Are You a Terrorist?

Here comes a stupid judge with a stupid remark:

Mrs. Khoder, a United States citizen who arrived from Lebanon 14 years ago, appeared in court last Thursday before the judge, William R. Crosbie, to challenge two parking tickets left on her dashboard within an hour of each other. She said the judge repeated her name and asked if she was a terrorist. “I smiled a big smile and said, `Look at me, do I look like a terrorist?’ ” she said.

Then, according to Mrs. Khoder, after she gave an explanation of the tickets, the judge again referred to terrorism. “He said, `You don’t want to pay a ticket, but you have money to support terrorists,’ ” she recalled. “I felt the blood go to my head. I wanted to throw up. I screamed and fell to the ground.”

For his part, the judge, 79, acknowledged making the initial query about her being a terrorist, but said he was “probably kidding,” according to an article in The Journal News, the Westchester newspaper.

Today, he told a television reporter that he regretted the remark because “it caused a lot of problems for a lot of people.” Judge Crosbie, who rejected a request for an interview, denied to both the Westchester paper and the television reporter that he made the remark about money for terrorists.

He was “probably kidding”? Probably?? He regrets it? Why can’t people simply apologize for their stupidity?

Camping

We are going camping in Maine over the weekend. We seem to have the worst luck with camping. Almost every time we go, it rains. It seems this would be no exception. I should probably buy some rain gear before going.

I bought a nice small backpacking stove recently. It is a Primus Yellowstone Lite. The fuel for the stove is a propane/butane mixture. I am planning on taking it to Maine. So I called the airline to find out if they are allowed on the plane. It turns out that I can take a brand new stove (which mine is) in my checked luggage but not a used one because of the gas that might be left in the stove. I am not sure there can be much gas in the stove itself since it consists of only a burner. I did ask him about cleaning it, but I guess the current rule is much easier and simpler. That means I’ll drop off my stove at home in New Jersey on the way back (yes, I am flying to Jersey and then driving from there). Next time, I have to remember to mail the stove ahead of time. Canisters, on the other hand, need to be bought locally.

MT Plugins

I have installed two Movable Type plugins.

Smarty Pants shows curly quotes (“”), en-dashes (—), em dashes (—-) and ellipsis (…) to appear correctly.

Textile makes text formatting much easier and also creates ™, ©, ® and the proper times symbol in 3×3.

If you see any problems on how the blog looks on your browser, please let me know.

Treatment of Minorities

An interesting discussion has been going on about the historical treatment of religious minorities by Muslims and Christians in the blogworld. As usual, the discussion covers dhimmis (is dhimmitude a word?) and the Inquisition. It revolves around the Middle East and Europe (as is common for discussions about Islam; somehow Africa or Asia are rarely mentioned.)

It started with Disaffected Muslim:

Sometimes one will come across someone who will extoll the tolerance, high culture and harmony of Islamic culture, often in Andalusia, Spain, but also in Baghdad, Cairo, India, etc. However, when confronted with facts that perhaps it wasn’t a Utopian paradise, said evidence is simply ignored. In fact, you will sometimes get a rant about how “bigoted” and “racist” you are for mentioning these less-than-pleasant facts.

[…]Another more sinister reason for these views is, bluntly, as a sledgehammer to whack away at Western civilization and culture, and since Islam has traditionally been the “enemy of the West,” locked in countless struggles with Europe, it is the perfect weapon. I find the most ironic part of the whole thing to be the fact that the apologists, while bashing at the West with Islam, constantly attribute modern Western values to medieval Muslims, such as freedom of religion, peaceful coexistence of all religious groups, freedom of inquiry and speech, women’s rights, nonviolence (jihad as “peaceful struggle”) and the like. Even while trashing everything the West stands for, they can’t get far enough away from Western values and thought-patterns to see that Muslim views on the above are very different and come from a worldview 180 degrees opposed to theirs, instead acting as if Muslims were just Westerners at heart who just happen to have different clothes and prayer rituals.

Ideofact disagreed:

From time to time, I have noted that I largely agree with Bernard Lewis’ assessment that, compared to their Christian contemporaries (who expelled or killed Jews, launched Crusades against heretical sects and so on), medieval Muslims were far more tolerant of minorities, who had legal standing and were protected. Islamic tolerance of the medieval type falls far short of the kind of equality that came out of the American Revolution, or the kind of tolerance that appeared in Europe during the Enlightenment, but it is not at all insignificant that Jews expelled from Ferdinand and Isabella’s Spain found refuge and created a flourishing culture in the Ottoman Balkans.

On May 16, Disaffected Muslim wrote a much more detailed post on tolerance in Muslim societies. Her conclusion:

Eventually this record must be at least acknowledged by Muslims and condemned, instead of extolling how Muslims were exceedingly tolerant, respectful, and kind to non-Muslims in a fantastically rosy version of Islamic history, where the lands of Islam were not only more tolerant than Europe during the Middle Ages and the Inquisition, but the status of non-Muslims in Muslim lands compares very well with the status of religious minorities in modern states today, where those of all religions or none have the same rights and are equal citizens!

Buscaraons decided to compare dhimmitude with the Inquisition with this opening salvo:

Bill is quite right that tolerance in Moslem society during the medieval was somewhat more enlightened than contemporary Christendom. However medieval Moslem tolerence was founded on rather dubious foundations. First, the effectiveness of the dhimmitude is primarily psychological. Thucyledies pointed out that if a person is physically defeated he accepts his defeat; but that he’s legally wronged, he won’t sleep or eat until the injustice is rectified. Hence the second attitude explains why the Western Christian when they began to settle in the Mideast on a more permanent basis exacted from the Moslem rulers concessions that their fellow Christians would no longer be subject to the dhimmitude.

The Arabs invaded the Mideast and Northern Africa and defeated the various armies. So the defeated peoples accepted their plight; however, the victorious Arabs made sure that the defeated populations would never challenge the Arabs again and ensured that they’d suffer permanent disabilities and perpetual indignities. Throughout the period of Moslem ascendency there would be the occasional slave raids (razzias) to remind the Christians just how precarious their position is and the tolerance can be revoked at anytime. Second, the dhimmitude reinforced the Moslem belief that their ascendency would be perpetual and the rules laid down to the people of the book would stay frozen in time. Unfortunately for the Moslem, they forgot that laws may stand still but men always evolve.

Third, ironically enough, the dhimmitude was also to assuage the Moslems’ sense of low self confidence. How does this square with the second point? At first, when the Arab Moslem conquered the Mideast and North Africa, they were a minority and typical unsophisticated nomads of the Volwanderung. Hence they felt really uncomfortable and by imposing the various inabilities: Christians can build or repair their churches or monestaries, Christians couldn’t ring Church bells least the Moslems fall into apostasy and so on.

He then goes on to actually defend the Inquisition (I am exaggerating, but not by much).

The Inquistion was an ecclesistical court. Specifically it’s what the lawyers call a court of attribution. A law establishes the courts existence and then lists what areas of law it has competency to decide cases. If it errs in the determination of its competency, then its decision can be appeale or even annuled for being outide its powers (ultra vires in the legal jargon)

Thus, Inquisition was a legal creature subjet to law and thus limited by it. Further, contrary to public opinion, it wasn’t the KGB of its time; rather the Inqusitions did serve as one of the foundations continetial Europe’s judicial system of examining magistrates. Moreover, the Inqusition even had a rudimentary due process procedure that was quite advanced for its time.

The fact that the Inquisution was a judical body is signficant; it meant that it had to follow its own laws and procedures. Even though the medievals were fearful of the inqusitors, they did have recourses to limit its authourity and the kings’ lawyers would also ensure that the Inquistion didn’t cross the line into purely civil law cases. If you think today’s society was litigatious; the medievals were even more robust in protecting their rights.

[…]As terrible as the Inquisition was, it had the paradoxical effect of pushing Europe to become more tolerant; Moselm tolerance simply reinforced the contradictory sentiments of psychological insecurity and of pride at being dominant over the book of the people.

Ideofact compared Muslims and Christians in the middle ages thus:

Absolutely, the tolerance practiced in, say, the Ottoman Empire is far inferior to the ideals of Jefferson. But comparing the past to the present is a little bizarre. It seems to me worth noting that in the last 500 years or so there have been migrations of Jews, and they haven’t been from the realms of Islam to the West — quite the contrary.

Bill Allison also replied to Buscaraons here and here. The debate is continuing with the latest entry from Buscaraons.

I don’t have time to expound my views right now, but suffice it to say that I agree with Ideofact. The tolerance of minorities under Muslim rule during the middle ages wasn’t exactly what we would like in the modern world but it was definitely much better than Christendom. Modern Muslim countries have actually regressed in this as well as many other things. I’ll return to some of the substantive points in this debate in a later post.

UPDATE: Later post here.

Protestors are Terrorists

Via Unqualified Offerings, here’s the strange case of the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC).

CATIC spokesman Mike Van Winkle said such evidence wasn’t needed to issue warnings on war protesters.

“You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that’s being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest),” said Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department. “You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act.”

In fact, CATIC — touted as a national model for intelligence sharing and a centerpiece of Gov. Gray Davis and Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s 2002 re-election bids — has quietly gathered and analyzed information on activists of various stripes almost since its creation.

[…]Yet causing a traffic jam can be enough to trigger a CATIC analysis and bulletin. At the Port of Oakland, where trucks would be blocked from reaching shippers such as APL, a protest target, that logic might have been more compelling, Manavian and Van Winkle suggested.

“If we receive information that 10,000 folks are going to a street corner and going to block it, that’s breaking a law,” Manavian said. “That’s the kind of information that we’re going to relay.”

Said Van Winkle: “I’ve heard terrorism described as anything that is violent or has an economic impact, and shutting down a port certainly would have some economic impact. Terrorism isn’t just bombs going off and killing people.”

Both men say CATIC merely supplies information, but it’s up to police to decide what to do with it.

Seems like the Left Coast really is crazy.

Whitewater

Summer is here and it’s time for whitewater rafting again.

Whitewater Rafting in Ocoee River

This is from the Ocoee river in Tennessee last year.

Importing Comments

Checking Haloscan forums, I have found out that exporting comments from there is not possible (other than manually saving each comment, something only Jonathan has the patience for). However, according to them,

This is currently impossible. It willl likely be coded in about a month from now but for now, exporting can’t be done.

So, there might be hope. I think I’ll wait a month.

New Home

There will be no more postings on my Blogger-based weblog (http://zackandamber.blogspot.com). Please change your links and bookmarks to my Movable Type weblog at http://www.zackvision.com/weblog/.

The Matrix: Reloaded

Wow! The Matrix: Reloaded made $91 million this weekend. Add to that the $42m on thursday and it has already made $134m.

I haven’t seen it yet. My roommate and I were planning on going saturday, but when we checked online the midnight show was already sold out. So we played Hearts of Iron instead.

It seems I won’t be able to watch The Matrix: Reloaded and X2: X-Men United for two weeks as we are driving to Maine on Memorial day weekend.

Pitch for Money

Since I have moved into new digs which cost money, I think I should make a pitch for donations. If you like my weblog, please consider donating. Any amount is well-appreciated. The links for Paypal and Amazon Honor system are on the sidebar. If you would like another option, please drop me an email.

A donation would earn you lots of gratitude and a spot on the Generous Donors lists on the sidebar.

Thank you all.