Paul Mirengoff: The problem of Islamic culture
Harold Rhode, a Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, has written a provocative article about the cultural shortcomings of the Muslim World. Rhode knows whereof he speaks. He is an expert on Islam and the Middle East, and has a PhD from Columbia in Islamic studies and Middle Eastern history. Rhode is fluent in Farsi, Hebrew, Arabic, and Turkish. He formerly worked for the Pentagon in the Office of Net Assessment, an internal Defense Department think-tank. And, most importantly for purposes of his article, Rhode has spent considerable time sitting in coffee or tea houses in the Islamic world, spending time with Muslims, and asking them questions in their own surroundings and in their own languages.
Rhode begins his piece this way:
Many parts of the world, such as Korea, China, and India — basically medieval kingdoms fifty or sixty years ago – are now among the pacesetters of the modern world, both producing, and improving on, existing inventions. The Muslim world, however, often better off than these countries just half a century ago, has remained as it was, or has even, in many instances, deteriorated.
This inertia in the Islamic world seems to stem not from any genetic limitations, or even religious ones, but purely from Islamic culture.
What are these cultural limitations? Sadly, Rhode’s list is long. It includes, but is not limited to, deficiencies in: the ability to question, the ability to admit failure and learn from it, the ability to take responsibility for one’s actions, the ability to compromise, and so forth.
Ironically, all genetic analyses of the many ancient Muslim Palestinian families indicate that they are largely from the same genetic stock as Ashkenazi Jewry ( See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOolCRSf74I minutes 5:00 to 6:16, and http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Features/Article.aspx?id=152408). So what is the difference here?
The Jewish culture encourages questioning and thinking from an early age, whereas the Palestinian Muslim culture does not. What is encouraged instead is the unexamined acceptance of whatever is set before one, whether on government-run television or in government-written textbooks. Religion has nothing to do with this situation; Islam therefore is not the problem: Islamic culture is. Only when Muslims address their culture head-on can there be any real hope for their world to overcome its self-imposed limitations and start fully contributing to the wonders of the 21st century.
Having myself been encouraged to question from an early age, I wonder about Rhode’s claim that “religion has nothing to do with it.” Be that as it may, Rhode’s overall analysis is well worth considering.
FP: That’s the contribution of Judaeo- to Western civilization and the difference between it and the Arab culture is the primary reason it thrived and Israel survived against all odds. However, while the Arabs have not changed much. both the West and Israel are showing increasing signs of senility, with that difference diminishing, as the following items demonstrate.
Harold Rhode’s Existential Questions Facing the Muslim World is a must read in whole.
Daniel Greenfield: No Country for Old Incumbents
Obama is bad, but he's not exactly up against rival statesmen. After parading around with a one-man cult of personality, launching international projects with no purpose, and displaying all the symptoms of a Napoleon complex, without a world famous conqueror in sight, Sarkozy's only reelection platform was that the alternative to him would be worse. He was right. But you can hardly blame quite a few Frenchmen and Frenchwomen who stayed home, rather than hold their noses and vote for him.
In the UK, Cameron cut the military and launched a war. Labour's career idiot, Ed Milband, now has a higher approval rating than the Prime Minister. Cameron has the same reelection platform as Sarkozy and he's also right, but that won't help him when the public gets the chance to cast their vote. And the vote will be the international refrain, translated many ways in many languages, but that always means, "Throw out the bums."
Russia has become a virtual armed camp for the sole purpose of keeping Putin in power. The man who successfully set up his own Stalinesque cult of personality, now has to use extraordinary measures to protect himself from his own people, who don't care so much that he stole the election, but who are sick and tired of the spectacle of Vladimir and his ten-thousand good friends from the Committee for State Security, better known by three ominous letters, gorging themselves on the best things in life while everyone else suffers.
China's rulers should be paying careful attention to Moscow. If the express train of Western exports ever falters, what they will face will make Tiananmen Square look like a fond memory. The Princes of the PRC won't be up against a bunch of idealistic students, but the farmers whose land they stole, the workers whose children they killed and that rising middle-class which tasted prosperity only to have it snatched away. If that day comes, they won't be stopped by tanks, and the army may just take their side.
The American media has become virtually indistinguishable from the Russian and Chinese media, in its hysterical support for the regime and vindictive smears of opponents. The only difference between Newsweek, Pravda and Xinhua is their level of sophistication. Pravda and Xinhua have never been anything more than vulgar organs of the regime, but the American media is descending into savagery while leaving behind a legacy of civilization. Like a citizen turned cannibal, it still has some of the cultural trappings of its past, but it's discarding them as quickly as Newsweek can photoshop new covers. Like the Russian media, the favorite topic of its American counterparts is the inscrutable divinity of its leader, who has not so much failed, as succeeded on a higher level that mere mortals, concerned with paying their bills and having a job, are not privy to. If he has failed, it's only because of the obstructionism of the running dog Republican capitalists who would rather see the country burn than concede his unearthly genius.
FP: Democracy senility: crisis of leadership, decline, collapse.
Want to see an excellent example?
Walter Jacobson: Elizabeth Warren: Exposing me for who I am means you’re nasty
Warren also has been caught lying about how she used her false Native American status professionally. Her initial denial has given way to revelations about getting herself listed as a “Minority Law Teacher” in a law faculty directory, in the federal diversity reports filed by U. Penn. and Harvard, in the Harvard Women’s Law Journal, and in Harvard’s promotional campaign in the 1990s. Only when all this evidence came out did Warren finally, a couple of days ago, admit that she had informed U. Penn. and Harvard of her Native American status. Caught.
Slowly but surely, Warren is being exposed as a phony. She is a real estate flipper who took advantage of foreclosures, yet she decries people who take advantage of the financial misfortunes of others. She overstated the financial difficulties of her parents when she was growing up, and makes bizarre boasts about being the first nursing mother to take the New Jersey Bar exam.
Warren stresses how she has overcome huge odds, but she ignores that her career owes much to her landing a job at U. Penn. law school because the law school wanted to hire her husband. (Funny how that revelation has not received much attention yet.)
Warren started creating a persona of being Native American while at Penn and then parlayed that “woman of color” and “minority” status — as well as her gender – into a job at Harvard Law which was under enormous pressure at the time to diversity its faculty; only a complete naif would believe it played no role.
And last for now but not least, the woman who is the champion of the little people and transparency worked with Democratic Party bosses to prevent the little people from voting to decide who would become the nominee of the Democratic Party to go up against Scott Brown.
Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic Party nominee for Senate, after party leaders twisted arms to make sure Marisa DeFranco did not make the primary ballot.
This is typical of how senile democracies self-destruct by propelling mediocrity and fakery instead of leadership. As JoshuaPundit points out (Massachusetts Dems Resoundingly Nominate Fake-A-Hontas For Senate):
Massachusetts, after all, is the state that had no problem repeatedly electing someone to the senate who swam off, left a young woman to drown and then used his political and family connections to hush the whole thing up. Nor were they moved to unseat Rep. Barney Frank over the little matter of him running a gay brothel out of his home, or his promoting another romantic interest to a lucrative job at Freddie Mac and then protecting him when the malfeasance there began to become obvious.
Isn't democracy wonderful? As Winston Churchill famously said, it's the worst system of government there is - except all the others.
Except senile democracy is no longer that democratic. See Dems need to learn: Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away and Steven Hayward’s From The “Now They Tell Us” File on another phony who could have been president. And the same media who covered for him just as it did for Obama and now Warren and discovers its journalistic skills only after he self-destructed. John Hinderaker, however, corrects Hayward’s belief in the public being astute:
I subscribe to the view that voters most often get things right, but I’m not sure you can prove it by Edwards’ career. In his first try for office, he beat an incumbent Republican senator by over 80,000 votes. He then ran for vice-president on a ticket with John Kerry, who did better than he deserved to against George W. Bush. He was knocked out of the 2008 primaries relatively early, but he still did better than anyone other than Obama and Hillary Clinton, in a group that included, among others, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson. He finished second in the Iowa caucuses. Considering the appeal that Obama and Clinton had to Democratic voters, losing to them is no shame. My guess is that for most Democrats, the realization that Edwards is a phony came after his financial and personal mishaps had finally been reported.
But then, I’m generally a fan of juries, too, and there is reason to believe that Edwards also fooled more than a couple of them.
I very much doubt that anybody serious and genuine could succeed in politics today.
For a more serious thought on the Warren (and Obama) phenomenon see Mirengoff’s Elizabeth Warren and the wages of race-based preferences.
Bill Katz: PAKISTANI JUSTICE
A Pakistani tribunal, laughingly called an anti-terrorism court, has acquitted four men who had been charged with helping a Pakistani-American guy try to set off a huge bomb in Times Square. Very few details about the trial have been provided, but the record shows that Pakistanis are rarely convicted in anti-terrorism courts. It's another source of the building friction between the U.S. and Pakistan.
FP: The US pumps billions into Pakistan, but exposes to them the doctor who helped it locate OsamaBL. Sensible.
And this is as sensible: ENDGAME?
It's becoming pretty clear that the nuclear "negotiations" with Iran are a farce. Iran is gaining time and giving up nothing. Now the secretary of state is warning that crunch time may come later this month.
Would you buy a used car from her? Iran certainly doesn’t.