Monday, April 28, 2008
Melancholicus will not here and now delve into the intricacies of European integration, or what ratification of this latest treaty will do for Ireland or for Europe generally. That is not the issue. For he has already made up his mind, when the time comes for him to exercise his suffrage, to reject the Treaty of Lisbon. He shall vote No, and he encourages any of his fellow countrymen that might be reading this to do the same.
Ireland is the ONLY European nation the government of which is holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Melancholicus thus feels he has a moral duty to vote No, not only for the sake of Ireland, but for the uncounted millions of other Europeans in this allegedly democratic age whose governments have denied them the opportunity to do so themselves.
Even if there were no urgent political reason to reject this treaty — and there are reasons aplenty — Melancholicus would still vote No, if only out of sheer bloody-mindedness, for he has found the arrogance and the high-handedness of the Yes campaign to be insufferable. This very morning en route to the university, he listened to an unsatisfactory radio debate between John McGuirk of Libertas and Dick Roche TD, Minister for European Affairs. This debate was unsatisfactory because it was not calm and reasoned, but a shouting match, and Melancholicus was shocked by the arrogant and dismissive bluster of Minister Roche. Even if every word spoken by the Minister were true, Melancholicus was repelled by the attitude of the man, who seemed to be personally affronted that a No campaign should even exist in Ireland.
So much for democracy.
This high-handed attitude is not unique to Minister Roche, for Melancholicus has observed it also in the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and in Eamonn Gilmore, leader of the Labour Party, and in several other Dáil deputies from a broad spectrum of political backgrounds and beliefs. Yet — with the singular exception of Sinn Féin — all seem to be united in an unduly vehement (not to say desperate) insistence that Ireland MUST ratify the Treaty of Lisbon and that consequently the Irish electorate MUST vote Yes in the forthcoming referendum.
Who are these politicians to tell us what to do? We are not accountable to them, or to the EU commissars in Brussels. On the contrary, isn’t the whole principle of democracy founded on the notion that we elect these people to respresent us? Are not they, then, accountable to us? And should we decide to say No in June, whence comes the justification for their righteous indignation?
Moreover, the government of this Republic of Ireland has not provided its citizens with any information whatever on even the most important consequences of the Lisbon Treaty. The government is aware that most Irish people haven’t the foggiest idea what they are voting for, yet there has been no official attempt to assist members of the public in making an informed decision. The only attempts to do so have proceeded from the No campaign, from groups like Libertas that have been so stridently denounced by our political leaders on the airwaves. Can it be that the Irish government doesn’t want the people to know what is contained in the Lisbon Treaty? Can it be because if the Irish people knew what they were voting for, they might possibly vote No? The failure of the government to provide the electorate with any information on the Lisbon Treaty, as well as its treatment of us as mere children in the most condescending manner imaginable, is more than reason enough to defy our politicians and most resolutely vote No. Who votes Yes to ratify a treaty they know nothing about?
In any case, there is hardly any point voting at all. In the exercise of their democratic rights, the Irish electorate rejected the Treaty of Nice in a referendum held in June 2001. As this result was unacceptable to the EU, the Irish were required to repeat this referendum in October 2002. On this second occasion, the desired Yes vote was achieved, but even if it had not been, the referendum would have been held repeatedly until the Irish electorate finally agreed to ratification.
It is likely that ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon will be achieved in the same way. Even if the Irish electorate reject the Treaty this coming June, the referendum will be put to us again and again until we agree to ratify the thing, so the EU commissars need not be overly disturbed by an initial rejection.
And so the future of Europe shall, for the average citizen of countries such as Ireland, be characterised by steadily diminishing representation, steadily diminishing powers of suffrage and self-determination, and the steady increase of soft totalitarianism, as unaccountable and unelected commissions and appointees gradually replace parliaments and elected representatives, and as referenda are emptied of their democratic purpose by being repeatedly put to the electorate until the desired result be achieved.
Under such conditions, what need of a referendum at all?
Friday, April 25, 2008
April 30, 2008
Riyadh, Saudia Arabia
In a freak global shift which has scientists around the world baffled, the Earth’s magnetic field has moved dramatically, causing the northern magentic pole to line up exactly on the longitude of the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca.
“This is a sign from Allah!” exclaimed cleric al-Waqarawy, a proponent of the “Ijaz al-Koran” movement which strives to find modern science presaged in the Koran. “Even more so as it comes upon the heels of last week’s Mecca conference in Qatar!”
Cambridge geologist Dr. Cecil Wilberforce disagreed. “The earth’s magnetic north regularly migrates” he intoned. “While we are still uncertain what caused this unexpectedly radical shift this week, it’s doubtlessly a purely natural phenomenon that has nothing whatsoever to do with religion or pseudo-science.”
But Iousseph al-Riidyah, leader of the militant “academic jihad” movement based at King Fahd University in Dharahn, had a different explanation. “There is no mystery!” he exclaimed. “We sent a thousand glorious martyrs -- graduate students, of course -- in suicide vests into Canada to drive the magentic pole from its infidel and westernized false location. They forced it, by their noble sacrifices, to flee the ground of their martyrs’ blood and return to its proper place, in the pure waters north of Alaska! Allah is great!”
Whatever the cause, the sudden magnetic changes have vastly disrupted the paths of many migratory birds. Literally hundreds of thousands are now flying in confused circles around parts of the country, with bee-eaters and red-throated pipits predominating, and many species of shore-line birds have unaccountably moved inland.
“Truly this is a glorious sign!” exulted Fadir al-Saamhdi, a Meccan street vendor, wiping guano off his face as countless birds circled in raucous confusion overhead. Looking upward -- an ill-advised move, as he quickly discovered -- he added “Now the whole world shall see that Allah truly l.. ack! pfffpht! ugh! Blech!”
Imams from throughout the region have issued injunctions to the world’s Muslims to come to Mecca and help keep the sacred black meteorite, the Kaaba, and other holy places clean during this avian invasion, and it is rumored that several of the religions more extreme leaders are considering issuing a fatwah calling for the destruction of the birds, given their obviously infidel intention to desecrate the religion's most sacred sites.
But most geologists -- even though unsure of what has caused this dramatic change -- think the Muslim community need not worry too much, as computer models universally predict that the pole’s new position will eventually settle down about 5 degrees further west, lining itself up precisely around the globe from Jerusalem.
Yes, yes, Melancholicus knows he has promised his readers to leave the saracens alone for a bit, but the attitude behind this story is so breathtakingly arrogant that he feels something ought to be said.
Muslim call to adopt Mecca time
By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC Arab affairs analyst
Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth.
Mecca is the direction all Muslims face when they perform their daily prayers.
The call was issued at a conference held in the Gulf state of Qatar under the title: Mecca, the Centre of the Earth, Theory and Practice.
One geologist argued that unlike other longitudes, Mecca's was in perfect alignment to magnetic north.
He said the English had imposed GMT on the rest of the world by force when Britain was a big colonial power, and it was about time that changed.
A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the true centre of the Earth; proof, he said, of the greatness of the Muslim "qibla" - the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray.
The meeting also reviewed what has been described as a Mecca watch, the brainchild of a French Muslim.
The watch is said to rotate anti-clockwise and is supposed to help Muslims determine the direction of Mecca from any point on Earth.
The meeting in Qatar is part of a popular trend in some Muslim societies of seeking to find Koranic precedents for modern science.
It is called "Ijaz al-Koran", which roughly translates as the "miraculous nature of the holy text".
The underlying belief is that scientific truths were also revealed in the Muslim holy book, and it is the work of scholars to unearth and publicise the textual evidence.
But the movement is not without its critics, who say that the notion that modern science was revealed in the Koran confuses spiritual truth, which is constant, and empirical truth, which depends on the state of science at any given point in time.
So what if Mecca happens to be “in perfect alignment” with magnetic north—which claim need not necessarily be true anyway—at this point in time? The magnetic poles wander constantly, which means that sooner or later Mecca will be out of alignment altogether. Moreover, the lines of latitude and longitude are fixed with respect to the geographical north and south poles; they are nothing to do with magnetic north, so the reference to longitude makes absolutely no sense.
However, while we might be inclined to a good hearty laugh at the dotty theories of these fanatics with respect to longitude and the alignment of the poles, one thing at least is certain. Given the relentless extension of their power in Europe generally and in Britain in particular, with the dhimmified natives falling over one another to appease them in the name of multiculturalism and political correctness, there is one aspect of this pseudo-science that might actually become reality.
I refer to the proposed abolition of Greenwich Mean Time and its replacement with some other chronological standard, based on local Saudi time—with the line of zero degrees running precisely through the middle of the Ka’ba in Mecca.
Who will claim that such a thing could never happen?
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Polish rock musician faces charges for Bible-burning
Warsaw, Apr. 22, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The head of Polish death-metal band Behemoth, Adam Darski, will face criminal charges for burning a Bible during a concert in Gdynia, Poland last year.
Darski claims that he did not want to offend any one and that his actions were only those of an artist engaged in self-expression. He has apologized for his actions. The head of Behemoth could be imprisoned for up to 2 years if convicted.
I think that by “head”, they mean frontman. Rock bands do not have “heads” as such. They are not hierarchical organisations.
In spite of the sacrilege committed by consigning the holy scriptures to the flames, Melancholicus cannot but feel somewhat sorry for this unfortunate benighted soul. Two years’ imprisonment seems a bit stiff for such an action, and if such a sentence were passed, it might only have the effect of hardening Mr. Darski in his rebellion against God rather than showing him the error of his ways.
In any case, it was a lucky thing that Mr. Darski burned a Bible and not a Qur’an. Melancholicus is unfamiliar with the extent to which the cancer of politcally-correct multiculturalist nonsense has made inroads in Poland, so he is unable to say whether igniting a Qur’an would have provoked a more or less horrified reaction than that which greeted his burning of the Bible. But the saracens would certainly be waving their scimitars and baying for his blood, even to the extent of crazed fanatics making trips to Poland in an attempt to assassinate him.
If the concert which landed him in such trouble had taken place in the UK rather than in Poland, nobody would have batted an eyelid. But if he had burned the Qur’an on a British stage, there is no way he would have avoided a prison sentence — that is, if he were lucky enough not to be killed on the spot.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
From Catholic World News:
European Council calls for end to abortion bans
Strasbourg, Apr. 18, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The parliament of the Council of Europe has approved a non-binding resolution calling for all European nations to legalize abortion.
By a vote of 102-69, the parliament passed a resolution affirming the "right to choose." Proponents of the measure argued that legal bans do not prevent abortion but merely drive the practice underground (an argument that American proponents of legal abortion have confessed they put forward without evidence). Gisela Wurm, the Austrian lawmaker who sponsored the resolution, said that laws against abortion are a form of violence against women.
Representatives of Ireland and Malta -- the European Union countries that maintain legal bars on abortion -- objected vigorously to the resolution.
Melancholicus supposes that the good news in this wretched matter is that the resolution is at least “non-binding”.
For the moment.
But who can say how long it will be before the Council of Europe shall have the power, granted it in law by the constituent nations of the EU, to overrule the laws of any and every member nation? The Treaty of Lisbon is set to go into effect by the end of this year, unless it be stopped (or at least stalled) by the Irish electorate and one of the effects of this impious treaty is to resurrect the Constitution of the European Union that was rejected in referenda by both the French and the Dutch in 2005.
This kind of interference by unelected and unaccountable EU councils and commissions in the internal affairs of sovereign nations is becoming more and more common. As the process of European integration continues to advance, how long shall it be before hitherto sovereign nations are reduced to little more than regional provinces within an over-arching European super-state, a state that shall have supreme legislative and executive power over its constituent “provinces”?
The reader may scoff at such a forecast, but it cannot be denied that this is the direction to which European integration is resolutely committed. How else can such a large, unwieldy institution as the EU, composed of such a multitude of incompatible and disparate parts, be in practical terms managable, except through increasing centralisation?
Is it not passing ironic that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights declares (chap. 1, article 2.1) that “Everyone has the right to life”, which would appear (in the plain sense of the words at least) to be a disavowal of abortion? Yet the Council of Europe is determined that the killing of the unborn be legally permitted in every constituent state province of the EU — unless of course the “everyone” of the Charter does not include those who have not yet been born, in which case the Council need not ride roughshod over its pretended commitment to human rights.
How much more of our sovereignty shall we Europeans transfer to these sinister institutions? For personal reasons Melancholicus is currently investigating the possibility of permanently relocating to the United States. If this Republic of Ireland continues to fritter away its hard-won freedom by transferring its inalienable sovereignty to a foreign bureaucracy, he shall have a further impetus to flee his homeland. Melancholicus has no desire to live in an Ireland that voluntarily renounces its own statehood and submits to the pitiless encroachment of what is little else than the Roman Empire redivivus. Moreover, in acquiescing in this state of affairs and in abetting the silent conquest of this nation, the Irish government is surely guilty of treason.
Did our fathers really spend all those years, with all their mayhem and misery and cost in lives, fighting against British occupation for nothing?
If you are an Irish citizen, gentle reader, please consider voting No to Lisbon in the forthcoming June referendum. How much more will we let them get away with before we will finally tell them Thus far and no further? With each successive diminution of our liberties, it becomes more difficult to draw a final, uncrossable line.
Where shall we draw that line?
Shall we even draw it at all?
When Pope Benedict was elected, Melancholicus was in the United States, studying for the priesthood with this society of apostolic life of pontifical right (although at the time he was locked in a vocational crisis that ultimately resolved itself through his departure from the seminary). Melancholicus and his classmates were in Dr. John Thornburgh’s Modern Philosophy class, a little over a month away from the end of our philosophical studies. He cannot recall which philosopher we were then discussing (perhaps Heidegger?), but pre-occupied with his interior struggle, Melancholicus was probably not paying much attention anyway.
Suddenly, the loud pealing of a hand-rung bell sounded up and down the corridor adjacent to the classrooms and, without waiting for the news, the whole community immediately knew that the successor of John Paul II had been chosen.
The class rose up as one man, and immediately left the room, joining the occupants of the other classrooms in a swift but stately march to the chapel. Nobody spoke. Everyone was either preoccupied with the ramifications of this momentous occasion, or engaged in silent prayer. As the community filed downstairs to the chapel, the only sounds were the swishing of soutanes and the deep rumble of boots on the stairs.
We took up our accustomed places in choir, and chanted the Te Deum. Then, as the Rector was nowhere in sight, a few enterprising souls left the chapel and made their way upstairs to the pumpkin room to find the TV. Gradually, more and more of the brethren left the chapel and adjourned in the pumpkin room, until half the community was crowded around the TV.
During the unbearably tense interval between the appearance of the white smoke and the introduction of the new pope to the waiting world, Melancholicus fretted anxiously, twisting the buttons on his soutane, and certain that one of only two alternatives would issue from this election. The Cardinals’ choice of pope would result either in the salvation of the Catholic Church by Christ, or in its destruction. Of course the latter alternative is impossible, since the indefectibility of the Church is divinely guaranteed until the end of time, but surveying the appalling carnage left behind by the council and by the policies of the conciliar popes — a devastation of the ecclesial order analogous to Hiroshima after the bomb — one could be forgiven for fearing that the worst was about to happen, and that the unsinkable would in fact finally sink.
And then there would really be nothing for it, but to become an Anglican!
After what seemed like an age, his eminence Jorge Arturo Cardinal Medina Estevez finally appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's basilica to announce to the world that the new successor of St. Peter had been chosen. Melancholicus was impatient of the multilingual introductory greetings, desiring only to know the identity of the new pontiff and thus the fate of the barque of Peter. When his eminence reached the pause after eminentissimum ac reverendissimum dominum, the tension in the pumpkin room was unendurable. Then came the pope-elect’s Christian name: Iosephum, followed by another horrendously tense pause. Melancholicus immediately thought of Joseph Ratzinger, but for all he knew to the contrary there could be two dozen other Iosephums in the sacred college. His eminence then continued slowly with sanctae Romanae ecclesiae cardinalem, whereat Melancholicus thought he would die. And then finally, that single most important word Ratzinger, at which the world changed in an instant. Like the terrified disciples in the storm on the Sea of Galilee, when the Lord stilled the wind and the waves, all became calm.
It is His church after all.
Deo gratias, alleluia. The conclave might have chosen a notorious dissident like Martini or Danneels, a confused ecumaniac like Kasper, a wilting conciliar yes-man like Murphy-O’Connor, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing like Tettamanzi, but thanks be to almighty God these nightmare scenarios were avoided. Such things hardly even bear thinking about. But in the end, the Holy Ghost gave to Christ’s Church a pope. A Catholic pope.
Flooded with sweet relief, we cheered and applauded, rising to our feet after the fashion of football fans whose team has just scored the winning goal in a match of crucial importance.
There’s nothing like the drama of a conclave.
And there is also this charming clip filmed by one of the faithful on that mementous day in St. Peter’s square:
There are those who will tell us that the recent ‘renewal’ of the Church in the spirit of the council has been a tremendously successful endeavour which has been of inestimable benefit to all Catholics.
Here is Cardinal Ratzinger’s assessment, however, of the true state of the Church in 2005, shortly before he was elected pope:
Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him!
Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures.
These words, a cry from the heart of one who can see the Church as she now is, give the lie direct to those who continue to insist, whether because of blindness or mendacity, and in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, that we are now living through the glorious new springtime of the greatest renewal the Church has ever seen. Pope Benedict is the man for the hour for he recognises the nature and extent of the crisis into which the Church has been plunged by her flirtation with the secular world and her concomitant forgetfulness of the divine mission entrusted to her.
Melancholicus occasionally finds himself glancing ahead to the next pontificate. This is not something he likes to do, and for the good of the whole Church he wishes Papa Ratzi many more years of life and continued good health. However, the Holy Father is now 81 years old. There is no point guessing how much time he may have left, for the imminent demise of his predecessor was forecast annually for at least a decade before it actually occurred. It is likewise useless to speculate who the next pope shall be, but Melancholicus hopes that man shall be a Benedict XVII, naming himself in honour of his predecessor, and determined to bring to completion the restoring policies of Papa Ratzi.
Ad multos annos.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Peruvian cardinal stops Communion in the hand
Lima, Apr. 17, 2008 (CWNews.com) - A Peruvian cardinal reports that he has banned the practice of receiving Communion in the hand.
Speaking to the Italian web site Petrus, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima, Peru, said that in order to guard against abuses, "the best way to administer Communion is on the tongue."
Cardinal Cipriani told Petrus that he took the step to halt Communion in the hand in order to promote greater reverence for the Eucharist. In some cases, he said, the practice had led to gross abuses. More generally he cited the "relaxed attitude of many priests" as a cause for the decline in reverence.
Up until the decade in which both Church and society fell apart (that’s the 1960s for those of you who haven’t been paying attention), the universal practice of the Catholic Church in the Latin rite was to administer the host to all communicants on the tongue. The only ones who were permitted to handle the sacred species were those whose hands had been consecrated specifically for that purpose, namely priests and bishops. The faithful did not receive holy communion in their hands, nor at this time were there any such thing as “extraordinary ministers” of holy communion, which latter was a radical novelty without historical precedent. Needless to say, the practice of lay-led “communion services” (which do not satisfy the canonical obligation of hearing Mass, and at which no Catholic is ever obliged to assist) was also unknown.
The proponents of such things will appeal to the practice of the early Church in order to justify their position. It is true that in the first centuries, the faithful did receive holy communion in the hand. But it is also true that this practice had died out everywhere by the sixth century, owing to the same reasons for which Cardinal Cipriani has now banned it in his diocese. Thereafter, holy communion was administered to the faithful on the tongue, and this remained the norm until the Reformation when, animated with zeal for overthrowing the doctrine of transubstantiation, the reformers insisted that the laity should take the consecrated elements into their hands.
In the turbulent anything-goes atmosphere of the post-conciliar Church, the abuse of communion in the hand sprang up as an aping of protestant practice in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The abuse spread quickly internationally, necessitating an intervention on the part of the Holy See, as it flagrantly violated liturgical norms. Of course by the time the abuse was addressed, it was too widespread to offer much hope for its swift and easy suppression. Despite the fact that most of the bishops consulted on this question were against changing the discipline of the Church in this regard, Pope Paul VI in the instruction Memoriale Domini, while appealing for the traditional practice to be maintained, infamously granted permission for communion to be given to the faithful in the hand.
In this manner, a questionable practice that began as an act of disobedience was accommodated within the life of the Church by being made a legitimate option, whereafter it rapidly became the norm in a striking illustration of how what is optional today may become obligatory tomorrow. Communion in the hand came late to Ireland, and when he made his first holy communion in 1979, Melancholicus received on the tongue. But by the late 1980s, the traditional manner of receiving holy communion had died out almost entirely.
As a young man, Melancholicus used to receive holy communion in his hand, and he did so routinely until a certain day in February in the year 2000. He was attending a Mass celebrated in a parish not far from where he lived at the time, and that parish was given to the use of big, thick, crumbly hosts.
After receiving holy communion, he was startled to notice two small particles on the palm of his left hand. It is lucky that he noticed them when he did, as they would have been profanely lost otherwise and Melancholicus would have been guilty of sacrilege, at least materially if not quite formally.
For each particle of the sacred host, however small, is just as much the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Lord Jesus as is the host in its entirety; hence the extensive array of precautions traditionally resorted to by the Church to safeguard the Blessed Sacrament from the danger of sacrilege.
With the advent of communion in the hand, however, most of these precautions became redundant, and the Blessed Sacrament is now exposed to sacrileges on a daily basis that could never have occurred before Paul VI so ill-advisedly granted permission for unconsecrated fingers to touch the host. On how many occasions have hosts been found on the floors of churches, under pews, between the pages of missalettes, or even in garbage cans? The practice of communion in the hand also greatly facilitates the efforts of dubious persons to spirit away the sacred host for nefarious purposes.
In February 2000, Melancholicus had not yet discovered the traditional Latin liturgy, in which communion is (or at least should be) always given on the tongue. But that Mass in Bray was the last occasion on which he handled the sacred host, and since then has insisted on receiving on the tongue, and that only from the hands of a priest.
For this reason, attendance at the rite commonly called Novus Ordo is a double headache. Not only does the practice of standing communion make receiving on the tongue more difficult than it might otherwise be, but one must choose one’s pew with care in order to have ready access to the priest at communion time without having to wade through the inevitable morass of “extraordinary ministers”.
Melancholicus does not like to observe the faithful receiving holy communion at the Novus Ordo. Nine out of ten communicants in Ireland receive in the hand. In the church he attended during his visit to Tacoma (a conservative parish whose pastor has clearly been influenced liturgically by EWTN) almost nobody received on the tongue. Very little care seems to be taken with the host by the majority of communicants, and in Ireland very little reverence is shown; in Melancholicus’ local parish, nobody bows or genuflects before receiving save for one pious lady who is always the last person in the church to communicate.
But once again we must not fall into the error of blaming the laity for an abuse instigated and promoted by the clergy. Cardinal Cipriani cited the “relaxed attitude of many priests” as the cause of much irreverence among the laity, and Melancholicus would concur with his eminence’s diagnosis. So many clergy seem to go out of their way to celebrate the Novus Ordo in as casual, relaxed and informal a manner as possible. On frequent occasions, Melancholicus has witnessed such celebrations that were downright sloppy and careless. Yet the clergy wonder why their parishioners no longer go to church.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This commercial was aired regularly in Ireland around 2005 and 2006, when Melancholicus was in his first year of absence from the seminary, attempting to adjust once again to the lay state and quite at a loss for what to do with himself. Each time he saw it, he was transfixed, unable to speak or to act, and moved by a surge of strong emotion even to the point of tears. In fact, even thinking about it now is enough to cause a lump to rise in his throat. How very odd.
Melancholicus wonders what sort of dark necromancy is going on in his subconscious that he should be so moved by a commercial for a high-definition flat-screen TV. He has not had this peculiar response to other ads for the same product, so there must be something about the combination of the soundtrack and the slow-motion sight of the coloured balls spilling down the street that reaches into the depths of his soul. The song is heart-stirringly beautiful, but played on its own it does not have the same effect. Nor do the bouncy balls, in the absence of the song. But together they draw forth teary springs in an experience of almost religious intensity.
Psychology is a fascinating thing. Enjoy.
Best watched on a Sony Bravia, naturally.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Melancholicus disagrees. Islam doesn’t need a reformation.
It needs a Vatican II.
Yes, the equivalent of a Vatican II in the Islamic world would transform all those hot-headed, murderous fanatics into geldings and wilting wallflowers, or cause them to lose so much interest in their religion that they would instead give themselves willingly to beer-drinking, football and chasing girls, or for the more politically inclined, to liberal causes like crusading (sorry!) against global warming.
Harmless pursuits for the most part to be sure, and much more salvific than anything Islam has to offer.
Schism was removed from YouTube following “complaints”, although it was subsequently restored at Al-Saeed’s request.
It is not unnatural that there should have been complaints. But complaints are a different thing entirely to death threats. LiveLeak removed Fitna from its servers almost straight away owing to threats of death and violence from outraged fanatics directed against its staff (although the film has since been restored). Is Al-Saeed now in fear of his life because certain viewers have complained about Schism? One should think not. Geert Wilders, on the other hand, has every reason to look over his shoulder every day for the rest of his life (which, given what happened to Theo van Gogh, might not be that long).
Mahometan bloggers and commentators are of course delighted with Al-Saeed’s effort, but having watched it himself, Melancholicus is not impressed. One cannot compare Schism with Fitna without doing an injustice to the latter. Al-Saeed does not attempt to engage with the charges against Islam contained in Wilders’ film, probably because Wilders’ case is unanswerable. Instead, he takes the easy way out and resorts to attacking the Bible and Christianity in the same manner in which he perceives his enemy to have attacked Islam, with the result that the controversy has descended to the level of an ad hominem slagging match.
This approach is unfortunate not only because it causes further tempers to flare, but because Al-Saeed effectively treats Christianity and Islam as morally equivalent. Since he is a Saudi, Melancholicus assumes that Al-Saeed must be a believing Muslim (why would he have responded to Geert Wilders if he weren’t?). Why, though, would a believing Muslim regard Islam and Christianity as equivalent in their tone and tenor, and in what they teach? There would be no difference between the two religions otherwise, except that of party political identity. Similarly, it is not legitimate to compare the Qur’an and the Bible in the manner in which Al-Saeed has done; each is intended from the outset to be read in a different way. They are differently structured and contain different kinds of text. Both are held to be the word of God by the adherents of Islam and Christianity respectively, but even here there is a difference as to the precise mode of the revelation regarded as being contained in each. Melancholicus apologizes to the reader if he has by now made himself obscure, but this point (regarding the differences between the Qur’an and the Bible) will be made clearer below.
Schism opens with the following statement:
The following phrases are from the Bible, the Holy Book that teaches the most barbaric war criminals
Here, from the very beginning, Al-Saeed is on shaky ground. Who are these war criminals? Al-Saeed does not say. Whether he has in mind people like George W. Bush and Tony Blair, or those such as the butchers of Bosnia Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, or even the most extreme examples such as Hitler, Himmler and Heydrich, does he provide his viewers with any evidence that these men have been inspired by the Bible as he claims, or that any of them actually quoted the Bible in justification of his acts?
No, he doesn’t. Because he cannot. The perpetrators of Islamist atrocities, however, invariably cite the Qur’an as justification for their actions. Blot number one against Al-Saeed.
It is true that there are violent passages in the Old Testament, and Al-Saeed quotes some of them in support of his claims. But the violence of the Old Testament is confined to a particular time and place in history. No Jew or Christian today would attempt to use these verses as a justification for mayhem. But as the Qur’an is regarded by Muslims as valid for all times and places, its exhortations to bloodshed stand as strongly today as they did in the seventh century, and will always do so, as long as the Qur’an exists. Blot number two, as Al-Saeed has failed to distinguish between how Christians interpret the Old Testament, and how his own co-religionists interpret the Qur’an.
Furthermore, the violence of the Old Testament is mitigated, at least in Christianity, by the New Testament with its exhortations to love one’s enemies, to bless those who curse one, to pray for one’s persecutors and to do good to those who do one evil. Al-Saeed seems to be ignorant of this, or perhaps he doesn’t mention it because it would rather spoil his case. Blot number three.
The film then moves on to the notorious and highly-publicized 2006 footage of British troops beating up a group of Iraqi adolescents in Basra, filmed by one of the soldiers who is clearly enjoying the unpleasant spectacle and urging his comrades on. Having primed his viewers with quotes from the Old Testament, Al-Saeed clearly wishes us to associate the Biblical verses with the brutality of the troops, but in this instance there is no connection between the Bible and what the soldiers are doing. Nor does the one doing the filming - who speaks throughout the footage - ever mention the Bible, or any religious motivation whatsoever. Blot four.
The film then provides us with an image of a cross made from bullets standing on a table, on which there is also a copy of psalm 75. We then hear the voice of U.S. president George W. Bush describing his forthcoming invasion of Afghanistan by means of the word crusade. Al-Saeed clearly wishes us to take the “war on terror” for a war on Islam. What he fails to mention, however, is that the invasion of Afghanistan (and of Iraq after it) was prompted not by the Christian religion, or by the Bible, much less by psalm 75, but by a brutal and unprovoked terrorist attack on civilians in New York city which claimed almost 3,000 lives. An attack perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam.
If in 2001 the U.S. had gratuitously and out of the blue dropped a 150-kiloton bomb on Mecca, and afterwards cited verses from the Bible to justify the bombing, Al-Saeed might have had a just cause to complain. But as it is, the invasion of Afghanistan no more proves that Christianity is a martial religion than it proves the moon is made from green cheese. Blot five.
We then hear some pentecostalist/evangelical lady talking about Christianity, and inspiring the young. The scene then cuts to two children of, perhaps, ten or twelve years of age talking about their faith. This is what they say:
We're being trained to go out and train others to be God's army and to do God's will ... I feel like we're kind of being trained to be warriors, only in a much finer way ... I don't feel the sense of being afraid to die in battle or anything, like you would if you are actually going out to a war in the physical. There's a peace with it all, too. There's an excitement, yet peace at the same time ... you know, a lot of people die for God and they're not afraid.
There is no shortage of militaristic terminology here, and we can imagine the glee wherewith Al-Saeed must have latched on to this piece. Of course he must have thought of the militant youths of his own religion, who boast in front of their teachers and classmates of intending to strap on explosive vests and blow up the sons of pigs and monkeys (i.e. Jews) when they are old enough to do so. Does Al-Saeed really imagine that this is what the two kids he uses in Schism are talking about when they uttered the above quote? Instead, the children are speaking metaphorically, as their very words make clear. The girl talks of being a warrior “in a much finer way” than going to war “in the physical”. Quite obviously, a literal physical war is not at all in question here. While the boy in the video seems to refer to martyrdom at the end of the quote, he is of course referring to the Christian concept of martyrdom, in which one prefers to suffer death than renounce the faith, if such is unavoidable. Only in Islam, however, does martyrdom involve the performance of a deliberately suicidal act which invariably results in the taking of several other lives besides that of the alleged “martyr”. Blot six.
Then we are back to the pentecostal preacher, who says she wants to see young people as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as young Muslims are to the cause of Islam. What’s wrong with that? Well, actually, here Al-Saeed inflicts damage on his own religion, for his film creates the impression that the preacher wants the youths in her charge to be as fanatical — and hence violent — as he back-handedly acknowledges Muslim youths to be. But however “committed” such Christian young people may be, can he show us any instances in which they have flown planes into buildings, or blown themselves up in crowded malls or restaurants, or bombed subway trains, or beheaded kidnap victims, all in the name of Christ?
Thought not. Blot seven.
We are then shown shots of what can only be a pentecostalist childrens’ service, in which all and sundry are animated by surging emotions. We see the woman preacher again, microphone in hand, animating the children with zeal and declaiming boldly such statements as “This is war! Are you a part of it or not?” As Al-Saeed’s use of this footage lacks a context, we don’t know what the occasion is precisely, but as it is clearly some kind of church service, with no guns or other weapons in sight, the preacher’s language is doubtless metaphorical, the ‘war’ in question being the warfare of the Christian life, namely the constant struggle against sin, against self and against the devil. Al-Saeed surely understands this, since it corresponds exactly to what Muslims describe as the greater jihad. But there is in Islam also a lesser jihad, that form of jihad with which we in the west have become all too familiar in recent years, namely fighting against the unbelievers with the sword and, in our day, the AK-47, the suicide bomb and the hijacked airliner. There is no Christian equivalent of this kind of jihad. Consequently there is no comparison between the metaphorical military language used by this pentecostal lady on the one hand and the literally hate-filled and bloodthirsty discourse of jihadi clerics on the other. The connection exists only in Al-Saeed’s mind. Secondly, even if the exhortation to “make war” were intended to be taken literally, pentecostalism is merely a fringe movement far from representative of Christianity as a whole. Could this guy really not do any better than this? If Melancholicus were a Mahometan (which holy God forfend), he would be profoundly disappointed with Al-Saeed’s lame and toothless effort. Blot eight.
The scene then cuts to Baghdad under attack at the beginning of “Shock and Awe”. Clearly Al-Saeed wishes us to apply the pentecostalist preacher’s cry of “this means war!” to what we see happening in the news footage. But once again, there is no connection between the two. The Bush administration and its allies attacked Iraq not because of any Christian or Biblical injunctions, much less because of the influence of some unidentified pentecostalist, but for reasons stemming from an Islamic attack on New York city that killed nearly 3,000 people. Here we can contrast Al-Saeed’s lame attempts to lay the blame for the war on Christian doctrine rather than on the fanatical Islamists where it belongs. He wastes precious time showing extended footage of warfare and violence that have nothing to do with either the Bible or Christianity when he ought to have been seeking out evidence to make a credible case. Blot nine.
Finally, we reach the ending. Schism closes with this text, against a background soundtrack of gunfire and explosions:
It is easy to take parts of any Holy book that are out of content [sic] and make it sound like the most inhuman book ever written. This is what Geert Wilders did to gather more supporters to his hateful ideology. To create schism.
Melancholicus thinks Al-Saeed misunderstands the meaning of the word schism; it certainly isn’t as appropriate a title as that given to Fitna by his nemesis Geert Wilders.
Then there is an expanded “English version”, which looks like it may have been made by someone else independent of Al-Saeed; this “English version” is somewhat more tendentious, and more obnoxious on that account, but the maker of the English version likewise has little to fear as a result of his actions. Christians are accustomed to such insult and humiliation. We don’t like it, certainly, but at the same time we won’t let it come between us and our rest. But any criticism of the Qur’an, however justified, without even stooping to the level of insult, invariably transforms extraordinary numbers of allegedly “peaceful” Muslims into homicidal maniacs.
The “English version” includes the provocative Biblical verse I came not to bring peace, but a sword (Mt. 10:34). Yes, Jesus did say those words. But once again, he is not speaking literally. This speech was not followed in the Bible by any outbreak of violence, nor has it ever been used by Christians as a justification for war.
The “English version” does a far better job than Al-Saeed’s original in ferreting out examples of atrocities committed by Christians against Muslims. There is some footage which recalls the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995 of over 8,000 Muslim men and boys by the Bosnian Serbs. This was a horrifying crime, for which the perpetrators have still not been brought to justice. Nevertheless, it is irrelevant to the Fitna/Schism controversy, since this massacre was motivated by political considerations first of all, neither were the Bible nor any teaching of the Christian religion ever employed to defend it.
The “English version” also shows some World War II footage of Wehrmacht troops taking an oath, which cuts immediately to contemporary footage of American servicemen taking a similar oath. We are supposed to identify the U.S. with Nazi Germany. A bit contrived, to say the very least. A tad unfortunate also, given the Hitlerite sympathies and rabid anti-semitism of so many Muslims past and present. The picture (which is NOT photoshopped) says it all.
Then there several other irrelevancies in the “English version”, including a terrorist attack on a funeral during the troubles in Northern Ireland, and the infamous “Jonestown” in Guyana at which 900 members of a religious cult committed suicide at the behest of their leader. All of these are indiscriminately pressed into service in an attempt to portray Christianity as a violent religion, or else at least as violent as Islam. The reader may make up his own mind whether or not these attempts have been successful.
The ultimate point of separation between these two films is nothing to do with what may or may not be contained in the holy books of either Christianity or Islam. The point is that Raed Al-Saeed can continue to go about his daily business unmolested, basking in the kudos and approbation of the Islamic media for having dealt such a shrewd blow to the kuffar. It took no great courage for Al-Saeed to make and post Schism. He had nothing to lose in so doing, and everything to gain.
For Geert Wilders, however, the situation is very different. He is a marked man, and for daring to speak out in defence of his country and western civilisation, he will live in fear every day of his life, never knowing when some crazed fanatic will seize the opportunity to kill him. Wilders is also under fire from the politically-correct morons who dominate so much of Dutch society, as everywhere else in the west. For his part, Al-Saeed endures no such opposition. Wilders has presented his viewers with a compelling case, amply supported with incontestable evidence. In contrast, Raed Al-Saeed comes across as an unoriginal imitator, a man who cannot answer Wilders or even turn the tables on him since he has no evidence to make a case. Since he cannot make a case, he throws a hissy fit instead.
Because contrary to what critics like Al-Saeed would have us believe, Geert Wilders’ film has nothing to do with Christian misinterpretations of the violent passages in the Qur’an; Fitna is about what Muslims themselves have made of these violent passages. That these passages are found in the Qur’an is certain; but no one in the west would have paid any attention to them at all if Muslims did not continually use them as justification for heinous acts of murder and bloodshed. If Muslims interpreted the Qur’an as Christians interpret the Bible, it is likely that there would have been no film for Geert Wilders to make.
A final word, addressed especially to any Muslims that might be reading this. Geert Wilders has made out a case that Islam is a violent religion and that its violence is a direct consequence of injunctions contained in the Qur’an. Wilders wishes to have the Qur’an banned in the Netherlands in order to protect the Dutch people. If Muslims disagree with Wilders’ conclusions — and they clearly do — it is incumbent upon them to refute the charges that Wilders has made, bringing forth evidence to disprove his claims. However, if Muslims react to Fitna with fury and rage, even going so far as to threaten the life of the man who made it, does not that rather prove Wilders’ point? It is one thing to claim that Islam is a peaceful religion; it is another thing entirely to expect non-Muslims to believe that claim. When we westerners see Muslims reacting with homicidal hysteria to any slur or perceived slur against their religion, we are not inspired with confidence that Islam is a peaceful faith or that Muslims are a mature and mentally sound people. When we see the kind of atrocities carried out by Muslims in the name of Islam, we will be more inclined to believe Geert Wilders than Muslim apologists who insist that Wilders’ claims are all lies. You Muslims, if you want us to regard you as anything more than violent, unstable, fanatical, immature, misogynistic, murderous neanderthals, it is up to you — and you alone! — to suppress the extremism in your midst, and to do something about the way in which the Qur’an and its injunctions to violence are regarded in your communities. Until such time as you do, you cannot fault us for not taking you at your word.
Lastly, before we finish, Melancholicus wishes to provide his readers with the appropriate links so that his readers may view both Fitna and Schism for themselves and, having seen, may make up their own minds on the matter.
Fitna may be viewed on LiveLeak here [CAUTION: this film contains graphic footage which some viewers may find distressing]
Schism is available on YouTube here.
The so-called “English version” is also on YouTube here.
Melancholicus now finds himself wondering why he lavished so much time and effort on this post, since Fitna is so powerful and speaks for itself. In contrast the two Islamist ripostes are so weak and pathetic that there is really no comparison between them. I have no scruple about labelling the Muslim makers of these videos as islamists, and hence bracketing them with the terrorists. They condemn Fitna and they condemn Geert Wilders, but why do they not condemn the horrible things done by Muslims, upon which Wilders has merely shone a spotlight, horrible things done in the name of Islam? Why do they not hang their heads in shame? Why do they feel the need to go after Christianity, which is totally irrelevant to the question of whether or not the Qur’an is a violent book?
Now the inimitable Pat Condell also has a say which, as usual, is well worth hearing:
Friday, April 11, 2008
From The Telegraph:
Terror suspect Abu Qatada will not be deported
By Tom Chivers and agencies
Last Updated: 6:59pm BST 09/04/2008
The man described as Osama bin Laden's "right-hand man" will not be deported from Britain.
Abu Qatada, a radical Islamist preacher, has successfully appealed against a decision to send him back to Libya [sic].
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) found that Mr Qatada, as well as a second man, faced a threat of torture if they returned to the Middle Eastern country.
The 44-year-old is reported to have had links to the "shoe bomber", Richard Reid, as well as Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "twentieth hijacker" in the September 11th plot.
The Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke, giving the judgment of the court, said there were "grounds for believing that there was a real risk that the respondents would be tortured some time after their return to Libya."
The ruling is the first test for the "memoranda of understanding" (MOU) between the Government and Tripoli, under which Libya undertook not to mistreat deportees.
The MOU was intended to allow the deportation of suspects without breaching human rights rules.
However, the court found that, "notwithstanding the terms of the MOU," the risk of mistreatment was still substantial. Home Office minister Tony McNulty has said that he intends to appeal the decision.
Mr McNulty said: "I am pleased that the courts dismissed all but one of Abu Qatada's reasons for appeal.
"We are seeking to overturn that point, and I believe that we will be able to secure his deportation to Jordan and we will push for it as soon as possible.
"In the meantime, he remains behind bars."
On the judgment in the cases of the two Libyans, the minister said:
"The Government's top objective is to keep the public safe and I am disappointed that the courts have found that deportations to Libya can't go ahead for now.
"We will continue to push for deportations for people who pose a risk to national security. "In the meantime, we will take all necessary steps to protect the public."
Mr Qatada was arrested in 2001 by anti-terrorism officers, seven years after arriving in the country on a false United Arab Emirates passport, but released without charge.
Described by a Spanish judge as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe" and by the British authorities as "truly dangerous individual", he was arrested with £170,000 cash in his possession, including £805 in an envelope marked "For the mujahedin in Chechnya".
Mr Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, was finally arrested in an armed raid on a council house in south London in October 2002 and held in Belmarsh prison in south-east London. He was freed on conditional bail in 2005 but given a control order limiting his movements and contacts with other people.
Julia Hall, of international civil rights group Human Rights Watch, said: "These cases show that the British Government should stop trying to deport people to countries whose justice systems are deeply tainted by torture and other abuses.
"In the (Qatada) case, notably, the court was right to ignore the Jordanian government's fair trial promises, and find that a trial would likely be tainted by torture.
"Until (Jordan's security service) the General Intelligence Department stops torturing, promises of humane treatment and fair trial for a national security suspect are not credible.
"Jordanian assurances are a mere legal nicety."
Melancholicus is flabbergasted. He is astounded that this dangerous man — which is putting it rather mildly — may even be freed from custody since, if he cannot be deported and there is insufficient evidence to charge him with an offence, what else can be done with him?
Human Rights organisations have raised their predictable and exasperating hue and cry over the intended deportation of Qatada. They say that to deport him to a country where he may face torture is a violation of his “human rights”. But hold on here. Although there may be insufficient evidence to charge Abu Qatada with an offence, he is not an innocent man. He is an extremist fanatic who poses a grave threat to British society and to the safety of the British people. Where his sympathies lie in the struggle between islamist barbarism and western civilisation are more than abundantly clear. This man foments terror, supports it, encourages it, sympathises with those miscreants who seek to blow themselves — and thousands of ordinary bystanders — to kingdom come, even if he is not actually a terrorist himself. He rubs shoulders with murderous fanatics, men such as Osama bin Laden and the psychopathic simpletons Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid (thanks to whom Melancholicus is invariably compelled to remove his shoes before passing through airport security). Is it not true to say that on account of this set of circumstances, in which the fellow has shown himself clearly sympathetic to the killing and maiming of innocent people, he has forfeited his “human rights”, and that whatever might possibly happen to him in some foreign country after his deportation from Britain is nothing that the British government need ever worry about?
As for Julia Hall and her fellow travellers, Melancholicus can only say this: will these people ever realise, before it is too late, that we are all in the midst of a war, a war upon the outcome of which depends the survival of western civilisation? These agencies, as well as the British judiciary, are carrying on in such a fashion as to be more concerned about the welfare of enemy combatants than about the safety of the British people, never mind actually winning the war. Consider, gentle reader, how absurd would be the picture of the courts during the Second World War being more solicitous for the comfort of top nazis than for the people of Britain, and you will have a clear idea of how preposterous are the arguments of these human rights groups today. Moreover, Qatada is far more dangerous than any German POW in World War II, since he is able to carry on the war from his prison cell and can continue inspiring his bloodthirsty cohorts in their frenzy of hate. For whatever reason, Ms. Hall is worried more about Jordanian “legal niceties” than about the threat posed by the psychopath she is so foolishly defending.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Charlton Heston, 1923-2008
Melancholicus is saddened to learn of the recent death of actor Charlton Heston, the man who brought such presence to some of the twentieth century’s greatest religious epics, as well as to such sci-fi classics as Planet of the Apes. Only as recently as Holy Week, Melancholicus and his beloved watched Ben Hur together in Tacoma. The picture above is of the famous chariot race in that same film, and it has been selected by Melancholicus as his personal tribute to Mr. Heston since it is also the picture that adorned the cover of Melancholicus’ Latin text book in seminary — namely First Year Latin by Messrs. Jenney, Scudder and Baade.
His like shall not pass this way again. Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Irish government readies proposal for same-sex unions
Dublin, Apr. 1, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The Irish government will soon introduce legislation giving same-sex couples most of the legal benefits of marriage, the Irish Times reports.
The government is completing preparation of a Civil Partnership bill that will give homosexual couples the rights to pension, welfare, and tax benefits similar to those of married couples. The bill would also provide for dissolution of same-sex unions, through a process mirroring existing divorce law.
The legislation will not allow for same-sex couples to adopt children, the Times reports. But negotiations are continuing about a provision that would recognize the legal custody of same-sex couples already living with children.
Last February the Irish government urged postponement of debate on a legislative proposal that would have recognized civil unions for same-sex couple. Government leaders explained that they were concerned about the prospects for a constitutional challenge to the proposal, and preferred to introduce comprehensive legislation after a thorough study.
In December the government's justice minister, Brian Lenihan, reassured members of the Gay and Lesbian Network (GLEN) that the government is "committed to providing a more supportive and secure legal environment for same-sex couples."
The legislation now under discussion is a detailed bill, running to about 200 pages, according to the Irish Times report. After final revisions it could be unveiled next week.
GLEN welcomed news of the pending legislation, saying that it would be a "critical psychological milestone" for Irish homosexuals.
This is not quite marriage, but it’s as good as. We have known for some time that such a bill was in the pipeline. Now Melancholicus awaits the reaction of the Irish hierarchy.
He predicts the silence will be defeaning.
Regular listeners of Radio 4 may be familiar with Woman’s Hour, which is broadcast daily (Mon-Fri) after the news at 10am. Woman’s Hour, as its name implies, is a programme by, for and about women, often with a strongly feminist slant. This morning’s edition was presented by Jenni Murray and included a feature called Women of the Qur’an. This is a serialised item, and this morning’s instalment was on Aisha, one of Muhammad’s many wives and a prominent influence on early Islam.
There was nothing particularly offensive in this feature (although Melancholicus did not listen to it all the way through once he realised it would be a hagiography). The feature was more significant in terms of what was omitted rather than what was included. Nothing offensive to the politically-correct reverence in which the BBC holds Islam was ever mentioned. Muhammad was referred to throughout as ‘The Prophet’, even by Jenni Murray (who is not, to my knowledge, a Muslim). The feature was presented by an academic woman who was herself a Muslim, so we knew straight away there would be no remarks or judgements hostile to the Islamic religion or to pc-orthodoxy. She narrated that somewhat amusing tale of Aisha losing her necklace in the desert, going back alone to look for it, and her empty litter being carried on by the Muslims unaware that she was no longer in it. It was all very charming and homely, which is precisely the effect the BBC wanted to achieve. Aisha was also a strong character, and being Muhammad’s favourite she could carry on with a certain licence not available to other Muslim women. Naturally, being so close to Muhammad, she could exert a considerable influence over the whole community. This portrait of Aisha as the stereotypical ‘strong woman’ likewise enabled the Radio 4 people to feel good about themselves, and allowed them to indulge in the leftist fiction that Islam really doesn’t endorse or encourage violence against women, nor relegate them to the status of chattels under the absolute dominion of their male relatives.
The fact that Muhammad ‘married’ Aisha when she was only six years old and consummated the marriage when she was only nine was of course discreetly omitted. The fact that Muhammad had several other wives (of whom Aisha was merely his favourite) was likewise not mentioned. It is ironic that in a programme devoted to promoting sexual equality as well as the social and political advancement of women, the degraded position of women in Islam should be glossed over so completely. Rather than doing its own research and adopting what should be an impartial approach to women’s lives under Islam, the BBC is instead given to repeating the pious nostrums it has heard from Muslim clerics and Islamic scholars.
It is fashionable in leftist circles to talk about how Islam has somehow “elevated the status of women”, and that Islam is a religion that is good for women. This is of course utter nonsense, and is totally at variance with the facts on the ground. These facts are so obvious that one wonders how they could be overlooked. Even the BBC itself has reported repeatedly on the plight of women in many Islamic countries (and even Muslim women in western countries like Britain), but has so far failed (or refused?) to make the connection between the Islamic religion and the misery in which these women’s lives are spent.
So on today’s edition of Women of the Qur’an, there was no mention of the harsher Qur’anic injunctions against the fairer sex—no mention of the fact that the Qur’an permits a Muslim husband to assault his wife, or that it permits the rape of female captives taken in war, or that it makes divorce a male prerogative, or that it permits a man to take a plurality of wives and have sexual relations with his slave-girls as well.
None of this was even mentioned by the BBC, so the listener might be forgiven for assuming that Islam is a peaceful and benevolent religion that promotes equality and harmony between the sexes. Not for the first time, the BBC has allowed its ideological views to dominate its attitude to the evidence, with the result that its presentation of the Islamic religion is one-sided, deferential, partial and to a certain extent dictated by the leaders and spokesmen of the Muslim community.
Unfavourable coverage of Islam or Muslims is deemed to be ‘racist’. Any evaluation of the current political situation, in which we see young Muslims—even Britons—radicalised by their religion to the point of attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and seeking to blow themselves up on the London tube, that attempts critically to study the relationship between their acts and their religion, is strictly off limits. The politically-correct position is that Islam must never be blamed for the misdeeds of its adherents.
Contrast this deferential approach to Islam with the BBC’s hostile treatment of Christianity, in which the Church is lashed—often with generous helpings of satire and mockery—for her teaching on such issues as contraception, abortion and sodomy. Any journalist may adopt this stance with total impunity and be as spiteful and sarcastic as he or she likes, without fear of the slightest rebuke from Broadcasting House.
So much for impartiality, and for standards of professionalism in broadcasting, even at the vastly-overrated BBC.