Sunday, May 24, 2009

The felis domesticus of Bangladesh

There is an article in today's (24th May) Bangladesh Observer, lifted, it says, from the internet, on Sheikh Hasina as a sort of felis domesticus – a cat. How so? For repeatedly surviving attempts to kill her.

Apparently this female feline is on an international terrorist hit list. And the reason?

According to Messrs. Samuel T. Smith and Tony Shahabarat, her crime in the eyes of the jihadis is that she is a female ruler in a Muslim country. This, apparently, was why Bhutto was killed in Pakistan. Not for being pro-western or pro-Indian, mind you, but for being – female.

It would then have to follow that Khaleda Zia, twice prime minister of Bangladesh, is not on the hit list for being female because – unbeknown to all but the jihadis – she has undergone a sex change. However, she still looks and sounds female.

Then there's Indonesia's Megawati Sukarnoputri – surely she looks female to most of us? Then it is a gross oversight on the part of the jihadis not to honour her with a place on the list.

The answer to the feline's problems is simple of course – she must speedily undergo a sex change, and sport a beard and a moustache. But then one wonders how the unmodern jihadis will react to this modern procedure. (I have had several cats spayed, but a sex change…well, why not?)

Let the she-male prime minister come, and test our hypothesis!

(NB I have not been able to find the article anywhere on the net; if some kind soul would discover it, could he/she please let me know?)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Basenji dogs of Bangladesh

The Basenji dog never barks; Amnesty International sometime does: sometimes it's just a Basenji.

And this was one of the occasions.

A bomb maker of an Islamist group, Boma Mizan, was arrested by security forces, on 14th May after a four-hour struggle.

He gave the signal to his wife, Sharmin, and the lady immediately set off explosives to try and blow up herself and her children. She succeeded only in blowing off her right wrist and wounding her two children, one two years old, the other a baby.

Why did she do that?

Naturally, she didn't want to be raped and tortured for information, as, without doubt, she will be. And with her gone, who would look after her children? It seemed the rational thing to do.

But where were the Basenji dogs of the west: Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and the assorted chorus of our conscience?

Nowhere to be heard.

When jihadis are arrested, there is never any call from the Basenjis to follow due process, avoid the use of torture, the need for transparency….

Yet Human Rights Watch has been snapping like a Russian Samoyed over the arrest of BDR soldiers implicated in the murder and rape of army officers and their wives.

Double standards? Perish the thought: they just lose their voices from over-barking at times.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Reformation? Off your rocker, are you?

"SIR – The right to examine and disagree with any institution, especially the church or state, benefits the object of inspection. The UN Human Rights Council's decision to forbid "defamation" of religion fails to recognise the benefits of scrutiny in evaluating the integrity of a religion.
Islam is strong enough to withstand criticism. If the countries that lobbied for the UN vote believe this, the resolution would not have passed.
Stephen Wong
Germantown, Maryland"

Take this letter to the editor: a superb example of bad logic and unexamined premises.

"The right to examine and disagree with any institution, especially the church or state, benefits the object of inspection."

Did the right to examine the RC Church benefit the object of examination? It turned it into a cruel inquisitor and ingniter of bonfires. The Wars of Religion started and Christianity itself became abhorrent to many: it was one of the forces for secularization in the west. Finally, the Thirty Years' War gave complete power to princes in religious matters. No doubt, in some spiritual way, those who were burnt at the stake or who set fire to the fagots were improved, but certainly not in any corporeal sense.

Islam has only on major division: the Shia-Sunni split. What these people who cry for a Muslim Reformation seem to want is a internal civil war within the Muslim polity: sorry, no can do. As R.A.Nicholson observed: "It must be admitted for the credit of the Ulama, that they seldom resorted to violence. Islam was happily spared the horrors of an organised Inquisition." Let's keep it that way, shall we?

Moreover, these 2estern attitudes reveal an essential western value: the love of conflict over concord.

Western history over the last 500 years reads like a B-grade action movie, if you'll forgive the mixed metaphor: hostility towards each other, and towards the world, marks western civilization.

After two world wars, Europe discovered itself and stopped shooting. "Halt! Who goes there?" "You!"

Of course, western bellicosity has gained it entrée to every nook of the world, but what it really craves is to enter every niche of the vanquished mind. Sheer physical domination has not been enough. They want the enchained to love their chains.
Mental domination is a unique aspect of the west: totalitarianism is a purely western phenomenon. Its founder was Plato, who deplored the "privatization of thoughts and feelings". It is not enough to control your actions; your thoughts must also be controlled. And in this the west succeeds admirably.

So many have come to love their chains! So many intellectuals try to think the way their masters do: it's not just a question of competence with cutlery, but with psychic manipulation.

Isn't it enough to control Saudi Arabia: why do you have to control the mind of the average Saudi? So long as the oil flows, and Israel is protected, why mess with the religion?

A struggle against the west therefore means a struggle for mastery over one's own mind: a nation of mental slaves, such as Bangladesh, can never resist the west. Pakistan is more to be admired: in pretending to carry out its master's instructions, it pursues its own interests (this is only true of the army and the intelligence branch, of course, the ISI). It keeps its focus on its main adversary, India, and meanwhile spreads weapons of mass destruction worldwide, selling secrets to Iran and North Korea. As George Orwell observed, the atom bomb will be the great equalizer – pitting small states against big, the individual against the state (
) .

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Fallacy of Accent

The fallacy of accent is a favourite of connoisseurs of informal fallacies. The classic example runs as follows.

It is the story of the captain and the first mate. The captain, a stout teetotaler, and the first mate, an inveterate old toper, got along miserably on board. Exasperated with his bibulous subaltern, the captain entered the following in the log: ‘The mate was drunk today’. The mate discovered this and got his own back by recording, when it was his turn to enter the log: ‘The captain was sober today’.

More sinister is the caption under a photograph of two women in chador and sunglasses, laughing at the camera: Not gloom and doom all the time. The implication of gloom and doom almost every living second (except when photographed by a western journalist) in a Muslim country is artfully suppressed.
The most recent example I’ve found is from the inside pages of The Economist (25th April 2009):

“Globalisation, of course, requires global news. But Sir John[Maddox] was equal to that. Henry Gee, another protégé, recalls a trick that Sir John called the “Afghanistan Effect”. “You write a little news story that says that nothing much has happened in Afghanistan, and people think ‘Goodness! Nature has coverage of Afghanistan’.”

If the reader finds any other instances of the fallacy of accent, please do let me know.