Saturday, December 01, 2007

What's (just one thing) wrong with Ron Paul, and several things wrong with George Ajjan

I used to be a big fan of Ron Paul. I was really pleased when I heard he was running in the primary and at first was considering voting for him. But really, I didn't know all that much about him. My attitude changed abruptly when I saw the now-infamous clip of Paul debating with Giuliani (for whom I hold no brief whatsoever) about the cause of 9/11. I kept listening through the whole clip, hoping Paul would clarify or something, that he really wasn't that confused, but it just kept getting worse. Well, that was it. Paul made it clear that he was one of those "blame America" paleolibertarians and that he doesn't recognize the Islamist threat, that he thinks non-interventionism can solve all our problems. It's a position with which I've been becoming increasingly familiar over the past year, so I recognized it right away in that clip.

Now, Paul didn't say anything there specifically about domestic policy concerning, say, Muslim immigration, "profiling," and the like. So someone really pulling for him might try to say that he'd be strong on those domestic issues and only objects to foreign intervention.

To that argument, I present this open letter to "Arab Americans" by George Ajjan in support of Ron Paul.

Ajjan is...terribly confused. (There, that was tactful, wasn't it?) He obviously thinks that getting (gasp!) profiled because of his last name is a much bigger thing to worry about than getting blown up on a plane by one of his fellow "Arab Americans." He also is just absolutely dying to bring Arab Christians and Arab Muslims together in a common cause against such evils--profiling, that is, not blowing people up. He has strangely little to say about that. He speaks without irony of "the Prophet Mohammed," and I swear by that point in the letter I nearly expected him to add "peace be upon him" in parentheses afterwards. Read it and see for yourself. It's very ironic that Ajjan begins the letter by making fun of Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch, though not by name, for using the term 'Islamo-Christian' and then proceeds to illustrate exactly what Fitzgerald means by that word. This whole "we Arabs are all in this together" stuff is really pretty disgusting, at least to a conservative.

I will pass by with arduous self-restraint and relatively little comment Ajjan's fantasy that the Israelis could have peace tomorrow if only they could get rid of their "militant elements" (which ones were those?) and make use of the principle of (drumroll) land for peace. Gosh! What a bodacious, new-fangled concept! Why didn't anybody ever think of that before, or try it? Unless, of course, Ajjan means by "land" what evidently the Palestinian Authority (those were the "moderate" Palestinians, in case you get confused) mean by "land"--i.e., all of the land between the Jordan River and the Sea. I suppose once that is turned over to the Arabs and made judenrein we might have peace...of a sort.

But I digress. What does all of this have to do with Ron Paul? Well, let's just start with the fact that Ron Paul was the only Republican candidate to court the Hezbollah-loving Arab American Institute at their conference in Dearbornistan. Here's a good Front Page Mag. article on it, for the link to which I am indebted to Mr. Ajjan! That's pretty significant in itself. Here's one bit of fluff, quoted by Ajjan, from Paul's speech:

The freedom message brings all of us together, whatever our religion is, or whatever our beliefs are, and wherever we came from, because freedom is not judgmental. It allows people to make their own choices as long as they don't use force to impose their will on us. So this brings people together, and this is what has been happening in this campaign. People from all walks of life are coming together.

Straightforward libertarian ideology, you may say, but libertarian ideology that takes on a peculiarly foolish, not to say dangerously stupid, ring when addressed to this particular audience! Then there's this little bit of challenging naivete:

For us to be so fearful and so intimidated from a country, whether it's Iraq or Iran, that they might attack us? How are they going to attack us, even if they had a nuclear weapon? How or why would they attack us?

One wonders what Paul would say to Iran's recent announcement that Iran has missiles that can go as far as Israel. I have a terrible feeling that I know what he would say: "It's none of our business."

And finally, there is this sentence, which is obviously part of Ajjan's reason for thinking Paul would protect people with his name against the horrors of profiling:

But we should NEVER have punishments because we belong to a particular group either.

What all of this says to me is that I was spot-on right about the implication of Ron Paul's words in that debate. And that, I might add, was before he started having such very unsavory followers in the form of neo-Nazis and such. My judgement there was a straightforward one about his judgement on matters of policy--that it is poor. Ron Paul, like so many paleos--whether -conservative or -libertarian--really doesn't believe that Muslims are any more dangerous than anybody else or that we need to have any special policy, either foreign or domestic, to take into account that threat. On the contrary, he is courting a group whose entire approach to Islamic terrorism is, as Robert Spencer points out in the article linked above, to start running about worrying that maybe somebody will be "profiled" and to act as though the enemy, and the center of all their anger and worry, should be their fellow Americans who are making obvious inductive connections rather than their fellow Arabs who are blowing people up and giving them a bad rep. In other words, Ron Paul is clueless on this subject.

And that's just one thing that is wrong with Ron Paul.

46 comments:

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
William Luse said...

Excellent post, Lydia, perfect pitch, I might say, well-informed, inferentially persuasive, and gobbling up just the right of amount of absolutely free Google bandwidth which they invite everyone to use whether logically gifted or not, whether a serious commenter or a troll.

I know you didn't see the debate the other night, so I'll tell you that Paul did a repeat of his previous turn, and equally as badly. You can watch him spar with McCain here, or scroll the transcript beginning on this page.

Though Paul has been pretty solid on the pro-life side of things, this morally equivalent blowback theory is also a matter of life...and death.

Anonymous said...

Hello there,
I am sorry to hear you are having second thought`s but its understandable. The issues you brought forth are very complex and far reaching. If, in your heart, you still believe in Ron Paul, I would urge you to do a little deeper research into his positions. He has given many speeches to the House as well as in depth writings on these topics. I believe ronpaullibrary.org is the best place for you to find a LOT of information. If you still have questions join ronpaulforums.com and post a thread, just beware there is a lot of activity going going on over there and at times heated debate. :-0 I was in your shoes so I think I may know how you feel. This guy is very complex and very smart, its hard to really grasp him with soundbites and small pieces of info. I simply trust him to make the right decisions for the people of this country, NOT the U.S. aristocracy, but people like you and me. I have seen this before so I will say it with a bit of confidence....I think you will be re-joining us soon. Just a note, once you really find out who this guy is and what he is doing, you will see where the passion and sometimes defensive behavior of his supporters comes from. Once youve been bitten by the bug, Its very hard to see politics the same way again. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "Paul made it clear that he was one of those "blame America" paleolibertarians and that he doesn't recognize the Islamist threat, that he thinks non-interventionism can solve all our problems."

Excuse me, but only 4,000 people died in 9/11. About 500,000 people die from cancer EACH YEAR in the US alone. Another 16,000 die EACH YEAR from drunk driving accidents in the US.

What Islamist threat? If you mention Islam before cancer or drunk driving, your math is pretty horrific.

We should be waging war on drunk driving and cancer, because these things kill A LOT more Americans than Islamists.

Lydia McGrew said...

Oh, gosh. I forgot about the Paulbots. I should have known. Other bloggers have mentioned this: If you put up a post on this subject you get hit with them instantaneously from all over the world. Pretty techno-savvy, these chaps. It's a shame they aren't more savvy about other things. Like the Islamist threat. ("What Islamist threat?")

Rodak said...

"It's a shame they aren't more savvy about other things. Like the Islamist threat. ("What Islamist threat?")"

Lydia--
Perhaps this is the place where I can ask--without being accused of threadjacking--what the authors at WWWtW mean to symbolize by referring to themselves as...what? soldiers? knights?...of the 10th Crusade? Or is the designation not symbolic?
What would be the agenda of the "10th Crusade"? A Crusade is not, by definition, a defensive war, so it can't be to stave off the threat of terrorist attack. Historically, a Crusade is a war of Christianity against non-Christians, for the purpose of re-taking the Holy Land, and Jerusalem in particular, for the Cross. The enemy would be non-Christians, which group would include all non-Christians. Or else "Crusade" has some novel definition, of which I would be relieved (I'm guessing) to be enlightened.
All of that said, if Ron Paul is a non-interventionist in foreign policy, and anti-police state domestically (of which profiling and eaves-dropping are a couple of the tools), then he is easily, in the current situation, my favorite Republican.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjALf12PAWc

Rhys said...

I am not afraid of the terrorist threat as much as I am of the threat to our civil liberties and here's why:

Before 9/11, the Federal government curbed our civil liberties by assuming the responsibility for protecting us on jets. They failed.

The Federal and State government curbed the the civil liberties of the people of West Virginia by assuming the responsibility for protecting them on the campus of Virginia Tech. They failed.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you believe war requires sacrifice? Do you believe sacrifice necessitates a reduction of freedom? Do you believe that the War on Terror can permanently solve the problem of terrorism? Are you prepared to sacrifice your freedom and your children's and grandchildren's freedom? Doesn't this sacrifice constitute victory for the terrorists?

I remember after 9/11, which touched us all, hearing stories of brave Americans who claimed, "We must go on. We cannot allow these people to control us." I thought to myself, that is why we are the land of the free and the home of the brave - no terrorist is going to control me through fear. That is their weapon - terror.

Since 9/11 we have spent ourselves into over 2.5 trillion dollars in debt, we have clamped down on civil liberties and freedom, and we have passed laws which prove tht we are terrified. Maybe they do attack us because we are rich and free. Maybe there is a War on Terror. But if this is true, by every single possible measure, we are losing.

Concerned American said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Rhys,

Hopefully just an oversight on your part but Virginia Tech is in the state of Virginia, not WVA.

Lydia McGrew said...

To my normal, faithful readers: I've disallowed anonymous comments now and have deleted a few of the siller and more unpleasant comments on this thread. Don't take this amiss; your interaction is still desired and welcome, and I know that all two of you have blogger accounts, so you should have no trouble. I thought of enabling full moderation but haven't gotten that drastic yet. I assume the Paulbot spam will die down and won't affect other posts.

Rodak, I'll get back to ya' later.

Lydia McGrew said...

Rodak, I do not recall (nor would I tell you who it was if I did recall) who at WWWtW suggested the sub-title "Dispatches from the 10th Crusade." It's my very strong impression that none of us actually wants to set up a Christian kingdom in Jerusalem and that the title is intended to refer to a knowledgeable and unflinching defensive response to the Islamist threat, chiefly through domestic measures. On foreign policy, there are probably more non-interventionists among us than even semi-interventionists, but in any event I'm sure all of the contributors would agree that America should not be building an empire and that the goal even of any necessary foreign wars should be defensive. Several of us are openly skeptical--not to put it more strongly--if the war in Iraq.

You can say that this is an historically inaccurate use of the term 'Crusade' if you like, but too bad. It's our blog, and we named it that way probably in part with the piquant sense that such an unabashedly anti-Muslim name would freak out liberals. Er, like yourself, perhaps. So try to have a bit of a sense of humor.

I might also add that Robert Spencer recently had an interesting post on the Crusades in which he pointed out their important defensive _effect_ during the time that they were going on. Say what you will, the wars of Christians and Muslims were by no means all or even chiefly matters of Christians trying for strange totemistic reasons of their own to retake the Holy Land. Whether one calls the many famous battles of those wars part of a Crusade or not, many of them were undeniably defensive against the jihad. Paul Cella is working on a book on the history of Christian defenses against the jihad.

Of course, no doubt you would be very disturbed at the domestic measures many of us would favor, including discrimination in immigration policies against Muslims and people from Muslim-dominated countries. I myself think the massive Saudi student exchange programs are a scandal. Be that as it may, you can hardly call shutting those sorts of things down equivalent to trying to set up a Christian kingdom on the Levant!

By the way, it's rather funny that you should keep coming back to this subject, as though you suspect WWWtW of harboring some deep-hidden major interventionist agenda, when in fact most of the posts in the blog archives on matters of foreign policy have been written by Jeff Martin, than whom no one more paleo and anti-interventionist can be conceived.

So I think you can breathe a happy sigh of relief. And a blessed Advent Sunday to you, too.

Rodak said...

Lydia--
Thanks for the thorough explanation of the use of "Crusade." I might argue that if rings mean something that can't be subjectively altered, then so do words. But, heck, this is a different blog.
A joyous Advent Sunday to you and yours!

Rodak said...

Lydia--
Oh, I can't resist. What follows is the definition of "Crusade" from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

"Crusades - Expeditions undertaken, in fulfilment of a solemn vow, to deliver the Holy Places from Mohammedan tyranny."

I guess the best defense is a good offense, eh?

Lydia McGrew said...

I hope this doesn't sound _defensive_, but as far as I recall, I wasn't the person who suggested that sub-title, though I consented to it.

But it might even be worth wrenching words a little from their ordinary meaning just to tweak the noses of the liberals. :-)

Have a great Sunday.

William Luse said...

Generous of you to spend so much time on that response, Lydia. The word 'crusade', like many words, can be used metaphorically as well as literally. I assume Rodak has room in his vocabulary for such.

Anyway, Paul explained its use to anyone's reasonable satisfaction: our crusade is to defend the Christian West against its enemies. Period. I'm sure Rodak won't see the enemy as we do, but that's probably why he keeps reading.

What would have been nice in this thread, even if he likes Ron Paul, was to have gallantly defended you against idiots who draw parallels between death by car accident and murder by jihad.

Rodak said...

William--
I didn't even read the Paul promotionals. I agree that Lydia's response to my "comment" was generous, and I thanked her accordingly.
As for metaphor, black can't metaphorically become white. "Crusade" denotes a foreign war of aggression. It can't be used to denote "defense" without a footnote explaining the its novel and confusing usage.

William Luse said...

"Crusade" denotes a foreign war of aggression.

Only if you've decided ahead of time that it can mean nothing else. Furthermore, you're flat-out wrong. People go on crusades all the time, very few involving armed warfare. Look at Al Gore.

Rodak said...

William--
Alright, I will give you that metaphorical (Al Gore) usage of "crusade"--but only with a lower case "c".
When you juxtapose the word Crusade with Jihad, give it a number that is in sequence with nine previous Crusades which were undertaken as the New Advent definition that I posted earlier describes, then, and maybe only then, you can't flip it into denoting a defensive war; at least not without significant additional explanation.

Lydia McGrew said...

Just for clarification: The "Paul" to whom Bill was referring when he said that Paul has made clear what we mean by "Crusade" was Paul Cella, not R.P. (I'm afraid to type that name again lest I bring the bots back.)

George Ajjan said...

Dear Lydia,

Thanks for your commentary on my Open Letter. If you seriously think that I don't care about the threat of terrorism, then I suggest you spend a bit more time and familiarize yourself with my writings.

I have had an ongoing dialogue with Robert Spencer, as he is a Deacon in the Melkite Eparchy of the United States, to which I belong. I naturally diagree with some of his political articles. However, he also writes excellent theological commentary in the Melkite journal, which is called "Sophia".

Please consider, Lydia, that traditional conservatives in general tend to be proud of their heritage. As a conservative, I don't have a lot of respect for people who are self-hating and do nothing but disparage their own identity (this includes many American liberals). In my case, this is an Arab heritage, for which I do not apologize, and for which I do not require Hugh Fitzgerald's approval.

Finally, why you would attack someone who promotes a secular outlook in the Arab world is beyond me. If you don't think "Religion is for God, the nation is for all" is a good motto for the Middle East or for Arab-Americans, I'd certainly like to know why.

Best regards,
George Ajjan

Lydia McGrew said...

Dear Mr. Ajjan,

I appreciate your commenting on my post. While it is true that I have read little of your other writing, it seems to me improbable that my criticisms of your open letter would be substantially different if I had done so. In fact, your reference to your disagreements with Robert Spencer on political matters--differences you yourself characterize as "natural"--tends to confirm this opinion. Yes, well, naturally, since I think Spencer is spot-on on the issues touched on in your letter and in my post, especially in that Front Page Magazine article about the AAI meeting, I will have strong disagreements with you on these issues. (I particularly note here this sentence of Spencer's article, sounding a theme he comes back to throughout: "But the AAI has been focusing the bulk of its attention not on acts of violence committed by Muslims in the name of Islam, but on attempts by law enforcement and government officials to head off that violence.")

Our disagreement is only to be expected, given the many attitudes, assumptions, and ideas both implicit and explicit in your open letter. It was written in good English prose. It is available to anyone who wants to read it and is not mysterious; I think it can be criticized on its own merits. I see no reason to believe that I have misrepresented you.

You attempt to associate conservatism with your adoption of an Arab identity. But one may draw lines in different ways in describing and understanding one's own cultural identity. It seems to me that there is a false dichotomy in your implication here that you must either be "self-hating" or else must adopt, as you do in the letter, the attitude and strategy of making common cause with American Muslims and thinking of yourself and American Muslims as belonging to the same political special-interest group. Furthermore, it is possible and sometimes is important to modify our enthusiasm for our own historic cultural identity, to acknowledge flaws in the attitudes common in that cultural background, and to do a certain amount of picking and choosing. If I came from a long line of Southern aristocrats, for example, I would have to reject slavery, even if my parents, grandparents, and indeed most of the people in my cultural group considered slavery to be morally defensible. This would not have to be a matter of liberal breast-beating and self-loathing but could simply be the acceptance and vigorous and open defense of the proposition, "Slavery is wrong" even at the price of being thought a cultural traitor by one's family. In the same manner, _if_ an attitude of identifying oneself with Muslims as part of a single interest group is part of your Arab cultural identity, then I suggest you rethink that aspect of your cultural identity.

Naturally I agree that a "secular outlook in the Arab world"--if by that you mean the rejection of sharia, as I charitably assume you do--is desirable. But it seems implausible that the overthrow of sharia is indeed what is intended by what you yourself term a "famous and beloved Arab slogan."

As to why I "attacked" you, I disagreed with you. Indeed, the more I see (I've just been reading your fan mail after the open letter, which I hadn't looked at before), the more sure I am that we disagree fundamentally. If you want sharia abolished in the Arab world and think it would be a disaster if it were catered to in any way, shape, or form, in the United States, bully for you. You might try announcing that loudly in just those terms at the next meeting of the Arab American Institute and seeing how popular the announcement makes you in that cultural group.

Best regards,

Lydia McGrew

William Luse said...

in sequence with nine previous Crusades which were undertaken as the New Advent definition that I posted earlier describes, then, and maybe only then, you can't flip it into denoting a defensive war

First, you won't see (alas) the W4 bloggers shooting any jihadis. Our crusade is with the pen (so to speak). Second, the words "offensive war of aggression" do not appear in the New Advent definition. That is your description. Some of the crusades might have been unjust, some otherwise, but you'd have to know the history to make that judgement.

George Ajjan said...

Lydia,

Glad to read your feedback.

First of all, I was at the AAI conference, Spencer was not. I advised him to seek out John Stephen, one of his own parishoners and a Republican candidate for US Congress in NH-1, to get a 2nd opinion as to the nature of the conference or the agenda of its participants.

For the record, the AAI is staunchly non-sectarian. Christians and Muslims interact and cooperate to advance the political engagement of Arab-Americans. That's all. There is nothing whatsoever "Islamist" about it, if there was I would no longer participate. There are plenty of other organizations in which those favoring Sharia or an Islamic agenda play a much larger role.

Not so the AAI - I wouldn't be the least bit shy about making the proclamation you suggest, rejecting sharia - but such a move is about as unnecessary as a proud Southerner announcing publicly that he is against slavery.

Also for the record, the "famous and beloved" expression I quoted is spat upon by Islamists, and historically championed by secular nationalists in the Arab World.

As for the fundamental issue at stake - Spencer's article amounted to statism: we should trust the government, they have our best interests at heart. Sorry, I don't - hence my support of Ron Paul.

That doesn't mean that I am ambivalent to threats among us. Believe it or not, how to deal with such elements is a common point of discussion amongst Arab-American activists like those that attend the AAI conference - proud of their heritage, loyal to America.

Best,
George Ajjan

p.s.
Notice Spencer didn't attack Ron Paul in his piece. I'll bet you $50 he will vote for Ron.

Rodak said...

"That is your description."

Yes, it is. In what is it inaccurate?
If you are a European knight, and you find yourself in the Middle East, lopping off the heads of locals, might not you concede that you are 1) on the offensive, and 2) engaged in an aggression?

Lydia McGrew said...

Dear Mr. Ajjan,

I saw nothing remotely statist in Spencer's article. I just read it again. I see that he thinks the AAI is hysterical about "profiling"--so do I, believe me. When CAIR is taken around our airports to show them our security procedures and prove to them we aren't profiling, when a hijab-clad screener can be photographed frisking a fully-habited nun, then people who natter on about the terrible epidemic of anti-Arab "profiling" have a reality problem. I wish they didn't. I favor profiling. So you can throw the "statist" label at me if you like. Actually, I think a pro-profiling position is good libertarianism. If we must have frisks and searches at airports, then let's be as efficient as possible and make use of all available information in narrowing the range of people to whom these annoying procedures are applied, so as to inconvenience as few people as possible with such procedures. The "equal opportunity annoyance for all demographic groups" position is far more liberal than it is libertarian. For that matter, libertarians should favor restrictions on immigration that would make such procedures less necessary by reducing the number of people among us that are likely to want to carry out jihadist activities. Then we could all be more free of onerous airport security.

Not that I would want to saddle Robert Spencer with my positions on these matters. Perhaps I am more of a hard-liner than he is. But in that case, it makes all the less sense to call his article "statist." What I see there is a highlighting of the AAI's mistaken priorities. I could not agree more heartily with him that those priorities are mistaken.

I wouldn't dream of betting against you as to how Robert Spencer will vote, in part since you know him personally, and I am not so fortunate. It raises a couple of my eyebrows to think that he will vote for R. P. in the primary, but as you are so confident (I assume you have exchanged some conversation with him on the topic), I can only conclude that he has a different set of priorities for ranking candidates in the primary than I have. That's his prerogative.

I suppose it's a nice thing as far as it goes that the AAI is not as dominated as some other organizations are by an Islamist agenda. For my part, I disagree en toto with the entire strategy of "Christian and Muslim Arabs get together to fight profiling and get Arabs more involved politically." I think it very much misguided.

Lydia McGrew said...

P.S. Most of the proud Southerners I have known defend slavery. The only one who doesn't anymore cbanged his mind when he became Roman Catholic and tells me that Church teaching is his only reason for not defending it.

George Ajjan said...

Lydia,

My guess on Spencer's vote is just a hunch. I haven't asked him about that.

For those who care to notice the difference, the AAI is definitely not CAIR.

Actually, I never said a word about profiling. I agree that the way that it's done is ridiculous: first we singled people out based on their names, then to be fair we decided to bother everyone. Thanks, inefficient big government.

I am not against profiling, by the way. I have had experiences with it - one offensive case (ignorant badge-wielding power-abuser), one intelligent case (short customs interview returning from Dubai - which I would expect them to administer to you as well if you followed the same itinerary as I did.)

What I did speak about in my article was what might happen to people like me if an aggressive policy, capitalizing on public fears, was implemented. And I'm not talking about some airport inconvenience. A cursory knowledge of history shows how easily that could happen.

George Ajjan said...

p.s.
Should you ever be in a need of a decent tenor for your hymn sings, I'd be happy to join you should I ever pass through SW Michigan. :)

William Luse said...

You implied that the New Advent definition coincided with your own. It did not.

...might not you concede that you are 1) on the offensive, and 2) engaged in an aggression?

I might. But those qualities wouldn't make the action unjust in itself. If you want to win, it's better to be on the offensive. To 'aggression' you're attaching a built-in opprobrium, which would probably hold true in most cases. If the colonists fired the first shot at Lexington and Concord, it would have been an act of aggression but not necessarily unjust. You obviously think the Crusades were a bad thing. If you will just save a little obloquy for the Muslims - tell me how bad a thing it was for them to spread their religion by conquering and subjugating other peoples - then I'll leave you alone.

Rodak said...

"You implied that the New Advent definition coincided with your own. It did not."

I did not "imply" it; I stated it, flat out. And I also invited you to demonstrate where the New Advent definition contradicts mine. You have not.

I have not been discussing here whether or not the real Crusades were just. What I have been asking is whether the writers of WWWtW are using the word incorrectly, or ironically, or if they are really calling for a "Crusade" in response to the "Jihad" (which term they are not using metaphorically, btw), and, if so, what that call means to them in terms of implementation?

zippy said...

Rodak: When I suggested "The Tenth Crusade" as the title for the new blog (a suggestion which instead became its subtitle), what I had in mind was taking back the spiritual Jerusalem - the weltanshaung, if you will - from liberalism and Islam, which are themselves in an alliance similar to though less explictly defined than the alliance between the Nazis and the Dai Nippon Teikoku.

I can't say what my fellow bloggers thought then or now think of the subtitle; we are unified by our explicit charter, which you can read for yourself.

Lydia McGrew said...

Dear George,

In an odd way, I would find it helpful if you would admit that we disagree, probably about a lot of things in this neighborhood. Suppose I grant without argument that the AAI is very different from CAIR. What then? That doesn't change the fact that I entirely reject the whole notion of an Arab-American political interest group. Do _I_ think it's a good idea to work to "get Arabs engaged politically"? Heck, no. To me, the very "non-partisan" nature of the AAI that you mention is one problem, because it means that Christian and Muslim Arabs are being encouraged to consider themselves part of the same group with the same interests, which seems highly problematic to me. But the entire tone of your letter is very much of that sort--you are making common cause with Muslims as your "fellow Arabs" against a supposedly hostile and dangerous-to-Arabs government. Spencer gives some pretty ridiculous quotes from a representative of the AAI in the Front Page article, all about the _thousands_ of terrible "hate crimes" committed against Arabs and such after 9/11. I mean, obviously you don't feel this way, but I would be mortified to be publically identified with a group for which that was the public face.

Let me be clear: On these issues I'm probably even more "Lawrence Auster" than "Robert Spencer." Even as a social conservative, I entirely reject the Dinesh D'Souza/Peter Kreeft idea of making common cause with Muslims on social issues like abortion, and this despite the fact that I am _fiercely_ pro-life. I've written about this at WWWtW in a post called "Incommensurable Evils." To turn Dinesh's sarcastic question on its head, I _do_ think we should tell Muslims to "get a new Holy Book." I have no qualms about saying these things even, perhaps especially, to a Christian who identifies himself as "Arab," yet the entire approach I advocate here is obviously diametrically opposed to the agenda of a group like the AAI, even granting everything you say about their not being "Islamist," and even if we assume that they should not in any way be identified with the Hezbollah-supporting fugitive restauranteur who was the corporate sponsor of their conference.

I am puzzled by your worries about "what might happen to people like me if an aggressive policy, capitalizing on public fears, was implemented." Do you really consider it plausible that people with the name "Ajjan" will be rounded up and taken off to concentration camps on the basis of their name? I'm trying to think of a single scenario that is neither enormously implausible, so that worrying about it is unreasonable, nor trivial, such as those things CAIR moans about in its on-going grievance theater, and I'm not coming up with anything.

Your friendliness may cramp my style a bit. (Grin.) But I do indeed have friends with whom I disagree as much as I disagree with you. So, if you've read this far, yes indeed we can always use good tenors, and very few people talk politics at our hymn sings anyway. It's hard to hear oneself talk at all, with all the little kids. So feel free to come sing tenor if you're in town.

Best,

Lydia

Rodak said...

"...what I had in mind was taking back the spiritual Jerusalem - the weltanshaung..."

Ah. So it's the visionary, metaphorical nature of the prize that renders the word "Crusade" a mere figure of speech! The pen is mightier than the IED and Al Gore combined, etc., etc. I get it. As soon as all persons on earth think the same way, it'll be safe once more to fly out of Logan airport. God speed the day!

Lydia McGrew said...

Thank you, Zippy. That was excellent. Rodak, you can try keeping up the snark, but IMO you've been answered six ways from zero at this point and should give it up.

Rodak said...

Lydia--
Yes, I can see that with regard to the definition of "Crusade" I've been guilty of oldthink.

William Luse said...

One more thing. The New Advent definition said that the purpose of a crusade was to deliver the Holy Land from Moslem tyranny (and there were actually other crusades as well). You said that a crusade was a war of aggression. The two do not mean the same thing.

or if they are really calling for a "Crusade" in response to the "Jihad"

Speaking only for myself, I'd link to think we (meaning my country) are already on one (of which the Iraq war is not its best expression), but I'm doubtful.

Rodak said...

"Speaking only for myself, I'd link to think we (meaning my country) are already on one (of which the Iraq war is not its best expression), but I'm doubtful."

I believe that our C-I-C has taken care, on numerous occasions, to assure the world that we are not making war on Islam. Officially, then, we (meaning our country) are not on a Crusade. Since the man is an all-but-convincted liar, however, we shouldn't necessarily take that disclaimer at face value.

If the use of the word "tyranny" in the New Advent definition changes anything, it is only to make a Crusade ipso facto a Just War. A contemporary Crusade would then be for the purpose of reclaiming Jerusalem from Jewish tyrrany, and also, for parallel reasons, be a Just War. I.e., "tyrrany" is often, if not usually, in the eyes of the beholder, seen through the filter of his hidden agenda. In the case of many of the bold Crusading knights from days of olde, that would have been loot. Today, it would be...black loot.

zippy said...

"tyrrany" is often, if not usually, in the eyes of the beholder, seen through the filter of his hidden agenda.

Usually they are all just colluding to make you think it is a conspiracy.

Rodak said...

"Tyrrany"--a novel spelling to go with the novel definition of the proud, old word "Crusade."

Usually they are all just colluding

They? What they? Wait! You're one of them aren't you? You've been one of them all along! I see it all now! Yes! (I've been such a trusting fool!) Rose Marie! Get Haldemann on the line!

William Luse said...

Leave Zippy's spelling alone. I look to him for substance, not appearance.

You still haven't said anything bad about the Moslem conquests.

Rodak said...

William--
Actually that was my bad spelling. I was acknowledging it.

You still haven't said anything bad about the Moslem conquests.

Okay, here goes: DARN THOSE MUSLIM CONQUESTS ANYWAY! SHOOT!

William Luse said...

You're making progress.

George Ajjan said...

Dear Lydia,

Sorry for the delay, I was prepping for a long trip - to a Muslim country!!! (gasp) :)

Yes, obviously on this and related issues, we have a different outlook, probably driven by different experiences. However, you're quite obviously a thoughtful person, hence my decision to spark the discussion. My main issue is that you seem very eager to think badly of anything "Arab" whatsoever - hence, reading one unflattering piece by Robert Spencer and lumping AAI in with CAIR, and even questioning an Arabic slogan championed by those fearful of government by those you also fear.

Have a look at what I observed at the rest of the AAI conference. If I had to explain what the AAI is all about, I would say it helps US citizens of Arab origin to be good Americans - by helping them engage candidates, participate in campaigns, run for office, and help educate and inform elected officials. It's a positive message focused on civic involvement. If the AAI was in the business of merely "bellyaching", I wouldn't bother to participate.

Consider - I was an Arab-American before September 11, 2001, and I remain one after. Global terrorism and the unfortunate fact that 19 Arabs attacked the US on 9/11, and more would like to, is not the driver for my political involvement with my ethnic community. Pride in my heritage is. My family on both sides came to the US between 1913 and 1921, thus I inherited the legacy of those "Arab-Americans" who predate the Arab-Israeli conflict, and who predate global terrorism.

Because I am the 5th generation of my family to inhabit this country, I do not carry emotional baggage related to religious tensions that have ebbed and flowed over time in the Middle East between Christians and Muslims. It just isn't there. So the idea that certain people want me as an Arab Christian to walk around with a big chip on my shoulder, redefining my ethnic heritage by my religion only and connecting that with bitterness toward Muslims is, frankly, laughable and condenscending.

I just went through 2 flights today. I wasn't profiled or asked anything more than the most basic of questions. My current passport has no Arabic stamps in it though. But all in all, I agree - life's not that bad. As for what could happen to those with the "wrong last name", let's just say that a fearful public could very easily enable a government dealing with a crisis to enact measure we woudln't normally even consider.

Anyway, glad to have dropped by, thanks again for the link and the commentary Lydia, and I'll bring the pitch pipe. :)

Best regards,
George Ajjan

Rodak said...

"You're making progress."

Music to the ears of a progressive.

Lydia McGrew said...

Dear George,

Thanks for the response. I'll keep this short: Civic involvement in itself has never stirred much of a heartbeat with me. Certainly I cannot imagine myself defining some group entirely by ethnic background (Italian Americans, for example) and then saying that it's a great thing to have a civic involvement organization that is totally non-partisan and whose whole goal is to try to get people of that ethnic group involved as citizens. In any ethnic group there will be plenty of people without whose votes, IMO, we'd be better off.

As it happens, I have no single strong ethnic identity of my own, being a mongrel American and adopted as an infant to boot, which further separated me for many years from an accurate knowledge of my ethnic makeup. But trying to look at the thing as accurately as I can, I can only say that I hope I wouldn't, in the name of ethnic pride, just say, "Hey, everybody of my ethnic background: Get involved! Get out and vote! Run for office!" etc. I would want to know whom we were talking about at a far more specific level. _Especially_ when it comes to civic involvement, I'd much rather belong to an "issue" advocacy group than an ethnic one.

That's all for the nonce. Take care!

Lydia