Eye on the Watcher’s Council

As you may know the members of the Watcher’s Council each nominate one of his or her own posts and one non-Council post for consideration by the whole Council. The complete list of this week’s Council nominations is here.
Dafydd ab Hugh of Big Lizards has been appointed to the Council seat vacated by Marc Schulman. Welcome Dafydd!

The Glittering Eye, “Star Wars, 300, History, and Whatnot”

In my submission this week I muse over the current frenzy over the movie 300.  Basically my take:  it’s only a movie.

The Colossus of Rhodey, “Best War Movies”

Hube annotates the Movietone list of top war movies.  Looking at the list it seems rather skewed towards recently-produced American movies.  There are some great French, British, and Russian war movies.  Even limiting onesself to American movies I would think they might have mentioned 12 O’Clock High or Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo or any number of others.   And where is The Big Parade, Hell’s Angels, or Wings (the first picture to win a Best Picture Oscar—and deserve it)?  There’s also a larger question:  is Paths of Glory a war movie?  I would say so.  How about La Grande Illusion, one of the finest pictures ever made.

Soccer Dad, “Persistent Libels”

Soccer Dad comments on the claim that Israel murdered 250 Egyptian prisoners of war during the 1967 war.

Eternity Road, “Serving While Republican”

Francis Porretto is upset about the treatment of Democrats who go too far compared to Republicans who do the same in the press and in the courts.  I don’t think the problem is quite what Francis is making of it.  The problem with being the party of traditional values is that you’re expected to uphold them.  But then the problem with being a reform party is that people may actually expect you to reform something.

Bookworm Room, “Vile Reuters At It Again”

Bookworm comments on a Reuters story on Christian Palestinians leaving Bethlehem:  it’s the economy, stupid.  That’s probably partly true.  Is it the whole story?

Education Wonks, “San Francisco’s Pre-School Class System”

Apparently the person writing the story noted by Edwonk was unaware that San Francisco is an Old Line town, as snooty and socially stratified as Boston, New York, or Philadelphia.

Done With Mirrors, “Back in the DDR”

Callimachus posts on Dean Reed, a rock star in communist East Germany.  I honestly never thought I’d ever type those words.

Big Lizards, “The Burqini—Shaken And Stirred”

Dafydd ab Hugh posts on an article on the peculiar accommodations made by an Australian Muslim girl to satisfy both the requirements of traditional practices and the requirements of her job as a lifeguard.  I think I take a little more hope from the article than Dafydd does.  I see it as a sign of the approaches that Muslims from traditional cultures will use to assimilate successfully into European-dominated cultures (Dafydd notes this, too).  He goes on to complain about the article’s emphasis on violence pertrated against Muslims by white Australian hooligans while ignoring the violence perpetrated on white Australians by Muslim hooligans.

Joshuapundit, “What Are Europe’s Options?”

Freedom Fighter uses an article by Daniel Pipes as his point of departure for this post.  In the article Pipes characterizes European alternatives for dealing with its new Muslim populations as Muslim rule, Muslim expulsion, or Muslim integration.  I don’t know whether those are completely inclusive options and, perhaps, a little of all of them will actually take place.  I think the third alternative is significantly more likely than FF does.  I think his analysis suffers from synecdoche.  There are significant cultural differences between say, the Bedouins of the Middle East or Waziris in Pakistan and Muslims in the Maghreb.

I don’t think the real problem is likely to be in Sweden or France or the United Kingdom.  I think it will be in Russia.  The birth rate among ethnic Russians there is plummeting and they don’t have the kind of economic growth (or society) to attract ethnic Russians back.  I think the Russians will be hard put to retain their Far East holdings let alone re-assemble the old Soviet Union.   I wouldn’t be surprised if full-fledged Nazi-style fascism re-asserted itself there in the not too distant future.

Rhymes With Right, “I Disagree”

Well, I agree with Greg in this post.  Either we all are going to have to get used to being offended now and again or we are all going to have to get used to less freedom of expression or we are all going to have to get used to a lot more violence than we’ve been accustomed to.

Sundries Shack, “Here Are the Moderate Muslims”

Jimmie Bise wonder why the Secular Islam Summit in St. Petersburg got so little attention from the news media.  I think those are liberals rather than moderates but it’s a perfectly good question nonetheless.

Right Wing Nut House, “Not Quite Ready to Dance the Dabke in Lebanon”

Rick Moran discusses the political (if that’s the right word for it) forces at work in Lebanon.

Well, I’ve decided which posts I’ll vote for.  Which would get your vote?

4 comments… add one
  • Hi Dave,
    You actually made me have to look up `synecdoche’ dammit! Shame on you…

    I think your dismissal of my analysis ignores some salient facts.

    I fully agree that to look at Muslims as a monolithic group is simplistic (though I would say the biggest cultural differences are between Arabs and non-Arabs, myself)…but there are a number of factors that mitigate a number of the cultural differences.

    1) The widespread dissimulation and promotion of hardline Wahabi Islam courtesy of the Saudis and the UAE worldwide. This has taken place not only in Europe but in our own country as the Saudis have spent billions on mosques and madrassahs, imams and religious teachers to the point where they exercise a good deal of control over the viewpoint of Muslims- with the effect of radicalizing a substantial part of a whole generation of younger, home grown Muslims. We are just beginning to see that here, but in Europe, with its larger per capita Muslim population, the effect is much more pronounced, and recent studies in Britain, France and Canada have confirmed that very fact.

    2) The effect of well funded jihad propaganda on Muslims in general via the internet, Islamist organizations, and Arabic cable station like al Manor and al Jazeera.

    3) The ingrained concept among many Muslims themselves that, rather than belonging to a specific nation-state (a very Western concept), they are part of the Muslim umma who are commanded by their religion to conquer dar harb (literally `the place of war’) and bring it under the domination of dar Islam by any means necessary.

    It may be politically incorrect to look at these things, but they are factual, none the less. And even if many Muslims residing in Europe don’t embrace the idea of jihad with the non-Islamic world, enough do so that it’s a significant factor that can’t be dismissed and will not simply disappear quietly.

    Many Europeans themselves are acknowledging that multiculturalism has been an abject failure…and since Islam historically does not play nicely with others, that situation is going to have to be dealt with.

    Many of Europe’s Muslims have refused to integrate peacefully or change their jihadist outlook, and all the trends indicate that this attitude is increasing rather than decreasing – do you really feel that’s going to magically change somehow?

    BTW, I totally agree with your views on Russia – do a search over at my site under `Russia’ and you will find a number of articles that maybe of interest.

    All Best,

  • I didn’t mean to be dismissive, FF. Sorry if it appeared that way. I think that Europe’s Muslim population and the radicalization of that population are two different subjects.

    I don’t think that dissimulation is as serious a subject as you do. My understanding is that the issue is controversial among Muslims (I’ve read some complaints “it’s a Shi’a thing”).

    I agree with you, however, on foreign-supported radical proselytizing. I think that it behooves both the Europeans and us to take that more seriously than we have to date.

    On whether Islam plays “nicely with others” I think we differ. Historically, Christianity didn’t play nicely with others, either. Things change. I genuinely believe that this is a challenge that we’re (and by “we” I mean people of good will of whatever faith) capable of dealing with. I care less about hypothetical Islam and more about how it’s actually practiced and that can change over time.

    Because I’m more concerned about practice than theoretical dogma I see the problems of assimilation less as Islam than of traditional cultures. IMO those are doomed. Not in a bad way. They just won’t be able to survive modern communications and technology (and the prosperity that those things bring). Soft power. The transition, however, is likely to be quite painful. Remember that there’s a generation gap: in much of the Muslim world folks over 50 remember a very different world than the majority, young folks who’ve largely grown up in cities, do.

    As far as Russia is concerned, I speak, read, and write Russian fluently; at one point in my life I might have become a Soviet scholar. I post on Russia when it’s really interesting e.g. I translated editorials from Russian papers during the Beslan incident. Otherwise not so much.

  • I don’t have much to say on the issue, since I’m ill-informed about European Muslims except for news in the press. However, I found this piece of writing fascinating and I think applies to the discussion here:


  • Dave,

    Didn’t know you were a Russian linguist. I used to be, but I’ve been out of the language so long (15+years) that I’ve lost most of it. Despite that, I’ve always been a student of Russian and Eastern European history and culture. Some of my time in the service was spent following the Soviet and later the Russian Navy.

    Russia does seem to be perpetually at a crossroads. If you find the time, I think it would be great if you did post on Russia – perhaps a prediction of the post-Putin era.

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