Terror and Liberalism

In Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman has a few good ideas which either warranted a newspaper/magazine article or a much thicker book. Unfortunately, we got a 210 page book.

The premise of the book is reasonable. Berman tries to compare the Islamists with the totalitarian ideologues of the 20th century, i.e, the fascists and the communists. His contention is that there are lots of similarities between all these groups. For example, they all define both internal and external threats. This is fine as far as it goes but Berman does not really go beyond a somewhat superficial level in his comparison. I am sympathetic to his ideas and he enunciates them very forcefully, but in my opinion he does not make a case that could convince skeptics.

Berman also talks about Syed Qutb and his commentary on the Quran “In the Shade of the Quran” (last volume available online). But he is not the go-to guy if you want information on Qutb. That would be Ideofact’s series on Social Justice in Islam by Sayyid Qutb1.

Berman also seems to consider Qutb, Tariq Ramadan and Bin Laden etc. to be part of the Islamist totalitarian movement(s). I am not sure he really gets the Islamists.

Berman’s ideas about intellectual efforts against the extremist Islamists is a good one, but he destroys the good impression immediately afterwards by advocating retaliation by the US for credibility’s sake. Now, I am not a pacifist (too pragmatic for that principl) but attacking because that would make us a credible opponent sounds too much like bullies in schools.

Overall, the book is a mix. Parts of it are pretty good, but other ideas don’t seem to be well-developed or are just plain bad. I think Berman is hindered by his lack of detailed knowledge of political Islam. Also, it would have helped if he had worked to make it a bigger and more intellectual book than the popular read it is. However, it is not a bad book to read. It gives you some food for thought and is a quick read as well.

Continue reading “Terror and Liberalism”

What to Do in Iraq?

Talking about the despicable desecration of US soldiers’ corpses in Mosul, the Poor Man captures some of mythoughts on US involvement in Iraq.

If this is true, if this is the way things happened, it is going to be very hard to blame this on Ba’athists, foreign fighters, and “dead enders.” If this is true, and this is a sign of the way things are really going outside the Sunni triangle, this venture is doomed. If there is hope to make this thing work, we owe it to the Iraqis and ourselves to stay until the country can stand on its own. But if it is hopeless, if we have already lost, we should leave. What a fucking disaster.

I do think that we need to get Iraq in a better situation before leaving. But I worry that our presence in Iraq might be part of the problem. I am not convinced about that like Max or Jim are, but we cannot discount that possibility. Not sure yet what would take me off the fence.

Grading and More

In case you are wondering, I am alive and well. Just busy with work. Today is grading day for part 2 of the project. So a whole day dedicated to the task.

In addition to work, I am being pressured by people (i.e., family, who else) not to spend too much non-work time on the computer. This has obviously affected my blogging. Anyway, I hope to get rid of that pressure and be back blogging regularly.

I have finished reading Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman. I should have a review up tomorrow. Tonight I plan to watch the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers with my roommates on DVD.

What Is Your Animal Personality?

What Is Your Animal Personality?

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Via Ejaz Asi.

What 20th Century Theorist Are You?

Apparently, all these years of grad school have gone to waste. Despite being out of undergrad for a decade, I am still one at heart.

You are an undergraduate! Your mind has not yet warped into the utter oddness of contemporary theory. If you put down the beer bong, and start reading dreafully weird theory, you’ll probably have a better chance of not getting the answer designed to make fun of you.

What 20th Century Theorist are you?
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Via Brian’s Study Breaks.

My Life in Kashmir VII

Another brother of our Colonel neighbor was an Additional District Magistrate (ADM). He visited us in mid-November and informed us that Sheikh Abdullah had been freed from prison and made Prime Minister of the state on 7th or 8th November 1947….

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Previous entry here.

Another brother of our Colonel neighbor was an Additional District Magistrate (ADM). He visited us in mid-November and informed us that Sheikh Abdullah had been freed from prison and made Prime Minister of the state on 7th or 8th November 1947. He also saved us from starvation by sending some food grain. He told us that Sheikh Abdullah wished to see us. A few days later, Sheikh Abdullah came accompanied by the ADM. My cousin and I were advised by the house lady to insist on going to Pakistan. On seeing us, Sheikh Abdullah asked about me. When I went near him, he said, “These 3 telegrams are from your father. If you want to join your parents, we will send you to Palestine but it is better that we bring them here and you live in your own home.” In the mean time, my cousin started weeping and said, “All our relations have gone to Pakistan, we want to go to Pakistan.” I copied him. Sheikh Abdullah said, “OK, we will send you to Pakistan. Do not weep. You are good boys.” Then he asked the ADM, “Why don’t they shift to Jammu?” He replied that there was danger to our lives. (Father had sent 3 telegrams, one each to Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India and Sheikh Abdullah, to locate and send us to Palestine.)

Some days later, we were shifted under security cover to Usdad da mohallah in Jammu and placed in the house of Colonel (retired) Peer Muhammad. My cousin went to the bank and brought some money. Thus, we were able to purchase edibles and ate properly cooked food after about two months. We lived in Ustad da mohallah for about 2 weeks. During this period, accompanied by a Muslim Inspector Police and a few policemen, we visited our home. Everything in the house had been looted. Suitcases and even G I sheet boxes had been taken away. What we found there was large empty large G I sheet boxes and the large brass-made double bed. On the floor were scattered papers of our property and family pictures. My sister and I collected all these papers and photographs but we could not bring those because of weight. We saw blood at two places, on the roof of a relative’s house and on our roof near the place where Pakistan flag was hoisted. (After reaching Pakistan we came to know that the blood on the relative’s roof was of my father’s young cousin and on our roof top was of a 16 year old son of a neighbour. Both received bullets from machine guns of the army. The young boy died instantly and the cousin had died after 3 days without getting any medical aid.)

A plan was made to send to Pakistan minor children and injured women, parents or guardians of whom were supposed to have gone to Pakistan. Thus, on December 18, six small buses with children (including us) and women started off to Sialkot. Total drive was about 38 Km (about 24 miles). Sheikh Abdullah was leading this caravan in a military jeep and it was moving under protection of the Indian army. Sheikh Abdullah and the army stopped at the border. The buses finally reached and stopped at Sialkot Cantonment. In our bus, my sister was sitting near the window next to me. On seeing our aunts, we were very happy. However, their state of mind, that had been under persistent tension for about 2 months, can be judged from the fact that one of our aunts (whose children were with us) came near our bus and asked my sister Y, “Have you seen X, Y or Z?” She replied, “Auntie, it is me, Y.” It took our aunt some time to realize that she was indeed speaking to Y. Then we got down and hugged our aunts. They started kissing us while tears rained from their eyes.

Meanwhile in Palestine
In November 1947, having learnt of killings of Muslims in Jammu, my father sent a telegram to his cousin in Sialkot enquiring about the welfare of the family. By that time, my grandparents and aunt had reached Sialkot, so he sent a reply, “Elders arrived, children missing.” That took away my parents’ senses. My father left his business and belongings in Palestine and started the journey to Yemen in his car, accompanied by my mother and two younger brothers (the elder 7 years old was born in Jammu and the younger 9 months old was born in Palestine). The civil war was just starting there at the time. It took them several days to enter Saudi Arabia where the journey was safe but monotonous (no trees and rare inhabitance). After a long tiring drive, he reached Yemen, abandoned his car at Yemen seaport and reached Karachi, Pakistan by ship. In those days, only one train in a week used to run from Karachi to Wazirabad [a town near Sialkot] which was due after 3 days. A friend of my father’s in Karachi told him that the children have reached Sialkot. After traveling by train to Wazirabad, my parents reached Sialkot by Tonga [horse-drawn carriage] (a jouney of 44 km) in the end of December 1947.

Nutcases and Murderers

What can I say about the murder of 20 people in Turkey?

Near-simultaneous car bombs exploded outside two Istanbul synagogues filled with worshippers Saturday, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 300. The government said the attack had international links, raising suspicions that the al-Qaida terror network was involved.

One blast tore apart the facade of Neve Shalom —- Istanbul’s biggest synagogue and the symbolic center of the 25,000-member Jewish community in this Muslim nation —- just as hundreds of people inside were celebrating a boy’s bar mitzvah.

Three miles away in an affluent neighborhood, the other blast hit the Beth Israel synagogue, where some 300 people were marking the completion of a remodeled religious school. Six Jews were killed at Beth Israel and many injured, including Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva and his son. Fourteen Muslims were also killed —- including two security guards at Beth Israel and one at Neve Shalom.

These crazies and monsters kill people in their religious buildings. How low can one go?

A militant Turkish Islamic group, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front, claimed responsibility for the attacks in a phone call to the Anatolia News Agency.

The Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front, also known as IBDA-C, which told Anatolia attacks would continue “to prevent the opposition against Muslims,” has been accused in a bombing that injured 10 people in Istanbul on Dec. 31, 2000.

Reading about their stupid excuse all I can think of are profanities, but don’t want to use them because the last time I used profanities on my weblog I got a call from my parents.

POSTSCRIPT: The same sentiments go for the killings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia a week ago.