Fatwa against Liberals?

What makes someone open fire on a group of people watching a children’s play in a church?

When a gunman was arrested after opening fire in a Knoxville church last weekend, he told authorities

that he had targeted the church because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of the major media outlets.

He was known as someone who “hated blacks, gays and anyone different from him”. He was unemployed, and was losing his food stamps.

Was he just someone who turned to hating other groups because his own life was unsuccessful? As the Christian Science Monitor suggested, was he one of a “whole category of mass killers who are seeking vengeance against a group of people who they feel are taking away their birthright, their opportunities, and making it difficult to succeed…society has been bending backward to favor disenfranchised groups so they’re trying to get some justice for their own victimization.”

Or maybe a question of lost manhood?

They will take that intense personal feeling of emasculation and failure and find some societal or political overlay that makes the failure seem not of their doing.

Leave aside for the moment the question of how someone whose wife had a restraining order against him and who once told her he was going to “blow her brains out then blow his own brains out” was able walk into a pawn shop and to buy a semi-automatic weapon.

Where did the shooter get the “political overlay” that told him to kill liberals?

It’s nothing new. For years, conservative pundits have been calling for physical violence against those who don’t agree with them. Glen Greenwald spent some time a while back documenting the conservative lynch mentality, links are in the above Media Matters piece. Some on the blogosphere think that words don’t matter, and this type of call for violence is unimportant.

You can still get a “liberal hunting license” with a picture of a donkey superimposed on a target from one blog’s “Patriot Shop”. This from a website with a mission to distribute their literature to military personnel. Just what we need. People who already know how to use a gun being indoctrinated to shoot democrats.

The chatter on the blogosphere also points to conservative pundits (Savage, Hannity, O’Reilly, Coulter, FOX, Limbaugh, Beck etc.) as being responsible for the shooting.

And what was the shooter reading before he went on his rampage? Police removed the following books from his home:

  • The O’Reilly Factor, by television commentator Bill O’Reilly
  • Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, by radio personality Michael Savage
  • Let Freedom Ring, by political pundit Sean Hannity

I grew up in a very conservative community, although of course there were all political types there too, but I never saw the kind of hate speech and intolerance that passes for conservatism these days. Whatever happened to conservatives like William F. Buckley? The conservatives these days just seem to push the envelope more and more, becoming more and more outrageous in order to market more and more books and make more and more money.

The other day I was in one of those little Arab supermarkets buying pita bread. They had on a program with a man weeping copiously and dramatically about the latest political action in his neighborhood, I think from al-Jazeera. It wasn’t being presented as a news program although it was news. It was the equivalent of a soap opera.

This is the new entertainment, whether al-Jazeera or Ann Couter. It sells. Some recognize it for marketing, like professional wrestling, but others mistake it for truth. The tragedy is when someone like the Knoxville shooter, or the al-Quaeda suicide bombers mistake this type of propaganda for real life and act on it.

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Easter Sunrise Service Fashion Statement in Chicago’s Daley Plaza–Lime Green Jersey Barriers

The Easter 2008 sunrise service in Chicago’s Daley Plaza might have been drab except for the lime green plastic jersey barriers cleverly utilized as a wind break from the fierce Lake Michigan winds that rage down Washington Avenue in March.


Posted in Curiosities, Homeland Security, Humor, Illinois, Terrorism. Comments Off on Easter Sunrise Service Fashion Statement in Chicago’s Daley Plaza–Lime Green Jersey Barriers

Vintage 1969 Middle East Fanaticism Quotation

Before I go to sleep I like to read a few pages of something, anything, to take my mind away from the days events. This summer I have been reading Miles Copeland’s 1969 The Game of Nations: the Amorality of Power Politics, about Egypt’s leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and the events between his rise to power in 1952 and the 1967 Six Day War between the Arabs and Israel. Last night’s page was particularly effective. I fell asleep on page 206 (literally “on” the page) with all the lights on. I offer here a selection from p. 204:

A player of limited popular resources such as Nasser is understandably tempted to use fanatics, whereby, as has been proved time and again in history, small minorities can cause majorities to make concessions to them out of all proportion to their numbers or the strength of their arguments–if, indeed, they have any clear arguments at all. When entirely on their own (and this is rare), fanatics sooner or later make such nuisances of themselves that the majority clamps down on them, paying whatever price it takes. In the hands of nonfanatical leadership, however, they can become a weapon of flexibility and finesse. They can be brought to a halt just short of suicide, while their willingness to go to suicidal lengths is so manifestly genuine that the opponent cannot know where they will halt–or even be sure that they will halt. The nonsense they talk can be polished up so that it not only makes a modicum of sense, but seems to be on a high moral plane. So long as the more vocal members keep their mouths shut (or can be kept away from direct contact with journalists) a fanatical movement can be excellent public relations material. They are “a valiant body of men fighting for their beliefs against overwhelming odds.” They are sometimes as valuable dead as they are alive. They are beautifully expendable.

One hundred and two more pages left. It’s going to be a restful summer.

Note: for biographical information on Miles Copeland see here and here.


Related posts:

Palestine just a pawn in Copeland’s 1952 Game of Nations


Posted in Books, Conspiracies, Middle East, Terrorism. Comments Off on Vintage 1969 Middle East Fanaticism Quotation

Terror Has No Religion-some interesting images

Some interesting images:

This one says “Terror has no religion”.


The next one says “No to violence”.


These are all from the website noterror.info. The website also has a series of startling black and white posters with an eerie film noir flavour to them.terrorposter72.jpg

The website appears to be still under construction, for example, no information is given on sponsorship, although it appears to be written by people who identify themselves as Moslem. It should be interesting to see how it develops.

Posted in Arabic, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, peace, Religion, Terrorism. Comments Off on Terror Has No Religion-some interesting images

Requiem for Tom Fox: A Threat to the Swords of Righteousness Brigade AND the FBI

Tom Fox went to Baghdad to wage peace. He was captured by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, and held hostage along with three other members of Christian Peacemaker Teams. In the latest film released by the Swords of Righteousness, Fox was missing from the group. Fox’s body was found in Baghdad Friday, and the identity confirmed this week by the FBI.A statement released by Christian Peacemaker Teams said, “

We mourn the loss of Tom Fox who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.

We renew our plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember. Each of our teammates has responded to Jesus’ prophetic call to live out a nonviolent alternative to the cycle of violence and revenge.

In response to Tom’s passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done.

While the ACLU was busy filing a lawsuit in federal court today to get the FBI to comply with Freedom Of Information requests related to improperly investigating law-abiding human rights and advocacy groups like the Thomas Merton center for peace and justice in Pittsburgh, the FBI was busy in the Chicago area spying on the United Methodist Church. It seems that one of Tom Fox’s cohorts at Christian Peacemaker Teams has been staying in an unused parsonage building owned by the denomination. The FBI has been around asking questions about Christian Peacemakers Teams.

Tom Fox’s website tells us what was so threatening about Tom’s work.

“Why are we here?” We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God’s children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.”

It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death.

And what did the Swords of Righteousness have to say? They said Fox was a spy.

Would that be an example of a dehumanizing label?

Update: This writing was migrated from a different site, the comments appeared there and are reprinted with the names obscured.

3 Responses to “Requiem for Tom Fox: A Threat to the Swords of Righteousness Brigade AND the FBI.”

jcl Says:
March 14th, 2006 at 9:05 pm I am not, as you know, a Christian. Still, I have an immense amount of respect for what these people were doing – as I do for people of all backgrounds, philosophies and religion who stick their necks out – sometimes literally – for peace.
People say it takes courage to go into battle with a gun. I imagine it does. But it takes much much more courage to go into a battle zone without a gun, working to help other human beings caught in the crossfire of people who believe that the only way to be brave is to fight.
These people were an example to us all. I would one day like to do something as noble as what Tom Fox was doing – though of course I would never want to meet the same fate.
Thanks, Anonymous.
Anonymous Says:
March 15th, 2006 at 12:39 am
Thank you for your nice words.
There is a story about someone from the embassy meeting with Tom Fox. Supposedly she showed up with an armed guard and several armed vehicles, and Fox thought it was overly restrictive.
If your readers have never seen one, this is what a polite refusal for a temporary job in the green zone looks like, pasted from my Email. I hear they have no shortage of people who want to go there:
From: iraqjobs@state.gov Add to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
Subject: Thanks For Applying
Thank you for your application for vacancy announcement number:
Portfolio Press Officer (Iraq)
This is to advise you that the vacancy has been filled.
We appreciate your interest in employment and encourage you to apply
for future vacancies for which you are qualified.
Staffing Division
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Civil Service Personnel-Civil Service & Iraq Jobs
While I was moved by Fox’s story, and I have certainly wandered around the Middle East unarmed, I’m afraid I would want to be the one arriving in the armored vehicle in this situation.
Anoymous Says:
March 15th, 2006 at 12:46 am Fox was Quaker.

Posted in Iraq, Islam, peace, Terrorism. Comments Off on Requiem for Tom Fox: A Threat to the Swords of Righteousness Brigade AND the FBI

The Amman Message: how Jordan understands Islam–text of remarks by King Abdullah II, November 2004

The following is the text of the Amman Message, a landmark statement of moderate Islam, by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, given at the beginning of Ramadan 2004.

For some reason some Koranic verses turned into emoticons when I pasted the text. I don’t know the reasons for this but I have written them again with a different type of bracket for the understanding of anyone who wants to look up the Koranic reference. If someone wants to use this copy to paste text somewhere, it should be easy enough to see the bracketed information and remove the duplicate information.


In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate;
Prayers and Salutations upon His chosen Prophet,
upon the Prophet’s household, his courageous companions,
and all the apostles and prophets:

God Almighty said: “Mankind ! We created you from a pair of a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other. The most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you” (Al Hujurat: 13).

Amman , the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, seizes the opportunity of this Holy Month of Ramadan, in which the Holy Quran was revealed, to issue a statement to the public, to our brethren in Muslim lands and in this whole world.

We are aware of the dangers and challenges the Islamic Nation is facing today at this difficult juncture of its course. Evils threaten its identity, incite disunity, tarnish its religion and assail its tenets; they attack fiercely the very message of Islam. Some who attack Islam imagine it is their enemy. But it is not their enemy. Others, who claim to belong to Islam, have done gruesome and criminal acts in its name. The message that is under attack is the message of tolerance, revealed by the Almighty to His prophet Muhammad, God’s prayers and salutations be upon him, and carried after him by his orthodox successors and household members: a message of brotherhood and humanity; forming a righteous religion that embraces the entire sphere of human life, upholding what is good and forbidding what is wrong, accepting of others, and honouring all human beings.

Over many years, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has sought to repel assaults on Islam by halting the fallacies against it and promoting true understanding of the faith. These efforts are inspired by the religious and historical legacy of the Hashemite monarchy, honoured as direct descendants of the Prophet, the Messenger of God. For five decades, his late Majesty King Hussein Bin Talal, God rest his soul, persisted tirelessly to reform the image and support the unity of the world’s Muslims. His Majesty King Abdullah II has continued this effort with the same steadfastness since the day he held the flag. Today, His Majesty is determined to ward off Muslim marginalization and isolation in the global movement of human society. His goal is to assert what the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims expect themselves to be: full partners in the development of human civilization, and in the progress of humanity in our age.

The Muslim faith is based on belief in one God and the message of His Prophet; the daily prayers by which we connect to our Creator; the Ramadan fast in which we resist and discipline the desires of the body; the Zakat charitable tax by which we help others; and the Haj pilgrimage to God’s House, Mecca, which represents the unity of the Nation (the Ummah), and is performed by those who are able. These obligations, regulating human behaviour in all its dimensions, have created a strong and cohesive Nation and a great civilization. Equally important, they reflect deep principles that are needed for humanity’s own good: unity of the human race, equal rights and obligations, peace, security, social equality, the honouring of pledges, neighborliness and respect for others, and the protection of belongings and property.

Islam’s principles also provide common ground among different faiths and peoples. The origin of divine religions is one, and Muslims believe in all messengers of God; denying the message of any of them is a deviation from Islam. This furnishes a wide platform upon which peoples of different faiths can meet together, with respect for others’ ideas and faiths, and act in common in the service of human society:

“The messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) the believers. Each one believeth in God and his angels and His scriptures and his messengers – We make no distinction between any of His messengers – and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto thee is the journeying” (Al Baqara: 285).

Islam honours every human being, without distinction of colour, race or religion:

We have honoured the sons of Adam, provided them transport on land and sea, sustained them with good things, and conferred on them special favours above a great part of our creation (Al Isra’a: 70)

Islam also affirms that Muslims, when spreading the call of God, are called to act gently on earth.

Invite to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious (Al Nahl: 125)

Because the Islamic mission is based on reason, Muslims are to shun violence and cruelty, and speak with kindness and respect:

It is part of the Mercy of God that thou dost deal gently with them, wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. (Aal Imran: 159)

Islam clarified that its message is to bring mercy to all peoples:

We sent thee not save as a Mercy for all creatures (Al Anbiya’a: 107)

Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Unto Him, emphasized the concepts of compassion and tenderness in Islam when he said, “Mercy from the Most Merciful is bestowed on those who have mercy on others, and those who have mercy on creations of God on earth, The Almighty in the Heavens will have mercy on you.”

Islam calls for treating others as one desires to be treated. It urges tolerance and forgiveness, qualities that elevate human life:

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto in degree, but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God (Shura: 40)

Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will be between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate (Fussilat: 34)

Islam calls for treating others justly, safeguarding their rights and possessions:

And let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety (Al Maida: 8)

[Al Maida:8]

God commands you to return trusts to their owners, and if you judge between people, you shall judge with justice (Al Nisa’: 58)

[al Nisa’:58]

“So give full measure and full weight and wrong not mankind in their goods, and work not confusion in the earth after the fair ordering thereof” (Al A’raf: 85)

Islam dictates respect for conventions and pledges, and condemns treachery and treason:

Fulfill the Covenant of God when ye have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them, indeed you made God your surety (Al Nahl: 91)

Islam upholds human life. There is to be no fighting against non-fighters; no assault on civilians and their properties, on children in their mothers’ laps, on students in the schools, on older men and women. To assault the life of a human being is equivalent to assaulting the right to life of all – and this is one of the gravest sins, for life is the basis for the continuation of humanity.

If any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people. And if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people (Al Ma’ida: 32)

Islam respects balance, moderation, and equanimity:

Thus have we made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Apostle a witness over yourselves (Al Baqara: 143)

The Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, said: “Facilitate and don’t hesitate, augur well and don’t shun away” (Hadeeth Shareef)

This is the faith that made historic advances in science, scholarship and intellectual life – achievements that empowered a great civilization, in whose achievements non-Muslims had their share, and which became the vehicle to bring knowledge for the West as well.

Islam calls on Muslims to demonstrate tolerance and delight in human life; it opposes extremism, exaggeration, and intransigence. These phenomena are veils against right thinking – they conceal the repercussions of one’s actions, and encourage a reckless disregard for religion, reason, and civilized behavior. Indeed, Islam rejects extremism as a deviation from true faith and a form of injustice. Furthermore, it is not a trait that characterizes a particular nation; it is an aberration that has been experienced by all nations, races, and religions.

We denounce extremism today, just as our forefathers relentlessly did throughout Islamic history. Time after time, they insisted on the importance of one clear truth: the ends do not justify the means. We speak this truth again today. Islam is a religion of ethics that seeks what is good for people in the entire world. Its principles are those of honour. The means for spreading Islam are ethical means. And Islam can only be defended through ethical means.

The foundation of relations between Muslims and others is peace. In Islam, war is only justified by necessity and challenges. No fighting is permissible when others pose no aggression. Even then, the duty of Muslims is to treat others with justice and benevolence:

God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for your Faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For God loveth those who are just (Al Mumtahina: 8)

[Al Mumtahina:8]

But if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression (Al Baqara: 193)

On religious grounds, on moral grounds, we denounce the contemporary concept of terrorism which is associated with wrongful practices wherever they come from – including assaults on peaceful civilians, killing prisoners and the wounded, unethical practices such as the destruction of buildings, and ransacking cities. These despotic attacks on human life transgress the law of God, and we denounce them. As the Qur’an says:

Take not life which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law (Al Anaam: 51)

Fighting injustice and realizing justice should be a legitimate undertaking through legitimate means. We call on the Nation (Ummah) to adopt what is necessary to achieve the strength and steadfastness needed to build itself and ensure the preservation of rights.

No human whose heart is filled with light could be an extremist. We decry the campaign that portrays Islam as a religion that encourages violence and institutionalizes terrorism.

Throughout history, extremism has caused the destruction of great civilizations. The tree of civilization wilts, and hearts close, when malice takes hold. It is an evil alien to Islamic values of moderation and tolerance.

Today, we call on the international community to work seriously on implementing international law and ensuring respect for U.N. conventions and resolutions, ensuring that there are no double standards, that injustice is uprooted and that people’s rights are returned. Achieving this will contribute to uprooting the causes of violence, exaggeration, and extremism.

The Islam that we are honoured to belong to calls on us to be involved in modern society and contribute to its progress. To achieve that, Muslims reach out in brotherhood to all those who love justice, reason, and righteousness.

Islam guides us to express, earnestly, the realities of our lives, and to share the soundness of our faith and beliefs. This is God’s call for coexistence and piety.

Islam guides us to work on reforming the religious discourse of civilization in our countries, through well-designed, practical scientific plans that focus on rehabilitating preachers. These priorities will ensure broad public awareness among these preachers of the true spirit of Islam and its methodology in building human life, as well as providing them with knowledge of contemporary culture and how to deal with their communities.

Say, ‘this is my way. I, and those who follow me, call for God with a clear vision of the truth.’ (Yusuf: 108)

[Yusuf: 108]

Islam guides us to deal with the communication revolution, by utilizing the media in a sound, scientific manner, without weakness or emotional outbursts. Thus, we may respond to accusations stirred by enemies of Islam, while reaching all those who receive the messages of global media.

Islam guides us to build up the Muslim individual through the best of education. Those who are confident in their knowledge and abilities are secure in their personalities, and through this self-confidence, present the distinguished outlook of Islam to the whole world.

Islam guides us to benefit from and contribute to the achievements of this age. Islam encourages science and technology; it is a pioneer in its approach to comprehensive development. The Islamic approach provides a balance in spiritual, economic, and social life; provides for human rights and basic liberties; ensures the individual’s right to live in dignity and security, guarantees basic needs, and administers society’s affairs in accordance with the principles of justice and consultation. Such an approach both benefits from and strengthens the mechanisms of modern democracy.

We attach great hope to the scholars of our Nation. It is they who will enlighten our youth – the generation that adorns our present age and will create and become our future. It is our scholars who will keep our youth from sliding down the paths of ignorance, corruption, close-mindedness and subordination, into the abyss of extremism. And it is our scholars who will hold a beacon to a different path – a path of tolerance, moderation, and goodness; guiding young people to the way of Islam and instituting its great values in their young hearts.

Indeed, as role models in their religious manners, conduct, and speech, our scholars can contribute to the renewal of the march of our entire Nation. By their exacting standards of science, positive visions of politics, and the grace to take all matters wisely and meticulously; and by bringing people together, not dividing them, by uniting hearts, not turning them away, and by raising humanity’s eyes to the horizons of fulfillment: in all these ways, our scholars will help our whole Nation meet the challenges of the 21st century. Through such wisdom and achievement, Islam’s goodness, peace, and love will flow to all the peoples of the world.

We pray to God: to provide our Islamic Nation with means of renaissance, prosperity and advancement; to shield it from the evils of extremism and closed minds; to preserve its rights, sustain its glory, and uphold its dignity. He is the best Lord and the Best Aid.

God Almighty says: “And (He commandeth you, saying): This is My straight path, so follow it. Follow not other ways, lest ye be parted from His way. This hath He ordained for you, that ye may ward off (evil)” (Al An’aam: 153.

We conclude, thanking God, Lord of the worlds,

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Ramadan 1425 Hijri
November 2004 AD


Related posts:
Transcript of interview with Jordan’s King Abdullah May 9, 2007 with Egyptian Al Ahram daily
Remarks by King Abdullah 5-21-07 to Nik Gowing, BBC World, at the side of G11 Economic Forum
Prosperity, stability, a crucial model for other countries: Text of King Abdullah II remarks at opening of Dead Sea G-11 Economic Summit 5-19-07
Transcript of Interview, Jordan’s King Abdullah 4-10-07


Posted in Islam, Jordan, Middle East, peace, Religion, Terrorism. Comments Off on The Amman Message: how Jordan understands Islam–text of remarks by King Abdullah II, November 2004