Islam: The Third and Troubling Child

It’s no secret, I think all religion, being a practice on faith rather than reason, is a poor life style. However, current events demonstrate there is only one deserving special attention if not out right combat for hearts and minds. That is Islam.

I’ve addressed my concerns herehere and here. And here. This short piece is a reminder in light of current events that it’s still a generational battle. The question is, why does this seem to only come from Islam and not its older siblings of Judeo-Christianity?

Let’s spell some things out.

Judaism, as told in the Tanakh, justified through mythological origins a piece of land known as Israel for the Hebrews. No more, no less. Despite the tales of conquest of the land by Moses, Joshua, etc, these are not historical. Therefore, unlike Islam, there never was a time of conquering armies for the Jewish people. At most, they’ve been the most oppressed. And all Israel wants today is Israel. Not the world.

Christianity did one better. The first Christians did their best to separate from society. Their secrecy is what got them into trouble with Rome. Romans 13 tells them to not interfere with existing government. And in the very first gospel the other three copied from, Mark 12:17 has Jesus saying, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” So Christianity started as non-combative, non-interfering in the lives of others, despite what happened centuries later. They didn’t even want land. Their souls and bodies were enough.

Islam, however, began as a political philosophy that Muhammad could not convince people to follow. And therefore, started forcing it at the point of the sword from Saudi Arabia all the way to Spain. Read the damn Qur’an already. It’s impossible to miss the orders to kill any non-Muslim, conquer the lands of others, etc. Until you understand what Islam is, you’re doomed to be its victim.

So while it is worthwhile to draw attention to the lack of logic in religion in general, Islam is the one that needs our most attention today.

ISIS isn’t a deviation. ISIS is it.

Read the damn Qur’an to understand what the civilized world is up against.

A Burden Far Too Famous

Why did it take Paris for the world to shadow their online avatars with a flag for solidarity? I mean, on the very same day, suicide bombers hit Baghdad, killing twenty-six. And the day before, Beirut was attacked by two suicide bombers resulting in the death of over forty people. And days prior to that, a Russian plane headed out of Egypt was blown up. ISIS has taken credit for every one of these incidents but the world went nuts about Paris. Why?

Because when it happens in Lebanon or Iraq or anywhere else in or around the Middle East, it’s normal. I know that’s a cruel reality, but it’s true. Being a kid in the seventies and eighties, seeing the near daily squabbles on television of Israel and Palestine, Iran and Iraq, etc, it seemed to be less conflict and more just their culture. (I stole that, I believe it was Dennis Miller who said something along those lines). But it’s exactly how it seemed and still seems. The Internet has made it even more noticeable with everyone becoming their own reporter.

The problem in the Middle East goes back a long way, all the way back to the sixth century AD when Muhammad and company went from trying to spread Islam through persuasion to doing it by force. This ideology spread, in part, through violence all the way to Spain. The Crusades were launched as a response to that which started dividing things up. While Christianity came to dominate Europe, Islam came to dominate the Middle East with some border crossing here and there. That’s about as summary as summaries go.

As briefly noted in a prior post, religious conflict drove lots of people in Europe to leave and come to America. And America managed to keep itself removed from the European and Middle Eastern internal struggles with religion. The First Amendment makes it very clear that religious practice and conscience is not to be infringed and that the government is not allowed to favor any one of them. In fact, while the First Amendment covers speech and press only once, the religion question is addressed twice. That’s telling in its importance. Yet, America doesn’t have a rosy history on the religion question. We weren’t very welcoming to Catholics or Jews at first. But there never has been a big crusade within the States or mass killing in the name of some god or anything like what Europe went through between Catholics and Protestants and the Middle East goes through with Sunni and Shia. America has never had an Inquisition* or list of laws built on a holy book. We’ve managed to keep our governments rather secular while allowing individuals to practice their conscience as long as said practice doesn’t harm anyone else.

On September 11, 2001, America got a taste of what the Old World had been going through. What Americans only saw through their televisions going on “over there”, was now over here. I think the mistaken response to divert attention from Afghanistan and invade Iraq caused Americans to slowly forget what September 11th was all about. Attention turned from being attacked to doing the attacking, on a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. So all the attention went to Iraq and the American public called to bring the troops home and voted for a president that promised it and made it happen.

What we should have done was stuck around in Afghanistan, started reconsidering our partnerships with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and work on naming the problem – Islam.

I don’t play footsie around this nonsense of “radical” Islam or “fundamental” Islam. It’s Islam. Read the Qur’an and you’ll see Osama bin Laden was going by the book and ISIS is going by the book. The reason most Muslims are not engaging in the same behaviors as al-Qaeda and ISIS is because they’ve either not read their holy book or made a conscious decision to ignore those parts. And again, as I’ve said in other places, I’m really happy they chose to do one or both of these things.

Even before the last bullet casing fell from an assailant’s rifle in Paris, people were already taking to the air waves and social media claiming that if the West hadn’t invaded Iraq, none of this would be happening. The Regressive Left complained that western foreign intervention was the problem, the thievery of Middle Eastern oil, and so forth. Guns were to blame too. Everything and anything other than admitting behaviors are motivated by beliefs. And for over a year now, ISIS has been telling us why they’re doing it. They don’t shake a Kalashnikov in one hand and a copy of western foreign policy papers in another while ranting in front of a video camera. No, they hold the rifle and the Qur’an.

What does throwing gay men off the top of tall buildings have to do with western policy? What does killing Coptic Christians from Egypt have to do with western policy? What does stoning alleged adulterous women, turning women into third class citizens, killing apostates, slaughtering people caught consuming food during Ramadan have to do with western foreign policy? If you think any of this isn’t due to the tenets of Islam, you’re either a guilty colonialist or better put, part of the Regressive Left, not helping in solving this problem.

Still, back to our opening question, why did it take Paris to get the world’s attention?

Starting somewhere in the early 1700s, thinkers in Europe started to challenge the rule by religion, the Age of Enlightenment sprang up and the barbary of fighting over who’s version of Christianity was right faded away. The internal struggles and violence of different Christian groups lost its steam. People realized life just couldn’t continue like this, living conditions were terrible. Couple all these events together and you’ll understand why much of Europe just isn’t very religious at all anymore. Compare this to the Middle East and you’ll see why Paris got the world’s attention.

The Middle East never had an Enlightenment. They actually went backwards. Whereas Christianity in Europe went from being practiced in feudal governments to governments now being secular, the Middle East went from embracing science to prohibiting it and turning theocratic. Starting around the eighth century and dying out somewhere in the sixteen century, Islam seemed okay with scientific inquiry. They went in search of knowledge and preserved many of the ancient books for us to enjoy today that might otherwise be lost. But it appears that when their research started to contradict their holy book, they backed away. And now we’re all suffering for it.

I think that’s why the attack on France mobilized the world. It happened outside the norm. It is really a shame to say that. But consider: If the Middle East was rather peaceful and had an Enlightenment regarding Islam a few hundred years ago, would November the 13th in Paris and Baghdad and the 12th for Beirut have gone down like that? I’m going to say no. There is no equivalent in the Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or other religion going around yelling an “Allahu Akbar” declaration and shooting up the place. Islam is the last of all religions in need of an Enlightenment. It is unique, in that, the Qur’an, their primary book is primarily a list of instructions on how to deal with anyone who is not a Muslim. And if you’re the wrong kind of Muslim, you too get to suffer. This is why ISIS, being made up of Sunni, is killing the Shia.

Here’s the scary part…

What happened in France on November 13, 2015 is the new norm for the entire world. Get used to it; this is what war looks like. I’m not asking you to become numb from mass shootings or planes crashing into buildings, I’m asking you to prepare for the inevitability of another. I’ve been writing about this for long enough to see no end in sight. I’m repeating myself too often.

How long will this take?

The European Enlightenment took a few hundred years to complete. Remember the Inquisition, which incidentally started in France in the twelfth century, did not come to an end until the nineteenth century. Now France and the rest of the world are being thrown into a new struggle against another medieval tyrant, this one brought on by Islam. And this, too, is why the West is finally taking some action against ISIS. The West went through one Enlightenment, it is not about to give up the ground it obtained to have to go through another.

What should you do?

On two fronts, ISIS must be defeated militarily. There is no chance for negotiations with them. This will have to be left to the men and women in uniform and their commanding officers to execute. But the bigger fight, a discussion about Islam, is of utmost importance. This is where everyone can make a difference, to start talking about this. Stop using regressive leftist guilt, start calling it what it is. Read the Qur’an, make it part of your next book club. Even if every single ISIS member is dismembered, the ideology will still be out there. We will still have al-Qaeda, which continues to grow because it’s letting ISIS take all the heat. We will still have al-Nursa front, which is al-Qaeda light, currently fighting Assad in Syria. We will still have the home grown radicalized youth right now contemplating a way to get to Syria.

It will inevitably be up to Muslims to change things. They certainly are not going to listen to me, an outsider. But I’m still part of the equation because everyone is an indiscriminate target when bullets start flying. I wish to assist, be an ally to the Muslims who are making inroads into changing Islam. I direct you to the Quilliam Foundation to see the great things coming out of there.

As I was finishing up this essay, my colleague here at Freedom Cocktail, Alan Sanders, texted me the following: “F’ing Islamists (are) messing with my creativity.” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Let’s get involved and stop them.

ISIS, these people want to literally destroy everything you love about your freedoms, art and music and sciences and quality of life. In its place, they wish to set up a theocracy built from your ashes. They relish in glee of sending infidels to their deaths and even more so, look forward to their own, to die in battle. This is a generational battle. Engage in it now for the sake of the next generation so that they can enjoy what you have today.

* America did have a witch hunt in Salem; however, the remarks in this piece are regarding after the Founding of the United States. Salem was long before the revolution.

Thomas Jefferson’s Struggle with Islamic Brutality

(This was originally published in American Atheist magazine – Third Quarter 2015) written by Yours truly, Eric Wojciechowski

On September 11, 2001, the United States was given a taste of what Europe and the Middle East has been suffering, in one form or another, for the past thousand years: the unbending wrath of religious extremists. Religious conflict is what drove settlers to New World in the first place, and up until 9/11, America managed to leave the overseas religious disputes and violence behind. The U.S. does have its own soiled background of anti-Catholicism during the influx of Irish immigrants in the 1800s, as well as a history of less-than-welcoming attitudes toward Jewish newcomers. More recently, the assassinations and clinic-bombings committed by anti-abortion activists have been carried out in the name of religious extremism. But otherwise, America’s pre-9/11 mindset has been that religious violence generally happened “over there.” So when planes piloted by hijackers with a seventh-century ideology came crashing into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the world got a little smaller and America entered into the conflict that today shows no signs of stopping.

This contemporary conflict is actually the second time that the United States has been troubled by terrorism justified by the tenets of Islam. For decades before its founding, as well as for some years after, the United States was plagued with the same enemy it faces today, and the first leader to take the necessary steps to try and end it once and for all was Thomas Jefferson.

Before the British Colonies became the United States, colonial merchant vessels were protected from pirates by British and French ships. But after winning its independence, the U.S. was on its own. America’s first loss to Islamic terrorism came in 1784, when Muslim pirates from North Africa seized the Betsey in Mediterranean waters. It was a practice that had been going on against European vessels since the sixteenth century. As coincidence would have it, 1784 was also the year that Thomas Jefferson took up his position as Minister of France, settled into his new European home, and began to negotiate a deal to stop these seizures.

The European solution to North African piracy was to pay a tribute to the sovereign of the Barbary (present-day Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia). In return, they’d leave Europe’s shipping trade alone. But it was up to each country to settle its own treaties and payments, and if a country fell behind on a payment, it risked losing its ships to seizure. With no financial power to pay the tributes demanded by the Barbary, the Unites States found itself helpless. The only alternative was to wage war, but the young country didn’t have a navy yet.

In 1785, Jefferson met up with John Adams (the first U.S. ambassador to Britain) in England and was introduced to Abd al-Rahman, the ambassador of Tripoli. It was first of only two times that Jefferson was knowingly in the company of a Muslim. Jefferson and Adams took the occasion to ask on what grounds Tripoli was seizing American merchant ships. In a letter to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, Jefferson and Adams explained, “the Ambassador answered us, that it was founded on the law of their great Profet: that it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their Authority were sinners: that it was their right & duty to make war upon them whenever they could be found, & to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; & that every Mussalman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Jefferson attempted to create a coalition of tribute-paying European countries who would each contribute one or more war ships and jointly patrol the Mediterranean for Barbary pirates. Sometime before July 4, 1786, Jefferson drafted the Proposed Convention against the Barbary States to arrange the matter. It would be the first formal attempt at what is today advocated by Atheist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In a 2010 Wall Street Journal commentary, Hirsi Ali called for the media “to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.” Jefferson’s proposal to spread the risk was met with a lack of interest from both the American Congress and European nations. As a result, America continued to lose ships to Barbary piracy for several more years.

It wasn’t until Jefferson became president that the U.S. ceased paying tribute and quietly launched the newly formed American navy to combat, particularly, the aggression from Tripoli. Thus began the first Barbary War in 1801, which ended in 1805 with a treaty that put a stop to the tributes and cleared the Mediterranean for the safe passage of American merchant ships. (In 1807, Algiers started taking American ships again, and it took until 1815 for America to address it militarily. This second Barbary War lasted two days and finally put an end to piracy from North Africa.)

Yet despite being told by the Ambassador of Tripoli in 1785 that all of it was justified by the tenets of Islam, Jefferson didn’t take him at his word. Jefferson felt the real reason was just good old-fashioned economics and geopolitics. In Jefferson’s autobiography, he simply referred to them as “lawless pirates,” not Muslims obeying their holy book. Whether Jefferson was right or wrong, the ambassador said their piracy was justified by divine will, and there’s no reason not to take the ambassador at his word.

Jefferson was the only founding father to take an active interest in Islam. He purchased his own copy of the Koran long before America’s encounters with the Barbary. His copy of George Sale’s English translation of the Koran was shipped from London in 1765 and can be viewed today at the Library of Congress. There is some speculation that this is a second copy because Jefferson possibly lost his first copy in the May 26, 1771, fire at his mother’s home. The Koran in the Library of Congress contains no written notes or comments by Jefferson (possibly because it’s a second copy), and his initials are his only inscription, although they appear curiously close to some verses regarding warfare.

Jefferson wrote no essays or letters on Islam, and he did not do to the Koran what he did to the New Testament, which was to literally cut out all the miracles and hocus-pocus parts. His re-write of the New Testament, commonly called the Jefferson Bible, was completed around 1819 and is currently held at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Considering his in-depth interest in religion, his near silence on Islam is interesting. This does not mean he had no opinion of Islam. According to Denise A. Spellberg, author of Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founding Fathers, Jefferson “did subscribe to the anti-Islamic views of most of his contemporaries, and in politics he made effective use of the rhetoric they inspired.”

By 1776, most Americans considered Islam to be a made-up religion by Muhammad, a false prophet. One of the passages that Jefferson copied into his Legal Commonplace Book is Voltaire’s insistence that “the Saracens [Muslims] wanted no science except the Alcoran [Koran].” In a 1785 letter to John Page, Jefferson wrote that the Ottomans were “…a set of Barbarians with whom an opposition to all science is an article of religion.” Jefferson also believed Islam to be a stifler of free inquiry. Spellberg seems mystified by this stance, given the fact that Jefferson was well aware of the many contributions Islamic adherents had made to science. My speculation is that Jefferson wasn’t contemplating what Islam used to be, but what Islam was in his time. Scientific inquiry had been on the decline in Islamic nations for over two hundred years when Jefferson began his work separating church from government in the United States. Like creationism today, when facts start interfering with scripture, sometimes the facts have to go. So perhaps that’s why Jefferson and Voltaire were characterizing Islam as anti-science and anti-free inquiry.

Despite Jefferson being told by the ambassador of Tripoli that the Koran justified their piracy, and despite his own opinion of Islam, Jefferson did not consider every Muslim to be a threat. I suspect this was based on his belief that a person’s morality is not based on their religion. In an August 6, 1818, letter to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith, he wrote, “I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another’s creed. I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives…For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me.”

And in the first volume of his Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, Jefferson wrote about the debates in the Virginia General Assembly when drafting the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which was passed in 1789. He had this to say about an amendment that was proposed for the preamble to mention Jesus Christ as the author of their religion: “[It] was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jews and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.”

Jefferson understood what many of us know today: Islam is the problem, not Muslims. The two can be separated. In a 1788 letter to James Madison, he wrote, “The declaration that religious faith shall be unpunished does not give immunity to criminal acts dictated by religious error.” Looking at the First Barbary War, it now becomes clear. The piracy of the Barbary States, regardless of reasoning, needed to be met with a repelling force. The opinions of Muhammad as written in the Koran were beside the point.

The First Barbary War, Jefferson’s handling of the situation, and his attitude about Islam in general is an excellent lesson for today. Whereas the events of September 11, 2001, were launched by a small group of nineteen hijackers and their handlers with a budget of only $400,000, this new menace holds large swaths of land, resources, and money. It’s beginning to look like a Barbary redux, but on a scale that has the potential to be massively more destructive than anything those states ever accomplished. Last summer, the civil war in Syria spawned the monster that would become the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS). Formerly allied with al-Qaeda, this faction has grown far beyond small groups hiding in caves. As of this writing, they control huge areas of Syria and Iraq while claiming provinces in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Algeria with more to surely follow if they continue their aggressions. Boko Haram of Nigeria has pledged its allegiance to ISIS. So have other groups from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Indonesia, and the Philippines. But unlike the Barbary, which was content to expand its territory no further than North Africa, ISIS recognizes no borders and proclaims it a duty to Allah to continue these assaults and seizures until the entire world is under its control.

We face the same danger today as then by assuming the worst of all Muslims. Even before the Barbary Wars, Americans (and Europeans) did not have a favorable opinion of them or Islam. After the First Barbary War, the first American edition of the Koran was published. Perhaps because of the war, an audience was made to want to know more. The introduction to that edition begins, “This book is a long conference of God, the angels, and Mohomet, which that false prophet very grossly invented” and ends with, “Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities have infected the best part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledge of what is contained in this book, will render that law contemptible.” Clearly, the opinion of Islam remained quite negative in a Protestant-dominated population.

With history as our best teacher, how should we steer into the future? Do we start appeasing the Islamic State with payments of ransom when they take hostages? The Obama Administration validated this option in June. No matter what, we must be tolerant of Muslims at home who participate in American secular society. We should open up, encourage conversations, and join with those who are a part of our free and democratic society. The first step begins with any neighbors you already have. What would Jefferson do? We already know.

I wrote this on the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack

My feelings and my story have not changed, but I relive every year. And I live every year.

9/11 +10

It has been ten years, three children, and a marriage since terror, grief, anger, fear, and an overwhelming helplessness filled me all at once, for the first and only time in my life. There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands or more, posts about September 11, 2001, being written and posted right now. I would be willing to lay a heavy bet that many of them are being written through a blur of tears. This one is.

I searched for awhile for an image or two to insert into this post, and realized that I don’t want any images here except for the one that is in my heart tonight. I avoided all pictures, posts, and media coverage of the memorials today. My memorial is in ten years of September 11ths that have seen my children grow and my life go on, while so many others did not. It is a guilt that I think many of us never admit to when we relive this day every year. I have talked to enough people, been to enough events, and read enough to know that we DO relive it. Sharing the “where were you” stories is our own form of apology to those who did not get to go on, to see their children grow up, to those who did not get to have children, or see grandchildren. We share, and no matter how many years pass, that sharing and reliving will never ease that unspoken guilt that is there. In sharing, though, we also come together again as we did in those days following the attack on us all.

Like everyone reading this, my life changed forever on that morning. I was a workaholic then, already addicted to my life on the web. I happened to be home that morning because my, then, only child had just had his tonsils removed. He was sleeping, I was online chatting with a friend via ICQ and getting together a list of things that had to be done that day during my time away from the office, and planning a party. September 11th is my ex-husband’s birthday. We weren’t married then, and I was excited to be finalizing the first surprise party of my planning for him. It was really a great morning, and a lifetime ago.

During my back and forth on ICQ, I got a message that plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The person I was talking to worked at a bank in Manhattan. He sent that message and then another right after. I will never get the sight of those words on my screen out of my head. The second message said “Oh God. Do you know how many people are in that building?”. I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything, except that I should go turn on the television.

I surfed news channels until something came up live and began to watch the speculation about the plane, the cause, the possible damage and loss of life. I watched and speculated myself. I got a few more messages from my friend who said he was going to the break room to catch the news and he would keep me posted. The next thirty minutes where the most vivid of my life. They stand out more than my wedding, than giving birth four times. This is no special story, everyone reading this has one, but I have to relive it, too.

I called my father and then I walked into my sunny kitchen, still speculating along with the newscasters, and filled my coffee cup. I was halfway across my living room, eyes on the television, when the second plane came into view. I saw it hit the second tower, live, while I was on the phone. I dropped my coffee cup, hit my knees and said into the phone, “Daddy, what is happening?”. I had not called my father “Daddy” in probably twenty years before that moment, and I have not since. I remember him very slowly saying ” I don’t know.”. Then there was a small hand on my shoulder and a raspy voice in my ear asking me if he could have a popsicle, because his throat hurt very much. He was four then. I hung up the phone and one look at my son told me the truth of what I had not grasped while seeing it happen live. I may have hurt him a little by scooping him up and holding him so tightly while I dissolved into sobs. I know I terrified him. He must have asked if I was okay twenty times before I loosened my grip on him and got a little bit of one on myself. I stood up, my knees soaked in coffee, and took him into the kitchen and away from the television. I remember purposely not looking back then. I had someone to take care of, someone who would ask a million impossible to answer questions about what had happened and why it scared me so much. It happened that way, of course. The rest of the day was spent like many of yours: unending news coverage, a roller coaster of emotions, conversations with friends and relatives and co-workers. We cancelled the party. It was a long time before we had another on his birthday.

As I write, it is already September 11th in New York. My new online friends have been sharing all day. I read their tweets, but didn’t respond to any of them. I read the memorials go by in my timeline and read every word of every one. Each was a reminder that there are children who are now ten or eleven or twelve who do not remember their parent or parents. That there are people who are ten years older and wonder if they might have had a grandchild in the last ten years if not for the day that changed every single life in this country. We all think these things, we all relive. I watched you all do it all day on Twitter and Facebook today.

Try to remember to not only relive, but to live. Really live.

originally posted at Conservative Daily News.

The ISIS Play Book

How did Adolf Hitler manage to get so deep, push so far and take over so much territory before the allied powers saw the writing on the wall and struck back? After all, he told the world what his intentions were back in 1925 (Volume 1) and 1926 (Volume 2) in Mein Kampf. It wasn’t until ten years later, in 1936, that the Nazi military marched into the Rhineland. What was the rest of the free world doing for ten years? Didn’t anybody READ Mein Kampf? Roosevelt? Churchill? Stalin? Frank from Ohio? Anyone? Hitler’s moves were hardly surprising. He TOLD us what he was going to do. Wasn’t Mein Kampf grounds for an early intervention?

Every election season, at least here in the United States, the major contenders for the White House release campaign books. Within the pages, the candidate tells us exactly his/her positions on the hot topics of the day. Mein Kampf was no different. After 1926, after the Reichstag fire, after the Night of the Long Knives, after Kristallnacht, after (enter atrocity here), where were the future opponents of the Nazi regime? Why did it take the actual 1939 invasion of Poland for reasonable minds to act?

It is unacceptable to claim that it wasn’t until 1933 that Mein Kampf was officially translated into English (or any other language), as if to say that non-German speaking world leaders had to wait until the publishing world got them a readable copy. As Hitler was breaking the Treaty of Versailles like a communion wafer, world leaders, especially the French and Russians who were near paranoia in their feelings about a regeneration of German power, would have found someone to read it to them. Don’t ya think?

Sir Winston Churchill read Mein Kampf. He even wrote about it in the late 1930s. Apparently, President Franklin D. Roosevelt read it and warned about the peril of the Jews under a Hitler regime. Yet I can’t find any indication Stalin read it. But the fact is, no one felt the urge over the years leading to war to take pre-emptive action. It is justified to say, even in the most laziest of terms, that perhaps the stance was taken that what Germany did within its borders was its own business. But when they marched into the Rhineland, why didn’t anyone put Mein Kampf together with it and have an “Ah Ha” moment? Then Austria and Czechoslovakia yet, not a batted eyelash. It took the full scale invasion of Poland for righter reigns to move.

Feel free to count up the above question marks and go seeking answers but I’ll leave it here for historians to sort all that out. What we know is that enough people read Mein Kampf to have made an early difference but no one took Hitler’s words seriously. No one moved beyond the op-ed piece or speech or essay to prevent Hitler from carrying out the plan he so boldly notified the world of. The “why” is history, the lesson, is our future.

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, (also known as ISIL, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) this plague is currently romping around these two countries, rolling over anyone who gets in their way. They’re literally rolling them over, shoving crucifixes into the throats of children, carrying out actual crucifixions, murdering and maiming everyone and anyone that isn’t like them. And they seem to have sprung up from no where. A few months ago, ISIS was a blip. Now it’s taken enough territory to declare itself its own country. And they went from speck to unavoidable stain via blitzkrieg…just like ole’ Adolf. When ISIS was taking territory in Syria, America was more concerned about overthrowing Assad. In fact, the United States was assisting those who opposed Assad with weapons and funding. Surely some of that ended up in ISIS hands. Yet now that ISIS has breached the border and run a muck in Iraq, it’s Hitler-Takes-Poland all over again. America is about ready to team up with Assad to fry the bigger fish. If only America hadn’t funded the enemies of Assad in the first place, if only there was an intervention when Hitler rolled into the Rhineland. If only…

Did anyone see this coming? Those of us who remember September 11, 2001 did. Did anyone besides me, at least since 9/11, bother to read the book that those nineteen hijackers and their funders used to justify the attack? Osama Bin Laden et al justified their attack with the Qur’an. They justified it by the Word of God, as they believed is written in the Qur’an. It might have been a good idea if world leaders, especially those in the United States, took an evening or two to read it.

The Qur’an is said to have been written circa early to mid 600s AD. It is said to have been written by Muhammad, an unextraordinary merchant who, at the age of forty, claimed to have been visited by the Archangel Gabriel who dictated over many years what eventually became the Qur’an. Let’s stop here a minute. Now find a copy of the Qur’an. They’re free and online. Copyright law expired around 700AD. Open it up at random and read a few pages. If you think this was the dictation of an Archangel, you’re nuts. Yet millions world-wide believe this. And some of them base their lives and actions on the literal translation of this horrible piece of literature, this fraud. ISIS is one of the worst offenders the world has ever seen. They are so vicious that their parent group, the notorious al-Qaeda, disowned them. When Ayman al-Zawahiri won’t even hang with you because you’re too violent, that says something.

If you haven’t read the Qur’an, you will remain confused as to what justifies ISIS in its actions. If you haven’t’ read Mein Kampf, you won’t know why Hitler did what he did. Look, this is easy, when your enemy has a play book, READ IT! In the case of the Qur’an, read any page to see how its complete make up is based on how to punish the unbeliever. In many areas, it instructs Muslims to not befriend the Christian or the Jew (although it does lament the deeds of Moses and the older prophets, including Jesus). Read the countless ways anyone not of the Muslim faith is to be tortured, maimed and killed. Sure the Bible has its share of vicious passages but the Qur’an is one big vicious passage. Where as you can (and thankfully most Christians and Jews have) abandon the savagery found in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, you can’t do that with the Qur’an. If you wished to remove the intolerant passages from the Qur’an, you’d have to throw away the whole book. The Qur’an is one big threat and list of punishments for unbelievers.

Some argue that Muslim extremist groups like ISIS have nothing to do with Islam. They claim that the reason young men join these groups is for a sense of purpose, to be part of a greater conflict. They join to earn a glory or praise that they’re not getting at home. They claim that these men lack employment, education or have an all around geopolitical outrage over American imperialism. And they point to the men’s general lack of “understanding” the Qur’an and Islam in general. All or some of these things are partially true, perhaps in the ranks of the groups’ “muscle”. But, at the same time, many participants are well educated and well financed. Remember that Osama Bin Laden came from a wealthy, large family who owned a world recognized construction business. Ayman al-Zawahiri, current head of al-Qaeda, is a doctor from Egypt, having a masters degree in surgery. Also, Mohammed Atta, hijacker pilot of flight 11 on 9/11 was studying to be an architect. Ziad Jarrah, hijacker pilot of flight 93 was studying aerospace engineering. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, considered the mastermind of 9/11, has a bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering – from an America university. And Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current head of ISIS, has a masters degree in Islamic Studies. You’d think he’d know what Islam is all about. And look what he’s doing with it.

These are not uneducated men. The common denominator is Islam. And they may have been angry at the United States for supporting Israel and infringing in the Middle East but it comes from a belief that Islam should take precedent. How many countries has the United States meddled in, yet, it is only from Muslim extremists that planes come crashing into our buildings as retribution?

It only happens with Islam. There is no ISIS or al-Qaeda equivalent in the other two monotheisms. Yet, there are poor, uneducated, purpose seeking Jews and Christians who aren’t cutting off the heads of other faiths. No, if it wasn’t for Islam, there would be no ISIS, no al-Qaeda. And I beg to differ with the apologists who want to give every excuse but Islam as a reason for their behavior. These thugs do understand the Qur’an. There is nothing to misinterpret about “kill them (unbelievers) where ever you find them.” (2:191) or anywhere else in the numerous, countless verses that say the same kind of rhetoric. And a constant state of warfare is expressly prescribed for the budding Muslim where it reads, “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” (2:216) In other words, ye sprouting Muslim, you may not like it, but Allah knows what’s best for you. So fight.

Since the Qur’an is the play book of ISIS, there is no reasoning with them. There is no chance to talk our way out of whatever atrocity they will eventually come at us with. ISIS takes the Qur’an at face value, carries out Allah’s orders to torture and kill unbelievers (this goes for Muslims who are not in line with ISIS’s version of Islam – yes, there are different versions of Islam just as there are different parties in Christianity). There is only one way to deal with them and that is for the strength of secular governments to push back, with force. It is not because force is all they understand. On the contrary, these are not entirely stupid people (as noted above). They just follow a stupid ideology. This must be addressed with violence because, as I said, this is not an enemy you can negotiate with. For them, it’s convert to Islam or be killed. They will not accept the west to live in peace with its freedom of all religions. They will not rest their guns until Islam is supreme. So before this cancer (as President Obama rightly called it) grows and strangles civilized society, civilized society must fight back. And we better do it quick. Mohammed Atta funded the 9/11 attacks on a mere $400,000. ISIS is earning millions per day on the black market from seized oil fields. Imagine what they can do.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in my brief review (because there isn’t much else to expand upon) of the Qur’an, you can find it here, at Goodreads. It’ll save you the trouble of reading this piece of garbage in its entirety, although I’d still recommend it.

Among the Wretched Refuse

We’ve often heard that on July 4, 1776, King George III of England wrote in his diary that “Nothing important happened today.” However, it turns out, old George never kept a diary. Seems to be a misattributed or legendary reference. However, the truth is, a great importance did happen on July 4, 1776.

On that date, the Continental Congress voted for the Declaration of Independence, but it didn’t acquire all those John Hancocks until later. In fact, the last signature, that of Matthew Thornton, didn’t jot along until November of that year. So the vote for the Declaration was a defining moment on the 4th of July but the great paintings showing all the participants lined up to put the Big Bad Wolf on notice is a fabrication, a legend. An equal legend on par with the diary entry. Still, kind of a big deal.

But ya know what’s even kind of creepy? Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4th, 1826 – within hours of each other. That was exactly fifty-years after the vote for the Declaration.

Ya know what else happened on July 4th? My favorite book was published. On that day, in 1865, Lewis Carrolls, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was published. And Mr. Carroll (or, rightly, Charles Dodgson – real name) has been under paedophilia suspicion ever since. The book has been banned from some classrooms since it’s publication, on charges of masturbation references, “bad language”, and belittling important societal norms like political and religious ceremonies. Some said it encouraged drug use. Yet, time has passed and Alice is readily available, at least here in the USA, for anyone to read.

I am more of a reader than a writer. I guess all writers are. So I am thankful I live in a country where I can read anything I want. Even the al-Qaeda funded magazine, Inspire. (Although I’ve been warned that just seeking it out in any search engine puts you in an NSA database. So I thought, screw em, and downloaded it when I found it, read it and still have it. Just add that to your file on me, Uncle Sam).

I put the First Amendment of the Constitution ahead of the rest. And I think the founding fathers did the same; thus, calling it the First Amendment. The freedom of speech is the greatest right. It surpasses the right to defend yourself with firearms or whatever weapon you choose. (I’d say the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword. Just ask Mr. Jefferson or Thomas Paine how important words are in getting things to change).

Living in a country where I can write these words, or any other words, is gratifying. I have the right to exercise my opinions, short of making actionable threats of injury. I don’t have to worry about a douche-monkey like Kim Jong-un sending henchmen to breakdown my door when I call him a douche-monkey. I do, however, have to tread lightly when mocking a certain religion (Islam) because if the fascist portion of that circus chooses to be offended, I could find myself a target for Fatwa. But whatever it takes, this is the one group that I will continue to play hardest against and I don’t plan on stopping any of my attacks against them as long as groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues to run wild. This is the garbage I live to take out.

I recommend everyone take some time to jot down their opinions, try the art of the essay if you wish. As a start, work with a journal. In the evenings, instead of wasting time on reality television and talking heads, jot down your own thoughts on what happened that day. Or what you wish to do tomorrow. Write it exactly as you think it should be said. And read everything you can get your hands on. Not just your preference. Try a different genre just for fun. You never know what you’ll dig until you dig.

So happy birthday, Alice. And don’t forget to take out your copy of the Declaration and give Mr. Jefferson’s words a re-read. Consider the complaints within and spend some time discussing it over your BBQ ribs, or hot dogs or burgers. How does it apply to what’s happening in America today? And do we need to make this Declaration again?

And one other thing: On July 4, 1886, the good people of France, in acknowledgement of the close relation they had with the United States, offered the Statue of Liberty to America. Engraved on the base of Lady Liberty are the following words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” – Emma Lazarus, 1903.

This is exactly why I am here. And why I’ll stay. I am in good company with the wretched refuse of teeming shores.