophical ideas matter, and don't some ideas make violence more palatable? Do cultural traits (including religious ones) inform each other, such that "patriarchal" culture traits become part of the religious beliefs? Do "memes" lay tracks that channel cultural tendencies?

And suppose (as you suggest) that the root cause of terrorism is "political" in a strictly materialist sense: do the terrorists know that? In other words, it practical or useful to ignore a possible, proximate religious motivation if the people you are dealing with profess it?

Anonymous | January 6, 2007 02:49 PM

However, you simply can't compare the Evangelical opposition to gay marriage, for example, to the murders of Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia by Muslim groups.

You also can't compare the murder and terrorism directed at abortion providers by evangelical Christians to Egyptian imams complaining about immodest dress.

See? The game can be played in both directions.

Anonymous | January 6, 2007 02:52 PM

Greg said:

"Answer: Am I a Koranic scholar? No. But I have acquainted myself with the fundamentals of Islam--the history of the Umayyad and Abbassid dynasties, and the more recent history of the faith. I have read about 2/3 of the Koran, and I know, for example, the different schools of Sharia. Could a Muslim stump me on a question about Islam? Sure. But that's not the point.'

Then why bring it up.

Greg said:

"The point is that "the proof is in the pudding." Islam brings violence everywhere it goes,"

I disagree. People bring violence everywhere they go. To reduce the cause of violence to a religion is a simple minded approach. Let me direct you upthread to the analogy of the IRA in Ireland, and add the various Crusaders, and kingdoms that were won and lost at the behest of the pope and his monarchial proxies.

Greg said:

"because it a.) contains violence as a key part of its scripture b.) is based on military/political conquest (Mohammed became a military dictator in his own time), and b.) [sic] is hostile to other religions--and to those with no religion. (Read about the status of dhimmitude under the original Muslim empires.)"

I will agree that as religions go, the roots of Islam have more violence surrounding it than others. My understanding is that it was in large part because as Islam emerged, there was a large scale effort to unite clans and families that had been warring in various ways for centuries.

However, as you probably know (or should), different interpretations of the scripture have led to different groups of Muslims making various choices about violence. There are a number of places in the Quran that seem to contradict themselves - one such concept is whether or not non-believers should be forced to convert at the point of the sword or not.

Some extremists say yes, or even, just kill the non-believers and don't bother converting. But, as you probably know (or should), there have been many places and times where Islam has been very tolerant of Jews and Christians, and not violent, specifically because of Mohammed's teachings in the Quran.

Clearly it is not simple. But your last blanket assertion that Islam is hostile to non-Muslims and the unreligious is just plain wrong.

Greg said:

"You claim that Muslim violence in Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan, Thailand, China, Russia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Israel, Spain, the United States, Canada, etc. is the work of "a few extremists."

I never made that statement. Build some straw men elsewhere. The answer to the question is complicated; however, I do believe only a few extremists (less than .1%) are reponsible for Muslim violence.

"My question is: how many more bodies do you need before you see Islam for what it is?"

1 billion. Or 1. Or, let me answer by saying the amount of people killed by extremists is not going to make me see Islam how you see it.

Greg said:
"How many murdered women does it take? How many hijackings and terrorist bombings? When does it become enough for you to change your mind?"

Are you begging the question of when I will agree with you? Probably never.

Greg said:

"Or are you so committed to political correctness that nothing will convince you to contrary?"

First, define political correctness. Then I might be able to answer. However, you know virtually nothing about my politics, so perhaps you should not bite off more than you can chew in this thread. Let's try and stay on task, and continue our discussion based on historical evidence and opinion and current events.

Todd Stull | January 6, 2007 02:53 PM

Sorry, the last response was mine.

mythago | January 6, 2007 02:56 PM

Oh, and lest we forget:

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this earth." Mohammed said, "Oppose the unbelievers with the sword."

Matthew 10:34 to 10:39.

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 02:59 PM

"Unless you're a Muslim"

Really, you don't think Pat Robertson, Dobson, LaHaye, etc. don't confuse that issue? Nah. And the Vatican wouldn't confuse that issue either. And we wouldn't be a "Christian Nation" would we? Can somebody call FOX and let them know that we're on to their little tricks and they should cut it out.

Greg, I'll remind you that the quote, "Kill them all, God will surely know his own" was from Christian on Christian violence (Albigensian Crusade)

"I would argue that the 'patriarchal worldview' is bolstered and justified by Islamic doctrine."

It's the patriarchal worldview that's the reason for what they are doing. That they can point to the Koran, Bible, Torah, scribbles on the wall, maniacal ravings of idiots doesn't matter because you don't list those as the problem, you say it's the patriarchal world view that's the problem. Because if you don't, you won't solve the problem.

"Islamic countries (from Asia to the Middle East) have a habit of remaining backward and hostile to women's rights."

This is a modern artifact and isn't historical of Islam. Again, patriarchal worldview.

"You can call this religion, you can call it culture---but Islamic ideology is a pattern that runs through both."

Islam is the waves on the water; you need to look at the riverbed. Of course, this will also cause painful explorations of one's own culture and preconceptions. It's a hell of a lot easier to point and say, "Towel Head."

"I also get frustrated with Christians who want to impose their personal interpretation of scripture on the rest of us. "

You don't think Muslims have the same problem with those, especially those outside their religion but also with Imams, who do the same thing?

"However, you simply can't compare the Evangelical opposition to gay marriage, for example, to the murders of Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia by Muslim groups. "

No, but how about killing gays because God told them to. Their preacher said it was okay because Gays can't be Christians. And we wouldn't have an issue here in the US with beatin' and killin' our gays, would we? Or with killing abortion doctors, or yelling obscenities at those who go to abortion clinics, or intimidating those who don't believe like We do? All in the name of religion or religious ideas and thoughts? Nah, we wouldn't have any of that here in the US. Do I need to run out the full list, Greg, or do you get my meaning (it's a patriarchal worldview, just like those Indonesians, strange how we also have it here).

And just in case you're wondering, Greg (or anybody else), I was raised Christian and am now Taoist (it's older, but has become a flavor of Buddhism).

CJ-in-Weld
I know this because as a young man I was trained to kill them. I've had enough briefings to be sure of this. It is also the position (last I checked) of our military. It is only the current administration that has confused the issue.

" is it possible that politics and religion are sufficiently intertwined that to separate them as strictly as you do is distorting? Do religious and philosophical ideas matter, and don't some ideas make violence more palatable?"

I don’t' deny that these terrorists (and others) have said the reason they do this, and their justification is their religion. I've yet to see truly religious people be violent, but I have seen violent people claim to be highly religious. Osama comes to mind. His goal is strictly political (shame the west, toss out the Saud family who he feels persecuted his family). The Califate, while religious is preference, is a political structure.

" Do cultural traits (including religious ones) inform each other, such that "patriarchal" culture traits become part of the religious beliefs? Do "memes" lay tracks that channel cultural tendencies?"

Depends on your view of where religions come from. Considering that this patriarchal culture spans religion, and can be shown in geographic terms and growth by military conquest, I'm willing to say that Patriarchal Culture precedes the religion. Or, stated differently, the religion conforms to the patriarchal culture.

" do the terrorists know that?"

The people blowing themselves up, probably not. The people sending them out, definitely.

"(is) it practical or useful to ignore a possible, proximate religious motivation if the people you are dealing with profess it?"

Only if you want to deal with this one group. In this case, kill them all, end of problem. If you want to stop the disease, you have to understand more than the symptoms. And if you keep the blinders on, you're going to miss the "next new thing."

Or in other terms, White Power (Pan Aryan) has already formed alliances and partnerships with the Salafist (Pan Arabs). I think they used to have that agreement prominently displayed on the Storm Front website. I haven't looked in the past year.

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 03:30 PM

"I know this because as a young man I was trained to kill them. "

I should state, because I forget you all don't know me, that this was in the mid 80s, back when Osama and Saddam were on our side.

CJ-in-Weld | January 6, 2007 03:59 PM

Steve:

I agree with you that religious belief does not cause terrorism, at least not by itself. The problem is, however, that in the present struggle, it certainly seems to correlate with terrorism. I have just enough statistical exposure to remember that "correlation does not mean causation." That doesn't mean that correlation is useless, however. You can't by sheer willpower peer into a man's innermost heart. So if you are trying to decide quickly where to focus your airport security efforts, or who to let into the country on a student visa, or where to place intelligence assets, it seems like you'd have to target Muslims from certain geographic areas disproportionately, or you are frittering away resources on busywork.

As I said above, the trick is to, well, profile fairly, and to maintain continuous debate about how to do it, and to change tactics as soon as circumstances change. In short, to act like adults. It is bigoted and counterproductive to focus security efforts on Muslims just because they are Muslims. It is defeatist, childish, and counterproductive to assume that it is impossible to focus efforts on Muslims without succumbing to bigotry for its own sake.

CoolBlue | January 6, 2007 04:35 PM

Steve Buchheit

Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups fighting Israel, can't stand each other. The only thing they have in common is they want the land and water back. It's taken them 30 years to even share intelligence, and only for one operation (the capture of Israeli soldiers). They are Shi'ia and Sunni, and as Iraq shows, they don't get along.

This is an oversimplification.

If what you say were true, they would not both be getting funding and training from Iran, a fundamentally Shi'ite government.

Iran would not be giving shelter and tactical support to al Qaida, a Sunni group.

While it is true that there are deep animosities between Shi'a and Sunni, it is also true that the Jihadist strain of both groups have and do cooperate.

And the Jihadist goals are more than just land and water. This, again, is an oversimplification.

It's about politics, not religion. Most people confuse the two, but they aren't the same thing. If you continue to focus on "Muslims" you're going to miss the next attackers.

Right but you must also understand that the Jihaist strain does not see a separation of politics and religion. To them, there is only one thing: Sharia.

This is why they have declared Democracy to be "haram": How can there be laws made by man when there is already a divine law. To them, political freedom is heresy.

When speaking about the Jihadist point of view, to even make a distinction between religion and politics is to be talking on a completly different plane. Someone from our cultural background may confuse religion and politics, but it is not possible for them: Religion and politics are exactly the same.

Aboud | January 6, 2007 05:03 PM

Greg said "To find comparable examples of slaughter on such a global scale committed by the adherents of any other faith, you will have to go back at least a few hundred years."

No, just to the early 90s, when the Serbs slaughtered untold multitudes of Bosnians and Croats in the heart of Europe. Or the massacres of Muslims by Hindus in India. Or the atrocities commited by Maronite militias in Lebanon, both against Palestinians and fellow Christians. Oh yes, and there is the "little" matter of Misters Hitler and Stalin.

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 06:46 PM

CJ-in-Weld, "So if you are trying to decide quickly where to focus your airport security efforts, or who to let into the country on a student visa, or where to place intelligence assets, it seems like you'd have to target Muslims from certain geographic areas disproportionately, or you are frittering away resources on busywork."

And by the time you've realized that the tactics have changed, your opponent has blow up another tower.

CoolBlue, "If what you say were true, they would not both be getting funding and training from Iran, a fundamentally Shi'ite government."

They're not. Hezbullah is, Hamas gets it's funding from Syria and Saudi Arabia. If they were such budies they wouldn't be ripping each other apart in Gaza.

"Iran would not be giving shelter and tactical support to al Qaida, a Sunni group."

You might want to fact check that one. When the President stands up and talks about how many Al Qaeda are "captured" or "nuertalized" you might be interested to know that over half of those are under house arrest in Iran. Iran has no love for Al Qaeda who used their eastern provinces as training and recruiting grounds. It would have been easier for the Talliban to withdraw to Iran instead of Pakistan (our ally), logistically and financially. However, they knew the Iranians would hunt them down (as they did the al Qaeda who came across).

"While it is true that there are deep animosities between Shi'a and Sunni, it is also true that the Jihadist strain of both groups have and do cooperate."

True, when we've given them a common target, they can cooperate. They quickly dissolve after that (see Gaza and Palestine).

Shi'a and Sunni dislike each other, but not so much because the other side saw religious authority going to the clerics/son-in-law of the Prophet, but because one side pissed on the other. And when the other side got to return the favor, they did the same thing. The religious affiliation is like team jerseys at this point, it's just so everybody knows whose on which side.

Religion and politics are easy for them to confuse (as it is becoming for us). But make no mistake, the leaders are very aware that this is a political struggle, they cloak their words in religion so they can control a larger struggle.

CoolBlue | January 6, 2007 07:30 PM

They're not. Hezbullah is, Hamas gets it's funding from Syria and Saudi Arabia. If they were such budies they wouldn't be ripping each other apart in Gaza.

From the BBC Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Iran has offered to help finance the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority governed by the Hamas militant group.
The offer was announced by senior security official Ali Larijani after a meeting with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, state radio reported.
The decision follows moves by the US and Israel to isolate a Hamas-led government with financial penalties.

BTW, you may or may not have noticed, but Iran is allied with Syria as well

Hizbollah is supplied by Iran through Syria via the Nekka Valley.

When the President stands up and talks about how many Al Qaeda are "captured" or "nuertalized" you might be interested to know that over half of those are under house arrest in Iran. Iran has no love for Al Qaeda who used their eastern provinces as training and recruiting grounds.

Right. Under "house arrest" until they are needed. Perhaps you don't recall that during the summer, when Hizbollah and Israel were having their explosive disagreement, Iran dispatched OBL son to the front lines to coordinate Sunni-Shi'a cooperation. In August, Reuters reported on a story that appeared in a German publication:

Die Welt said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard released Saad bin Laden on July 28 with the aim of sending him to the Syria-Lebanon border. It linked the reported move to the outbreak of war between Israel and Lebanese-based Hizbollah.
"From the Lebanese border, he has the task of building Islamist terror cells and preparing them to fight together with Hizbollah," Die Welt said, quoting intelligence information.
"Apparently Tehran is counting on recruiting Lebanese refugees in Syria for the fight against Israel, using bin Laden's help," it added in a preview of a report to appear in its Thursday edition.

Also during that period, the Muslim World News reported

Fathi Yakan, a follower of Sayyid Qutb, is believed to be the main establisher of the new Front, which brings together major Sunni organizations from all parts of Lebanon (which altogether include several thousand members), aiming to “fill an existing gap” and “create an authoritative body for the Sunnis in Lebanon”, that will “work in co-operation with the other authoritative bodies”. Yakan further stated the Front’s commitment to all aspects of Jihad, including its military side, and its willingness to fight alongside Hizbullah.
In addition, Ibrahim al-Masri, Deputy Head of the Jamaa Islamiyya (the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, also according to al-Arabia), said in a seperate interview their fighters stand shoulder-to-shoulder fighting with Hizbullah. Al-Masri dated the military co-operation of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbullah back to the 1980s. He said their fighters are stationed in villages on the Lebanon-Israel border strip (including Shabaa and Shuba); they are assisted, he affirmed, by the Jamaa’s infrastructure of (civilian) institutions and have their own ammunition and stocks.

On July 29th IslamOnline reported

Rejecting calls banning support for the Shiite Hizbullah resistance group, Lebanese Sunnis are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Hizbullah fighters in defending Lebanon against the relentless Israeli onslaught, the deputy head of Lebanon's Al-Jama Al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) said on Saturday, July 29.
"The Sunni Islamic Group in Lebanon fighters are defending southern Lebanon hand-in-hand with Hizbullah," Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Masri, the group's deputy chairman, said in an interview with IslamOnline.net.
"We have military combatant groups in the border areas to defend villages there."

Just three days ago, on Jan 3rd, The New York Sun reported

Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq.
The news that American forces had captured Iranians in Iraq was widely reported last month, but less well known is that the Iranians were carrying documents that offered Americans insight into Iranian activities in Iraq.
An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms "that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups."

Religion and politics are easy for them to confuse (as it is becoming for us). But make no mistake, the leaders are very aware that this is a political struggle, they cloak their words in religion so they can control a larger struggle.

Look, the only reason you say this is because you are projecting your (our) world view on their actions. To them, the very fact that we separate religion and politics is evidence that we are infidels.

No true believer in God and the Quran would make such a distinction.

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 07:36 PM

Okay, I'm tired of this rhetorical crap. Here, have the benefit of my training. Back when we studied the options, saw what was working and what wasn't, back when a terrorist could be from any country, or even from within (anybody here remember McVeigh?) we developed plans and strategies that worked.

Let me be more explicit about this. Terrorism is political. The actions of the terrorist is to provoke a response. Their goal is rebellion and revolution. They would like to be there at the end of it, but they know there is a good chance they won't be. But they don't want the target government to win either.

From the general public, they desire a fear response, a long-term fear response. Not because they want you to fear them. After all, in their minds they are trying to free you (this is the psychotic part of the profile). Fear is tiring. You'll fatigue from it eventually. Fear fades into anger (they maybe psychotic, but that doesn't mean they don't understand psychology). Then the terrorists hope that people will begin to question why they are angry. Their goal, and one that is somewhat sound, is that people will be angry with those who can't protect them (the reverse of Stockholm Syndrome, identifying with the powerful). Everybody understand why the President had to return to the Whitehouse on 9-11 even though they thought we were still under attack (if I have to spell it out he was with the military brass who understand what I'm stating here, the bubble hadn't been installed yet, the military made sure he knew he had to show he wasn't afraid so that we wouldn't be afraid, defuse the fear side of the equation)? And anger is long term, it can last much longer than fear.

They are also looking for a response from the targeted government. They want that government to respond by instituting new rules that violate the basic freedoms of the governed. This could be things like, oh, I don't know, the Patriot Act. It also is about things like torture and indefinite incarceration. The terrorists want to you come after them in a blood fury and show the world you aren't so pure of heart and high and mighty. Once you give up the high-ground, the terrorists begin to win.

They wanted you to do this so you loose standing in the world (check) and loose the support of the governed (well, lookie at *that* poll). They will then force the target government farther a field to show the governed how corrupt their government is.

Everybody still here. This is the psychosis, they kill the civilians to show the rest of the living that their government is unable to protect them, corrupt, and willing to violate basic human rights at will. This is a direct assault on the social contract. It is a knife to the heart of the government, one that is being driven in by that very government.

If these idiots also have provoked you into starting a new "Crusade" against the Muslims, they won another one. You've just given them a great recruitment tool (you might not like us, but look at them, they're killing you for sport). It drives a larger percentage into the "we don't care what the terrorists do to them" camp and it divides the very governments they want to completely be rid of from the governments that could protect them. Savvy?

Everybody got just what a cock-up were into at this point? Everybody see that Saudi Arabia summoned the VP to let him know that they were gearing up to help the Sunnis in Iraq if we weren't going to stop the Shi'a from killing them? The Baker Commission said we had to talk with Syria and Iran, they very two countries al-Qaeda doesn't want us to be talking to. Do we all know see why we have to talk with them (which will drive more of the governed into the camp of the government is corrupt)? Catch-22. We aren't in control of the board anymore.

Terrorism is political. This is about the overthrowing of governments. This is state level of playing.

You attack them militarily, as in a war, you give them credit (we have to go to this extreme, and war is an extreme) to get these people. They're bigger than the are. They know they can't take you one on one (standard force, recruitment, logistics, economics). They expect you to do their recruiting for them. We say the word "Crusade" and they win. We say it's against "Muslims" and they win. Even Islamofacist and Islamic Extremists are skirting way too close (as exampled here in this thread).

Can we please stop giving them points!

And you want to know the really crazy part? The terrorists know they won't survive, or at least they're hedging their bets that way. They are willing to die for their cause, they've accepted this. When they did the calculation (we've got 400 people, they've got 300,000 troops) and didn't walk away, they accepted they wouldn't live through the conflict. This is why "suicide" isn't that far for them. As you know CoolBlue, al-Qaeda has joined the larger Salafist movement. Why would they do that if they thought they could win? We will kill them, but will we survive what they, actually we (because they wanted us to respond, remember?), started? The terrorists are betting on "no."

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 07:58 PM

CoolBlue, most of that was from this past summer, see my comments about cooperating that one time to capture 3 Israeli soldiers. Yes, I know.

If Iran is supplying the Sunni, I'm sure that will come to the relief of the al-Saud family, as they no longer have to threaten us.

Say, didn't the Sun also report on how it was a lock on those three chemical trucks were producing WMDs? Oh yeah, that also turned out to be wrong.

"No true believer in God and the Quran would make such a distinction"

(sarcasm)Then let us kill them all. After all that would mean they want to overthrow our government from within. (/sarcasm)

Your prejudice is showing.

CoolBlue | January 6, 2007 08:05 PM

Steve Buchheit

Very nice analysis. However, I would there are a few points:

They want that government to respond by instituting new rules that violate the basic freedoms of the governed. This could be things like, oh, I don't know, the Patriot Act.

Only a few people are pissed about the Patriot Act: Most don't care if it protects them. The same is true of the so-called "NSA Domestic wire tap" program.

And the reason is precisely what you describe and is also the reason we will keep doing it: What will piss people off is continued terrorist assaults and the "feeling" that they are unsafe.

But even here that may not work. As evidence I present to you Israel who has lived for most of its life with terrorism in their markets and malls and nightclubs. Towns bordering Gaza live with almost daily Kassam rocket attacks. Over 1,000 Kassam rockets have been fired at the Sderot region of Israel in 2006 alone.

And the people have not overthrown their government.

Perhaps they do want to provoke revolution. But so long as terrorist attacks do not become daily events, and quite likely even if they do (re: Israel) they will not get the response they want.

Their most concrete goal is to be able to take the oil fields of the Middle East to they can procede to the third stage of the Guerilla War model and build a real army. That can do real operations and invasions. Like the Ottomans of old.

They want to be able to cripple the West by manipulating energy prices and when we are weak, sweep in with their armies.

That is their strategic goal.

Read the literature. Not ours. Theirs.

They have a strategic plan that is thinking in 100 year chunks. And their strategic planner, a man named Saif al-Adel, is currently in Iran.

"House arrest" or not, he's busy planning.

You attack them militarily, as in a war, you give them credit (we have to go to this extreme, and war is an extreme) to get these people. They're bigger than the are.

Right, and if you leave them alone, they recreate the Ottoman Empire, lock up the energy, and march on Western Europe Isolating the US economically.

Given this, it is clear that defeating the enemy militarily is only a temporary solution, or rather part of the solution. Transformation to more sophisticated political and economic systems is a better solution. Which is the Bush thought and which is one with which I agree.

The only other alternative I see is direct colonization and the jack-boot approach which is not stable in the long term.

But it must also be clear that there is a military component. After all, war is politic by other means. But the goal is transformation.

Of course, I don't really see how we get there without first defeating Iran....

Steve Buchheit | January 6, 2007 09:09 PM

First; John, sorry for slightly hijacking this thread.

CoolBlue,

Stop drinking the Kool-aid. It's not analysis, this is training. This is political philosophy. This was, until the Bush Administration, our government's policy. And yeah, I pretty much got that you like the Bush policy in this matter.

And thanks, CoolBlue, I've been looking for a non-classified/restricted document that I can cite. You've forced me to finally find it. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not classified. That document is AFP-208-3, "International Terrorism, The Other World War," published 1987. I've only skimmed it to make sure (haven't read it for ages), but it pretty much says what I've said above (along with tips to avoid traps, I think this was targeted toward the diplomatic corps).

"Only a few people are pissed about the Patriot Act: Most don't care if it protects them."

Yeah, right. Um, say, remember when the PA came up for renewal? It was pushed and renewed by a certain party, that party has lost some of their power, like the body that renewed the PA.

And I care, because it's exactly what the terrorists want. Did I not make that clear in the above post? Each time something like this comes up the grumbling from the masses gets louder. Please stop giving the terrorists freebies.

Israel hasn't limited the rights of their people, they reformed MOUSAD (which no longer tortures, although they still kill), and the people feel the government is trying to protect them (which is why they keep re-invading the camps). And have you looked at the polls over there, as in the people who believe "land for peace" out number by 4 to 1 the people who think the military option is best. Unfortunately the Israeli government must bow to the orthodox (that 1) to keep power. That may change soon. Did you notice how unpopular Israel's war this summer was, within Israel? Because the leaders forgot the lessons and played to the Bush Playbook. They are also working with similar poll numbers like the President. And Israel allows better "privacy" protections (encrypted cell-phones, etc).

And you're missing what is happening right now in our country. Polsters are shocked, shocked I tell you, to see that the population is still angry. After all, with most elections the anger deflates right after the election. This is Democracy's greatest tool against terrorism. We have minor rebellions all the time. You just witnessed one this past election. And that defuses the anger. It hasn't yet. Something is different.

Terrorism is to provoke rebellion and revolution (if you don't want to believe that, well, I know you've already drunk the kool-aid). If they thought they could actually gain the power to take the oil fields, they would have done so already. Instead, we're helping them recruit enough people that they actually might be able to pull it off (see reports about how our war in Iraq is helping terrorist recruitment numbers and how terrorism functions in my earlier post). Sounds like their plan is working. Al-Qaeda must be overjoyed.

"Right, and if you leave them alone, they recreate the Ottoman Empire, lock up the energy, and march on Western Europe Isolating the US economically."

One, if Iraq was about al-Qaeda you might have a point. Afghanistan was, and we screwed that up because we refocused on Iraq. Two, if we had attacked al-Qaeda ONLY, we would still have most of the world with us. al-Qaeda is now resurgent, because of our actions. Don't you get that they are playing us and our President is going along with it? (don't misconstrue that I'm saying the president is taking orders, I mean they have manipulated our desires and psychology to work against us)

If we had only attacked al-Qaeda and their proxy government the Talliban, we would be much better off. It still would be difficult (where's Osama), but the path to victory wouldn't be so thin now.

War is "diplomacy" by other means.

And the Bush Administration, by incompetence and willful negligence is failing on the transformation policy. Don't attempt to even try and say "but we don't hear the good news." Water, electricity, basic services and SECURITY are all less in Iraq than before the war. Still. Four years and how many billions later. There is also a middle class exodus from the country. Not good.

Our options are limited now, because this President and his advisors had a hard-on for Iraq. The narrow path to wining (and it was very narrow to begin with) is razor thin.

"Of course, I don't really see how we get there without first defeating Iran"

Because all you have is a hammer, so everything looks like a nail.

So, let's see. We've lost world standing and cooperation. Our enemy is on the move, growing stronger, and forming alliances. Our economy is weakening (the dollar is down, other countries are switching to preference for the euro, and there are rumblings that the black market is also going that direction). We're having problems maintaining recruitment goals (already revised down). The party supposedly "strong on terror" was handed a rebuke in the last election (it was so much the Dems won as the Repubs lost credibility). Even our remaining "strong allies" are weakening (Spain, Italy, England) in support for us and this was.

Well, I'm glad we're winning in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh, wait. No we're not. Say, who is winning this war anyway?

CJ-in-Weld | January 6, 2007 10:31 PM

Steve Buchheit writes: "So if you are trying to decide quickly where to focus your airport security efforts, or who to let into the country on a student visa, or where to place intelligence assets, it seems like you'd have to target Muslims from certain geographic areas disproportionately, or you are frittering away resources on busywork."

And by the time you've realized that the tactics have changed, your opponent has blow up another tower.

Really? Are you saying it is outright impossible to achieve better odds in airport security, immigration screening, and intelligence gathering than with hit or miss? That we might as well focus on the Vatican as on a mosque with salafist leanings? That our current crop of enemies are that smart and agile?

Now that is damned depressing.

Wakboth | January 7, 2007 08:04 AM

"Right, and if you leave them alone, they recreate the Ottoman Empire, lock up the energy, and march on Western Europe Isolating the US economically."

You seem to be mad with fear.

CoolBlue | January 7, 2007 12:27 PM

Steve Buchheit

"Only a few people are pissed about the Patriot Act: Most don't care if it protects them."

Yeah, right. Um, say, remember when the PA came up for renewal? It was pushed and renewed by a
certain party, that party has lost some of their power, like the body that renewed the PA.

I will point out that on March 7 CNN reported

The Senate last week voted 89-10 to approve the compromise package, which covers 16

provisions in the act that are set to expire on March 10.

That took more than just Republicans.

And on January 3rd, the Washington Post noted

Nowhere in the Democrats' consensus-driven agenda is legislation revisiting last year's establishment of military tribunals and suspending legal rights for suspected terrorists.

Nor is there a revision of the civil liberties provisions of the USA Patriot Act, a measure
curbing warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency or an aggressive confrontation of
the president on his Iraq war policies.

To Democratic activists and some lawmakers, the agenda skirts the larger issues that damaged the president's approval ratings and torpedoed Republican control of Congress.
"We've been told for many years, 12 years now, 'Wait until we get in power. Then you'll see things change,' " said Debra Sweet, national director of World Can't Wait, a pro-impeachment group helping to organize the protest. "We'll give them a couple of months or a few weeks to see what they come up with, but if they don't do something very decisive around the war and these other issues, I think there will be trouble."

Why is that? Because the Democrats want to remain in power and they've done the political
calculus: More dangerous to them than the Patriot Act or NSA Wiretapping is risking another attack
on their watch.

And I care, because it's exactly what the terrorists want. Did I not make that clear in the
above post?

Yes you did. I also thought I made clear I disagree with you and I feel the evidence is on my
side. The election itself is not strong evidence in your favor. The voters were dissatisfied with
Republican rule for a whole host of reasons, some of whom were concerned as you are. But to say
this was the driving factor is stretching it. You would need more specific confirmation.

There is no doubt that Democrats used the concerns of people who agree with you to gain power.

But it is also true that they are not going to address these concerns in any substancial way to
keep it.

Each time something like this comes up the grumbling from the masses gets louder.

So you say. But I don't see it.

Please stop giving the terrorists freebies.

This is ridiculous. People in general realize that Islamists will do far worse if they get their
way. The "grumbling will only get "loud" in this area when these measures become obviously
intrusive on their lives.

Israel hasn't limited the rights of their people, they reformed MOUSAD (which no longer
tortures, although they still kill), and the people feel the government is trying to protect them (which is why they keep re-invading the camps).

People in this country, in general, feel the government is trying to protect them as well. This is why the reelected Bush over Kerry in 2004. Bush was a weak candidate. But Kerry was weaker. People
at least believed that Bush would do a better job of protecting them against terrorism.

And have you looked at the polls over there, as in the people who believe "land for peace" out
number by 4 to 1 the people who think the military option is best. Unfortunately the Israeli
government must bow to the orthodox (that 1) to keep power. That may change soon. Did you notice
how unpopular Israel's war this summer was, within Israel?

You are clearly filtering your data or misremembering. On July 21st, Reuters reported

JERUSALEM, July 21 (Reuters) - Israelis overwhelmingly back the army's war against Hizbollah in Lebanon and believe it is justified despite growing international pressure for a cease-fire, a poll showed on Friday.
The survey in the Maariv newspaper showed 90 percent of Israelis wanted the offensive to continue until Hizbollah was driven out of southern Lebanon and only then should negotiations be held to free two Israeli soldiers captured by the guerrillas.
It said 95 percent believed the army's response against Hizbollah was justified. That is an increase from 86 percent in a poll conducted earlier this week.
Only eight percent said Israel should stop fighting and enter negotiations.

This changed later only because Israel did not have the outright and stunning win they expected
from their military.

The war pointed out to disturbing things: One that Israel's Military was not prepared to go to
war. They had serious training and logistics deficits. This is correct able. Two: Hezbollah
displayed a truly disturbing high level of organization and training. Bill Roggio reported

The Hezbollah fighters are well trained, and according to an anonymous senior military source, using ammunition and equipment such as armor piercing rounds, body armor, night vision gear and laser sights. Hezbollah also possesses mortars, RPGs, anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, anti-tank missiles and possibly surface to air missiles to accompany their arsenal of short and medium range missiles capable of striking into the heart of Israeli territory. Hezbollah is using infantry tactics and fighting at the squad and platoon level.
This isn't a garden variety militia, but a well trained fighting force, the Iranian version of the Foreign Legion.
Hezbollah also has built an extensive underground networks, including "fortified underground bunkers some 40 meters (roughly 120 feet) underground, along with mass weapons caches" and communications systems. All of this was built under the nose of the Israeli military and intelligence services, as well as the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

All of this is disturbing because it goes to evidence that Jihadists are moving towards the phase three of the Guerrilla War model.

And yes, most Israeli's support land for Peace. That's why the tore down the settlements and gave
back Gaza. But the operative word is peace. They do not want to just trade land and not obtain
peace. I would also point out that President Bush is the first US President to make a two state
solution official US policy.

But when Israel gives up Gaza in the hopes of Peace, and all that happens is that Kassam attacks
now reach further into Israel, this does not fall in line with the ordinary Israeli's expectations.

Terrorism is to provoke rebellion and revolution (if you don't want to believe that, well, I know you've already drunk the kool-aid). If they thought they could actually gain the power to take the oil fields, they would have done so already.

Look, you can I've drunk the Kool-Aid all you want, but the fact is this is not the whole story.

Because what while what you say here is true, it does not follow that things like the Patriot Act
and the NSA surveillence act will provoke such a response. Look at France. On November 26th
Reuters reported

Stoned, beaten and insulted, their vehicles torched by crowds of hostile youths, French police say they face an urban guerrilla war when they enter the run-down neighborhoods that ring the major cities.
"Our role is to guarantee the safety of people and property but the great difficulty today is that police are having problems ensuring their own safety," said Jerome Hanarte of the Alliance-Police Nationale union.
Bedside television interviews with officers hospitalized after beatings in "les banlieues," or suburbs, support statistics showing a 6.7 percent jump in violent crime in the 12 months to August.
Fourteen officers are hurt every day in the line of duty, unions estimate, and law and order is sure to feature prominently in next year's presidential election.

Is it your contention that this is going on in France because of a French analog of the Patriot
Act and the NSA surveillence program?

On Oct 31st, UPI reported

"We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists," [head of the hard-line trade union "Action Police" Michel] Thooris told journalists. Sarkozy, the leading center-right candidate for next year's presidential election, responded by dispatching cops in body armor, equipped with automatic weapons and rubber bullets, stun and teargas grenades into several Paris suburbs with orders to "restore control" from "organized crime." In one recent clash 250 cops dispersed a 100-strong Muslim gang armed with baseball bats.
The chaotic conditions in suburbs like Clichy-sous-Bois, Montfermeil and St. Denis have grown progressively worse since the nationwide Muslim riots in November 2005 that torched 10,000 vehicles.

But more importantly, you need to read what the Jihadists say. In November, Iranian newspapers
Kehyan and and Resalat reported on President Ahmadinejad's Qods Day speech in which he said

The Great War is Ahead of Us, [And Will Break Out] Perhaps Tomorrow, or in Another Few Days, or in a Few Months, or Even in a Few Years... Israel Must Collapse

And on Nov 15th, the Daily Telegraph reported

Iran is trying to form an unholy alliance with al-Qa'eda by grooming a new generation of leaders to take over from Osama bin Laden, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
Western intelligence officials say the Iranians are determined to take advantage of bin Laden's declining health to promote senior officials who are known to be friendly to Teheran.

And on Nov 11th, CNN reported on an al Qaida tape

We haven't had enough of your blood yet... We will not rest from our Jihad until we are under the olive trees of Rumieh and we have blown up the filthiest house — which is called the White House...The American people have put their feet on the right path

Most importantly, when you read the intellectual leaders of the Jihadist movement, a good index of
which can be found in the Militant Ideology Atlas put together by the Combating Terrorism Center
at West point, you can see precisely what their goals are. In summarizing the book called "The
Mainstay on Preparing Provisions for Jihad" by Abd al-Qadir (b. `Abd al-`Aziz), the MIA Research
compendium says

Based on the sources he cites, `Abd al-Qadir makes the statement that the Islamic nation is first and foremost a warrior (“mujahidi”) nation whose foreign and internal policies must be fashioned to reflect this fact in order to realize the obligations related to it (302-303). The duty of jihad must not be neglected until Allah’s word reigns supreme, and only then, when Muslims have the upper hand, can there be peace. It is for this reason, explains `Abd al-Qadir that the infidels strive to prevent Muslims from achieving peace, because peace implies one of two realities: everyone has accepted Islam or non-Muslims have surrendered and agreed to pay the Jizya tax (see 303-304). No other option exists.

One, if Iraq was about al-Qaeda you might have a point. Afghanistan was, and we screwed that up
because we refocused on Iraq.

Iraq is about al Qaida. The fact that al Qaida have managed to propogate some sectarian fighting
does not negate that. And with regards to Afghanistan, this does not reflect the military reality of the region.

Have you noticed, for instance, that at no time have we ever sent an Armored brigade or even a
Mechanized brigade to Afghanistan? How many times have you seen an Abrams in Afghanistan? Or even
a Bradley? That because of the terrain. The types of units that can be used in Afghanistan is
Light Infantry. So you see units like the 82nd, the 101st, and the 25th ID going there but not the
4th ID or 1st Cav.

And there is something else to remember: Wazeristan. It's in Pakistan. It's where al Qaida and the Taliban have retreated to and train and base their operations. With the "peace" deal negotiated with Pakistan this last Summer, not even the Pakistan Army is controlling this area. And we can not invade and clean it out without invading Pakistan and all that that means. So the problem in Afghanistan is not one of manpower, it is political.

I am hoping this gets corrected soon as well. It is essential to defeat Iran and Waziristan

Well, I'm glad we're winning in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh, wait. No we're not. Say, who is

winning this war anyway?

In case you haven't guessed, it's too soon to tell.

But if they win, it will be bad.

Wakboth

You seem to be mad with fear.

Probably what Chamberlain told Churchill too.

Bobarino | January 7, 2007 01:03 PM

Someone needs to go outside and get some fresh air.

Todd Stull | January 7, 2007 02:51 PM

CoolBlue:

Well, I appreciate you using sources now. However, I am not entirely convinced of all your arguments. Also, there are a couple points I think you are wrong on.

For one, the PA was renewed; however, I believe there were a bunch of riders attached to the bill. I might be wrong about that, but what I remember is hearing Democrats say they would vote for it because it was a compromise and because they wanted to pass other policies intertwined with it. Too bad we can't get politicians who will craft bills that deal with one subject at a time. In addition, it is silly to act as if you or I really know how many people are pissed at the PA. The number of people behind it is immaterial to whether it destroys those liberties it claims to protect.

Second, we could use mechanized units in Afghanistan. Especially in the flat sections near some of the major cities. However, they would not be as mobile as light infantry, that is true. Also, it seems like a better idea to send in Special Forces with some light infantry backup, due to the level of great success we had in the initial invasion of Afghanistan.

mythago | January 7, 2007 02:56 PM

Probably what Chamberlain told Churchill too

Yes, it's a slippery slope from Keith Ellison taking a ceremonial oath with the Koran to the Islamic version of the Holocaust. How foolish we all are not to have seen it before.

CoolBlue | January 7, 2007 05:12 PM

Todd Stull

In addition, it is silly to act as if you or I really know how many people are pissed at the PA.

December 28, 2005--Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.
Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans say they are following the NSA story somewhat or very closely.

And

June 9, 2005 -- Against a backdrop of heightened public concern about government intrusions, six in 10 Americans favor extending the Patriot Act

That was an ABC/Washinton Post Poll. A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll in the same month showed similar results

One piece of legislation a majority of voters support is renewal of the Patriot Act. A 57 percent majority says the Patriot Act is a good thing for America, up from 54 percent last year (April 2004). Similarly, support for extending the act is up slightly (3 percentage points), as today 56 percent support and 31 percent oppose renewing the legislation.
By 50 percent to 35 percent voters think the Patriot Act has helped prevent terrorist attacks in the United States.

Only about a third of the population are vocally opposed to the Patriot Act. Somewhere between 50 and 60% are vocally in favor. The rest appear apathetic.

The number of people behind it is immaterial to whether it destroys those liberties it claims to protect.

Yes, that's true.

But you see Steve's argument was that al Qaida's strategy was to foster revolution within our country by forceing the government to impose civil liberty "violations"; to his thinking that would include things like the Patriot Act. Clearly, if this was their intent, it failed to have the intended effect.

Second, we could use mechanized units in Afghanistan. Especially in the flat sections near some of the major cities. However, they would not be as mobile as light infantry, that is true.

Which is precisely why they are not being used.

Also, it seems like a better idea to send in Special Forces with some light infantry backup, due to the level of great success we had in the initial invasion of Afghanistan.

This is what is being done.

But Waziristan is the problem in Afghanistan as Iran is the problem in Iraq.

Both must be dealt with for success.

Todd Stull | January 7, 2007 05:41 PM

CoolBlue:

I don't dispute your numbers - I dispute whether they validly represent "Americans". Also, they are a bit dated. I do agree with you that many, perhaps even the majority of Americans do support the PA.

I also do agree with you that we need to deal with Iran and the western mountains of Pakistan. Just not using traditional military might. More special forces, more diplomacy.

I think it was Gandhi who said its hard to shake hands with a closed fist. And we desperately need to make friends with the tribespeople of Pakistan and the moderates in Iran. Clearly we are going to need to capture or kill some terrorists. But that type of force should be the exception.

Andy | January 7, 2007 05:47 PM

\"Probably what Chamberlain told Churchill too.\"

More like what they keept trying to tell Joe Mccarthy. He didnt get it either.

Eric | January 7, 2007 09:28 PM

People in this country, in general, feel the government is trying to protect them as well. This is why the reelected Bush over Kerry in 2004. Bush was a weak candidate. But Kerry was weaker. People
at least believed that Bush would do a better job of protecting them against terrorism.

I had the distinct impression that they were concerned about Mr. Bush protecting them from those awful gay people trying to destroy the holy institution of marriage from which all of our American virtues derive. Allow two men to legalize and publicize what they've probably been doing in private and the terrorists win, hooray America, strike a blow for Liberty, etc.

Of course, I also doubt my fellow Americans voted the Republicans out of power in the House (and maybe/maybe not the Senate) because of the Patriot Act. I doubt that most Americans are better acquainted with the Act than the Congress that originally voted it into effect without reading it. I suspect that my countrymen finally, at last, what took them so long, noticed that the Bush administration seems incapable of competently fighting a war or giving a straight answer about anything related to it.

Nor would it be surprising if a large number of my complacent countrymen would trade imaginary security for liberty. It's enough for them that they don't conspire to blow up buildings on the telephone; they have nothing to hide, of course, although it probably hasn't occurred to them that there will eventually be digital recordings of them talking to their mistresses, to their doctors, to their attorneys, to adult-novelty supply houses and so forth will eventually be in an archive somewhere, to be laughed at by the watchdogs of the State if not eventually tagged and used by some unscrupulous or overzealous enforcer (or perhaps someone like J. Edgar Hoover, who was both).

But who cares if I'm surveilled! At least my security won't be wrecked by two dudes doing it in public! Because that's what married people do! Have sex in public! Constantly! Or something!

keeper | January 8, 2007 05:22 AM

As a non-US citizen I've actually wondered about this for a long time, and figured this might be good place to ask: What happens if one is atheist and is taking the oath of office? Or testify in a trial, for that matter? That is, if one would find it to be dishonest to swear on, for instance, the bible.

Wakboth | January 8, 2007 08:09 AM

"Probably what Chamberlain told Churchill too."

Are you seriously saying that al-Qaida today is a threat comparable to Nazi Germany in 1938?

John Scalzi | January 8, 2007 08:20 AM

Keeper:

"As a non-US citizen I've actually wondered about this for a long time, and figured this might be good place to ask: What happens if one is atheist and is taking the oath of office? Or testify in a trial, for that matter? That is, if one would find it to be dishonest to swear on, for instance, the bible."

One is allowed to affirm, rather than swear, for either the oath of office or to testify in a trial. It's not really a problem. There are any number of officials/witnesses who do so.

Steve Buchheit | January 8, 2007 08:49 AM

CoolBlue "But you see Steve's argument was that al Qaida's strategy was to foster revolution within our country by forceing the government to impose civil liberty "violations"; to his thinking that would include things like the Patriot Act. Clearly, if this was their intent, it failed to have the intended effect."

The anger is from the prolonged fear, if the government betrays the trust of the governed, it's easier for the governed to focus that anger on the government. As someone who pointed out that the enemy thinks long term, you should already know that the game is still afoot and that to declare that it's failed is premature.

CoolBlue | January 8, 2007 09:42 AM

Steve Buchheit

The anger is from the prolonged fear, if the government betrays the trust of the governed, it's easier for the governed to focus that anger on the government. As someone who pointed out that the enemy thinks long term, you should already know that the game is still afoot and that to declare that it's failed is premature.

I give you that point.

They have failed in realizing this effect so far

CJ-in-Weld | January 8, 2007 09:44 AM

Keeper: in most of the courtrooms I've appeared in, the oath sounds like this—

Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth?

Some judges add "...the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" (Lawyers like things in threes for some reason.)

Only one judge I've been in front of inserted "by the ever-living God" after the "swear or affirm" part. No one ever protested; the whole thing rolled rolled across the courtroom in a monotone, like a mantra. The religious content seemed about like the words "In God We Trust" on currency. Really, the "perjury" part is the operative condition.

keeper | January 8, 2007 10:23 AM

John and CJ-in-Weld: Interesting, thanks for clearing that up for me!

Eric | January 8, 2007 12:56 PM

Keeper: Indeed, for the office of President of the United States, Article II, sec. 1 specifies:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Notice how one not only may affirm, but there's no mention of a deity or bible anywhere in the Oath/Affirmation!

As for courtroom testimony: in North Carolina, NCGS sec. 8C-1 (Rule 603) provides:

Before testifying, every witness shall be required to declare that he will testify truthfully, by oath or affirmation administered in a form calculated to awaken his conscience and impress his mind with his duty to do so.

(I assume other states have a similar rule, since the NC rules of evidence are ased on the Federal Rules, which in turn are used as a model by many states). In practice, this usually follows the classic "Do you solemnly swear (or affirm), etc." format, with a Bible commonly being used for oaths. Not that that's ever prevented perjury, as far as I can tell. ("Oh noes! My conscience has been awakened! I cannot lie anymore....")

CJ-in-Weld | January 8, 2007 01:50 PM

Here's what Colorado's constitution has to say:

The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever hereafter be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his opinions concerning religion; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be construed to dispense with oaths or affirmations, excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the good order, peace or safety of the state. No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination against his consent. Nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.

I like that bolded part: "You don't have to go to church, but no cutting loose, you hear?"

CJ-in-Weld | January 8, 2007 01:53 PM

And look – Colorado law provides for the leedle cheeldren:

In lieu of an oath or affirmation, any child who testifies ... shall be asked the following: "Do you promise to tell the truth?". The court, in its discretion, may accept any indication of assent to this question by the child.

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