The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

An awakening amid the dust and ashes

I was sitting at my desk at work. A messy, disorganized, desk to be sure. A reflection of my general outlook on life. And a symptom of my procrastination. It was about 8:50 in the morning when Faye called me. She said a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and can I get to a TV?

I turn on the small TV one of my co-workers had near his desk. And I watch the scene and listen to Tom Brokaw over live video of the scene in New York. There is much speculation over what kind of plane, how this could have happened, other plane crashes into buildings in the past, and so on. I am watching as the second plane smashes into the North Tower. I see the plane enter the picture, I see it disappear behind the South Tower, I see the explosion billow out as it hits. My speculation about what has happened ends. I know this is an attack. The crashes were deliberate.

Like most everyone who is watching or listening to radios, I am stunned. I am transfixed on the events. I will spend the rest of the day ignoring any work that isn't of an emergency nature and stay glued to the TV. I watch as the people try to evacuate. I watch as people start to jump from the upper floors rather than burn to death in the fire that is consuming the upper floors. I cannot help them, I cannot help myself.

The speculation starts about who might have been behind this. I don't much care. I assume it is some radical group with Islamic beliefs. Their attacks on US interests or structures and even a Navy ship have been escalating in recent years. The reasons are murky. Israel and the Palestinians, American soldiers based in Saudi Arabia, just general hatred of anything and all things American.

At this point in the narrative, I am going to be politically incorrect. I am going to anger Muslims. I am going to offend some people.

Islam is at war with itself, it has been since Mohammad died. The various sects have been locked in a struggle over who best represents Islam. The two main sects, Sunni and Shi'a, are also the primary combatants. Neither has a history of compassion and love. Both have fostered brutal regimes. And since they are the main sects of Islam, they have become the Face of Islam. Iran and Saudi Arabia are the political representations of Islamic rule. Neither nation is free, both nations are repressive.

When people tell me that Islam is a "religion of peace", I am skeptical. I see nothing peaceful about it. I know some of its history. I know of the Islamic expansion into North Africa and southern Europe. I know of the Crusades which are made the reason for Islamic fears of the West. But the Crusades were after, in response to, the Islamic expansion into Europe. The Islamic expansion into Europe came in the 8th Century. The first Crusade began in 1095... hundreds of years later.

I am told that most Muslims abhor the terrorism. Maybe so. I am told that only a tiny minority of Muslims are radical. Maybe so. If I give them the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe 1% of Muslims are radicalized enough to engage in terrorism then I am saying some 10 Million people are willing to engage in war with the West. That is not an insignificant number.

I see two problems. One is that the Muslims are the only ones who can stop the radicalism. That struggle is really theirs to undertake. We cannot wipe out terrorism. They must cleanse their own ranks. Until that is done, or at least a noticeable effort is being made, the West will view all Muslims as a potential threat. Before you call that Islamaphobia, it is no different than Muslims being angry at the US because one insignificant preacher in Florida announces he will burn a thousand copies of the Qu'ran. If Muslims can judge us by the actions of a few then so, too, can we judge Muslims by the actions of a few. That preacher is not going to blow a hole in the side of a ship, he is not going to bomb a couple of embassy buildings, he is not going to hi-jack planes and fly them into buildings. He was going to burn some books to make a political and religious point.

And the reaction to the announcement? Threats of violence by the peaceful Muslims.

And Muslims wonder why the West views them unfavorably? The problem is theirs to fix. The problem is internal to Islam. We are just the scapegoats.

The other problem is the inability of the modern West to understand the threat. We think we must be tolerant of the intolerant. That this will somehow change human nature. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, there are only small pockets of civility in the world. Most of it is still mired in militarism, power struggles, and violence. The failure to recognize that may be the downfall of modern civilization.

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