Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rosthern Countryside, Summer 2006

Here's the thing . . .

Through my window in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada today: Brilliant sunshine, some snow on the ground but beginning to melt.
I'm reading Assassins' Gate, by Packer. He's explaining the process by which the USA ended up adopting the "regime change in Iraq" policy and the aftermath of the decision to do it militarily after 9/11. I'll review it after I'm done.
All this news and information about the Middle East has driven me to think again about what it is that I believe, given the fact that having grown up a Christian, I am a member of a Jewish sect, as are the believing Muslims of the world. Theoloigically, we are all descendants of Abraham.
Unfortunately, this has not served to make us family, has it? But it surely is a reason to tread softly on the world stage, and to learn enough about one another so that unnecessary misunderstandings and hostilities can be avoided.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Islam as the enemy - according to Mark Steyn

Through my window today . . .
The front cover of Macleans, October 23, 2006. A sea of black burkas and a defiant little girl's face, eyes glaring into the camera. WHY THE FUTURE BELONGS TO ISLAM: The Muslim world has youth, numbers and global ambition. The WEST is old, barren and exhausted. Mark Steyn maps the new world order, p.30.
Steyn writes about the world as if it were a conflict between Islam and everyone else, a standard worldview for the neo-cons and frightened conservatives generally. The Bush administration has used this brand of fear mongering to lead us to believe that there are only two groups in the world, ie. the freedom-hating rogue states predominantly in the Middle East and Asia (North Korea) and the freedom-loving West. (I'm not sure when or how he intends to link the communist/Islamic enemy, but the attempt wouldn't surprise me.)
Are we really engaged in an ideological struggle that Islamists are bound to win because of their rapid population growth? Is Middle East tension really about Islamic fundamentalists' ambitions to rid the world of infidels and establish theocracies around the world, ridding us finally of the plague of liberal democracy? Or is this a preferred picture neo-conservatives want us to believe in while they fight their colonialist war for economic domination? (Think oil, for instance.)
The world is not two neat camps. This I know. The "West" is not an ideological monolith, and neither is Islam. Seems to me when we do our regular daily tasks cooperatively with each other on a fair and equitable basis, we Christians (for instance) and Muslims can get along very well, without any need to expunge the other.
The American administration has got us all seeing their "war on terrorism" as a kind of Christian jihad with "freedom" and "democracy" at stake. Steyn's article tends to push us further in that direction. When will we deal with economic justice, which is far more likely to form the heart of the matter than is religious fundamentalism of any stripe? Read the Old Testament prophets again. Major and minor, they all emphasize that economic and legal justice are vital concerns to the God whom we Jews, and we Christians, and we Muslims all adore and seek to serve.
Mark Steyn, write about that and you may discover something of value in analyzing world events.

George's Window

George's Window
Through my window today . . .
Maclean's October 23, 2006 edition. The front page photo features a great deal of black body covering with backs to the camera and a little girl facing the camera with face uncovered. she looks defiant, unchildlike in all but stature.
The photo points us to the lead story by Mark Steyn: Why the future belongs to Islam. "The Muslim world has youth, numbers and global ambition. The West is old, barren and exhausted." Read the article. It's long, but the summary above probably says it all anyway. As is the tendency with Western conservatism, Steyn takes the demographics of birth rate and paints a picture of the Muslims generally outnumbering "us" rapidly world-wide and thereby devouring "us." It's the rhetoric of fear again, the tool on which the Bush administration has chosen to stand or fall. Conservatives tend to talk about the world in them/us terms, to see issues as simple, two-sided propositions. After reading Steyne uncritically, one could easily come away with the same feeling that one gets reading about the impending, global viral or bacterial pandemic that is bound to hit us sooner or later. Some media live and die on that kind of material; responsible media see the difference between conservative fear-mongering and news. Macleans seems to be losing its ability to make this distinction.
Read the article for yourself, but don't forget that:
1) The "WEST" is not one homogeneous place; the Muslim world isn't either,
2) The world does not pivot around ideologies as Steyn suggests, it's driving mechanism is economics, and Muslims and others work well together when engaged cooperatively in the tasks of daily survival,
3) Economic justice or the lack of it is at the heart of Middle Eastern conflict; the US erroneously and feloniously protrays "freedom" as the democratic centrepiece,
4) Birth rates are tied to affluence; the fact that Arab countries have exploding populations as compared to Europe should be considered in that light.
Macleans has adopted a "new look" over the past year or two. I don't mind an altered appearance. It's the journalistic sloppiness that's exhibited in articles like Steyn's that got my goat when I looked out my window last night.