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So what’s the over/under on when I’m added to the Terror Watch List?

FBI adds ‘preppers’ to potential terrorists list

No word yet if they’re asking to track people (like me) who are bulking up their Earthquake (or Fire) Preparedness Kits in California yet. But I’m sure that’s coming soon.

If I disappear over Christmas, you know where to look. (Assuming I’m flying.)

Qur’an Study Update

So I’ve been grinding through the Qur’an. It’s kind of a slog — it’s not organized in any “normal” narrative order. Instead, it’s arranged (except for the first) with the longest chapters (or suras) first. I’ve gotten through the first ten (out of 114) so I’m about halfway through.

It hasn’t been much fun to read. Even putting aside the horrible King James style that Muslim translators use, the content isn’t very happy. If you had told me that the Qur’an was written by Gary Gygax as an in-character supplement describing the religion and philosophy of an adversary race, I’d have believed you. It’s that bad.

In fact, I can say without reservation that the author(s) of the Qur’an would consider me their enemy, and want me dead. You, too.

Assisting in my study: Robert Spencer’s Qur’an Commentary. And yes, I know, Spencer is of the opinion that “there are moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam.” One of the things he does is this commentary is stick to quoting Muslim sources, so (at the very least) it matches how al Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood see their religion.

Linkposts 10/12/2010

Terror and Liberalism

Back in 2003, Paul Berman wrote a book called Terror and Liberalism, a liberal call to action against Islamic terrorism.

Berman constructs his argument simply: he first establishes the existence of pathological mass movements, using Albert Camus’ The Rebel as a framework for that argument. Berman links the fascists and communists together, claiming that they progress through the stages of rebellion, nihilism, the creation of a movement, and end at Armageddon — where the faithful face the damned in a final confrontation.

Berman then moves to the strongest part of the book: his examination of the works of Sayyid Qutb. Qutb could be described as the father of modern Islamic jihad, and Berman condenses his works into a brisk 52 pages. In the end, though, Berman concludes that

Qutb’s doctrine was wonderfully original and deeply Muslim, looked at from one angle; and, from another angle, merely one more version of the European totalitarian ideal.

The philosophical connection thus established, Berman then moves on to providing examples of Muslim totalitarianism, from Iran and Iraq to the Sudan and beyond. It is a sobering march of depredation, one which good men (and women) should oppose.

Berman then turns to the forces that prevent such opposition, and discovers them unmobilized. They stand inert, or even assisting the totalitarians. Berman chronicles their efforts, starting with the French Socialists of the 1930s, some of whom collaborated with the Nazis in the worst possible ways, and ending with a scathing review of Noam Chomsky, who claimed that Americans caused 9/11. Berman says:

Ultimately, the error was conceptual. […] It was an unwillingness, sometimes an outright refusal, to accept that, from time to time, mass political movements do get drunk on the idea of slaughter. […] It was a belief that the world is, by and large, a rational place.

Berman’s book concludes with the aforementioned call to action, to attack the root of Islamism by reinforcing the liberal ideas for which we fight. (Berman even points out that Bush picked up — and dropped — that ball when he pushed Women’s Rights as one of the reasons for invading Afghanistan.) Seven years on, we can conclude that — apart from an individual here and there — the Western Left has ignored Berman’s call. This is unfortunate, for those who paid attention to the Anbar Awakening can see some of his ideas put into effect by military forces.

Even seven years on, this book is still worth a read, if for no other reason than for its summary of Qutb’s commentaries.

(Paul Berman has a new book out, The Flight of the Intellectuals. He’s also interviewed by Michael J. Totten. An interesting part of the interview is Berman’s admission to being afflicted with “Bush Derangement Syndrome” and his effort to separate Bush’s personality — which drives him nuts — with his actual record.)