Commenter Profile

The Blessed Bigotry of Mr Trump – Israel Shamir/The Unz Review

March 14, 2016 5:37 pm
Cloak and Dagger, Why not try to provide a rational response to my reasonable comment? What has greatly impacted my thinking on this topic during the last year are many reports that Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- two of the leading and supposedly most respectable Muslim nations in the world -- have been providing covert support to ISIS. Do you have any thoughts on that subject? On the nature of the Saudi and Turkish regimes in general? They strike me as tyrannical and corrupt in the extreme.  
March 14, 2016 3:07 pm
Shamir's nuanced logic is impeccable -- but too complex and reality-grounded for most "progressives" to follow.  
March 14, 2016 10:48 pm
RudyM, I was one of the first people to start investigating the false flag angle on 9/11, within weeks of the event, on a small mailing list which included Michael Ruppert and David Ray Griffin. I still think that the preponderance of evidence points to the likelihood of a false flag op (and especially with regard to the 9/11 anthrax attacks). That is why I continue to post pointers to 9/ articles here. But even if 9/11 was a false flag op, Saudi Arabia, one of the most powerful Muslim nations on the planet, was deeply involved in it -- and an enormous amount of effort has been exerted to cover up that involvement. I looked closely at the evidence concerning the Boston Marathon and San Bernardino attacks, and have come to the conclusion that the perps were in fact Muslim fanatics acting on their own initiative. Feel free to disagree. My impression is that within a year or two of 9/11, the conspiracy research community was heavily infiltrated by government intel psyops designed to discredit it from within by trying to portray every major terrorist event in the US and Europe as a false flag op, even when there was little substantial evidence to support the claims. There really are radical Muslim terrorists out there, and one would have to be soft-headed to think otherwise. Russia has just conducted a major military campaign in Syria to try to crush a large army of these very real zealots. How these psyops works is quite simple: when false claims are made about non-existent false flag ops, true claims about actual false flag ops become much easier to ridicule and dismiss. Elementary mind games. You know, this thought policing campaign by some politically correct parties to smear thoughtful and well-informed critics of radical Islam as Islamophobes reminds me a great deal of similar efforts to smear critics of radical Jewish Zionism and Christian Zionism as antisemites and Christian haters. It insults my intelligence. All three major branches of Abrahamism have managed to generate many violent fanatics -- Islam is *not* the wonderful exception to this historical pattern. I think some critics of Israel have become so overwhelmingly focused on the misdeeds of Zionism that they have lost track of what is going on in the rest of the world -- much of which is utterly appalling from a human rights standpoint. It's not all about Israel.  
March 14, 2016 3:55 pm
Ok, this is an incredibly subversive suggestion, and don't hold me to it, but it may be time to review the critiques of Islam by the following "Islamophobes," among others: 1. Andrew Bostom 2. Brigitte Gabriel 3. Daniel Pipes 4. David Horowitz 5. Frank Gaffney 6. Geert Wilders 7. Melanie Phillips 8. Pamela Geller 9. Robert Spencer 10. Salman Rushdie 11. Sam Harris 12. Steve Emerson Much of their thinking is no doubt unbalanced and warped, but they may have also turned up some solid documentary evidence and claims that warrant approaching the Muslim world with a degree of skepticism and caution. Stop and think: the supposed "good Muslims" in the insane religious wars between Sunni and Shia Muslims are Saudis and Turks! Take a close look at the current Saudi and Turkish regimes -- unpalatable doesn't begin to describe it -- anti-democratic in the extreme. If defending modern Western democratic values requires opposing ideologies and regimes that detest and threaten those values, then so be it -- charges of "bigotry" be damned.  
March 14, 2016 7:16 pm
Cloak and Dagger, You are not even close to parsing and understanding my remarks -- perhaps that is my fault -- is my writing incoherent today? Exceptionally muddled? I have noticed that Islamism seems to be acquiring increasing influence in the Muslim world, with profound strategic consequences and reverberations for Western/Muslim relations. I am trying to figure this situation out, because it has become a huge issue in American and European domestic politics (witness the rise of Donald Trump and nativist sentiment in Europe). I am *not* trying to paint all Muslims with a broad brush. Islamism (political Islam) reminds me in some respects of religious Zionism (political Judaism). Both Islamism and religious Zionism loom large in contemporary politics -- and their violent interactions may drag the entire world into a grand conflagration. A few Google searches I've been using to dig into the subject: 1. islamism beliefs 2. islamism christianity 3. islamism definition 4. islamism documentary 5. islamism egypt 6. islamism europe 7. islamism facts 8. islamism fascism 9. islamism feminism 10. islamism fundamentalism 11. islamism future 12. islamism history 13. islamism human rights 14. islamism jihadism 15. islamism nazism 16. islamism polls 17. islamism quotes 18. islamism rise 19. islamism statistics 20. islamism terrorism 21. islamism totalitarianism 22. islamism turkey 23. islamism violence 24. islamism vs christianity 25. islamism vs islam 26. islamism vs secularism 27. islamism women 28. islamism youtube I am getting an eyeful as I browse around and explore. I definitely need to pay more attention to this topic. I recommend that others here do so as well. You mentioned Christian Science vs. Christianity. This is the better analogy: Islamism is to Islam as Christian Zionism is to Christianity and Jewish religious Zionism is to Judaism. Christian Zionism has acquired increasing influence in the world of Christianity in recent decades, as have Jewish religious Zionism in the world of Judaism and Islamism in the world of Islam. I don't know how to be more clear on this subject. Perhaps you think that Islamism is no big deal. I strongly disagree.  
March 14, 2016 5:49 pm
Wikipedia: Islamism BEGIN QUOTE Islamism, also known as Political Islam, is an Islamic revival movement often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt "to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life." The different Islamist movements have been described as "oscillating between two poles": at one end is a strategy of Islamization of society through state power seized by revolution or invasion; at the other "reformist" pole Islamists work to Islamize society gradually "from the bottom up". The movements have "arguably altered the Middle East more than any trend since the modern states gained independence", redefining "politics and even borders" according to one journalist (Robin Wright). Islamists may emphasize the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law); of pan-Islamic political unity, including an Islamic state; and of the selective removal of non-Muslim, particularly Western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influences in the Muslim world that they believe to be incompatible with Islam. END QUOTE Does anyone here believe that Islamist values are compatible with modern Western democratic values? I'd love to hear the argument that they are.  
March 14, 2016 6:22 pm
Cloak and Dagger, No, I did not equate "Islamism" with "Islam" -- I said that Islamism is an increasingly influential force in the Muslim world -- it is on the ascent. That is not to say that Islamism = Islam. I am noticing dozens of items like the following every week in my news feeds: 20160313 Egypt's justice minister fired following comments on 'imprisoning prophet' (Ahmed El-Zend has been facing widespread criticism on social media for making comments that were considered to be blasphemous) [Ahram Online] BEGIN QUOTE Egypt’s Justice Minister Ahmed El-Zend was fired on Sunday little less than a year in office in the wake of widespread criticism of comments he made regarding the Muslim Prophet Muhammed that were considered to be blasphemous END QUOTE Do you pay attention to these incidents? Or do they strike you as of little significance? Egypt is one of the most important nations in the Muslim world.  
March 14, 2016 11:02 pm
Cloak and Dagger, I got 5 minutes into the broadcast, in which this character dismissed the reality of global warming and climate change on the basis of no scientific evidence or understanding whatever, and quickly exited the video. Not a serious mind, in my opinion. The lurid tone of the opening reeked of conspiracy hucksterism -- as opposed to sober conspiracy research, which is conducted on the basis of the highest quality sources and documentation -- low-key and understated -- just the facts and nothing but the facts, all carefully footnoted.  
March 14, 2016 6:00 pm
Cloak and Dagger, I haven't condemned or tried to characterize the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world -- I have explicitly condemned that kind of exercise. My question is, how influential currently are Islamist trends around the world? My impression is that they are on the rise in a highly significant way. Also, I am not trying to defend any of the neocon policies in the West in recent decades -- I have consistently opposed them. If Islamism *is* in fact on the ascent, it is easy to predict that friction and conflict between the West and Islamist culture will continue to increase -- along with the fortunes of politicians like Donald Trump in the United States and Europe. Check out the latest election results in Germany, where Angela Merkel took a beating. Do you have any thoughts of interest on Saudi Arabia and Turkey?  
March 14, 2016 3:23 pm
I have very little confidence that a Trump presidency would work out -- but I have absolute confidence that a Cruz or Clinton presidency would be a disaster. Trump is a wild card who occasionally advocates the right policies based on pragmatic, realist and flexible attitudes towards the world. Regarding Trump's alleged anti-Muslim bigotry -- I still strongly oppose Islamophobia, but after observing repeated incidents of the most vile extremism among some important factions in the Muslim world, I have become much less energetic about expressing that opposition. Islam needs to clean its own house. I am much more concerned about protecting American values and interests than Muslim values and interests -- and I often wonder these days if those values are truly compatible. I see no reason why Islamism should enjoy any more legitimacy than, say, Christian Zionism or any other form of messianic ethnic or religious nationalism. I am really not a fan, to say the least. Trump's remarks on Islam are not a deal-breaker for me -- nor are they for most Americans -- especially after the Boston Marathon and San Bernardino attacks. A few more terrorist acts on that scale or greater on American or European soil will kick Islamophobia into high gear.  
March 14, 2016 5:32 pm
Taxi, I've read a great deal of authoritative scholarship on Islam, and until recently I have been very outspoken in criticizing Islamophobia. You may recall that I have made numerous critical comments on Pamela Geller, Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Bernard Lewis and many other Islamophobes. I understand that there is great complexity within Islam, just as there is within Judaism and Christianity. But it is impossible not to notice that the influence of extremist factions within the Muslim world are on the rise in dramatic ways. We have reached the point where Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- two of the most repressive regimes on the planet -- are now being touted as "the good Muslims" in the holy war against "the bad Muslims" (ISIS and related groups). What is wrong with this picture? How absurd can it get? Should *Islamism* (*political* Islam) be subject to as much rational and vigorous criticism as Zionism or Christian Zionism? I've come around to the point of view that it should be. (But then again, I am highly skeptical of all Abrahamic cults.) If you think that criticism of *Islamism* should be off-limits on your blog, that's your choice of course. If that's the case, I think I will stop following it. That point of view is a bit too constraining for my taste. In my book, all forms of authoritarian extremism, both religious and secular, are fair game for reasonable dissent.  

How the Middle East sees Donald Trump – Joyce Karam/Vox

March 13, 2016 5:24 pm
Regarding Marco Rubio: --Marco Rubio/key categories 1. Aaron Friedberg op 2. Cuban American 3. Dan Senor op 4. Dov Zakheim op 5. Eliot Cohen op 6. Elliott Abrams op 7. Eric Edelman op 8. Hispanic American 9. Israel Firster 10. Israel lobby leader 11. Israeli guided missile 12. Israeli op 13. Larry Ellison op 14. Latino American 15. Likud Zionist op 16. Michael Chertoff op 17. Michael Mukasey op 18. Mossad Manchurian Candidate 19. neocon op 20. Norm Coleman op 21. Norman Braman op 22. Paul Singer op 23. Paula Dobriansky op 24. PNAC op 25. pro-Israel activist 26. pro-Israel militant 27. Robert Joseph op 28. Weekly Standard op 29. William Kristol op 30. Ziocon  

A Tango with Trump

March 13, 2016 5:54 pm
Debating really is very much like chess: for every move there is a best countermove. The more data you collect from interactions in debates in any domain, the more you can refine your set of best countermoves. After a time, the best countermoves become automatic. You can see the most effective lines of play to the endgame and checkmate from the earliest moves. (And, yes, this is an important field in contemporary AI research.)  
March 13, 2016 5:47 pm
Taxi, What I've learned about online debating is that one can effectively push forward one's agenda by teeing off on even the most dimwitted and obnoxious of trolls. Propaganda 101. Use even nonsensical comments as an opportunity to make substantive points -- the substantive points stick. The trick is always to keep one's cool -- to remain unmoved by the provocations. Stay on track -- like an inexorable tank. Honestly -- I laugh out loud when I see this style of debate. They make it so easy.  
March 13, 2016 5:18 pm
Anonymous, Wouldn't it be fair to say that pro-Israel activists have forced their Israeli obsession to the front and center of American and European politics? Without the activities of the Israel lobby in the West, we would be discussing Israeli politics at the same level we discuss, say, Swedish or French politics -- which is to say, barely at all.