Saturday, November 23, 2002

I had a pretty awesome day yesterday.

I woke up to no pressure. I cleaned my room, which sucked. But on the bright side, I found lots of funny old stuff too.

Then Jody came. We went to the Italian chain restaurant, whose name I can never spell. Then we went to the mall and back to my house. We planned Europe a bit. It was good times. She gets up at like five in the morning, so she was half-asleep at ten.

However, at ten, I wasn’t half-asleep. So April and I went over to Angela’s. Good times, man. Pictures, wrestling, me falling off exercise equipment. I had fun; I really did. I only have slight bruises from my fall. But I retain definite bite marks from the wrestling.

In other news, in the last day or two, I’ve had conversations with three people concerning Muslims. And I’ve been defending them in each one. So, I guess I want to sort of…pontificate from here. Violence is not at the heart of Islam, at least not any more than it’s at the heart of Judaism or Christianity. The Jews took the Promised Land by force, and you can’t forget that the Christians had their Crusades. It’s not fair to color Muslims as the violent ones, when all three religions have very similar violent pasts.

And you have to separate mainstream Islam from radical Islam, just as you have to separate mainstream Christianity from radical Christianity. Mainstream Christianity may not agree with abortion, so they pray for an end to it. Radical Christianity doesn’t agree with abortion, so they blow up an abortion clinic. Timothy McVeigh was a Catholic, but it’s ridiculous to blame Catholicism for his crimes.

Osama bin Laden may be a Muslim, and he may claim some Islamic justifications for his actions but he’s not motivated by Islam. If he was, he’d at least follow the rules of Islam. He has no right to issue decrees on behalf of the Islamic community; He had no right to call a jihad. There are rules about these things, and he ignored all of them. He ignored the ban against targeting civilians. Once you get to a certain point of disobeying the rules, you can no longer claim that you’re working on behalf of the rules.

Osama’s surely not happy with the West. A lot of Muslims aren’t. And I for one don’t blame them. Colonialism was a terribly, nasty institution; I say “was” though some American policies on oil in the Middle East hedge on colonialism now. And Industrialization is extremely difficult for any society to go through; it’s that much harder if the society doesn’t get to control the direction of it, but rather instead has it foisted upon them by a foreign culture. The struggle against Colonialism is necessarily revolutionary, it’s not surprising that some people are taking the revolution into other theatres. But in doing so, they undermine Islam itself.

I’m not an Islamic scholar. But I’ve read the Qu’ran and a lot of Muslim thought and I’ve had the odd class here and there. I’m far from expert, and actually that’s a lot of the reason that it so bothers me when Al-Qaeda gets to speak for Islam. I know very, very little, and even I know better than the things they say. Mainstream Muslims don’t want to topple the West and live in caves. Surely they’d be delighted if we all converted to Islam, but they wouldn’t try to force us to do so because it’s entirely anti-Islamic to do that. You can’t force a conversion on anyone, and it would be a sin to try.

That’s not to say that I think every so-called Muslim has the right to go around hating Westerners and hurting people. I don’t think that. And good Muslims don’t either. Anti-Westernism is one thing, and hating Westerners is another. There’s a whole lot the Islamic world has to answer for recently. Setting people on fire at the Miss World contest is not cool. Genocide in the Sudan is not acceptable. Bombings in the Philippines, Israel and elsewhere, none of that is okay. I’m comforted by the fact that mainstream Islam condemns it too.

But what worries me is that we’re not doing enough to condemn terrorist behaviors in the world. How many UN mandates has Israel ignored? For that matter, how many UN mandates have we in the US ignored? I’m not anti-Jew; far from it! But Israel is one of the nastiest terrorist nations in the world, and we’re protecting them. I don’t find that any more acceptable than when Middle Eastern countries protect one another from the West.

This is getting long and rambly. Guess I'll just cut out randomly.